A Scout's Take on the Overall Draft Strategy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bob FoxContributor IApril 27, 2014

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht gestures during an NFL football news conference Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Licht becomes the fifth general manager in team history.  He takes over a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2007. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara

We are quickly closing in on the 2014 NFL draft, which commences on May 8.

This past Friday I had another opportunity to speak with scout Chris Landry on Steve Duemig's radio show.

Landry has scouted for both the Cleveland Browns and the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and is currently a scouting consultant for several NFL teams.

He is also one of the scouts who originated the NFL Scouting Combine.

He is truly one of the best talent evaluators in the business, and I wanted him to put his general manager's hat on and talk about what his strategy would be if he had that role with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2014 NFL draft.

Before he gave me his take, I mentioned the lack of draft picks for the Bucs in this year's upcoming draft, as the team only has six selections currently.

"Well, you hit it on one of them. They need to get more picks. They need more players. I think there is depth in this draft, and they are starting a little bit behind the eight-ball with not as many picks as they would like to have. It's one of those drafts that you would like to go into with eight or nine picks and go from there.

"The Bucs are short in a little bit of different spots. I think that is always in play. Moving back is something that I would try to do. Try, and being able to get it done is sometimes two different things. Who is going to want to move up No. 7?

"Who is going to be there? Maybe someone moving up for a quarterback there. I'm not sure that anyone would be. If somebody else is slipping, an elite defensive player or an elite player period, one of the top five, I'm not sure the Bucs would trade out of that. They probably would take that player.

"So the ability to trade down from No. 7 might be a little difficult. It just depends on who would slip. And whether the Bucs would be willing to pass on that guy or not."

John Bazemore

About a month ago, I did a mock draft for the Bucs and had them selecting quarterback Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M with their first pick. Later in my mock draft, I also had them trading back to acquire a couple of extra picks.

Since that mock draft, the Bucs did acquire an additional sixth-round pick when they traded wide receiver Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills.

Because that trade has left the Bucs very short at the wide receiver position, I also wrote a story earlier this month about why the Bucs might want to select wide receiver Mike Evans in the first round of the draft, depending on how the board looks at the time.

I talked to Landry on the Big Dog's show last month about whom the Bucs might be looking for in the first round at pick No. 7.

He said then that the Bucs have a lot of great options:

"Here's the great thing about the Bucs at seven. They are going to get them one hell of a player. First of all, to Bob's point, I see no way Greg Robinson is there at all. He could go as high as two. But again, if you start doing the numbers, and you can't see this one there and you can't see that one there, somebody is going to have to be there.

"Let me just tell you, it's a really good draft. I love the top three tackles. Last year we had three tackles go high. (Lane) Johnson, (Luke) Joeckel and (Eric) Fisher, right? All three top tackles are better than the top three tackles last year. So Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan are all better than the top three guys last year. Not by a great margin, but to me, they would go higher than those three.

"Now in this draft, they might not go as high because there is better depth at other positions. So, maybe there's a tackle there. There is going to be a really good player. Khalil Mack would be a great for their Sam (strong-side) backer. And a guy who can put his hand if they want to put him down in the nickel can be really good.

"They know there are quarterbacks who people are going to have differing opinions on. How about a playmaker at receiver? (Sammy) Watkins will probably be gone. But, maybe not. How good would he be for a weapon?

"In some people's eyes, it may be a little too high for an Eric Ebron, but a tight end that's going to be a big-time playmaker—you can turn in a number of different directions. Fill a need with an impact player that's a top-five graded player on your board. They (the Bucs) are in great position."

Still, even with an outstanding selection at pick No. 7, whoever that may be, the Bucs still have to somehow find a way to get more selections in this very deep draft.

Landry brought that up again when I talked to him on Friday:

"I think moving down, coming out of this draft with improvement at receiver is significant. I think getting an upgrade on defense, a pass-rusher, getting a tight end, maybe a young offensive tackle, a young linebacker down the road and a young quarterback.

"All those are to me areas that you would like to upgrade. But if you can't get extra picks, you are not going to get all those situations filled. But I think you really have to at this point focus on all the work you have done on setting up your board.

"The reason why you do that is it allows you to dictate where there are strengths. If you see that there is really good depth, and you can get maybe an extra pick in the fourth round or the fifth round, those are really significant. That's going to represent perhaps an extra starter if you can get that done."

Bottom line, the Bucs have done an excellent job in free agency in terms of adding talent and depth to the roster.

Now they need to do the same thing in the 2014 NFL draft. Adding more draft selections would make that job a lot easier.


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