A 2015 Buccaneers Draft Plan Involving ALL SeminolesGene Clemons, FBGP Analyst ________________________
It seems to be clear by their moves (or lack thereof) this off-season that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to build through the draft. Contrary to what many will say, the 2015 draft class is full of value if general managers are able to take advantage of others desire to appease fans. Lovie Smith, Jason Licht, and the Bucs brain trust have the opportunity to add players in the draft that can help them immediately. They have a chance to add talent that their fan base is familiar with; players that will have no problem acclimating themselves to the Florida climate. The Buccaneers could legitimately help their team improve and put more butts in the seats by spending all 10 draft picks on Florida State Seminoles.
Crazy? Let me lay out my Bucs-Seminoles Draft Plan
The Buccaneers hold the number one pick and many believe it’s a foregone conclusion that they will select quarterback Jameis Winston. Not only does it make sense because the Bucs are in need of a quarterback, but because Winston is the best player in the draft. Some believe you should draft for need and others believe that you should draft the best player available. This pick would allow the Bucs to do both.
It’s also a great landing spot for Winston because there is no more loyal coach in the NFL than Lovie Smith. He will stand by Winston when he has growing pains. He will structure a defense and running game that will allow the pressure to be taken off of Winston while he acclimates himself to the pro game.
Keep a lookout for a move back into the end of the first round for Tampa Bay. I think that move should only be made if they the most versatile offensive lineman in the draft, Cameron Erving, slides to the back end of the round. His versatility should make him a top 10 pick because he is a plug and play at all five positions. Unfortunately, these types of lineman are never valued higher than their one-dimensional contemporaries. If he’s there, then the Bucs need to find a way back into the first round because he would be a fantastic get for Tampa.
After a night to sleep on things, celebrate their drafting of Winston, and resetting their board, the Bucs will be ready to pick 2nd overall in the second round. This will be a perfect time to roll the dice on cornerback PJ Williams. If not for the off-the-field issues, I believe that Williams would be a first round pick. Overreactions to minor issues should be the Bucs gain. Williams would add a quality defensive player that I believe would thrive in the “Tampa 2” as either a cornerback or a safety. That type of versatility would also make his useful as a nickel back. Lovie, as a father figure, would also be a great mentor for Williams who still clearly has some maturity issues. Taking his ability into account, the Bucs would end up with, at worse, a stalwart at FS or, at best, a long rangy cornerback with the ability to be a factor in run and pass defense.
Tre Jackson is a great add in the third round. He is the highest rated offensive guard that will probably be left by this time in the draft. He has power, skill, and lots of experience in college. That should serve him well as he transitions into the pro game. There’s a good chance he could get scooped up by a team in the second round, but if he’s sitting here in the third, he should continue his playing career in Florida for the Bucs. If he is not here, there could be the opportunity to draft Mario Edwards Jr, who would add versatility to the defensive line for the Bucs as a strong side defensive end and at defensive tackle in that pass-rushing “Tampa Two” defense. If they are not able to grab Jackson, then definitely look for them to snag Matias in the coming rounds.
There are a few different ways the Buccaneers could go with the 10th pick of the fourth round. They have needs to fill on the offensive and defensive line, but could also use more help in the secondary. However, if you are going to hitch your wagon to Jameis Winston, then you might as well bring a few of his weapons along with him. That effort should start with his number one target at Florida State, senior receiver Rashad Greene. In my opinion, there weren’t 11 pass catchers better than Greene during the past seasons, but apparently many draft prognosticators are not as sold on Greene as they are other prospects that have not been nearly as prolific. All of his numbers at the combine were really good but not eye-popping and although he measured out bigger than many expected him to, he has not received that much fanfare.
With Tampa Bay, he would represent versatility. A guy who can play on the outside and allow the Bucs first round stud from 2014 Mike Evans to work between the hashes on occasion or work the hashes himself. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter utilized a lot of three-wide sets during his time in Atlanta and would definitely know how to use a foursome of Vincent Jackson, Evans, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, and Greene. The fact that a first round talent would be available in the third round is cause enough to add Greene to the fold.
Believe it or not there’s a chance that tight end Nick O’Leary could drop to this round because of his injury history and his pedestrian numbers at the NFL combine. That should not take away from his actual ability. Because as a complete tight end, nobody stands above him. He would be an absolute steal for Tampa Bay. He’s a guy that could function as a full back, H-back, or tight end. He was effective split out and really made leaps in his blocking during his senior season. He would be a great complement to ASJ in two-tight sets and with ASJ’s up-and-down injury status in his first season, O’Leary adds quality depth. It’s interesting that both of these young ends went back to college to work on their in-line blocking and yet both will probably drop. Fortunately, their loss will hopefully be the Bucs long-term gain.
Sometimes when you play the same position as another player on your team, people immediately think that you are not that good because they have the other guy rated higher. This will be the position Josue Matias will find himself in on draft day. There is not that much of a difference between Jackson and Matias, and the Bucs could use another guard to learn under Logan Mankins. With this second fifth round pick, Tampa Bay can solidify the interior of their offensive line for the next ten years while keeping things familiar for their new franchise quarterback. Matias and Jackson together would provide power and athleticism for an offensive line that struggled to get to the second level last season.
The Seminoles still have starters to be had in this round and it continues to fill a need for the Buccaneers on the offensive line. Bobby Hart has the ability to play guard or right tackle and is still very young. At the East West Shrine Game, he shined at guard and he has a lot of film of him playing successfully at right tackle. His size (6’4 ¾” 329 lbs) and athleticism, makes him an ideal utility lineman. The Bucs can give him a chance at tackle and if it doesn’t work out, they kick him inside and he would settle in comfortably. The best thing about the Seminole linemen, they are aggressive in their run blocking, and they have been coached by Rick Trickett one of the best O-line coaches in football.
This pick is never irrelevant and the Bucs should not treat it as such. Instead, they should look to provide their team with added athleticism. Karlos Williams Sr. will most likely be available and it will be an opportunity to get a first-round caliber athlete in the 7th round. Williams is the best combination of size and speed at running back in the draft. The best comparison is a faster LeGarette Blount. Unfortunately, Williams’ lack of experience at the position scares many evaluators. At best, Williams could transform into a great compliment in the backfield. He can catch the ball out the backfield, block, and get tough yards. At worse, Tampa Bay could pick up a ten year pro bowl special teamer. He will come in day one and demand a look as a kick returner. He will also be on every other special team and he will excel in that role. The fact that special teams is such a vital part of the game, why not use a draft pick to help bolster it. Buccaneers Special Teams Coordinator, Kevin O’Dea would definitely be happy with the pick up.
Undrafted Free Agent
Seminoles center Austin Barron spent most of the 2014/15 season on the sideline dealing with injury. While his injury ultimately helped Cam Erving elevate his status in the draft, it definitely hurt the ‘Noles championship run and his own draft status. FSU was excited to have Barron take over at center for Bryan Stork, and many thought that a good season as a starter under his belt would make him a mid-round pick this spring. Now he will most likely have to rely on a free agent opportunity to get his shot. Tampa Bay would be perfect and he fits the type of UFA most ball clubs like to bring in. He’s local, he’s familiar, and he’s raw. The best years as a player are ahead for Barron and he could learn under current center, Evan Dietrich-Smith and be poised to take over for him in a couple years. It would be a great no risk investment for Tampa Bay.
There is no doubt that the Bucs need to improve their talent but they need to add players who know how to win and that is another advantage to drafting Florida State players. This group of young players rarely know anything about losing, and they are motivated to continue that way of life at the next level.