DP's Way too frickin early Big Draft Preview

So yesterday I covered why BPA trumps need every day of the week and three times on draft day. If you disagree feel free to take a look here and make your counter-argument. That said when developing a team draft strategy it’s important to understand three key questions:

1) How many truly special players are in this draft and are you in position to get one?

By this question I don’t mean good I don’t mean great I mean truly elite; Someone coming out where you know that baring injury they will be a ten year player with half a dozen pro-bowls and someone who competes at a unique level. Typically there are only two or three of these in any draft and this draft is no different. More evaluation needs to be done but the draft appears to have several players who could potentially be in that category:

- Jarvis Jones OLB Georgia: A one man wrecking crew, clearly not a fit for Tampa but any 3-4 team will love this guy. 12.5 Sacks this past season and solid production through his career. The major concern here is medical and I’m not going to evaluate that here, 99% certain he’s a special player, will his health hold up?

- Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M: Joeckel is probably the easiest and least likely “miss” in this draft class and baring a horrid combine (if he attends) or individual workout I’m thinking his athletics will measure up to elite standards. Better than Matt Kalil, Joeckel has faced and stone walled some of the best pass rushers in the nation while playing the SEC and comes into the off-season with very little to prove until training camp. For Now I’m 95% certain this guy is in the class.

- Manti Teo MLB Notre Dame : Much ado about a sub-par title game here which I think is far overblown looking at the second half of that game (with Notre Dame desperately trying to play catch up) Teo is shooting gaps that are not his to shoot attempting to hit Eddie Lacy at the point of hand off (and force a fumble presumably). Not sure if that’s coached at that point or just improvisation but it doesn’t really matter. Through 4 seasons at Notre Dame Manti has started 49 games and over the past two seasons has excelled in pass defense along with being a sideline to sideline run defender unlike any linebacker in this draft. Position value may still keep him down but I expect him to be shooting back up on draft boards after his combine. Chance he’s special: 85%

- Star Lotulelei DT Utah: Elite run defender…not a very good pass rusher. My concern is this doesn’t look like technique either and he may not have enough upside to justify being called elite. Gerald McCoy or Suh he is not and unless I see a physical performance that suggests he could join this crew I don’t think putting him in the truly special category is warranted. That said I think he’s just one notch below elite. Chance he’s a special player: 25%

- Chance Warmack OG Alabama: Right up there with Lotuleli in terms of being extremely physical particularly in run production. Also quite intelligent does an excellent job in blitz pickup but he is vulnerable to bull rush’s by other exceptionally good athletes so I’m still thinking he’s a notch below. If it comes out this is a technique issue and firing faster off the snap will clear this up then he may well be in the special category but for now a notch below that. Special Player Chance: 20%

That’s it…no one else in this draft has the combination of game tape, elite physical tools, and intangibles where you know that even without further development you are looking at a multi-year probowler and corner stone of your franchise. There may well be other players in this draft who develop into that special pantheon but they are not there right now.

To Answer the Question: Are We in Position to get one? Not likely. I think Teo will fall some because of position value and Jones may for medical reasons. Warmack will also fall for position value but we already have two elite guards. That said if for some reason Jones(if medically healthy), Teo, Joeckel , or Lotuelelei fall to us…take them off the board and worry about needs/how to use them later.

2. What areas of your team need improvement?

Recognizing your needs is important because it enables you to move to value and select players who are more likely to contribute to your team. Much has been written about our needs and I wont go into too much detail but I divide needs by: Must Have, imminent need, and nice to have. Keep in mind free agency and retirements may alter these.

Must Have: CB(x2) FS (If Ronde retires) RT

Imminent Need: TE, DE (If Bennett leaves) NT (Particularly if Miller leaves).

Nice to Have: CB(x3) Free Safety Developmental(If Ronde Stays) Pass Rushing MLB (Schiano scheme uses it), Plan B QB, , Upgraded C, Upgraded LT, Backup RB, 3rd Down Back.

3. How Deep is this draft at your needs?

Last year featured 3 first round worthy runningbacks, this year it may not have one. Last year four corners were in contention with 1 elite one, this year no elites and maybe two corners. Each Draft is different so it’s important to take a look at how your needs lineup against the value the draft presents. So where do you find players, if you look at the percentage of guys who make it to 50 starts in the NFL and go to a Pro Bowl the first round has the highest percentages of both. The Second round you see a similar number of 50 starts but lower pro bowl percentage. The third round takes a huge hit in the 50 start category but has almost the same pro bowl potential as the second round. The fourth round both ratio’s start to nose dive and by the fifth round the talent pool produces very low percentages of both.

Also important not every draft is equal in talent. I’ve counted the number of guys I have first round grades to (a 10 or higher in my draft guide) every year; the numbers range from a low of 16 (2011) to a high of 39 (2010). For purposes this early I’ll give breakdowns in Tiers with the caveat that within positions I’ve simply organized them by Tiers and randomly whichever one I listed first. It does not mean that within that class I place player x higher than y because his name comes first. Also much of this is going to change between now and late April when the post season will settle some of these issues.

Tier I Special Players (Should not be passed on in my book)

OT- Luke Joekel Texas A&M

3-4 OLB/4-3 DE – Jarvis Jones Georgia

ILB – Manti Teo Notre Dame

Total: 3

Tier II Great Players (Clearly above the rest should be taken in the early part of the first round)

OT- Eric Fisher OT C. Michigan

OG- Chance Warmack Alabama,

3-4 NT – Star Lotuleilei Utah(Also 4-3NT)

3-4 OLB/4-3 DE – Barkevious Mingo LSU, Bjoern Warner FSU, Damontre Moore Texas A&M (Total 3)

ILB – Alex Ogletree Georgia

CB – Dee Milliner Alabama

S- Kenny Viccaro Texas

Total: 9

Tier III Clearly Good Players (Call these solid first round grades even if they don’t have the same chance at greatness as the guys above them).

QB- Matt Barkley USC (I know I’ll catch guff for this one)

TE- Tyler Eifert Notre Dame, Zach Ertz Stanford (Total 2)

OG- Jonathan Cooper NC

C- Khaled Holmes USC

3-4 NT – John Jenkins Georgia

3-4 DE/4-3 DT – Johnathan Hankins Ohio St., Sharrif Floyd Florida, Kwann Short Purdue(Total 3)

3-4 OLB/4-3 DE – Ezekiel Ansah BYU, Sam Montgomery LSU (Total 2)

CB – Johnthan Banks Miss St.

S- Matt Elam Florida, Eric Reid LSU

Total: 14

Tier IV Good Players (But all of these I have concerns/questions about either athletically or game tape wise and don’t show the same level of high play that the ones above do, they could still develop but more work is needed) Consider them value after the first 3 tiers are exhausted and the draft moves from day one to day two. Also a few of these could move up.

QB- Mike Glennon NC St.

RB- Geovanni Bernard North Carolina, Marcus Lattimore S. Carolina, Le’Veon Bell Michigan St. , Ray Graham Pittsburg, Montee Ball Wisconsin, Kenjon Barner Oregon(Total 6)

TE- Travis Kelce Cincinnati, Phillip Lutzenkirken Auburn (Total 2)

WR-Robert Woods USC Cordarrelle Patterson Tennessee, Justin Hunter Tennessee, DeAndre Hopkins Clemson, Terreance Willliams Baylor , Tavon Austin W. Virginia (Total 6)

OT- D.J. Fulker Alabama, Oday Aboushi Virginia, David Bahktari Colorado (Total 3)

C- Barrett Jones Alabama

3-4 DE/4-3 DT – Sheldon Richardson Missouri , Sylvester Williams North Carolina (Total 2)

3-4 OLB/4-3 DE – Dion Jordan Oregon, Alex Okafor Texas, Corey Loemonier Auburn (Total 3)

4-3 OLB – Anthony Barr UCLA, Kasheem Greene Rutgers

ILB – Kevin Reddick North Carolina, Kevin Minter LSU (Total 2)

CB – Logan Ryan Rutgers, David Amerson NC St. , Xavier Rhodes FSU, Blidid Wreh-wilson UCONN (Total 4)

S- Tony Jefferson Oklahoma, Duke Williams Nevada (Total 2)

Total: 34

Tier V Reasonable Good Expectations (Guys who should get consideration later on Day 2 and you still have a reasonable expectation of them being starters)

QB- Geno Smith W. Virginia

RB- Andre Ellington Clemson, Theo Riddick Notre Dame, Eddie Lacy Alabama (Total 3)

FB-Zach Line SMU

TE- Chris Gragg Arkansas , Jordan Reed Florida, Dion Sims Michigan St. Gavin Escobar San Deigo State Ryan Otten San Jose St. (Total 5)

WR-Quincy Patton LA Tech, Stedmon Baily W. Virginia, Keenan Allen Cal, Cobi Hamilton Arkansas (Total 4)

OT- Dallas Thomas Tennessee , Ricky Wagner Wisconsin, Justin Pugh Syracuse, Chris Faulk LSU, Brennan Williams North Carolina, Morgan Moses Virginia (Total 6)

OG- Brian Winters Kent St. , Larry Warford Kentucky, Hugh Thornton Illinois (Total 3)

C – Brian Schwenke Cal

3-4 NT – Kwame Geathers Georgia

3-4 DE/4-3 DT – Jared Smith New Hampshire, Akeem Spence Illinois, Bennie Logan LSU, Kapron Lewis-Moore Notre Dame(Total 4)

3-4 OLB/4-3 DE – Tank Carradine Florida St. , Margus Hunt SMU, John Simon Ohio St., William Gholston Michigan St., Datone Jones UCLA (Total 5)

ILB – Shayne Skov Stanford, Chris Borland Wisconsin (Total 2)

4-3 OLB – Arthur Brown Kansas St.

CB – Jordan Poyer Oregon St., Desmond Trufant Washington, Antone Exum Virginia Tech, Will Davis Utah St.Micah Hyde Iowa (Total 5)

S- Shawn Williams Georgia, Bacarri Rambo Georgia, Phillip Thomas Fresno St. ,Tre Boston North Carolina, Hakeem Smith Louisville (Total 6)

Total : 48

So how do the Bucs fill needs? - - - Position Position Position. You don't pass on Tier I or II guys unless you can't use them (Warmack comes to mind) if you simply must fill a position, move to where its of value if you can, if not take the better player and assure yourself a better chance of him getting to a Pro Bowl/Making it to 50 starts.

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