Trying to sort out the NFL draft for the Bucs

by Gary Shelton on April 7, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

More experts expect the Bucs to take Cook than anyone./ANDREW J. KRAMER

More experts expect the Bucs to take Cook than anyone else./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

A confession here. When you get the truth of it, I don't know Forrest Lamp from Forrest Gump.

I don't know Ryan Ramczyk from Roger Ramjet.

I don't know Solomon Thomas from Solomon Burke.

When it comes the NFL draft, there are 4 billion experts in the USA. Then there is me, the guy who knows nothing. Around me, fans are debating the finest long-snapper the draft has to offer, right down to his 40-time and his Wonderlic score. Me? I think his helmet looks shiny.

I don't know O.J. Howard from O.J. Simpson.

I don't know Reuben Foster from Stephen F.

I don't know Jabrill Peppers from Dr. Pepper.

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Every year, the sons of Mel Kiper gather information, and they watch You Tube videos, and they get themselves into position where they can reasonably debate Malik Hooker vs. Malik McDowell. And good for them. I mean, why shouldn't they debate it? The so-called experts, the scouts, the guys who pour all of their game tape study into their workweek, are the guys who gave us Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell and Aundray Bruce and Eric Curry and Booker Reese and Curtis Ennis and Akili Smith and Cade McNown.

And so this year turns into Guess Along With Mel, an exercise where everyone does 412 mock drafts, conveniently trying to ignore that everyone is copying Mel Kiper's homework. And every mock expert comes across as some sort of expert, even though a great many of them have never seen the inside of a press box during an actual game.

Meanwhile, I don' t know Marshon Lattimore from Marcus Lattimore.

I don't know Zach Cunningham from Richie Cunningham.

I don't know Budda Baker from Bubba Baker.

And so on.

The thing that gets me about the draft is that no one thinks something may be a good idea, and perhaps he should think on it. Everyone is an expert, right now, whether the player in question has ever had a game televised locally or not. Everyone speaks in exclamation points.

For instance, last week, I was at dinner in the press dining area during a Lightning game, and one of the guys who works for the team approached our table. He keeps up with the draft, and so he asked “who do you guys think the Bucs should draft. Silly me, I said “If he's there … Dalvin Cook.” And the guy next to me said “Anyone but Dalvin Cook.”The guy doesn't like to draft backs high, which will be a great disappointment to the teams that drafted Barry Sanders and O.J. Simpson (the runner, not the accused murderer) and Eric Dickerson and Walter Peyton and the like. The great ones still go high. Or so I've been led to believe.

The thing is, I've become very disagreeable, even with my lack of knowledge about the draft. I don't know who the Bucs should take if Cook isn't there, and I don't think he will be. But I keep frowning at other people's choices.

For instance:

At NFL.com, Chad Reuter has the Bucs taking Jabrill Peppers. And sure, that's possible. The Bucs certainly need athletes at safety. But the league seems split on just how accomplished Peppers is vs. being a great athlete. Is Pepper a better prospect than UConn's Obi Melifonwu? You tell me.

Charlie Casserly, meanwhile, a guy I have great respect for, actually has Cook going eighth in the draft to Carolina. He has the Bucs taking Stanford's Christian McCaffrey. But I hear some teams think McCaffrey is more of a slot receiver type. I know a lot of locals want McCaffrey, but is he a fit or just an upgrade to Charles Sims?

Lance Zierlein has the Bucs taking Michigan's Taco Charlton, which invites a lot of marketing specials. But how would Charlton fit into a playing rotation? The team has Robert Ayers, last year's free agent. It has William Gholston, who the team resigned in this year's free agency. It has Noah Spence, who had a decent rookie year. I don't see them taking a defensive end first unless he's a monster.

Daniel Jeremiah has just changed. He now has the Bucs taking Alabama tackle Cam Robinson, which says more about Jeremiah than anything. It says he's one of the legion that doesn't like Donovan Smith. But Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter swears by Smith. Jeremiah previously had Chidobe Awuzie, the corner from Colorado. But that doesn't make much sense to me. With Brett Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves III, would Awuzie be your nickel back? Isn't that a high pick to pick a corner who won't play until 2018?

And finally with the NFL, where everyone gets mock, including the pizza boy, Bucky Brooks picks Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis. I like Davis, a bloody knuckle guy, but again, the Bucs have Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander. I think more impact can be had.

At CBS sports, a lot of guys hanging around the office earned mock drafts, too. Whee. David Brugler and Ryan Wilson both select Cook for the Bucs. It makes sense. It's a nice combination of talent and team. Who else in this draft is going to touch the ball 20 times for you? Still, as I've said, I wonder if he isn't picked earlier.

Rob Rang picks Miami tight end David Njoku. That's not a bad Plan B for me. There should be a lot of real estate after Mike Evans and Deshaun Jackson run. But again, a tight end is going to touch the ball four times a game. Still, if the running back isn't there, why not?

Will Brinson of CBSsports pick Taco Charlton. I'd love a dominating end, but again, the Bucs have a plan with their ends. They'd have to believe Charlton is a beast to take an end, right?

Pete Prisco says the Bucs will take tackle Cam Robinson. Again, Tampa Bay likes Donovan Smith better than a lot of experts. Maybe they're fibbing.

James Dubin, lastly for CBS, has the Bucs taking Melifonwu. He's interesting. But his overall draft grades would put him somewhere in the second round. Is he a reach?

Kiper of ESPN (obligatory hair joke goes here), has the Bucs taking David Njoku. He earlier had Western Michigan's Corey Davis. Hey, last year, the Bucs double dipped at defensive end and corner during free agency and the draft. I suppose they could do it again. Still, it's hard to imagine, but wouldn't that be an interesting receiving group? Njoku could be intriguing, too, as a backup plan if the running back the team needs isn't there.

Todd McShay has the Bucs taking Njoku. He had them taking Howard, the tight end from Alabama. But most mocks have Howard long gone from the board by the time the Bucs pick. Yes, tight ends usually wait a while, but it's hard to imagine Howard falling that far.

Writing for the Houston Chronicle, John McClain and Aaron Wilson have an interesting thought. They have the Bucs taking trouble Oklahoma back Joe Mixon. But with all the attention that Jameis Winston got — and he wasn't even charged — do the Bucs want to take on another controversy?

USA Today has John Ross. Bleacher Report and Walterfootball.com have McCaffrey. Pewter Report has Melifonwu. Sports Illustrated has Peppers, after previously having Cook. Foxsports.com has Peppers, replacing Davis. The Sporting News has Cook. Pro Football Focus has Ryan Ramczyk. The more mocks you look up, the more choices you get. In other words. draftniks are throwing darts.

Me? I'm looking at the names, and I'm trying to figure out. Fortunately, it won't be Booker Reese or Eric Curry or Keith McCants or Charles McRae or Dexter Jackson or Sabby Piscitelli or Brian Price or Trent Dilfer or Josh Freeman.

I still say the perfect fit is Cook.

If you want to say anyone else but him, it's okay.

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