Buccaneers Mock Draft: Instant Contributors Bucs Can Find in Every Round
The signing of Mike Jenkins helps shore up the need at nickel corner, and players like wide receiver Louis Murphy and fullbacks Jorvorskie Lane and Josh Baker add depth and help continue the reshaping of last year's 4-12 team.
Looking forward to the 2014 NFL draft, there are still multiple areas where the Bucs could use a prospect who can step in right away and be a difference-maker. Though they currently hold only five selections in the draft, Tampa Bay could easily come away with five players who could see a significant role this season and beyond.
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
With the likelihood that other instant-impact starters like Clemson's Sammy Watkins or University of Buffalo's Khalil Mack will already be off the board, Ebron could be the Bucs' best remaining option.
Sure, the team signed veteran tight end Brandon Myers right out of the gate in free agency, and Tim Wright returns after a pleasantly surprising rookie season. But neither of those players possesses Ebron's rare athletic ability nor creates the mismatches against opposing defenses that he will.
The top 10 picks are for taking the best overall players, even if it's not at the biggest area of need. Ebron doesn't fill a glaring hole for the Bucs, but he would immediately step in as a starter and give Josh McCown a weapon that just isn't present on the current roster.
Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
This is an easy call. Guard is by far the biggest need for the Bucs at the moment, and they're in a favorable spot to grab one of the best in this year's class at No. 38 overall.
Su'a-Filo might not be quite the punishing run blocker that Stanford guard David Yankey is, but he's the more athletic and balanced prospect of the two. He's got outstanding strength at the point of attack but also shows the quickness and agility to get to the second level and neutralize linebackers.
With Carl Nicks' future still unclear and Jeremy Zuttah having been traded to the Baltimore Ravens, the Bucs simply must come out of the first three rounds of this draft with a plug-and-play starter at guard.
Su'a-Filo would be the perfect pick if he's available at the top of the second round.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
If the Bucs miss out on Sammy Watkins in the first round, their consolation prize might just be his Clemson running mate Bryant.
New offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford is looking for "speed in space." But Tampa Bay could also be looking for a receiver with the frame and skill set to potentially become the team's No. 2 target, considering Mike Williams' troublesome offseason.
Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU
The lone spot on defense that still needs some attention is strongside linebacker. Jonathan Casillas returns after starting for much of 2013, but he's coming off a season-ending knee injury.
Barrow is an extremely versatile defender who is projected to play any of the three linebacker spots in a 4-3 defense. A team captain, Barrow is a blue-collar player who has the range and athleticism to be effective in coverage as well and being able to fill and chase in the run game.
The Bucs reportedly met with Barrow at both the Senior Bowl and the combine, so there's evidence of strong interest. His skill set and football smarts make him a solid candidate to come in and start right away.
Albert Wilson, WR, Georgia State
It's rare to find players in the seventh round who can make an immediate impact. But one chance the Bucs could have at striking gold with their final pick could be with a return specialist.
Eric Page was re-signed after handling most of the return duties last season, but the Bucs could use an upgrade. Short but with a thick build, Wilson lit up the Sun Belt Conference, finishing his collegiate career ranked in the top 30 in NCAA history in all-purpose yards (6,235). He turned heads at the combine with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and reportedly had a visit planned with Tampa Bay.
An experienced pass-catcher and return man, Wilson could make an immediate splash on special teams while challenging for snaps as a slot receiver.