In which order would Bucs like draftees?

by Gary Shelton on April 18, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Koetter needs to add impact to his team./CARMEN MANDATO

Koetter needs to add impact to his team./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

Imagine they had the first pick. No Cleveland, No Giants, no nobody. Just the Bucs and a want list.

Who would they take then?

This is important, because for the thousands of mock drafters out there, no one has any idea. Have you seen the mocks? Unless you count Sam Darnold, the quarterback, just about everyone has gone as high as No. 1 and as low as No. 10. That's what happens when the world chooses behind a fairly pedestrian bunch of quarterbacks. Except for that, the highest rated athletes play the least-desired positions.

So what should the Bucs' do? Assume there was no draft order? It's easy if you try.

In that case, the Bucs pick ...

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Saquon Barkley, running back, Penn State.

I know, I know. Bailey plays running backs and the world has cooled on running backs. They don't last long enough. They aren't as important to a team's attack.

But here's the thing: Pretty good running backs aren't drafted high. But excellent backs are. Adrian Peterson was. Barry Sanders was. Walter Payton was. Eric Dickerson and Zeke Elliott and Earl Campbell. O.J. Simpson, until he started murdering people.

Oh, I understand waiting for a Doug Martin-level talent or a LeGarrette Blount-level talent. In the world of "pretty good," I'm prepared to wait until the second round, maybe the third. (The Bucs don't have a third). You put one of those guys in a rotation with Peyton Barber, and you can get away with it.

But the real difference maker? You take him, and you hand him the ball.

Look, Barkley isn't Bo Jackson, and ihe isn't Sanders, and he isn't Earl Campbell. But he can hurt an opponent in a lot of different ways.

Ah, but what if Barkley is gone. What if everyone but Barkley and a few quarterbacks is available for the Bucs?

In that case, they should take ...

Bradley Chubb, defensive end, N.C. State:

I know, I know. He's from the ACC, the league that sent the Bucs such elite pros as Gaines Adams and Da'Quan Bowers. (Shudder). But Chubb is supposed to be a better player than those guys. Some have even suggested that Chubb is better than Myles Garrett, last year's No. 1 pick. Von Miller has said "he's me plus Khalil Mack.

Ah, but it's doubtful that the best pass-rushing end in the draft falls to No. 7. Five maybe. Six. But barring a late rumor that drives his value down, Chubb doesn't fall to the Bucs.

And say that Barkley and Chubb are both gone. Most mocks see it that way.

In that case, the Bucs should take ...

Quenton Nelson, guard, Notre Dame:

A guard among the top 10 players? Nelson makes it worth considering. He'd automatically make the Bucs' offensive line better, and he'd make whatever back the Bucs take in the second round smile.

The Bucs' offensive line has always been a point of contention. The team thinks it's a lot better than outsiders think. But this would make for a solid group.

And if Nelson is gone, too. That's harder to believe, but it could happen. Denver supposedly is interested.

So say the quarterbacks are gone. And Barkley, and Chubb, and Nelson.

In that case, I'd consider a trade back, but only for a few spots that could bring back that missing third-round draft pick.

And if no one nibbles? Then I'd take...

Derwin James, safety, FSU.

I know, I know. It's going to be a tough choice between James and Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick can play all over the field, but James can be a difference maker in the middle of the field. The Bucs haven't had many of those in their existence.

I know this. The players who have played with James seem sold on him.  I think the Bucs might be, too.

And what if Barkley is gone? And Chubb? And Nelson? And James?

In that case, teams are going to be in press coverage to trade up for a quarterback. The Bucs should listen.

Failing to make a deal, they should take:

Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety, Alabama: A lot of analysts (even the frauds who do nothing but copy Mel Kiper's paper), like Fitzpatrick better than James, even up. He certainly played in a lot of big games for Alabama.

Ah, but there have been a lot of mediocre pros come from Alabama in recent seasons. Remember Trent Richardson? Dre Kirkpatrick? Dee Milliner? Mark Barron? Courtney Upshaw?

Still, Fitzpatrick could be a risk worth taking.

Then again, there is always:

Vita Vea, defensive tackle, Washington:

A defensive tackle? Didn't the Bucs just sign two of those in free agency.

Yes, they did. But Vea is supposedly a force at defensive tackle. And remember, Gerald McCoy is getting older. It could be the same idea (which failed) the Bucs had when they drafted Booger McFarland when Warren Sapp was getting older.

It isn't a position of need ... this year. But long-term, it could work.

And what if Vea is gone, too. Suppose the league forgets the quarterbacks, and the draft goes Barkley-Chubb-Nelson-James-Fitzpatrick.

I know, I know. Some fans have soured on quarterback Jameis Winston. But the Bucs haven't. The current coaching staff is going to stick with him no matter who is there.

So if the shelves are empty?

If I ran the Bucs, I'd be disappointed. And then, after discussing Marcus Davenport  (too raw), Roquan Smith (the team doesn't need a linebacker) and Derrius Guice (too high for his ability), I'd sigh and draft ...

Denzel Ward, cornerback,  Ohio State

The hunch here is Ward. But that doesn't mean the Bucs won't be hoping for Barkley or Chubb.


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