Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Bucs' Top 3 Picks

Luke Easterling@@LukeEasterlingCorrespondent IApril 14, 2014

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Bucs' Top 3 Picks

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    If you're a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the biggest mistakes you can make on draft day is to lock your team into one player.  Most of the time, going in with a "so-and-so-or-bust" mentality will only leave you disappointed.

    Much like every fan should, each NFL team has to approach every draft with a plethora of different scenarios in mind.  Crazy things happen, and no front office wants to end up in a situation that it hasn't fleshed out and planned for.  

    With the 2014 draft starting May 8 and ending two days later, let's take a look at the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Bucs in each of the first three rounds.

Best-Case Scenario: 1st Round (7th Overall Pick)

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    Watkins Falls

    Even before the trading of Mike Williams, the Bucs could have used an explosive playmaker at receiver.  With Williams now gone, it makes the need even more glaring.

    Watkins is widely considered the top pass-catcher in this year's draft, boasting a rare combination of speed and physicality.  However, it's highly unlikely that he'll fall to the Bucs at the seventh overall pick.  The Rams, Browns and Raiders all make sense as landing spots for Watkins, while a team like the Lions could end up jumping ahead of the Bucs if Watkins gets past Oakland at No. 5 overall.

    However remote the possibility is, stranger things have happened in the draft.  If Watkins happens to drop into Tampa Bay's lap at the seventh pick, it should waste no time making him the newest Buccaneer.

Worst-Case Scenario: 1st Round (7th Overall)

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    Top Receivers Gone, Can't Trade Down

    Not only is Sammy Watkins likely to be gone by the time the Bucs pick in the first round, but Texas A&M's Mike Evans could also be off the board.  

    The Bucs' best option in this scenario would be to try to move down, pick up extra picks and get better value at a position of need.  However, with a draft class as deep as this year's, it's possible that they won't get acceptable value in return for trading out of the top 10.

    In this scenario, the Bucs could end up taking a risk at the quarterback position.  Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr are all options that Tampa Bay could consider at No. 7 as its quarterback of the future.  If the new regime isn't sold on Mike Glennon, a young QB could be the pick.

    If it doesn't go the quarterback route, taking the best overall player is the most likely scenario if the Bucs don't get a worthy offer to trade down.  Of the players most likely to be still on the board in this scenario, North Carolina TE Eric Ebron or UCLA OLB Anthony Barr could both make sense.

Best-Case Scenario: 2nd Round (38th Overall)

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    Top Guard Fills Biggest Need

    Aside from wide receiver, the Bucs' most gaping hole is at guard.  Veteran Davin Joseph was cut after he struggled to return from a torn ACL in 2012, and Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the Ravens after the team signed Evan Dietrich-Smith, a free agent.  

    This leaves the Bucs with the newly re-signed Jamon Meredith at one guard spot and Carl Nicks at the other.  Nicks' status for the 2014 season and beyond is still unclear, adding to the lack of stability at the position.

    The best guards in this year's class are projected to go in the late-first to early-second-round range, putting the Bucs in prime position to grab one of them.  Their best bet would be UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo, who boasts an outstanding combination of power and athleticism.  If he's off the board, Stanford's David Yankey would also be a solid pick.

Worst-Case Scenario: 2nd Round (38th Overall)

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    Top Guards Gone, Receivers Thin

    The worst thing that could happen leading up to the Bucs' second pick would be a run on players at both of their top positions of need.  It's very possible that both Xavier Su'a-Filo and David Yankey could be off the board at No. 38.  Similarly, with plenty of teams in the late first round needing receivers, Tampa Bay could end up with little value at that position as well.

    In the worst-case scenario, the Bucs would have not been able to fill either need in the first round.  This could force them to simply take the next best player at either guard or receiver, regardless of overall value.  

    If they decide to go the guard route, Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson could be their next-best choice.  And though he could possibly be had with the team's third-round pick, Mississippi's Donte Moncrief has both the size and speed to develop into an impact starter.

Best-Case Scenario: 3rd Round (69th Overall)

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    Add a Seminole Star on Defense

    If they're able to fill their two biggest needs in the first two rounds, the Bucs could then look to add a playmaker on defense.  It just so happens that there are three from from an in-state program who could be a perfect fit.

    While they did re-sign Jonathan Casillas and brought in Dane Fletcher, Tampa Bay still needs help at linebacker.  Mason Foster could either stay in the middle or move outside to the "Sam" linebacker spot, making a versatile prospect like Christian Jones very attractive.  Jones could play either spot, as well, giving Lovie Smith the flexibility to find the best fit for his scheme.

    If Jones is off the board, LB Telvin Smith would make plenty of sense.  With his rare athleticism for the position, he could develop into a special player in Smith's defense.  

    Another Florida State defender who would fit perfectly is DB Lamarcus Joyner, who could slide down the board due to his lack of size and true position fit at the next level.  However, Joyner's skill set would make him the perfect fit as a slot corner, where his blitzing ability and nose for the ball could remind Bucs fans of Ronde Barber.

Worst-Case Scenario: 3rd Round (69th Overall)

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    Reaching for Need

    If Tampa Bay makes it to the third round without addressing either of its biggest needs at guard or receiver, it may be forced to reach with this pick.  The team is missing its fourth-round pick thanks to the Darrelle Revis trade, so waiting until the fifth round to try and find a starter at either of those positions is a scary proposition.

    If receiver is the spot that has yet to be addressed, Clemson's Martavis Bryant and Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis are options who could possibly develop into reliable starters.

    If a guard is still what's needed, Alabama's Anthony Steen or Baylor's Cyril Richardson would likely be the best available at that point in the draft.  Clemson's Brandon Thomas would have been an attractive target in this range as well, but a torn ACL during a private workout with the Saints last week could send him plummeting down draft boards.