Tag Archives: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC South

The NFC South is always one of the most fun divisions to watch. Each year a new candidate takes the mantle of division champ. Rarely, does a team go back-to-back seasons with the crown. A year after the Atlanta Falcons went to the Super Bowl, it was the resurgent New Orleans who reclaimed their place in the playoffs.

But not withering were the Atlanta Falcons or Carolina Panthers. Both teams made the playoffs under the wild card banner and Atlanta actually pulled off an upset in the opening round of the playoffs defeating the No. 3 seed LA Rams.

So where do things stand after the offseason? Pretty much where they were left following the 2017 campaign. There were no big changes in the division. When three out of four teams make it to the playoffs there really is no need to overhaul anything, it’s just a matter of continuing to fix up the spots that are under-producing. So, how did these teams fare? Lets give it a look…

Atlanta Falcons: B+
1.) Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
2.) Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
3.) Deadrin Senat, DT, USF
4.) Ito Smith, RB, Southern Miss
6.) Russell Gage, WR, LSU
6.) Foye Oluokun, LB, Yale

With no glaring need on the roster, the Atlanta Falcons were free to add to their roster as see fit. Nabbing  Ridley, arguably the best receiver in the draft, with their first pick was a win. Outside of starting receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu there wasn’t much left on the depth chart. Ridley will likely contribute immediately. Smith, another weapon added for Matt Ryan, was a strong pick as well. While he’s not the biggest back (Smith is listed at 5’9″), Smith is ultra productive. He had three straight seasons rushing over 1,000 yards and in those seasons racked up 40 touchdowns. Not to mention he added another seven scores off of 132 receptions. Oliver and Senat, add needed depth. The secondary play waned in 2017, so Oliver will provide needed assistance. Senat, much the same along the defensive line. With the mammoth Dontari Poe gone, Senat will help fill the void.

Carolina Panthers: B
1.) DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
2.) Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
3.) Rashaan Gaulden, CB, Tennessee
4.) Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
4.) Marquis Haynes, DE, Ole Miss
5.) Jermaine Carter, LB, Maryland
7.) Andre Carter, LB, North Carolina
7.) Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami

The Panthers brought in a quality yield, but one thing sticks out considerably. They failed to address the hole on their offensive line left after -All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell signed with Jacksonville over free agency. Beyond that miss, the Panthers addressed many needs. Cam Newton has had a dearth of wide receiving options over the years, but Moore finally gives him a weapon who can lineup all over the field. In Thomas, they have a budding receiving threat who should learn a lot playing behind Greg Olsen. Jackson and Gaulden, address a defensive secondary that has failed to grow after the departure of Josh Norman. Gaulden, plays with swagger and may move to the free safety spot left vacant by Kurt Coleman. Haynes, adds youth and depth to their pass rushing corps. The team can’ rely on Julius Peppers forever. Haynes should learn a lot playing behind the future Hall-of-Famer. He had 32 sacks over his career at Ole Miss.

New Orleans Saints: C+
1.) Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
3.) Tre’quan Smith, WR, UCF
4.) Rick Leonard, OT, Florida St.
5.) Natrell Jamerson, S, Wisconsin
6.) Kamrin Moore, CB, Boston College
6.) Boston Scott, RB, Louisiana Tech
7.) Will Clapp, C, LSU

The Saints made a huge trade to jump up and select Davenport to open their draft. In moving up from No. 27 to No. 14, the Saints gave away a fifth-round selection this year and next year’s first-round pick. That is a lot to give up to select an edge rusher. Nothing against Davenport, he is immensely talented and could live up to the trade, but he is also very raw at this point. He  never had a double-digit sack season at UT-San Antonio. Smith, is a classic Saints’ receiver. He provides a big target, but is also raw, having only played organized football for five years. That being said, his numbers did go up each year culminating with a 1,000 yard campaign and 13 touchdown season to cap his college career. Leonard and Clapp, add needed depth along their offensive line.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B
1.) Vita Vea, DT, Washington
2.) Ronald Jones, RB, USC
2.) MJ Stewart, CB, North Carolina
2.) Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
3.) Alex Cappa, OG, Humboldt St.
4.) Jordan Whitehead, S, Pitt
5.) Justin Watson, WR, Penn
6.) Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin

Defensive tackle wasn’t the greatest need for the Bucs, but when a talent like Vea falls to you it would be foolish to pass on the player. Vea, is a colossal man and has freakish athletic ability. Paired with veteran Gerald McCoy, the Bucs may have just created the best defensive tackle tandem in the league. Jones, was a strong addition early in Round 2. He has the speed that makes him a threat every time he touches the ball. He’s not the biggest back, but the production is undeniable. How big his workload will be will be intriguing to watching. The Bucs had the worst pass defense in the league last year and clearly had to try and remedy that through the draft. They added two strong cornerbacks in Stewart and Davis. Stewart, has some off field issues, but has the versatility that is welcomed at the position. Davis, is a big, physical corner who isn’t afraid to mix it up in the run game. He doesn’t create a lot of turnovers, but broke up 29 passes in college.

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2018 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

It’s usually said because of a bout of excitement, but this year things are lining up to have this actually be the greatest draft ever. They say everything is bigger in Texas, well, tonight’s first round in Dallas may just be the biggest opening round in NFL history.

Most of the time at this point in the draft process you can break down the Top 10 with a fare degree of comfort, but not this year. It’s widely regarded that four quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen) could all go within the first five picks.

If that is to happen, the Browns would have to trade down from the fourth overall pick. But even if Cleveland doesn’t trade down, Denver (at No. 5) and Indianapolis (at No. 6) have both announced they are willing to trade down.

So, if all these teams are willing to trade down that means teams are willing to trade up. Who are they? Buffalo already moved a lot of capital to get to No. 12, Arizona has publicly said they will be “aggressive” in their pursuit of a quarterback, and then you have Baltimore and Miami as dark horse candidates.

But there is a second issue that arises from a (probable) run on quarterbacks and that is a wealth of talented players at other positions being pushed down the board. Because of this reaction to the (probable) run on quarterbacks, teams like Green Bay are now incentivized to move up to get their skill position players.

It’s all crazy, it’s all fun. Tonight should be an all timer in NFL draft history and I can’t wait. So lets stop talking about scenarios and actually look at how things could break down. Here is the final mock draft of the 2018 NFL draft season…

1.) Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
(Rd 2: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma; Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forrest)
I’m just going to come out and say it…I don’t have a lot of confidence in this pick. Not a great way to start a mock draft, but it had to be said. It’s certainly down to Darnold, Allen, and Mayfield. It’s just a matter of preference. The Browns should select Darnold, but as proven time and time again — the Browns are gonna Brown.

2.) New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
(Rd 2: James Daniels, C, Iowa)
The only way Barkley doesn’t go here is if Darnold falls to them and even then I still have a hard time seeing the Giants select a quarterback. The team still believes in Eli Manning and adding Barkley takes a lot off of Manning’s shoulders.

3.) New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Again, Mayfield could go first overall and throw this whole mock draft off, but as I see it Mayfield is the pick here. Like the Browns pick, it’s a matter of preference. Here they will be looking at Mayfield, Darnold, and Rosen.

4.) Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
(Rd 2: Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida St.)
This is a matter of best player available. The Browns certainly could take calls from teams looking to trade up, but it’s hard to ignore a player who has racked up 46.5 tackles-for-loss and 20 sacks over the past two seasons.

5.) Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
(Rd 2: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado)
This is the point in the draft where we could really see our first trade of the night take place with either the Bills or Cardinals making the move. I can see the Bills making the jump, but even if Denver stays I think Allen is the pick here.

6.) Indianapolis Colts: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
(Rd 2: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida; Sony Michel, RB, Georgia; Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M)
The Colts are switching to a 4-3 defense under the new Frank Reich regime. With that they need someone who can lead their new look defense and fly sideline to sideline. Smith is that man. He ended his college career with over 130 tackles and 6.5 sacks. That is production the Colts haven’t seen in a long time.

7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
(Rd 2: Austin Corbett, OT/OG, Nevada)
Fitzpatrick is cursed by his versatility. A tremendous asset, but tricky when it comes to finding a role. He could slide, but for our final mock draft Fitzpatrick stays in the Top 10. Tampa finished last in passing defense last year. That’s a need that has to be addressed quickly when facing Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan twice a year.

8.) Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
(Rd 2: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama)
Last year the Bears moved up to get their man Mitch Trubisky, now they have to protect their asset. Nelson is a 10-year starter who can take the field on Day One. With the college game becoming more and more dedicated to the spread offense, the development of offensive lineman has suffered. Nelson is a rare prospect nowadays.

9.) San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
(Rd 2: Arden Key, DE, LSU)
The Niners selected Reuben Foster in the first round last year and due to severe off-field issues GM John Lynch has already announced that Foster could potentially be released. Edmunds not only addresses a need, but allows the Niners to wash their hands of the Foster mess.

10.) Oakland Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
(Rd 2: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas)
Look crazy? That’s because it is. The draft class is very obviously thin at the tackle position and in years past teams would wait to take a tackle, but this year it looks like the opposite happens. McGlinchey, could start Day One on the right side before taking over for veteran Donald Penn on the left side in his second year.

11.) Miami Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
(Rd 2: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.)
This is a dream come true for the Dolphins. Now, a team could very well trade up to fourth overall and select Rosen there or maybe he goes third to the Jets. But for this mock draft (which doesn’t mock trades) Rosen falls into the laps of the Dolphins.

12.) Buffalo Bills: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
(Rd 2: Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon)
The slide stops for Ward. Don’t get me wrong, Ward is an immensely talented cornerback who is just scratching the surface of his talent, but slides happen every year. Remember fellow Buckeye Malik Hooker dropped last year? Ward lands in a great spot though and will form a formidable pairing with last year’s first-round pick Tre’Davious White.

13.) Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
(Rd 2: D.J. Chark, WR, LSU)
This isn’t the pick I would like to see happen, but something in my gut says it could happen. The Redskins have been really doing their homework on the running backs in this year’s draft with Guice getting the most attention. I’d like to see Vita Vea go here, but alas Guice is the pick.

14.) Green Bay Packers: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
(Rd 2: Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia)
Hughes comes with some baggage off the field, if the Packers feel comfortable with things, they add a much needed piece on defense. He’s a bit raw, as last year was his lone year starting, but he turned in a quality campaign with four interceptions and 11 passes broken up.

15.) Arizona Cardinals: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
(Rd 2: Luke Falk, QB, Washington St.)
Similar to Hughes, Vander Esch is a one year wonder and what a year it was. As a redshirt junior, Vander Esch tallied 141 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions. The Cardinals are switching to a 4-3 defense and need a traditional linebacker to man the middle.

16.) Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
(Rd 2: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma)
I have had Jackson all over the board in my mock drafts and I keep coming back to the Ravens. Joe Flacco looks to be on the back nine of his career, but with his presence it allows Jackson to sit and develop behind him. Jackson is the most intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. If he puts it together, he could be special.

17.) LA Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida St.
(Rd 2: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford)
James is a wild card. He could go Top 10, he could fall to the Chargers. If he does fall, he falls into a perfect situation. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley helped build the Seattle’s Super Bowl winning defense. If LA can bring in a Kam Chancellor-type of safety, as Derwin has been compared, nobody knows how to utilize his talents better than Bradley.

18.) Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport is a raw prospect, but offers so much potential. He lived in the backfield his last two years at UT-San Antonio, racking up 27 tackles-for-loss and 15 sacks. With Seattle having lost Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, and Malik McDowell this offseason  and Cliff Avril nearing the end of his career an injection of youth is needed

19.) Dallas Cowboys: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
(Rd 2: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma St.)
I know, I know. Every mock draft says the Cowboys will take a wide receiver and if Vita Vea goes earlier than this, I promise you they will. But if Vea manages to slide this far down the draft, the Cowboys will have no choice, but to take him. Vea is a Top 10 talent, but because this draft is going to be so crazy, this has the possibility of happening.

20.) Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
(Rd 2: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia)
Everything here screams Landry. The Lions need more of a pass rushing options than just Ziggy Ansah. Not to mention new defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni coached Landry at BC. Paired with Ansah, Landry has the ability to get back to his 2016 self when he racked up 22 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
(Rd 2: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio St.)
The Bengals offensive line had been a mess for a few years, then they let veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth walk via free agency last offseason. Needless to say things got worse. Hernandez, is an absolute road grader who can stabilize the line.

22.) Buffalo Bills: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St.
(Rd 2: Rashad Penny, RB, San Diego St.)
If the Bills can’t make the trade up to the fifth overall pick, Rudolph becomes their man. It may be a reach, but there are few teams as desperate for a quarterback as the Bills. They did sign A.J. McCarron, but that’s not enough.

23.) New England Patriots: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
(Rd 2: Rasheem Greene, DE, USC)
Evans is the versatile linebacking option the Patriots sorely missed when Dont’a Hightower went down with an injury and was lost for the season. Most importantly Evans has the speed to cover running backs and tight ends, another quality their linebacking corps has missed for a few years now.

24.) Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
(Rd 2: Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio St.)
Moore broke out in 2017, recording 80 catches for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed that up with a stellar combine and the arrow has been pointing up ever since. The Panthers have had a dearth of weapons for Cam Newton to utilize and then traded away Kelvin Benjamin at the trade deadline last year. Moore will be a welcomed addition.

25.) Tennessee Titans: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
(Rd 2: Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa)
I’ve had this pick penciled in before, erased it, and now have come back to it. The Titans are in a tricky spot. They need an inside linebacker badly and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move up and take one of the top four options (there is a considerable drop off in talent after that). But if Jackson does come off the board here, it would be with the intention to move him to safety.

26.) Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
(Rd 2: Connor Williams, OT/OG, Texas)
The Falcons lost veteran Dontari Poe via free agency and now have big shoes to fix. Atlanta already has a budding playmaker in Grady Jarrett and now need to pair him with a big body to close the running lanes. Payne was built just for that.

27.) New Orleans Saints: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Sutton has been rising up draft boards steadily throughout the process and understandably so. There simply aren’t a lot of receivers who have Sutton’s size, foot work, and ball skills. In back-to-back seasons Sutton went over the 1,000 yard mark and brought in a combined 22 touchdowns.

28.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
(Rd 2: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia)
For years now, the Steelers have been pouring high draft capital into their defense and yet they have still failed to fix the problem. At safety former-second round pick Sean Davis has failed to be consistent and Mike Mitchell was released. Reid, improved considerably each year and capped off his college career with five picks.

29.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
(Rd 2: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama)
Some people have Hurst going higher, but I can’t see a team using too high a draft pick on a prospect who will be 25 years old at the start of the season. That being said, Hayden is arguably the best prospect at his position.

30.) Minnesota Vikings: Frank Ragnow, OG, Arkansas
(Rd 2: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan)
When veteran Joe Berger retired earlier this spring, it left a glaring hole along the teams offensive line. Ragnow, could be a Day One starter and offers versatility, having also played center for the Razorbacks.

31.) New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
(Rd 2: Ronald Jones, RB, USC)
After veteran left tackle Nate Solder left for the Giants via free agency, left tackle became the teams most pressing need. Miller has the height, length, and footwork to succeed on the edge in the NFL, but comes with some injury concerns. If Miller can stay healthy and continue to improve on a impressive 2017 campaign, Tom Brady will be happy.

32.) Philadelphia Eagles: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Super Bowl champs had the 17th ranked pass defense last year and then lost three players at cornerback. That’s not a good combination. Alexander, has his medical concerns, but his playmaking ability is unmistakable. He has the speed and swagger to succeed on the outside in the NFL, but may start out as a nickle corner.

54.) Kansas City Chiefs: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

2017 NFL Draft Grades: NFC South

The NFC South has produced the NFC representative in the Super Bowl for the past two years with the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, respectively. And just like the last two years, this will be another year of highlight reel play from this division.

Atlanta are the top dogs following last year, but the big question is, how do they respond following that epic collapse in the Super Bowl? With Matt Ryan at quarterback and Dan Quinn as head coach, they should be set to make back to the playoffs despite losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to San Francisco.

Besides the Falcons, the biggest surprise was the fall of the Panthers. They went from playing in the Super Bowl to having a Top 10 pick the following year. Carolina needs to find their identity, as do the Saints. The Saints have mired in mediocrity since winning the Super Bowl in ’09. They can’t keep wasting Drew Brees’ ability. The intriguing team of the division is Tampa. After an ugly shakeup at head coach last offseason, the team seems to be all systems go under Dirk Koetter.

Here, is how things came to be in the NFC South over the 2017 NFL Draft…

Atlanta Falcons: B+
1.) Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
3.) Duke Riley, LB, LSU
4.) Sean Harlow, OG, Oregon St.
5.) Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego St.
5b.) Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming
5c.) Eric Saubert, TE, Drake

Every pick here could contribute in someway in 2017. That is impressive. McKinley, had the most moving moment of the draft as he came on stage after being selected, holding a portrait of his grandmother, who he had promised on her deathbed that he would make it to the NFL. The Falcons got gassed in the Super Bowl, which makes McKinley a perfect fit. His motor never stops. Last year, the Falcons took Deion Jones, who had only started one year at LSU before starring for Atlanta. Riley, could be considered a clone. Harlow, could contribute sooner than later now that there is a whole open at guard. Hill, provides a reliable power back. Saubert, could emerge a starter a few years down the road.

Best pick: Damontae Kazee
The Falcons are set on the outsides, but needed help in the slot. Kazee, in the fifth-round was a steal. A three year starter for the Aztecs, Kazee displayed impressive ball skills totaling 16 interceptions over that time.

Carolina Panthers: C+
1.) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
2.) Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio St.
2b.) Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan
3.) Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M
5.) Corn Elder, CB, Miami
6.) Alex Armah, FB, West Georgia
7.) Harrison Butker, K, Georgia Tech

McCaffrey to kickoff the Panthers weekend was a home run. He is a dynamic, Swiss army knife that can lineup all over the field. He’ll take a lot of pressure off of Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart. Samuel, is a very similar player to McCaffrey which was a head scratcher. Moton, is a versatile lineman, who could be a swing tackle or guard. The Panthers need to protect Cam Newton better. Hall, played opposite No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, and was rather overshadowed. He will learn a lot behind Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers. Butker, could signal the end for Graham Gano.

Best pick: Corn Elder
Losing Josh Norman crushed the Panthers last year. Elder, can help move forward. Elder, is a competitive corner who can lineup in the slot. While he’s not the biggest, he displayed good ball skills, breaking up 23 passes the past two seasons.

New Orleans Saints: A+
1.) Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St.
1b.) Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
2.) Marcus Williams, S, Utah
3.) Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
3b.) Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida
3c.) Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic
6.) Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami

This may be my favorite draft class in the entire league. The Saints have been devoid of talent for awhile now, this injection of talent could really wake up the team. Lattimore, fell to them, because of injuries. If he can stay healthy, the Saints picked up a premier corner talent. Ramczyk, will be the bookend opposite Terron Armstead. Williams, will help the Saints get better after posting the 32nd ranked pass defense and allow them to run three safety packages. Anzalone, could become a starter if he stays healthy. He’s an athletic freak. Hendrickson, isn’t a flashy pass rusher, but he is an effective pass rusher. He had 23 sacks the past two seasons.

Best pick: Alvin Kamara
He was underused at Tennessee, which means he has a lot of tread left on his tires. Kamara, can return kicks, catch the ball out of the backfield, or be a change of pace running back. When your quarterback gets older, you support him with a strong rushing game. The Saints have done that.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A
1.) O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
2.) Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M
3.) Chris Godwin, WR, Penn St.
3b.) Kendell Beckwith, LB, LSU
5.) Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise St.
7.) Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, DT, USC

The Bucs did a wonderful job here. Howard, fell and the Bucs couldn’t have been more happy. Evans, has a little growing to do. He looks for the knockout hit instead of wrapping up. He’ll be dynamic if he can improve his tackling. Godwin, is a tremendous talent. Remember when Allen Robinson came out to little fanfare, then became a Pro Bowler? Godwin, isn’t too far off. Beckwith, was an ascending talent until he tore his ACL late last year. If he can get back to where he was, this was a steal. McNichols, is a player. He’s not the biggest, but maximizes his ability in both the pass and run game. Tu’ikolovatu, is a two down run-stuffer.

Best pick: O.J. Howard
In today’s game it is rare that a complete prospect comes out of college, especially at tight end, but Howard is the real deal. He can block inline, he is a dangerous receiving threat who can stretch the seam. He is a special talent.