Mel Kiper's latest "mock draft" is out, and he went for a different scenario this time. He tried to get every team a draft he would grade with an 'A'. Let's get to what he gave the Buccaneers:
Rd. 1 (13) DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Rd. 2 (43) CB D.J. Hayden, Houston
Rd. 3 (73) TE Vance McDonald, Rice
Analysis: As Gruden cautions on Lotulelei, he's a very good run-stopper, but isn't a dynamic pass-rusher. Well, I don't think he needs to be a great pass-rusher. With Gerald McCoy there, I think there's a good balance of a player with the ability to penetrate and cause some timing problems for offenses. Lotulelei also has exceptional instincts and push against the run. Sure, the Darrelle Revis deal could happen, but I'm the GM here, and I'm not pulling the trigger on that while getting a nice value with Hayden in Round 2. In Round 3, I grab a tight end prospect who can help add some diversity to the offense in a season when Josh Freeman needs to take yet another step forward.
I won't argue with D.J. Hayden and Vance McDonald. They both make a lot of sense and fill clear needs. Obviously the Bucs have a massive need at cornerback, and obviously they need a tight end. Luke Stocker and Leonard Johnson simply aren't good enough as starters. I don't know much about McDonald, but D.J. Hayden is getting a lot of media hype. Mike Mayock just named his number one cornerback over Dee Milliner on today's conference call.
That would make Hayden falling to the Buccaneers in the second round an ideal situation, indeed. That's not likely to happen, but the Buccaneers are almost certain to draft a cornerback in the second round even if they trade for Darrelle Revis.
I do have an issue with the first-round pick, though. Not because Star Lotulelei is a bad player -- he's outstanding. But he's not the kind of defensive tackle the Buccaneers like, as the Bucs have shown a clear preference for one kind of player: a disruptive, quick defensive tackle. Not just as a three-technique tackle, but also as a nose tackle. Roy Miller, Gary Gibson and Derek Landri are all similar guys: slightly stocky, quick defensive tackles. They're not the typical huge nose tackles, which is more what Star Lotulelei is. The Bucs use the tilted alignment and those players' quickness to force opponents to account for them with two blockers. They don't need size at the position.
Then again, Lotulelei has a lot of quickness and can definitely offer a lot as a pass rusher, too. The Bucs wouldn't just be selecting a run defender, despite Kiper's remarks. If the Bucs see Lotulelei as a disruptive player, someone who can get after the passer too, then they could very well draft him. But they won't pick just a run plugger in the first round. They could have just kept Roy Miller then.
Still, if the Bucs keep their first-round pick, they will not have traded for Darrelle Revis. And in that case, they almost have to select a cornerback in the first round.