Well, the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books and it was a very successful one for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They started the night with the 7th overall pick and ended it picking 12th while stocking up on not one but two additional second round picks after a trade with the Buffalo Bills. They used that 12th pick to select DT Vita Vea of the University of Washington, the best interior defensive lineman in this class. The pick came as somewhat of a surprise to some well ok, most Bucs fans, especially with Florida State safety Derwin James still on the board. But despite the fans cries for a DB, Jason Licht stuck to his guns and his draft board and took the best player available.
Now the Bucs head into Day 2 of the draft with glaring holes still at cornerback, running back and offensive guard. Luckily, after that trade with Buffalo, they now have three second round picks to fill those needs. Tampa Bay has the 38th, 53rd and 56th picks of the second round, so let’s take a look at some of the players that are still left on the board for them to choose from on Friday.
This draft is fairly deep at cornerback and running back. What it’s not deep at is offensive guard. Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson was by far the best one in this draft and the Colts stole him from the open arms of the Buccaneers with their 6th pick on Thursday night. Then the Patriots took one of the next best interior o-linemen with their 23rd pick in Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn. Other interior linemen already off the board are Arkansas Frank Ragnow who went to the Lions with the 20th pick and Ohio State’s Billy Price who went to the Bengals with the 21st pick. The next best pure guard left on the board, and my second favorite in this draft, is UTEP’s Will Hernandez. At 6’2″/330lbs, he ran a 5.15 forty at the NFL Combine while throwing up 37 reps on the bench. He was a four year starter in college at left guard with a rare combination of power, athleticism, agility and balance. He’s a bulldozer as a run blocker and has a nasty attitude in pass protection. Jason Licht finished shoring up the d-line with their 12th pick, and I see him doing the same for their o-line with their 38th pick. That is if the Giants don’t steal him with the 34th pick.
After solidifying the front end of the defense in the first round, they will try to help out the back end with their second pick of the second round. There were three cornerbacks taken in the first round last night. The Browns reached a bit for Ohio State’s Denzel Ward with the 4th pick. The Packers took Louisville’s Jaire Alexander with the 18th pick. And the Vikings added to their dominant defense with UCF’s Mike Hughes with the 30th pick. Even after three first round cornerback picks, there are still a few very good players left that could step in and take on the starting CB role opposite Brent Grimes that could be available when the Bucs go on the clock with the 53rd pick.
Iowa’s Josh Jackson is still on the board. He’s a 6’/200lb corner with 4.5 speed and athleticism. He’s a smart and disciplined defender and a true ballhawk who had 8 interceptions and 18 passes defensed in the 2017 season.
There’s also Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver who is another 6’/200lb corner with 4.5 speed. He finished 2017 with 2 interceptions and 13 passes defensed.
Auburn’s Carlton Davis is also still sitting there. He’s a big 6’1″/210lb corner with 4.5 speed who plays physical at the line of scrimmage and has the size and length to cover those big NFC South receivers.
Last but not least, there’s LSU’s Donte Jackson. A smaller corner at 5’10″/185lbs but he ran a blistering 4.32 forty at the Combine. He’s drawn some comparisons to Janoris Jenkins.
Well, those are the four best cornerbacks still on the board for the Bucs going into Friday’s second round. After taking a CB with the 53rd pick, they can concentrate on finding a new running back with their 56th pick. There were three RB’s taken in the first round on Thursday night. The first was no surprise with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley going to the Giants with their 2nd pick. The next back didn’t get taken until the 27th pick when the Seahawks surprisingly chose San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny. The Patriots then took Georgia’s Sony Michel with the 31st pick, their second pick of that first round. While I do think there will be a serious string of backs taken in the second round today, the Bucs still have quite a few to choose from. And now after yesterday’s news that they re-signed third down back Charles Sims, they have a little bit more flexibility as to what kind of running back to take in this draft.
Apparently the Bucs are pretty high on LSU’s Derrius Guice and shockingly he’s still available even though I don’t think he will be by this 56th pick. If Hernandez is gone and Guice is still on the board, I could see the Bucs taking him with that 38th pick. At 5’10″/225lbs, he ran a 4.49 forty at the Combine and finished 2017 with 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging over 5 yards per carry. He’s a tough runner with speed, strength and good instincts.
USC’s Ronald Jones is still available even though he may be gone as well. He’s 6’/200lbs, ran a 4.65 forty and is explosive. He finished 2017 with 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns while averaging almost 6 yards per carry. He’s also good in pass protection and only had two fumbles in 591 carries so he takes care of the football.
Next is my pick for the Bucs, Georgia’s other running back Nick Chubb. At 5’10″/220lbs, he ran a 4.52 forty. He finished 2017 with 1,345 yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging 6 yards per carry. He’s a human bowling ball. A power runner with quickness and explosiveness. He ended his college career as the Bulldogs second all-time leading rusher behind Herschel Walker.
There’s also Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson. At 5’11″/215lbs, he ran a 4.54 forty. He finished 2017 with 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 5 yards per carry. He’s a downhill runner who shows quickness, cutting ability and good vision.
There’s also other options that should be available later in the second round or early third round should the Bucs decide to trade back again and stockpile another pick or two like Miami’s Mark Walton, Oregon’s Royce Freeman and NC State’s Nyheim Hines.
Obviously a lot could change depending on what happens between picks 33 and 37, but at least this gives you an idea of what’s still out there. If Hernandez isn’t available with the 38th pick, then I could see the Bucs taking a corner there too. I saw some, shall we say, less than pleased reactions to their first round selection yesterday. Some fans were disappointed that the team didn’t take a defensive back earlier in the draft. I get it. It is a big position of need. But it’s hard not to like what Jason Licht was able to do on Thursday night. Trading back five spots in the first and still getting the best defensive tackle in this draft while netting two more second round picks was brilliant. It was exactly what they needed to do, especially since they didn’t have that third round pick after the JPP trade. If they can finish the first two days of this 2018 NFL Draft with Vea, a starting cornerback, a starting running back and a starting guard then I think every Bucs fan (except for the FSU fans of course) would be ecstatic with those results. We’ll find out later tonight!
Until then, as always…GO BUCS…and GO JASON LICHT!!!