Last year, just days before the real thing, Buccaneers.com provided a run-down of what the latest mock drafts were predicting they would do at #5 overall. That close to the draft, and that high up in the first round, a real consensus had developed. Nineteen of the 20 experts had tabbed the Bucs to take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Of course, Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano threw everyone a curve ball, trading down two spots and then selecting Alabama safety Mark Barron.
Last year’s pick seemed like a sure thing. This time around, it really is.
The Bucs, of course, have already spent their 2013 first-round pick, sending it to the Jets on Sunday to acquire All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Buccaneers.com could survey 100 mock drafts this year (and believe me, there are that many out there) but the only consensus would be that Tampa Bay isn’t picking in the first round. Obviously, there will be no “Taking Stock of the Mocks” story on Buccaneers.com this time.
Fortunately for us, however, some industrious mock drafters go beyond Round One, even if the chances of actually hitting on predictions grows increasingly minute as the picks proceed. Perhaps the best that can be gleaned from studying these post-Round-One mocks is a consensus as to the direction the Buccaneers will go with their most valuable remaining picks in the Rounds Two and Three. That doesn’t mean said consensus will be right – only Dominik, Schiano, Director of Player Personnel Dennis Hickey and Director of College Scouting Eric Stokes really know at this point – but it’s possible.
So what do these extra-hardworking mock drafters think? Well, there’s a clear belief that the Buccaneers will be choosing from among four positions: cornerback (still), defensive line, quarterback or tight end.
NFL.com posted a full seven-round mock just a few days ago by analyst Josh Norris (Mr. Irrelevant: Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead). Norris pairs the Buccaneers with Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks at #43 overall and Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins at #73.
Those who have been following the mock drafts closely are probably pretty familiar with that first name, as Banks showed up in the first round fairly frequently in January and February. An unimpressive 40-yard-dash at the NFL Scouting Combine has subsequently led to falling draft stock (at least among the analysts, if not necessarily NFL personnel). NFL.com has Banks ranked as the fourth-best cornerback in the class, predicting he could be a very good press corner if he adds weight.
Jenkins hasn’t gotten as much press, but he belongs to what Mark Dominik called a very deep group of defensive tackles in this year’s draft pool. Norris most likely considers Jenkins a good fit for the Buccaneers because he’s seen as a nose tackle type, a very big (346 pounds) gap-plugger in the middle, and the Bucs just lost one of those to free agency in Roy Miller, who was himself a third-round pick in 2009.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller goes the full seven rounds in his latest mock draft, too, but we’ll just focus on #43 and #73. Miller’s prediction at the former pick is North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams and at the latter is Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson. According to the same NFL.com bios, Williams is likely another nose tackle type, though he has played the three-technique quite a bit in college, while Wilson is “very likely … a top-15 pick.”
Draft expert Rob Rang on CBSSports.com sees the Buccaneers in the quarterback market, too, but thinks they will instead jump on Florida State’s E.J. Manuel in the second round. On the same site, you’ll see fellow expert Dane Brugler matching the Bucs up with Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce.
Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell, who has also mocked all seven rounds, likes the tight end idea as well but believes the Buccaneers can wait until Round Three to grab San Diego State’s Gavin Escobar. The second-round pick is reserved for a defensive tackle and yet another new name on that list, Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins. According to Campbell, Hankins is also a good run-stopper but with some added burst to potentially be a backfield penetrator, too.
Campbell’s former employer, the local Pewter Report, has done its annual mock draft of just the Buccaneers’ selections. In Round Two, Scott Reynolds has Tampa Bay settling on SMU defensive end Margus Hunt. In Round Three, it’s UConn linebacker Sio Moore, who would be a very intriguing addition to a young and talented linebacking corps in Tampa. Highly-respected draft analyst Mike Mayock has Moore ranked as the third-best outside linebacker in the class (behind Georgia’s Jarvis Jones and Kansas State’s Arthur Brown) and Moore’s NFL.com scouting report paints him as the prototypical Buc linebacker through the years: not necessarily big but athletic and productive.