Ok, I know I said my Mock 3.0 was probably my last one for 2018 but I just couldn’t resist. I came up with another possible, although improbable, draft day trade for the Bucs that I just had to explore. First, allow me to set up the scenario for all of you.
Before the Bucs can make a decision with their 7th pick, the first six picks have to play themselves out. So here’s how I see those picks going:
Pk.1- Browns: QB Sam Darnold, USC
I’m still not convinced that the Browns are going QB with this pick but if they aren’t, they sure are putting up a good front about it. My thinking is that they just traded with the Bill’s for Tyrod Taylor and also signed Drew Stanton to a 2 yr/$6.5 million contract as their backup so why would they use their #1 pick on another QB? I think they could go with Barkley here and add him to their new RPO offense with Taylor who already has Josh Gordon (if he can stay on the field), Corey Coleman, Jarvis Landry and David Njoku as his weapons. But the Browns have shown some added interest in Darnold so I’m going with him for their first pick.
Pk.2- Giants: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn St
If the Browns pass on Barkley, I don’t think the Giants will. He’s an elite talent in this draft and adding him to an Eli Manning led offense that already has Odell Beckham, Sterling Shephard, Brandon Marshall, Cody Latimer and Evan Engram could make the G-men a force to be reckoned with in the NFC as long as their defense can stop other teams from scoring now and then.
Pk.3- Jets: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
This is the one sure fire pick in the top six picks. The Jets have a serious need at quarterback. And after trading up with the Colts into the 3rd pick, it was pretty obvious they were in the market for a QB. The only question is, which QB? Mayfield seems to fit right in with this team. He could be their modern day Joe Namath.
Pk.4- Browns: DE Bradley Chubb, NC State
Since the Browns got their future franchise QB at with their first pick and the Giants ruined their plans of lucking out with Barkley at #4, they go defense with their second pick of the first round adding another elite talent to their defensive line to bookend with last year’s #1 pick Myles Garrett.
Pk.5- Broncos: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio St
This one is simple. Exit Aquib Talib. Enter Denzel Ward.
Pk.6- Colts: G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
The Colts need all kinds of help at all kinds of positions, but if Andrew Luck finally does come back from his injury then they’ll want to protect him a little better. Nelson is by far the best offensive lineman in this draft and they don’t pass him up. It’s quite unfortunate for the Bucs who go on the clock next and were probably chomping at the bit to add him to their offensive line.
That brings us to the Bucs 7th pick. Thanks to the Colts, the Bucs no longer have Nelson as an option. Which means their only logical options are either to take one of the top two safeties in Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick OR find a trade partner still looking for a quarterback. Luckily for them, the Buffalo Bill’s come calling and offer up their 12th pick and their 53rd pick in the second round to move up. The Bucs 7th pick is worth 1,500 points according to this year’s draft pick trade value chart. The Bill’s 12th (1,200 points) and 53rd (370 points) picks add up to 1,570 points. The Bill’s don’t mind “overpaying” those 70 points since they need a QB and only have a few to choose from in Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Josh Rosen.
So there the Bucs sit at #12 and in good shape trying to decide which direction to go. Do they go with a CB? Maybe a RB? Maybe DT Vita Vea is still sitting there? Hmm, decisions decisions.
Then the phone rings.
It’s the Arizona Cardinals. They are also QB hunting and don’t feel like waiting around any longer to get one. They offer up their 15th pick (1,050 points) and their 79th pick (195 points) in the third round for the Bucs 12th pick (1,200 points). Tampa takes the deal and now has the 15th pick in the first round, the 38th and 53rd picks in the second round and the 79th pick in third round to go along with their other original picks. Moving from 7th to 15th gained them two additional picks, including a third round pick which they lost in the JPP trade.
But wait, there’s more.
Even after trading back twice in the first round, the Bucs aren’t quite done moving. They decide to trade back in the second round as well giving up their 38th pick (520 points) and 144th pick (33.5 points) in the fifth round to Kansas City for their 54th pick in the second round (360 points), 86th pick (160 points) in the third round and 124th (48 points) in the fourth round.
But hold on, they’re still not done.
Jason Licht is still not satisfied. After trading away his fifth round pick to the Chiefs, he decides he wants one back so he gives the Broncos a call who own two of them (149th and 160th) but do not have any picks after that fifth round. Their 160th pick is worth 27 points on the trade chart, so Licht offers up the Bucs 180th (19 points) and 202nd (10.2 points) picks of the sixth and 255th pick (1 point) of the seventh which comes up to 30.2 points. I know what you’re thinking. They gave up 3 picks for 1 pick?
That fifth round pick is more valuable than those sixth and seventh round picks. Besides, with the way Jason and his scouting department finds diamonds in the rough as undrafted free agents, they can probably have just as much luck after the draft as they would with those late round picks.
The Bucs now have the 15th pick, the 53rd and 54th picks in the second, the 79th and 86th picks in the third, the 102nd and 124th in the fourth round and the 160th pick in the fifth round. That’s 8 picks in the first five rounds of this draft.
Now the question is, what can they do with them? Let’s find out.
Mock Draft 4.0
Rd.1, Pk.15- G Will Hernandez, Texas/El Paso
6’2″/348lbs, 5.15 forty, 37 bench reps, 24″ vert, 8’7″ broad
Career stats: four year starter at left guard (49 games), first All-American o-linemen in UTEP history
Well, they missed out on Quenton Nelson but they won’t miss out on the second best guard in the draft. Hernandez is a massive mauler. He has a rare combination of power, balance and athletic ability. He’s a dominant run blocker who also has the anchor and footwork to handle himself in pass protection. He plays with an aggressive, finishing demeanor on every snap and once he digs his hands into an opponents frame, they’re done. This dude joined boxing and powerlifting gyms FOR FUN! Scouts say that he’s exactly what teams look for in his work ethic and love for the game. One NFC scout says that “he will be one of the toughest and strongest players on the team as soon as he makes a roster”. How can the Bucs pass up on him at this point? They can’t. He becomes the Bucs new starting left guard so Ali Marpet can move back to right guard where he belongs.
Rd.2, Pk.53- CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado
6’1″/190lbs, 4.5 forty, 33 1/2″ arms, 35 1/2″ vert, 10’6″ broad
Career stats: 31 games, 82 tackles, 3 interceptions, 25 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble
Here’s where the Bucs get their new starting outside corner. He has an outstanding combination of size, speed and length that is highly coveted by NFL general managers. He uses his long arms to disrupt routes with long jabs at the line of scrimmage and to contest catches downfield as shown by his 25 passes defensed. Elite size and speed to go along with explosive leaping ability. According to his NFL Draft Profile, “Oliver has a high ceiling as a bump and run, lockdown corner” which is exactly what the Bucs need moving forward. Placing him outside opposite Brent Grimes allows the Bucs to move Vernon Hargreaves inside to nickel where he’s had a little more success and should help solidify the secondary.
Rd.2, Pk.54- RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
5’11″/228lbs, 4.52 forty, 29 bench reps, 38 1/2″ vert, 10’8″ broad
Career stats: 47 games, 758 attempts, 4,769 yards, 6.3 yards per carry, 44 touchdowns, 31 receptions, 361 yards, 11.6 yards per catch, 4 touchdowns
One of the Bucs biggest positions of need going into the draft is running back. It needs to be addressed early and possibly more than once. Doug Martin was released and Charles Sims was not re-signed. That leaves Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers as the only running backs on the roster with any real experience. The solution to part of that problem…Nick Chubb. The Georgia team captain finished as the Bulldogs second leading all-time rusher behind Herschel Walker. Pretty impressive, right? What’s even more impressive is the list of backs behind him like Todd Gurley, Sony Michel, Knowshon Moreno and Garrison Hearst. He has the size and mindset to be a primary ball carrier in the NFL. He’s a powerful runner who also has the quickness to rip off yards in chunks. WalterFootball.com says that “Chubb is a human bowling ball who’s been rolling over tacklers while being a physical force in the SEC”. Add to that the fact that he’s an explosive track competitor and you have the makings of a pretty solid running back.
Rd.3, Pk.79- S Kyzir White, West Virginia
6’2″/216lbs, 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 do have a need at safety although I don’t think it’s as much of a need as some others. Regardless of anyone’s opinion, they need to replace T.J. Ward at some point and this kid would be a good choice. The team captain was highly respected by teammates and he leads by example with his fearless and physical play on the field. He has the ability and physicality to cover tight ends and big receivers like a safety and supports the run like a linebacker. An NFL ready frame whose quick to diagnose plays and react. A sure tackler, a forceful hitter across the middle and an “absolute freight train as a blitzer” according to his NFL Draft Profile. It may not be this season, but eventually pairing him with Justin Evans should really solidify the back end of the Bucs defense.
Rd.3, Pk.86- RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
6’2″/228lbs, 4.46 forty, 15 bench reps, 33 1/2″ vert, 10’2″ broad
Career stats: 46 games, 450 attempts, 1,984 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 27 touchdowns, 82 receptions, 684 yards, 8.3 yards per catch, 2 touchdowns, 48 kick returns, 1,059 yards, 22.1 yards per return
He has been the one constant in all of my mock drafts. I like what I see from him. A lot. I know his numbers aren’t very impressive, but he has been sharing the backfield at Arizona State. Even though the Bucs got Chubb in Round 2 to be their power back, they still need to replace third down back Chuck Sims. Ballage fits that description with his size, strength, speed and athleticism. Those traits plus his route running ability, ball skills, soft hands and pass protection capability make him an ideal replacement, and probably upgrade, to Sims.
Rd.4, Pk.102- OT Alex Cappa, Humboldt St
6’7″/305lbs, 5.39 forty, 24 bench reps, 26 1/2″ vert, 8’1″ broad
Career stats: started all 43 games of his four years, Division II All-American selection
The o-line gets addressed here again, but this time with an offensive tackle. Even though Cappa is from a Division II school, he absolutely dominated there. Let’s not forget that our very own Ali Marpet came from Division III Hobart College where he did the same thing. A plus athlete with good footwork and agility to go along with his size. He plays with power and torque using his strong, violent hands to emphatically finish blocks. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock made a comment at the NFL Combine that “Cappa just tosses guys out of the bar” when describing his game tape. He played left tackle in college, but may not be quick enough to handle NFL speed rushers coming from the blind side. He adds depth for now, but could end up as the eventual replacement for Demar Dotson at right tackle.
Rd.4, Pk.124- CB Dane Cruikshank, Arizona
6’1″/210lbs, 4.41 forty, 25 bench reps, 38 1/2″ vert, 10’1″ broad
Career stats: 25 games, 134 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 5 interceptions, 12 passes defensed
The Bucs once again address their secondary with another cornerback. Cruikshank (pronounced Crook-shank) is a height, weight, speed prospect with excellent size and athleticism. He has the long speed to cover outside with the physicality to play press, but also has the quickness to cover slots and the size and strength to handle some tight ends. He’s also a downhill thumper and never turns down a tackling opportunity. Outstanding ball skills with soft hands and plucks throws like a wide receiver. He’s a freak athlete and workout warrior who showed out at the Combine. He probably wouldn’t start this season, but he would add depth to the cornerback group and would be a special teams standout. He could give them another option on the outside as a starter next season if or when Brent Grimes leaves.
Rd.5, Pk.180- OLB Shaquem Griffin, UCF
6’1″/227lbs, 4.38 forty, 20 bench reps, 37 1/2″ vert, 9’8″ broad
2016-17 stats: 26 games, 166 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 16 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries
There’s a good chance that he could be gone at this point, as I think he’ll probably go in the fourth round. But if he is still on the board here then the Bucs should jump at the chance to add this young man to their roster. Just look at his numbers. He’s an excellent football player despite not having a left hand. He really opened some eyes with his workout at the Combine. His instincts, playing speed and solid technique have all helped him to overcome his so called “limitation”. He’s a smart player who processes the game plan and reacts accordingly. He has the ability to play as an inside 3-4 or outside 4-3 linebacker. His NFL Draft Profile states that “his upfield burst as an edge blitzer and his range as a tackler are two strengths that NFL teams are looking for and could capitalize on”. A scout from one NFC team says that “he’s fast, athletic and makes a ton of plays”. He’s a team captain and a true leader on the field and in the locker room. He was the heart and soul of his UCF team and his positive attitude and determination would hopefully be infectious to have around One Buc.
Undrafted Free Agents
DE Justin Lawler, SMU: 6’4″/265lbs
Career stats: 36 games, 226 tackles, 40.5 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks, 3 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles
Desired football character, relentless effort, weight room junkie, quick on the edge
DT Bruce Hector, USF: 6’2″/300lbs
Career stats: 37 games, 90 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 18 sacks
Quick, penetrating 3-technique, interior pass rusher, “sleeper pick”
WR Brandon Powell, Florida: 5’9″/185lbs
Career stats: 49games, 131 receptions, 1,330 yards, 10.2 yards per catch, 10 touchdowns
Playmaker with the ball in his hands, noticeable threat, well put together, 4.46 forty time
WR Ka’Raun White, West Virginia: 6’1″/200lbs
Career stats: 29 games, 124 receptions, 1,862 yards, 15.0 yards per catch, 17 touchdowns
Brother of Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White, good athlete, tough player, high football character
OLB/ILB Reggie Carter, Georgia: 6’1″/230lbs
2016-17 stats: 21 games, 81 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks
Good playing speed, versatility to play inside or outside, NFL size
K Eddy Pineiro, Florida: 6’/185lbs
Career stats: 24 games, 56 of 58 XP’s, 38 of 43 FG’s, nation’s most accurate kicker in 2017, 5 for 5 over 50 yards, 91% over 40 yards, 75% of kickoffs are touchbacks
Big leg, accurate, unfazed by pressure kicks
S Cole Reyes, North Dakota: 6’2″/215lbs
2016 stats: 70 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles
NFL size, versatility to play both safety positions, good athleticism and instincts, intriguing NFL prospect
CB Deatrick Nichols, USF: 5’10″/190lbs
Career stats: 38 games, 174 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 11 interceptions, 24 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles
Good athlete, sure hands, versatility to play outside or nickel, quick feet
CB Jaylen Dunlap, Illinois: 6’1″/190lbs
Career stats: 32 games, 123 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 18 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble
Good athlete, speedy and explosive, great energy, good length, plays with urgency, very physical, plays ball well
RB Bo Scarborough, Alabama: 6’2″/230lbs
Career stats: 31 games, 267 Carrie’s, 1,512 yards, 5.7 yards per carry, 20 touchdowns
Explosive and powerful, a brute force, a runaway locomotive
OT Rick Leonard, FSU: 6’7″/311lbs
Big bodied, terrific vision and awareness, nasty attitude, strong and effective hands, good quickness
TE Ryan Izzo, FSU: 6’5″/250lbs
Career stats: 28 games, 54 receptions, 761 yards, 14.1 yards per catch, 6 touchdowns
In-line “Y” tight end, good size, plays with toughness and aggression, excellent blocker, soft and sure hands
ILB Myles Pierce, The Citadel: 5’11″/230lbs
Career stats: 40 games, 180 tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks,
One of the most productive LB’s in the FCS in last two years
RB D’Ernest Johnson, USF: 5’10″/210lbs
Career stats: 49 games, 421 carries, 4.3 yards per carry, 16 touchdowns, 72 receptions, 899 yards, 12.5 yards per catch, 12 touchdowns
Tough runner, physical finisher, reliable pass catcher, special teams ability, speed and athleticim
Well, there you have it. My fourth and final mock draft of 2018 has the Bucs making not one, not two, not even three, but four draft day trades giving them 8 picks in the first five rounds. That’s after starting the day with only seven picks and no third rounder!
There are many reasons why I love this mock. First, they get their starting left guard in Hernandez. Then they get not one, but two potential starting corners in Cruikshank and Oliver. They add two talented running backs to their backfield with Chubb and Ballage. They add depth to the defense in White and Griffin. And they add depth at offensive tackle with Cappa.
Some people may not like this draft. There’s no Minkah. No Derwin. No Barkley. No Ward. No Nelson. No Bradley Chubb. No top 10 pick. No sixth or seventh round picks. No defensive line picks. No pass rushers. But it worked. It accomplishes what drafts are supposed to accomplish which is fills in the holes of a roster. RB, CB, S and OL are the major needs going into this draft and this mock addresses all of them with really good players who would either step in and immediately start or at least contribute on this team. What more could we ask for as fans?
In about a week, the long wait will finally be over and the Cleveland Browns will officially go on the clock to begin the 2018 NFL Draft. A little over an hour or so later, it will be the Bucs turn and we’ll find out what Jason Licht does with that 7th overall pick.
Some fans will be happy.
Some fans won’t.
One thing is for sure. No matter what the decision is, this Buccaneers team will be better than it is right now. And this Bucs fan can’t wait to see what happens!
Until then, as always…Go Bucs!!!