Here’s how I see things working out in what should be the best draft in recent memory. Due to the abundance of talent in this year’s class, I expect to be wrong an awful lot. Most teams have multiple urgent needs, and talent is stacked early on across the board. Ok, one last time here goes.
1) STL – Sam Bradford (QB, Oklahoma)
With their need at QB and his strong offseason, I can’t see the Rams taking another player or trading this pick. I don’t think they deal for Roethlisberger, and I think the Suh ship has sailed.
2) DET – Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska)
Their offseason actions tell me Okung isn’t the pick. The Lions continue to put an emphasis on getting stronger up front defensively. If they pick up Albert Haynesworth at the last minute, then my wishes have come true and House of Spears falls to the Bucs.
3) TB – Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma)
If the Lions shock me and don’t take Suh, the Bucs will. Otherwise, it’s probably McCoy. Although, I’ve read/heard nothing that would convince me that he’s a slam dunk here. I don’t think we can absolutely rule out Dez Bryant or Russell Okung. Coach Morris has often remarked about the importance of building around Josh Freeman, and both of those guys would aid in that area. Still, I think they end up going DT. Now if San Francisco gets a little froggy and wants to jump up the board, I’d deal down for picks #13, #17, and #113 (R4). I’m not going by a trade chart, but I would think that in addition to the two R1 selections, the Bucs could get a mid round pick in the deal as well.
4) WAS – Russell Okung (T, Oklahoma State)
They have their QB in McNabb, and now they need to get someone to protect his backside. Trent Williams is getting buzz due to being a better immediate ZBS fit, but I think Okung grades out much higher at LT and won’t have trouble in that scheme. I’m going with the highest rated player at the position they need help the most. With LaRon Landry bulking up and likely to play SS this year, don’t be surprised if Eric Berry is the pick here. I’m sticking with Okung due to the urgent need, but Berry wouldn’t shock me.
5) KC – Dan Williams (DT, Tennessee)
If things didn’t fall apart with the Redskins’ pick, it’s going to happen here. The Chiefs have been linked to Okung, Trent Williams, Eric Berry, Rolando McClain, Bryan Bulaga, and Jimmy Clausen. Okung is off the board, and despite the addition of Charlie Weis, I don’t see them bringing in Clausen to crowd things under center with Matt Cassel. Same thing with the Kirk Ferentz / Scott Pioli connection as it relates to Bulaga. Is Trent Williams good enough at LT to move Branden Albert inside to guard or over to RT? I don’t think so. I’d list McClain as having an outside shot, but I think it’s a long one. Berry gets all the buzz here, but I’ve seen several things that say he’s not as high on their list as the public thinks. As the Chiefs showed last year with Tyson Jackson, they’re not afraid to take need over value. Their NT situation is horrid and is a reason they finished with the second worst run defense in the league last year. (Want to guess who was worst?) It’s definitely not a popular pick, but I’m going with Williams. I’ll grudgingly go with Berry as my alternate pick. Oh, this is also the spot where I think he have our first serious shot at trade.
6) SEA – Trent Williams (T, Oklahoma)
Switching from Bulaga here due to Williams’ supposed climb up the board and the fact that he’s a better fit for what they do.
7) CLE – Eric Berry (S, Tennessee)
The Sheldon Brown acquisition solidifies this one for me.
8 ) OAK – Bruce Campbell (T, Maryland)
The acquisition of Quentin Groves from Jacksonville might nudge them away from a pass rusher like Jason Pierre-Paul with this selection and towards an offensive tackle. I picked Campbell here at the Combine, and I won’t change it now. If he doesn’t go here, Campbell might be waiting a while to hear his name called.
9) BUF – Bryan Bulaga (T, Iowa)
I don’t think they’ll take Clausen and will instead go with their highest rated tackle. They’re weak on both ends of the line, and Bulaga might have L/R versatility.
10) JAX – Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, USF)
I’ve had Derrick Morgan here, and while he’s the guy I’d take, the Jaguars supposedly like JPP more. I’d consider Haden, especially given the conference in which they play, but they reportedly don’t have him graded that high.
11) DEN – Jared Odrick (DL, Penn State)
Brandon Marshall is gone, and while Dez Bryant is still getting a lot of buzz here, I just think that’s too easy of a pick. Rolando McClain would tie up a ton of $ at ILB, corner (Haden) isn’t a need, and Dan Williams is off the board. I still like Odrick in this spot.
12) MIA – Earl Thomas (DB, Texas)
I think it’s S or OLB here, and Thomas gives them versatility and the best value here IMO. If Derrick Morgan is available it will be interesting to see if they take him given how much they’ve been tied to him this offseason.
13) SF – Jimmy Clausen (QB, Notre Dame)
They’re reported to have interest in Clausen, and given their QB situation, he would be a very wise pick. I like this fit with Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis. There’s talk that they might be eager to move up to get him, and if Bradford and Suh go 1-2 and I was Mark Dominik, I’d be on the phone with the Niners as soon as the Bucs go on the clock. I’d take picks #13, #17 and #113 and turn them into Morgan/Graham, Weatherspoon, and Marshall Newhouse. Then I’d take Tyson Alualu in R2 or Lamarr Houston in R3 to address DT. That grabs me a lot better than simply McCoy at #3.
14) SEA – Derrick Morgan (DE, Georgia Tech)
I still have them going T and DE in R1. If Morgan goes to Jacksonville and JPP makes it this far, I think they take him. A lot of folks still have Spiller going to Seattle, but if Pete Carroll truly wants to get bigger at the position, Spiller wouldn’t seem to be his target.
15) NYG – Rolando McClain (LB, Alabama)
I’m staying with McClain. I think it’s going to be either him or Spiller.
16) TEN – Joe Haden (CB, Florida)
No change. If JPP or Morgan is available, one of them might be the pick, but I’m not sure Brandon Graham is in the conversation. The Titans need to line up a reliable corner opposite Courtland Finnegan, and I think they’d be happy to take the draft’s first with this pick.
17) SF – CJ Spiller (RB, Clemson)
I think talent trumps need (OL) at this point, and I’m guessing they’d take Spiller over Anthony Davis.
18) PIT – Kyle Wilson (CB, Boise State)
Maybe I’m alone, but I think this would be an interesting 10 minutes if Clausen was still on the board.
19) ATL – Sean Weatherspoon (LB, Missouri)
No change. I’m leaning really heavy to Weatherspoon here, and the only other players I see as options would be Maurkice Pouncey and Brandon Graham.
20) HOU – Ryan Mathews (RB, Fresno State)
No change. They go with a RB instead of a DB.
21) CIN – Taylor Mays (S, USC)
I’m back on Mays. FS appears to be their biggest need, and they have an affinity for USC guys. I think the Gresham mockers will be wrong.
22) NE – Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State)
He may not end up falling this far, but who’s going to take him? I still think Denver won’t work. Right or wrong, there’s a bunch of negativity around Bryant, and I doubt the Broncos will be eager to go down that road with a receiver at #11. Miami has Marshall, and I don’t think SF, NYG, TEN, HOU, or CIN take him. Maybe Seattle with pick #14, but DE is a huge weakness. I wouldn’t rule PIT or ATL out completely, but I think they’ll address more urgent needs; especially since the talent is still very high at this point. If Bryant does fall, I feel comfortable taking him over a pass rusher here. Randy Moss is on the down side of his Patriot career, and there’s no one on the roster remotely capable of filling his shoes. If Bryant is gone I think Sergio Kindle is the pick.
23) GB – Anthony Davis (T, Rutgers)
I had them taking Charles Brown last time, but I think they’d take Davis since he’s on the board in this version; more versatility, instant impact.
24) PHI – Maurkice Pouncey (OL, Florida)
No change. I really like him here.
25) BAL – Brandon Graham (DE/OLB, Michigan)
I’m sticking with Graham over Devin McCourty. I like his projection to a hybrid scheme like theirs. I think it comes down to one of these two guys here.
26) ARI – Kareem Jackson (CB, Alabama)
Word is he’s creeping up boards, and with Dan Williams gone, I think Arizona will go with their highest rated corner.
27) DAL – Mike Iupati (G, Idaho)
Demaryius Thomas would be my surprise pick here, but I think they like Iupati too much to pass on him. Safe to say it won’t be Tebow.
28) SD – Terrence Cody (DT, Alabama)
Easy pick for me with Ryan Mathews off the board.
29) NYJ – Sergio Kindle (LB, Texas)
Huge talent fills huge need. Yes, they just signed Jason Taylor, but he’s not a long term solution. His is a one year deal, and then they’re back to square one again.
30) MIN – Brian Price (DT, UCLA)
Williams Wall insurance.
31) IND – Charles Brown (T, USC)
I’m guessing they take him if he’s there. They want to upgrade Peyton Manning’s protection, and the athletic Brown is a guy with potential.
32) NO – Everson Griffen (DE, USC)
I don’t love back-to-back picks from the same school, but that’s how it worked out here. Adding Alex Brown doesn’t solve the DE need IMO, and I think Griffen is good value at the bottom of the round.
END ROUND 1
33) STL – Jermaine Gresham (TE, Oklahoma)
I still like pairing Bradford with his collegiate TE.
34) DET – Jahvid Best (RB, California)
They need playmakers and someone to split carries with Kevin Smith.
35) TB – Jerry Hughes (DE, TCU)
He’s still my top option with this pick, but if he’s gone or they choose to go in a different direction, I’d prefer Kareem Jackson or Golden Tate.
36) KC – Golden Tate (WR, Notre Dame)
He fills a need, and they’re familiar with his work.
37) PHI – Devin McCourty (CB, Rutgers)
With one of the picks they obtained for Donovan McNabb, the Eagles take a corner.
38) CLE – Tim Tebow (QB, Florida)
Tebow would be in great hands with Mike Holmgren. I also think they’re going to be looking for a new HC in a year, and there’s this guy working for ESPN who would love to develop this young QB.
39) OAK – Carlos Dunlap (DE, Florida)
Again with the back-to-back universities. If Al doesn’t take JPP in R1, then I like Dunlap here, even with the Groves trade. If he does, then maybe Saffold is the pick.
40) SD – Toby Gerhart (RB, Stanford)
I still like them going NT and RB with their first two picks. Gerhart is a nice pairing with Sproles. This might be a little high for Gerhart, so maybe they get him by dealing down a bit. I don’t think he’ll be there when they pick again (#91).
41) BUF – Linval Joseph (DT, ECU)
The fast-rising DT fills a need at NT for the Bills.
42) TB – Arrelious Benn (WR, Illinois)
Freeman gets a reliable, physical #1 receiver. My alternative pick here would be Patrick Robinson.
43) DEN – JD Walton (C, Baylor)
One of the Brandon Marshall picks goes to addressing the offensive line.
44) NE – Rodger Saffold (OL, Indiana)
The Patriots would be wise to add OL depth, and Saffold appears to be good value at this point.
45) DEN – Demaryius Thomas (WR, Georgia Tech)
Here they address their need for a WR. He may not fall this far, but I’m just not impressed with him enough to find a place for him any higher.
46) NYG – Tyson Alualu (DL, California)
No change. I like his fit with their defense.
47) NE – Koa Misi (OLB, Utah)
If they don’t get a pass rusher in R1, I expect one of their three R2 picks to focus on the position.
48) CAR – Taylor Price (WR, Ohio)
No change. Steve Smith has asked for a young playmaker across from him, and I’m high on Price.
49) SF – Patrick Robinson (CB, FSU)
If they go QB and RB with their first two picks, I think this next one is either a corner or lineman. I chose Robinson over Ducasse.
50) KC – Jason Worilds (OLB, Virginia Tech)
I think one of their R2 picks goes towards a pass rusher, and with the Bucs taking Hughes right ahead of them at #35, they settle for Worilds.
51) HOU – Nate Allen (S, USF)
I’m guessing they’d take Allen over the available corners in this spot.
52) PIT – Vladimir Ducasse (OL, Massachusetts)
53) NE – Corey Wootton (DL, Connecticut)
Youth is needed up front.
54) CIN – Brandon Ghee (CB, Wake Forest)
TE might be a more likely pick, but I’ve got Ghee breaking in as a nickel guy here. Dorin Dickerson seems to be high on their list, so that might be a surprise selection.
55) PHI – Morgan Burnett (S, Georgia Tech)
The Eagles add to the secondary once again.
56) GB – Chad Jones (S, LSU)
No change. They need to upgrade at SS.
57) BAL – Rob Gronkowski (TE, Arizona)
If they don’t get one in R1, I like a TE here.
58) ARI – Sean Lee (LB, Penn State)
I’ve now got him jumping into R2 attempting to fill their need at ILB.
59) DAL – Cam Thomas (DT, North Carolina)
If they can’t get a safety here, I think they’ll look to beef up the defensive line.
60) SEA – Jonathan Dwyer (RB, Georgia Tech)
Pete Carroll gets his physical presence.
61) NYJ – Jon Asamoah (G, Illinois)
After missing out on Pouncey and Iupati in R1, they get their replacement for Alan Faneca with this pick.
62) MIN – Chris Cook (DB, Virginia)
If they don’t get a corner in R1, I think they’ll focus on one here. Cook might also give them needed FS versatility.
63) IND – Austen Lane (DE, Murray State)
I’m going back to this pick. I like him developing with Freeney and Mathis.
64) NO – Colt McCoy (QB, Texas)
I think he’s a really safe pick for this team. There’s absolutely nothing behind Brees, so one Bernard Pollard knee shot could ruin the Champs’ season. They’d be wise to invest in a talented backup. If someone was to take McCoy before this, I like Darryl Washington as a WLB on that defense.
END ROUND 2
With the Bucs’ first three picks, I’ve got it down to:
1 – Suh or McCoy
2a – Hughes, Jackson, or Tate
2b – Benn or Robinson
These are three huge decisions for Bucs brass to make, and how they fare with those picks could go a long way in determining the tenure of this current regime.
I think getting a DT in R1 is pretty much a lock at this point, and McCoy looks much more likely. The only way I see the Bucs getting Suh is if the Lions trade for Albert Haynesworth. That would then, seemingly, have them addressing another position besides DT with the #2 overall pick, which would then have Suh falling into Tampa’s lap. Unlikely, but it’s a scenario nonetheless.
After that, I still want to come away with some combination of CB, WR, and DE with the next two picks. I think the value at pass rusher and corner is noticeably better at #35 than it will be at #42. That being the case, I’d lean towards Hughes or Jackson over Tate if either was there. Then at #42, I get my receiver. Here it’s Benn, and I think there’s a pretty good chance that Benn, Tate, or even Taylor Price is a Buccaneer after all is said and done on day two of the draft. They need to emerge with a serious threat at receiver, and I don’t think they can do it if they wait past this pick. There are fine complimentary players later on in the draft like Jordan Shipley, but the Bucs are desperate for a #1 receiver. Mike Williams is a mid round guy I think has the best shot of that bunch of being a #1, but will the Bucs take a chance on a guy who quit on his team?
With DT, DE, and WR being addressed, I’m looking for a CB with the next pick. Given the depth of talent at the position this year, the Bucs shouldn’t have a problem emerging with an eventual starter at pick #67. Moving on…
My remaining Buccaneer picks stay nearly the same:
R3 – Amari Spievey (CB, Iowa)
If they have yet to get a pass rusher and CB and WR have both been addressed, I’d look at either Austin Lane (DE, Murray State) or Jermaine Cunningham (DE, Florida) with this pick. If they haven’t chosen a receiver, I’d take Mardy Gilyard and Damian Williams over Jordan Shipley here.
R4 and R5 – James Starks (RB, Buffalo) and Pat Angerer (LB, Iowa)
I keep flip flopping these guys round-wise, so I’ll lump them together here; order doesn’t matter. If the Bucs were to wait until now (let’s hope not) to draft a receiver, Dezmon Briscoe (Kansas), Andre Roberts (Citadel), and Mike Williams (Syracuse) might get looks. Brandon Lang (Troy) is the pass rusher I’d be most likely to consider, and I still like Marshall Newhouse (TCU) as a versatile offensive lineman.
Through 5 rounds I have the Bucs addressing each of their primary needs, and from here on out I’m simply looking at the best talent on the board regardless of position.
R6 – Corey Peters (DT, Kentucky)
I’ve mocked Marcus Easley (WR, Connecticut) here before, but it looks like he’s climbing and someone might snatch him up a little earlier based on his potential. If that’s the case, the Bucs should have their choice of some talented players who had the misfortune of falling; possibilities like Jason Fox (T, Miami), George Selvie (DE, USF), Larry Asante (S, Nebraska), or Syd’Quan Thompson (CB, California). Even with the addition of Gerald McCoy in R1, the Bucs would be wise to get another DT at some point.
The Bucs now have 5 selections in the final round – their original choice, JAX’s for Luke McCown, BAL’s for Marques Douglas, PIT’s for Byron Leftwich, and a compensatory pick at the end of the round. Here’s how I would spend those picks:
Barry Church (S, Toledo)
Patrick Stoudamire (CB, W. Illinois)
Drew Davis (T, Alabama)
Kyle Williams (WR, Arizona State)
Keenan Clayton (LB, Oklahoma)
If one of these players isn’t available, I’d go to my list of undrafted free agent possibilities listed below.
Undrafted free agents:
Danario Alexamder (WR, Missouri)
Seyi Ajirotutu (WR, Fresno State)
Aaron Pettrey (K, Ohio State)
Freddie Barnes (WR, Bowling Green)
Crezdon Butler (CB, Clemson)
Brandon Long (WR, Louisville)
Thomas Austin (OL, Clemson)
Antonio Coleman (DE, Auburn)
James Ruffin (DE, Northern Iowa)
Malcolm Sheppard (DT, Arkansas)
Finally, here’s the Tampa 12:
1) Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma) – penetrating franchise DT
2) Jerry Hughes (DE, TCU) – accomplished pass rusher
3) Arrelious Benn (WR, Illinois) – all round talent with #1 potential
4) Amari Spievey (CB, Iowa) – underrated future starter
5) Pat Angerer (LB, Iowa) – depth and potential replacement
6) James Starks (RB, Buffalo) – impressive speed, vision, and hands
7) Corey Peters (DT, Kentucky) – proven player, athletic penetrator, nice added depth
8 ) Barry Church (S, Toledo) – still on my radar even with the Jones signing
9) Patrick Stoudamire (CB, W. Illinois) – another needed cover man
10) Drew Davis (T, Alabama) – right tackle competition
11) Kyle Williams (WR, Arizona State) – he’s fast
12) Keenan Clayton (LB, Oklahoma) – a true Tampa type; production makes up for missing measurables
WR – 3
DB – 3
DL – 2
LB – 2
RB – 1
OL – 1