The third time is the charm, right? Since my last mock was released, circumstances have changed. Rumors have started flying. Opportunities could be opening up.
Could it be possible? Could lightning strike twice for the Bucs? Could the best player at his position somehow fall into their laps for the second year in a row like O.J. Howard did last year? If so, how does that influence the rest of the draft? Well in my Mock Draft 3.0, I take that scenario and run with it. So let’s see where it takes us, shall we?
Mock Draft 3.0
Rd.1, Pk.7: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State-
6’0″/233lbs, 4.4 forty, 29 bench reps, 41″ vert
Career stats: 38 games, 671 attempts, 3,843 yards, 5.7 yards per carry, 43 touchdowns, 102 receptions, 1,195 yards, 11.7 yards per catch, 8 touchdowns
Yes, it could happen. A bunch of things have to go the Bucs way, but it could happen. For the sake of this mock, it does. The Bucs have the best running back prospect in this draft fall right into their laps with the 7th pick. They get their every down back who “has the ability to alter the course of an offense and become the face of a franchise” according to his NFL Draft Profile. He has rare ability, speed, elusiveness and vision. He’s the total package. He’s an elite talent. One NFL general manager stated that “This guy is special. Any concerns you have with him is just nitpicking”. According to WalterFootball.com, he’s a “better prospect than Ezekiel Elliott and a similar caliber player as Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley“. This guy could transform the Bucs offense. This guy would could be the difference maker. And if he somehow falls to #7, the Bucs would have to be insane to pass him up.
Rd.2, Pk.38: CB Carlton Davis, Auburn-
6’1″/206lbs, 4.53 forty, 16 bench reps, 34″ vert, 10’4″ broad
Career stats: 36 games, 136 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, .5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 28 passes defensed
In my Mock 2.0 I had UCF cornerback Mike Hughes in this spot, but he very well may be gone by the Bucs second round pick and Davis may be a more realistic option at this point. He has a combination of height, weight, length, speed and ball skills that gives him the advantage as a press man corner. He played with a confidence and an edge even while facing NFL caliber talent in the SEC over the last three years. Sources say that “his own QB stayed away from throwing to his side in practice”. He’s tremendously disruptive as a corner using his long arms and big hands to bully wideouts as shown by his double-digit passes defensed in all 3 seasons. He would give the Bucs a big, physical corner to play opposite Brent Grimes allowing Vernon Hargreaves to play nickel where he’s had more success.
Rd.4, Pk.102: S Kyzir White, West Virginia-
6’2″/218lbs, 4.57 forty, 21 bench reps, 35 1/2″ vert, 9’4″ broad
Career stats: 25 games, 152 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, 9 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries
The Bucs need a safety to replace T.J. Ward and this could be the guy to do it. He has the attributes that teams are looking for in a strong safety in today’s NFL. The size and speed to cover tight ends and bigger receivers. The physicality and instincts to support the run like a linebacker. He’s a competitor who plays every single down with the same urgency and tenacity. He’s a team captain and a true leader. He’s able to diagnose plays quickly and reacts appropriately. He’s a forceful hitter across the middle and a freight train as a blitzer. He would give the Bucs an enforcer across the middle to pair up with Justin Evans at centerfield giving them a formidable young safety tandem for years to come.
Rd.5, Pk.144: RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State-
6’2″/228lbs, 4.46 forty, 15 bench reps, 33 1/2″ vert, 10’2″ broad
2016-17 stats: 25 games, 283 attempts, 1,205 yards, 20 touchdowns, 64 receptions, 560 yards, 10.7 yards per catch, 1 touchdown
I know what you’re thinking. The Bucs already got Barkley, who’s a three-down back, so why do they need Ballage? Well even with the addition of Barkley, they could still use another running back in their stable. Especially one with Ballage’s skill set. He’s a versatile player who has experience as an off-set runner, a pass catcher out of the backfield and a wildcat quarterback. One of the most well rounded backs and the best pass pro back in this draft. A bruising, athletic runner with speed, power and pass catching ability who’s superb at pass protection would be a nice addition to the Bucs backfield. According to his NFL Draft Profile, “his size, speed and athleticism will appeal to teams as a third down back and kick returner”. He would not only be a suitable replacement for Charles Sims, but he’d be an upgrade.
Rd.6, Pk.180: DT P.J. Hall Jr, Sam Houston State-
6’1″/308lbs, 4.76 forty, 36 bench reps, 38″ very, 9’8″ broad
Career stats: 56 games, 284 tackles, 86.5 tackles for loss, 42 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions, 14 blocked kicks
Yeah, just take another minute to read that stat line again and let it really sink in. I know he went to a small school, but he absolutely dominated there. His draft stock is on the rise so there’s a good chance that he’s already gone at this point, but if he’s somehow still on the board here it should be a no brainer. What he may lack in height, weight or length he more than makes up for with his power and speed. He’s quick off the snap and disruptive against the run and the pass. I realize that Jason Licht upgraded the d-line in free agency by adding four new players, but Hall could be an interesting piece to add to the rotation. He offers flexibility and versatility with his strength and power to play inside and his speed and athleticism to play outside.
Rd.6, Pk.202: WR Ka’Raun White, West Virginia
6’1″/206lbs, 4.52 forty, 24 bench reps, 33 1/2″ vert, 9’10” broad
Career stats: 29 games, 124 receptions, 1,862 yards, 15.0 yards per catch, 17 touchdowns
Well, the Bucs already took his brother Kyzir in the fourth round to play safety. Here they take the other younger brother of Chicago Bears wideout Kevin White to play wide receiver. He’s a good athlete and competitive outside receiver who plays with toughness and speed. He’s got high football character and work ethic. In fact, one Big 12 defensive coach said that “His competitiveness and energy stand out on tape. He plays at the same level all game long and he’s really consistent”. White gives them another good sized wideout as a weapon for Jameis Winston.
Rd.7, Pk.255: DE Mike Love, USF-
6’4″/260lbs, 4.67 forty, 25 bench reps, 35″ vert, 10’11” broad
Career stats: 32 games, 64 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 6 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble
The Bucs add a little more late round talent to the defensive line with this local kid from Clearwater. He has good size and quickness to go with a great motor. He was very disruptive at and behind the line of scrimmage for the Bulls. He also adds some versatility playing both with his hand in the dirt and standing up. WalterFootball.com mentions him as a “late round sleeper pick”. He would likely end up being stashed away on the Bucs practice squad this season so he can develop a little bit more but he’s got some talent to work with.
Mock Draft 3.0 Recap
Rd.1- RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Rd.2- CB Carlton Davis, Auburn
Rd.4- S Kyzir White, West Virginia
Rd.5- RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Rd.6- DT P.J. Hall Jr, Sam Houston State
Rd.6- WR Ka’Raun White, West Virginia
Rd.7- DE Mike Love, USF
I know it’s a longshot but it could happen. With the 7th pick in the draft, the Bucs will either come away with a really good football player who will immediately contribute OR more draft picks to really add some depth to an already talented roster. Either way, this Bucs fan would be happy. However, adding Barkley and Ballage to an offense that already has Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, Adam Humphries, O.J. Howard and Cam Brate along with a revamped o-line could be just what Dirk Koetter needs to right the ship this season. Combine that offense with a defense with a reloaded d-line, a special group of linebackers and a secondary with these two rookies mixed in is a recipe for winning a bunch of football games. I can’t wait to see what happens in the draft in a couple weeks.
Until then, as always…Go Bucs!!!