Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mock Draft: Final 7-Round Predictions
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will finally be on the clock for real this week.
In this final projection, the Bucs have hypothetically traded down in the first round with Dallas, with Tampa Bay receiving the Cowboys' picks in the first (16th overall), 2nd (47th overall) and fourth (119th overall) rounds. Jerry Jones has proven that he's willing to make this type of jump in the first round, and there are a few targets in this draft who could entice him.
Dallas could move up to grab Pitt DT Aaron Donald to help shore up the interior of its defensive line or look to replace DeMarcus Ware with UCLA pass-rusher Anthony Barr, who may remind Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli of former Buccaneer Simeon Rice.
With a pair of extra picks in this mock scenario, let's take a look at the haul Tampa Bay could come out with this week.
16th Overall (from Dallas): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The popular opinion of late is that Bridgewater isn't viewed by many NFL teams as a first-round prospect. True or not, the Miami native could be on the board in the middle of the draft's opening round.
If that's the case in this scenario, the Bucs should waste no time making him the pick here. Tampa Bay has made no secret about its interest in this year's top quarterbacks, and the Bucs could be in the perfect position to grab one with their first pick.
With their biggest needs at receiver and guard, the Bucs could be better off waiting until the draft's second day to get the best value at those positions. Combine that with the fact that Josh McCown's veteran presence on a two-year contract would allow a rookie quarterback to acclimate slowly to the NFL game, and you have the perfect recipe for the Bucs taking one of the top four signal-callers with their first selection.
There have been concerns about Bridgewater's slight frame and his ability to be the face of a franchise, but his outstanding film outweighs the minor concerns that have surfaced after his lackluster pro day workout. He could be brought along slowly behind McCown, allowing the Bucs to possibly seek a trade for Mike Glennon.
38th overall: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
After taking their future franchise quarterback in the first round, the Bucs should be in a perfect spot to take advantage of a deep class at one of their biggest areas of need. Even before trading Mike Williams, the Bucs could have used help at the receiver position, but now the situation is dire.
Robinson has the combination of size and speed to start immediately on the outside, and he offers the kind of explosiveness after the catch that Vincent Jackson simply can't generate at this point. Robinson needs some fine-tuning but learning from Jackson could be an ideal scenario for Robinson to reach his lofty potential.
47th overall (from Dallas): Donte' Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
In a receiver class this deep, don't be shocked if the Bucs double-dip at the position early in the draft. In this mock scenario, Tampa Bay could use this extra second-rounder to turn one of its biggest weaknesses into a position of strength.
Adding Moncrief right after selecting Robinson would give the Bucs two young targets who are over 6'2" and have 4.4 speed. Much like Robinson, Moncrief is still a little rough around the edges, but in this situation, he wouldn't be counted on as a full-time starter right away, giving him time to refine his skills.
Having Jackson, Robinson and Moncrief at receiver to team with Doug Martin in the backfield and Teddy Bridgewater waiting in the wings at quarterback, the Bucs would have a strong young nucleus on offense that would allow them to compete with the other high-powered attacks in the NFC South.
69th overall: Billy Turner, OL, North Dakota State
Even though it's one of their biggest needs, the Bucs could end up waiting until the third round to address the guard spot and still get great value.
Turner was an outstanding tackle for the Bison, who have won the last three consecutive FCS national titles, but he projects as a guard at the next level. He worked inside during practices at the Senior Bowl, improving throughout the week and eventually impressing the coaching staff with his potential at the position.
Depending on Carl Nicks' status, Turner could easily man one of the starting guard spots at the start of the season. His experience at tackle also gives the Bucs some versatility and flexibility when injuries hit the offensive line.
119th overall (from Dallas): Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU
The strongside linebacker position isn't the most vital in the Tampa 2 defense, especially considering the number of snaps the Bucs are likely to play in nickel packages, thanks to the high-powered passing attacks they'll face on a regular basis.
Tampa Bay did bring back Jonathan Casillas despite a season-ending knee injury and also signed Dane Fletcher as a free agent from the Patriots. However, adding a versatile athlete at linebacker who can provide depth, special teams help and challenge for a starting role should be on the docket for the Bucs in the middle rounds.
Barrow brings the kind of versatility and athleticism that make him a perfect fit the Tampa 2 defense. The Bucs met with Barrow at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, so the team has shown interest in his services.
Though he still needs some refining in his technique, Barrow could eventually grow into an athletic playmaker who would be right at home in Lovie Smith's scheme.
143rd overall: Brandon Thomas, OL, Clemson
Injuries are inevitable in the NFL, and no unit has been more decimated in Tampa Bay over the past few seasons than along the offensive line. That being the case, depth and versatility on the O line are of the utmost importance, making prospects like Thomas so attractive.
Once considered a lock to be taken on the draft's second day, Thomas suffered a torn ACL during a private workout with the Saints. This leaves his draft stock in limbo, with teams likely unsure when to take a chance on a player who is just beginning to rehab from such a difficult injury.
However, if Thomas is still hanging around when the Bucs' pick comes up in the fifth round, they should take on the risk of selecting him. Should he fully recover, he could give the Bucs yet another young lineman with extensive experience at tackle who would likely project better at guard in the NFL.
185th overall (from Buffalo): Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
Even with the addition of free agent Mike Jenkins, the Bucs could still use more young depth at the corner position. In a division where they face Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan twice each per year, the Bucs can never have enough quality cover men.
Aikens turned heads at the Senior Bowl with a solid performance throughout the week in practice, showing scouts an outstanding blend of size, speed and technique against some of the nation's top competition. The transfer from Illinois was named to the Big South's all-conference teams in all three years he spent with the Flames, capping off his career with 62 tackles and three interceptions in 2013.
Aikens would team up with Jenkins, free-agent acquisition Alterraun Verner and sophomore Johnthan Banks to give four strong corners, three of whom are 25 years old or younger.
221st overall: Zach Moore, DE, Concordia
If Lovie Smith wants to create the same type of success with the Tampa 2 defense that the Bucs enjoyed while he was an assistant coach, getting consistent pressure from the front four is essential.
New defensive line coach Joe Cullen wants to build a deep rotation of defenders who can get after the quarterback as well as be consistently disruptive in the run game. If keeping fresh legs is of high importance, expect the Bucs to grab at least one defensive lineman somewhere in this draft.
Moore drew attention from certain Big Ten programs coming out of high school but ended up at Concordia after being unable to academically qualify. The Chicago native dominated his Division-II competition, especially in 2012, when he racked up 14 sacks and 21 tackles for loss.
A three-year starter, Moore is a raw prospect who needs plenty of development, but his size and natural physical skills are worth taking a chance on in the final round of the draft.