Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Complete 2014 NFL Draft Wrap-Up and Analysis
When general manager Jason Licht stepped to the podium to address the media at the conclusion of the 2014 NFL draft, this quote pretty much told fans all they need to know about this year's new class of Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
"If anyone sees (defensive coordinator) Leslie Frazier let me know. And if anybody sees (head coach Lovie Smith), we told him the draft was next weekend so he's on vacation right now."
After attacking free agency hard on the defensive side of the ball, the Bucs spent all six of their 2014 draft picks on offensive players. After being the league's worst offense in 2013, it's hard to blame Tampa Bay for adding multiple offensive playmakers, as well as a pair of blockers to help free them up to do their jobs.
One position on offense where fans expected to see some movement was at quarterback, but despite receiving multiple trade offers for Mike Glennon, the Bucs chose to keep him and not draft a quarterback.
After a disappointing 4-12 season in 2013, the Bucs' new management has overhauled a roster that already had plenty of promising young talent. Let's take a look at the latest additions and how they'll impact the team in 2014.
- First Round, No. 7 overall: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
- Second Round, No. 38 overall: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
- Third Round, No. 69 overall: Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
- Fifth Round, No. 143 overall: Kadeem Edwards, G, Tennessee State
- Fifth Round, No. 149 overall (from BUF): Kevin Pamphile, OT, Purdue
- Sixth Round, No. 185 overall (from BUF): Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
With a league-worst offense in 2013 that struggled particularly in the red zone, it's not surprising that Tampa Bay's first two draft picks were passing targets who possess imposing size, physicality and the ability to win jump balls.
Both Evans and Seferian-Jenkins stand 6'5" tall, and each has the frame to outmuscle opposing defenders for the ball on a consistent basis. They also boast impressive athleticism for their size, which will constantly create mismatches for opposing defenses, and they're willing and effective blockers, as well.
Though the Bucs had multiple needs elsewhere, they chose to add a playmaker to their already-stocked stable of running backs, drafting Sims at the top of the third round. Arguably the most complete back in the draft, Sims is a three-down player who has great quickness and vision as a runner, and he is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield.
Surprisingly, the Bucs waited until the fifth round to address their need at guard, finally selecting Edwards, who is a raw but athletic blocker who has the natural ability and mean streak to be a potentially dominant force if he's able to fully develop.
Just six picks after taking Edwards, Tampa Bay traded back into the top half of the fifth round to grab another offensive lineman, this time taking a tackle in Pamphile. Joining Evans and Seferian-Jenkins as the third former basketball player in the Bucs' 2014 draft class, the Purdue product is a converted defensive end who is still fairly raw but has a rather high ceiling.
Tampa Bay capped off its all-offense draft by getting one of the biggest steals of the entire event in Herron, who will be a perfect fit as a slot receiver. His ability to create separation with his speed as well as his vision and explosiveness after the catch will make him an instant contributor to the Bucs' passing game.
Best Pick: Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
Despite coveting "speed in space" for their new offense, the Bucs spent their first two draft picks on bigger receiving targets who are more known for their size than their ability to light up the stopwatch.
But the Bucs pulled off one of the biggest steals of the entire draft in the sixth round, grabbing Wyoming speedster Herron with the 185th overall pick. Despite being projected to go somewhere between the third or fourth rounds, Herron fell all the way past the midway point of Day 3.
Though undersized at 5'9", 193 pounds, Herron's speed and overall skill set make him the perfect fit as a slot receiver for the Bucs. His small stature won't have too much of a negative impact, as he won't be counted on to line up outside, and his previous experience as a running back is evident in the vision and tackle-breaking ability he shows after the catch.
Herron impressed at the Senior Bowl with his ability to consistently create separation against some of the top competition in the nation. He should excel in his slot role with the Bucs and make an instant impact for an offense that needs a home run threat.
Worst Pick: Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
It's extremely difficult for me to label one of my favorite players in this draft as the Bucs' worst pick.
The only reason Sims finds himself with this distinction is due to the fact that Tampa Bay already has three impressive young backs on the roster. The team had bigger needs that could have been addressed with the 69th overall pick.
One of the most complete backs in the entire draft, Sims brings plenty to the table as both a runner and receiver. There's no denying his talent as a player, but with some of the top prospects still available at guard, as well as multiple spots on defense that could have used some depth with this pick, Sims was a luxury pick for a team that really couldn't afford one.
Again, I love everything about Sims as a player, and there's no doubt he'll be an asset to the Bucs offense. The only thing that gives this pick a negative grade is the fact that Tampa Bay simply had more pressing needs that needed to be addressed with this pick.
Undrafted Free Agents
Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
Solomon Patton, WR, Florida
Matt Patchan, OT, Boston College
Local product started his college career with Florida before following his position coach, Steve Addazio, to Boston College. Loaded with talent, Matt Patchan just needs to add some bulk and stay healthy.
Chaz Sutton, DE, South Carolina
The Gamecocks' edge-rusher who lined up opposite Jadeveon Clowney, Chaz Sutton is a bit undersized for a 4-3 end, but he has the athleticism to get after the quarterback and make plays in the backfield.
Ryne Giddins, DE, USF
Another local standout, Ryne Giddins was a highly touted recruit who spurned bigger programs to stay close to home and play for the Bulls. He's shown flashes as a pass-rusher, but he has struggled with injuries throughout his career.
Jeremy Smith, RB, Oklahoma State
Another prospect who has struggled to stay healthy, Jeremy Smith's streak of 10 straight games with a rushing touchdown trails only Barry Sanders in school history. He faces an uphill battle to win a roster spot in a packed backfield.
Andrew Miller, OL, Virginia Tech
A versatile lineman who spent time at both guard and center, Andrew Miller will get a chance to add depth to a unit that has suffered through some debilitating injuries over the past two seasons.
Josh Allen, OL, Louisiana-Monroe
Another prospect who has experience at both the center and guard spots, Josh Allen was a first-team All-Sun Belt selection after starting all 12 games in 2013.
Keith Lewis, CB, Virginia-Lynchburg
A small-school stud with an intriguing combination of size and speed, the 6'1", 190-pound cover man has reportedly been clocked as fast as 4.21 seconds in the 40-yard dash, via NFL Draft Diamonds.
Nate Askew, LB, Texas A&M
One of three Aggies to sign a free-agent contract with the Bucs, Nate Askew played receiver his entire career until switching to defense for the 2013 season, recording 33 tackles on the year.
Toney Hurd, Jr., DB, Texas A&M
A team captain, Toney Hurd is an undersized cover man who notched 51 tackles and a pair of sacks in his senior campaign, starting six games.
Steven Jenkins, LB, Texas A&M
Yet another Aggie defender, Steven Jenkins is an undersized but athletic player who consistently finds his way into the opposing backfield and packs a punch once he gets there.
Mycal Swaim, S, Eastern Michigan
Euclid Cummings, DT, Georgia Tech
An undersized but athletic interior lineman, Euclid Cummings started every game for the Yellow Jackets in 2013. He is known for his passion and enthusiasm and became a vocal leader in this senior season.
Aaron Burks, WR, Boise State
A redshirt senior, Aaron Burks boasts an intriguing combination of size and speed. Listed at 6'3", 205 pounds, Burks averaged over 17 yards per catch in 2013 and has been clocked at 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash, via NFLDraftScout.com.
Chris Burnette, G, Georgia
A three-year starter for one of the SEC's best offenses, Chris Burnette overcame multiple injuries early in his career to become a consistent and effective blocker for the Bulldogs.
Dylan Lynch, K/P, Jacksonville
What's Next for Bucs?
Much like in free agency, the Bucs attacked their needs hard in this draft and came out with some playmakers who should make an instant impact for an offense in need of a face-lift.
That being said, the rebuilding project is still in the early stages, and there's plenty of work still to be done, particularly on the offensive line.
However, Tampa Bay has created a strength out of one of its biggest need areas, grabbing three pass-catchers who can make plays down the field and in the red zone. Unlike last season, the team will be stabilized by a veteran presence at quarterback and will hopefully not have to endure as many off-field distractions in 2014.
Chemistry will be key for the Bucs moving forward, as a new staff and plenty of new players do their best to jell quickly into a team with one common pulse. Just as free agency was a step in the right direction, this draft class should keep the Bucs moving further down the path to NFL relevance.