Complete Buccaneers 7-Round Mock Draft for 2014
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished 4-12 last season and are not only trying to wash away the bad taste of a losing season, but of a coaching regime that never quite looked like a fit.
Former head coach Greg Schiano spent two seasons with the Bucs and won a grand total of 11 games. He was the center of about as many controversies. Now that Lovie Smith is in Tampa to replace Schiano, and Jason Licht is the new general manager, the Bucs are hoping for wide-scale change.
So far, the ideal of change has been very apparent.
Overhaul is a more appropriate term as the Bucs have spent just north of $148 million on 12 free agents thus far in 2014, according to Spotrac, and have made a huge splash. Tampa Bay only has six draft picks in the upcoming draft, but Smith and Licht hope to make the same kind of impact in early May at Radio City Music Hall, as they've done so far in free agency.
Tampa Bay’s six picks come one per round, all except the fourth round, which belongs to the New York Jets as part of last year’s Darrelle Revis deal. The Bucs’ original sixth-round pick (No. 183) belongs to the Chicago Bears as part of the Gabe Carimi deal from 2013 (don’t forget that neither Revis nor Carimi are with the Bucs any longer), but when Tampa Bay traded Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills they took their sixth-rounder (No. 185) as payment.
Here’s how the Buccaneers might use their six draft picks.
Round 1, Pick 7 (7th Overall): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
No general manager in his right mind is going to let public opinion from his fanbase enter into who the franchise selects in the draft. Jason Licht is a smart man; don’t expect him to listen to the Bucs faithful.
I, on the other hand, am not hamstrung by that rule and can choose to play to the favor of Bucs fans or incite riot. Today, I’ll attempt to make everyone happy and go with exactly who you told me to pick a week ago. On April 4, I laid out multiple scenarios for Tampa Bay in the first round after the team traded wide receiver Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills. I asked your opinion, and 27.9 percent told me former Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans was the right choice at No. 7.
Evans might be a reach at No. 7 (he’s gone anywhere from 12th to 17th in several CBS mock drafts), but not enough of a stretch to avoid him early on. He’s a 6’5”, 231-pound Hulk of a target who caught just about everything thrown in his direction while he was with the Aggies.
His 69 catches for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns landed him a first-team All-SEC nod, and the prospect of matching Evans up with Vincent Jackson is forcing more than a few people to think dynamic duo.
If Bucs can't get Watkins, a Vincent Jackson-Mike Evans (if they take at 7) combo could rival #Bears for most physically impressive WR duo.— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) April 4, 2014
The glaring need for a wide receiver is going to force the Bucs to take Evans in the first round. But this pick won’t haunt Tampa Bay, as Evans looks like he could be the real deal in the NFL for some time to come.
Round 2, Pick 6 (38th Overall): Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
First and foremost, lumping any quarterback in the draft to an NFL peer is both unfair and unrealistic. But it happens every year, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Jimmy Garoppolo and Tony Romo both played football at Eastern Illinois.
That said, the Bucs are going to take Garoppolo in the second round with the 38th overall pick in the draft.
Bucs head coach Lovie Smith announced to the world that he coveted a quarterback early in the draft. Because Tampa Bay had to go with a receiver in the first round, Garoppolo is going to have to be the guy to bridge the gap between free-agent acquisition Josh McCown and the Bucs’ quarterback of the future, and I believe we can all agree that Smith doesn’t think the future lies with Mike Glennon.
“I know enough about that draft to know, yeah, there’s someone that would be worthy of the seventh pick because everything is on the board right now," the Tampa Bay Times reported from Smith's press conference at the combine. "Whenever you have a chance to get a franchise quarterback, you have to consider that."
The 6’2” Garoppolo threw for 4,489 yards last season and connected on 48 touchdowns and was only picked off eight times. He’s got a strong arm, good mechanics, is a smart football guy, and as soon as he catches up to the speed of the NFL (which may take longer than normal because of the level of competition he faced in the Ohio Valley Conference), Garoppolo may look like a second-round steal.
Round 3, Pick 5 (69th Overall): Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Tampa Bay finished 23rd in the NFL last season with only 35 sacks. The team would like to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and doing so with the front four is a schematic imperative of a Tampa 2 defense.
The Bucs added defensive end Michael Johnson in free agency, but that was just a start. In the third round they should also add former Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.
A three-year starter, who sprinkled in a few starts during his freshman season, Jeffcoat notched 13 sacks in 2013, 19 quarterback hurries, 86 tackles and 22 tackles for loss, all team highs. Jeffcoat has an absolute nose for being around the football and hassling the passer.
Jackson has NFL bloodlines, his father Jim won two Super Bowls as a defensive end with the Dallas Cowboys. But Jackson is eventually going to have to add weight if he plans to stay up front on the defensive line like his father.
His ability to get after quarterbacks, and his quickness moving in multiple directions (he sported a 6.97 second three-cone drill and a 4.18 second 20-yard shuffle) should get him a look in the third round. If he can attack into the backfield with the Bucs like he did at Texas, he’ll be a great find.
Round 5, Pick 3 (143rd Overall): Lamin Barrow, ILB, LSU
The Buccaneers could use some help in the middle of their defense, and former LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow can provide depth and solid play on special teams for Tampa Bay.
Barrow led the Tigers with 91 tackles in 2013 and came in second in 2012 with 104. He’s a sideline-to-sideline tackler that can also get into the backfield on occasion (he posted 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 2013).
Suited for the weakside linebacker position, Barrow will use his athleticism to get around traffic, instead of relying on his 6’1”, 237-pound frame to go through blockers.
While he won’t likely see the field on defense early on, he can spend his time as a backup to improve his cover skills. He told Jenna Laine of Sports Talk Florida, that’s what’s keeping him from being a complete player.
“I think I played the run as best as anybody in the country,” said Barrow in a one-on-one with Laine. “I’ve just got to kind of open up my vision and get back in pass coverage a little bit better and I think I’ll be a complete player.”
Round 6, Pick 9 (185th Overall): Kadeem Edwards, OG, Tennessee State
There are two reasons why adding depth on the interior portion of Tampa Bay’s offensive line is important.
The first is the mere fact that injuries and MRSA played a role in slowing down the impact at guard for the Bucs in 2013. Also take into account that with a healthy Doug Martin at running back, and the emergence of Mike James and Bobby Rainey at the position, Tampa Bay should be able to really run the ball well in 2014.
To help at guard, the Bucs will take former Tennessee State lineman Kadeem Edwards in the sixth round. At 6’4” and 304 pounds, Edwards has a prototypical NFL frame and extremely long arms (34 3/8”).
Also, check out Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State. I like him more than any of the third-tier big-school guys.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) April 1, 2014
Edwards was more than dominant against FCS competition and excelled in both pass protection and run-blocking. He’ll run into the typical played-against-weaker competition hurdle once he’s drafted, but with some effort to alter his technique, he can do exactly what he’s going to be drafted for: provide depth.
Edwards adjusts well and is a good student of the game; a quick learner.
Round 7, Pick 6 (221st Overall): Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt
The Buccaneers are in dire need of depth at the cornerback position.
When Tampa Bay signed Alterraun Verner and Mike Jenkins, they took a step toward solving the depth issue. But Verner was just a replacement for Darrelle Revis. The unit is going to need more help.
Former Vanderbilt cornerback Andre Hal can fit the bill, and he’s a good schematic match.
Hal has a number of the traits you want in an NFL prospect. He’s versatile, fast, was a team captain and a second-team All-SEC pick. Unfortunately at 5’10” he’s a bit undersized.
Hal improved in each of his final three seasons as a ballhawk, moving from one interception in 2011 to three last season. He also made an impact moving forward too, with 6.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
Not only might Hal provide depth at cornerback, but he can help in the kick return game too. He returned 16 kicks over his final two seasons and averaged 21.5 yards per return.