Yeah, I'm trying my hand at guessing who and how the Rookie Draft rolls this Thursday Apr. 25th night.
The rules are simple:
1) This is how I hope the Draft works out in favor of the Bucs. That's all. I don't give a rat's ass about how the 31 other teams draft. You can all draft
punters (I stopped saying this after Jacksonville WASTED a Third Rounder on a punter last year. A PUNTER! /headdesk) Quarterbacks for all I care (because this season the Quarterback is the Punter of roster choices: you can hold off until the Fifth Round to take one and still be overreaching).
2) I ascribe to Best Position Need, not Best Player Available. If you're drafting at a spot where all you can draft as BPA is Defensive End, and you've already got 3 GREAT/AWESOME Ends on your D-line, drafting a rookie who'll waste time and money sitting on a bench is foolish when your need at WR could go lacking. So I call on drafting "best-available-player at one of three highest needs".
3) When in doubt for a team's need, draft Offensive Tackle.
4) When the team's got a great/solid Left Offensive Tackle, draft Defensive Line.
5) Trades can show up, but they have to be logical. The temptation to force Dallas to trade away all their picks for
punters quarterbacks would otherwise ruin a sensible draft.
Now that the rules have been explained, let's begin the First Round:
1. Kansas City - OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Having traded for a solid veteran QB in Alex Smith, the Chiefs need to protect their investment. Considering beefing up the O-line was already planned for, getting best-available OT is practically a no-brainer.
2. Jacksonville - OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
If any team has a need to trade down... well, it's most of them, because this is one of the weakest top-talent drafts since 2008. While the betting money is on the Jaguars taking a QB with Geno Smith, there's really no sure thing at QB this year and the teams needing QB would be better served waiting until the Second Round to see who slips. And for all the question marks about the Jags QB talent, their woeful O-line didn't help. So going for Offensive Tackle makes some sense here.
3. Oakland - DE Bjoern Werner, Florida St.
This is an unpredictable draft in three ways: 1) there are no sure-fire must-have guys this draft, 2) half the teams in the Top 10 would love to trade down but nobody NEEDS to trade up and 3) Oakland's run by crazy people who haven't drafted smartly since 2002. I'm not even entirely sure who've they got at QB right now, but even they wouldn't be crazy enough to give Geno Smith or Matt Barkley this kind of bona fides. Taking care of a weakened D-line makes some sense, although the DE choice could rotate between Werner, Ezekial Ansah, or even an OLB/DE hybrid like Dion Jordan. Maybe even Barkevious Mingo. Why, I have no idea...
4. Philadelphia - CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Yet another team that can jump in any direction. The best reason they'll go with CB is that they've made major cuts to their secondary which performed hideously last season. They might go with OT if either Fisher or even Joeckel slips.
5. Detroit - OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
This was a team prepped to do something at Defense - CB or DE - when their anchor LOT Backus retired. Left Tackles do NOT grow on trees (or get found in FA), so Detroit's in serious need to protect their ever-fragile QB. Johnson's the third-best OT in the draft, but don't be surprised if Detroit tries to trade UP (practically the only team that NEEDS to at this point) to get Joeckel.
6. Cleveland - S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
This is, again, a team that has been haphazard with drafting and could jump in any direction. TE is a possibility, even QB, maybe LB, maybe... But the secondary needs some help, and getting the best available Safety this high in the draft is not as questionable as it used to be.
7. Arizona - OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Seriously, this guy makes me think of that Kay & Peele skit about the weird-ass names out there in football. Anyway, Arizona could go with OT, but they need more help on defense and linebacker seems to be the bigger need.
8. Buffalo - WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Smart money would be for Buffalo to go with QB, but that again can wait until the Second Round - where the head coach can draft his guy from Syracuse and justify the value of the pick there. They could also go with Left Tackle, but they've lost some WRs to free agency and one of the things teams like to do when bringing in a fresh QB is to surround him with some quality talent at RB and WR.
9. New York Jets - WR Cordarelle Patterson, Tennessee
Depending a lot on whether the "expected" trading away of Revis affects their CB situation, the other needs are either WR or OLB.
10. Tennessee - DE Ezekial Ansah, BYU
Tennessee's one more team that can jump in any direction, but honestly they've lost like 22 Defensive Ends to free agency and their D-line is in dire need of talent infusion.
11. San Diego - OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Offensive Tackle may be a need but according to the value boards there's not a decent LT to be had until maybe Dallas Thomas, and he's rated Second Rounder. Chargers have need at Guard anyway, and Warmack's the top OG of the draft.
12. Miami - CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Nothing like f-cking over Tampa Bay who's sitting there at 13th waiting for a solid CB to show up at their spot. Or even better, if Tampa coughed up that 13th spot to New York, who'll be looking to fill the void left in Revis' wake.
13. Tampa Bay - trades to San Francisco - takes DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Until such time as the Revis "trade" ever gets resolved, the Bucs are here at 13th. And for the most part if Milliner and Rhodes are both gone the Bucs are screwed. Cornerback value for the next guy on the list - Trufant - doesn't warrant this high a pick, even with Trufant not fitting the scheme. Next best guys to fit said scheme are Jordan Poyer and Logan Ryan, and even they aren't First Round value picks. Smartest move the Bucs can make is trading down, because the way this draft is shaking out there's one guy - DT Star Lotulelei - who has slipped this far and who might be the best-possible trade bait on the board. Considering the team at 14th - Carolina - is expected to grab best-available DT, the Bucs could tempt a lower-round team like San Francisco that might want DT to trade up. The 49ers also happen to be a draft-laden team right now, able to give the Bucs a Second Rounder (the second of that round, which would be AWESOME) that the team desperately needs to fill other spots. The Bucs COULD take Star since DT is a need for them as well, but they need more a NT type to complement McCoy, and those can be got later.
14. Carolina - DT Sharif Floyd, Florida
You'll hear some cursing noises coming out of Charlotte when Tampa makes the trade move, but not for long since the next handful of Defensive Tackles - Floyd, Richardson - are pretty much talented powerhouses as well. They'll take Floyd... but fantasize about Star...
15. New Orleans - OLB/DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
The scouting is that the Saints need pass-rushing from the outside, so what better way than to snag a hybrid type who's been sliding up the boards? Another hybrid type OLB/DE would be Damontre Moore.
16. St. Louis - WR Keenan Allen, California
The Rams have the luxury of using two First Rounders, but might as well get what they need: more offensive weaponry.
17. Pittsburgh - OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jones has some medical issues - spinal stenosis - but plays as one of the best pass-rushers in college and so the temptation to draft him will be high.
18. Dallas - DE Alex Okafor, Texas
The whole D-line is an issue but they've lost ends to FA so getting one in the draft makes sense. Okafor is fast but not the best pass-rusher of the lot. He's still scouting better than what's left.
19. New York Giants - TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
This is a need for the team, by the by. The talk's been about the defensive line but their passing game needs an infusion of talent.
20. Chicago - WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Linebacker and Guard may be concerns but WR is an issue for the Bears... again.
21. Cincinnati - ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
If they draft Manti it's because they lost a bet or something. They might go with CB but having the top interior linebacker slip this far is too juicy to pass up.
22. St. Louis (from Washington) - OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
The scouting has Guard as a need for the Rams, so having taken care of the flashy part of the offense they take care of the no-nonsense part with the O-line.
23. Minnesota - WR Robert Woods, USC
Trading Percy Harvin was one thing: they also cut a couple of wideouts, and while they signed Jennings away from Green Bay you need multiple targets to get your QB playing better. Woods just had an eye-opening pro day as a speedy receiver and is moving up the charts, this would be a spot to take him.
24. Indianapolis - OLB Alec Olgetree, Georgia
Having some talent gaps at Linebacker - while taking care of a lot of other gaps via FA - is a sure sign that you're looking to draft at that gap.
25. Minnesota (from Seattle) - CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
While getting another WR looks possible, the Vikings had some issues with their defense. Defensive Tackle is a possibility but their talent at Corner is weak.
26. Green Bay - S Matt Elam, Florida
Of the teams hit hardest by free agency, the Packers have some gaps to fill. Their secondary has been hit the hardest with Safety really needing some talent. Elam fits the need at Strong Safety right off the bat. They might go with RB but the backs this year aren't the caliber of Richardson and Martin from last year.
27. Houston - ILB Jon Bostic, Florida
Meet another team that got hit hard with free agency losses, and with this team it was at linebacker. I don't want to wish Manti "Overrated" Teo on anybody at this point, so going with Bostic is the move here.
28. Denver - DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
Look, losing a quality veteran to free agency thanks to a moronic agent who couldn't get the paperwork in on time would make anybody desperate to get a replacement player. Denver's need for end gets resolved with getting a solid and pro-ready guy like Montgomery.
29. New England - OG Alvin Bailey, Arkansas
Considering they've decimated their WR corps - actually, they've done more than remove 1/10 of their talent, they've lost 1/2 - there's just no WR at this spot worth the value. They could draft CB but they've spent free agency solidifying that unit with veterans so it's doubtful. Guard spot has a few gaps and there's been injury woes last season with the O-line, so I'm going with that.
30. Atlanta - CB Jamar Taylor, Boise St.
Just in time to make Bucs fans unhappy, the Falcons take care of their need at Corner. Free agency took care of their need at DE.
31. Tampa Bay (from San Francisco) - CB Logan Ryan, Rutgers
The really good news from this is that the trade scenario I got out of this has the Bucs taking a high Second Rounder (the pick the Niners scored from Kansas City in their Smith trade), so getting Ryan here and then getting Poyer (or even gambling on Banks) just two more picks away gives the team solid talent depth at a spot sorely lacking it.
32. Baltimore - ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
I don't want to do this, but Baltimore has a need at linebacker and Te'o is about the best-talented interior guy left on the board. While he's a team player and a leader on the college field, he's been burdened with being overhyped. The off-field distractions doesn't help and does bring up character questions.
* * *
As you might notice, I don't have a team taking ANY Quarterback this draft. That's just how questionable that position is this year. I won't be surprised if a team gambles on drafting the likes of Geno Smith (talented but raw), Matt Barkley (accurate but not a deep passer), Tyler Wilson (reckless), EJ Manuel (poor vision), or Ryan Nassib (accuracy issues), but each of those guys can still be there by the Second Round.
Running back also doesn't seem to impress this year. Again, a team may reach but good RBs can always be gotten in the mid-rounds, so most teams will probably let the RBs slide.
What do you think, sirs?