Run for your lives. Witty's here and he's drawing up a mock draft for the Bucs that's mock-worthy up and down the coast.
Witty's Rules Of Mock Draftery:
I am a firm believer in Drafting Best Player At a High (but not always Highest) Need.
I've seen the arguments about taking BPA (Best Player Available), but that sometimes involves drafting a player at a position where there's no need. Say we're at a spot where by all scouting accounts the BPA at your ninth overall spot is a DT, but you've already got two established DT's starting. You're basically drafting a kid who'll sit on the bench: meanwhile, that dire need at WR is killing you because your QB has no one to throw at.
Drafting for Highest Need regardless of the talent level is the other extreme. In this situation, there's no WR worthy of the ninth overall spot – the best WR is valued mid-20 if anything – but drafting him at ninth gets you someone overpaid and maybe a bust due to higher expectations.
Best Player At A High Need is kinda a compromise: given the roster positions ranging across QB, RB, FB, WR, TE, OT, G, C, DT, DE, OLB, MLB, CB, S and K or P, there can be a lot of needed gaps to fill. You may not need that DT, but you may be down an OLB or your RB situation is injury-plagued so you might consider an OLB valued in the mid-10s or getting a good-value RB (maybe second-best on the scouting boards if the first has already been drafted).
If you've seen my earlier mocks for the Bucs, you'll notice I'll have a variable set of Needs at each Draft Round: as long as we get a player fitting one of those three (or four) needs, it's a good pick IMHO. Anything else is a waste.
Second rule: DO NOT DRAFT A PUNTER (OR KICKER).
Well, technically the Bucs could if there's a need, but for the LOVE OF GOD don't use the pick on anything higher than the Fifth Round. Seriously. If we've got a compensatory pick to use, then yeah by all means that could get used on a Punter or Kicker if our talent available is weak. But the team BETTER consider drafting at other spots in dire need of development such as CB or OL...
Third rule: Nobody from Alabama or a player that has been tainted by Lane Kiffin!
Sorry, guys. But I'm totally not in the mood to get any hand-me-downs from that loser.
Okay, so. There's the ground rules. Onto the Draft Mocking! (EDIT: I just realized I need to include a traded-in pick for the Fourth Round, my bad)
First Round – Seventh overall
NEEDS: WR, TE, OL, QB
Notes: the massive amount of work done in free agency this week alone has alleviated a lot of the needs for a pass-rush DE (or converted OLB for said pass-rush) and along the OL (especially at LT and C/G). Newer needs such as CB depth and LB depth however have cropped up. However, our starters at CB and LB are very good (bordering on excellent) and so drafting this high for either seems risky considering they'll most likely be bench-warming or rarely used.
Quarterback isn't too huge a need now that the Bucs have signed Josh McCown in whom Lovie Smith has faith, but if Watkins is gone and Bortles or Bridgewater are sitting there, the Bucs could snag one of them and use Mike Glennon as trade bait (we can keep him during the season and when a team loses a QB early to injury, BLAMMO there's our trade).
Tight End is a higher need than WR, just slightly, and if Watkins is gone there's a possibility the Bucs could take Eric Ebron. Deal is, Ebron's not valued this high, and the Bucs should be smart to trade down a few spots to where they'll be certain Ebron's still available.
I still list OL overall as a need because of one other draft rule I keep: When in doubt, draft Offensive Line (the follow-up rule is When in doubt and When OL is set, draft Defensive Line). While we got Collins to take the OT spot and Deitrich-Smith for the interior, depth need is still a major concern. Arguably, depth-level OL can be had well into the Third Round, so this isn't a top need. But if Matthews or Robinson is sitting there, it wouldn't hurt to draft one (and it'd be incredibly easy to trade down to a team desperate for LT).
The stars have to align just right for Watkins to be sitting there for the Bucs to draft. Most likely he's gone, and the Bucs are trading down to grab Ebron. Questions will be, whom we can trade with and who will be sitting there at seventh worthwhile for that other team to trade up...
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
WHO WE WILL DRAFT: (after trade down) TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
DON'T BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville ('cause DAMN that would be a surprise to see a pro-ready QB slide this far)
BE ANGRY IF WE DRAFT: OLB Anthony Barr or Khalil Mack, because we don't need OLB starters (we have David, and the other OLB is situational anymore) nor do we need to convert either to a DE.
Side Note: Best teams to trade down with if Watkins or Bridgewater/Bortles are gone so we can get Ebron at better value include the NY Giants (at twelve), Pittsburgh (at fifteen and one most likely IMHO to trade) and Miami (at nineteen). Those three teams will want best-available OT, which in this shakedown means Matthews or Robinson are there as bait. Trade involves our First (seventh) for Pittsburgh's First rounder (fifteenth) and Fourth Rounder, with next year's Fourth Rounder as well.
Second Round – Thirty-eighth overall
NEEDS: WR, OL, CB
Notes: Getting Ebron helps the short passing game (and hopefully the run-blocking), but the deep passing game is still relying on Jackson – not the fastest WR – and Williams – not the most reliable in separation from coverage – to go long. Losing out on Watkins is likely, which is why I went with Ebron, but there's still speedy receivers to be had. Just maybe not in the Second round.
With Revis gone, we're down to new FA Verner and Banks as the starting corners. Depth at corner has been atrocious the last few years, so drafting for somebody here to help out in nickel and dime coverages is a must.
Of available corners, the more interesting talents that can slide into the Second Round include Jason Verrett (who's Ronde Barber-sized but a seriously good tackler and instinctive pass defender), Loucheiz Purifoy (a cover type corner, but with major off-field issues), and Kyle Fuller (all-around talent but injury issues).
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: CB Jason Verrett, TCU
WHO WE WILL DRAFT: Verrett
DON'T BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: WR Odell Backham, LSU
BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: Most likely somebody who slid out of the First Round at a position we may not have the high need.
BE ANGRY IF WE DRAFT: QB AJ McCarron, Alabama. TAINT. TAIIIIIIIIINT. It's TIME, LANE (expletive) KIFFIN. Also, WAR EAGLE
Third Round – Sixty-ninth overall
NEEDS: WR, OL, ILB
Notes: We got this draft slot back after cutting Revis (we now no longer have the Fourth Rounder), which helps a little bit in selecting a diamond-in-the-rough type at one of the need spots. Getting someone for OL depth right about now would help, but the need at WR is still pretty high. It's a toss-up between the two needs, and I'm leaning towards Guard at the moment to be a more sensible pick.
Of the Guards scouted for Third rounder, David Yankey seems promising as a zone blocker that can fit the new offense. Various small-sized Tackles (relatively speaking) with versatility could be taken here and converted to interior. With any luck, Yankey will be here.
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: G David Yankey, Stanford
WHO WE WILL DRAFT: Yankey
DON'T BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: Any WR left on the board with speed and route-running positives
BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: A linebacker this early. We mostly need one for depth/development.
BE ANGRY IF WE DRAFT: A Punter. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Fourth Round – (depends on Compensatory) (EDITED)
We had one here but it is now traded away to the Jets. Good news is, we pick up Pittsburgh's draft pick here because I had us trade down to snag TE Ebron. Therefore...
NEEDS: WR, ILB, OL
At this point, getting a risky player with talent and upside but the odd chance of folding or getting arrested for pope abuse after 2 AM (nothing good happens after 2 AM, kids) is the trend. Receiver is a need at this point, but we could indulge with depth fills at LB and Guard/Center if there's someone of interest.
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: WR Josh Huff, Oregon
WHO WE WILL DRAFT: Huff
DON'T BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: A ILB who happens to be Hardy Nickerson's younger clone in disguise
BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: Anyone for DL. Depth need not really there at the moment
BE ANGRY IF WE DRAFT: A Punter. RAGE. NAPALM. MORE RAGE.
Fifth Round – (depends on Compensatory)
NEEDS: ILB, WR, CB
Corner pops up again because depth at this spot is REALLY that bad. Receiver is still on the list, but by this point in the draft you're not really getting the fastest of the fast, and you're drafting good-hand guys who might help on third downs.
Linebacker need at this point is depth only. I know Mason Foster gets some knocks but he IS a good inside LB for us. What's hurting is depth: losing Watson and Hayward to FA left some gaping holes especially considering Hayward's value to the Special Teams unit. Finding a decent developmental ILB is the smart move here.
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: LB DeDe Lattimore, South Florida (here's my traditional USF Bulls pick-up)
WHO WE WILL DRAFT: LB Preston Brown, Louisville
DON'T BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: A Corner or Safety to provide developmental or depth need in the secondary
BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: A Quarterback. It's possible the team may draft one to be the third backup guy.
BE ANGRY IF WE DRAFT: Another Punter. NOOOOOOOOO
Sixth Round – (depends on Compensatory)
This has been traded to the Bears
Seventh Round – (depends on Compensatory)
NEEDS: Any Depth Needs at most spots EXCEPT RB)
Given the Bucs have few picks this year, we're not exactly tossing away this low-round pick for trade bait or BPA (which at this round is kinda meaningless). Here's a spot to snag a WR for depth/situational needs. Most likely, it's someone who's barely been scouted.
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: WR Willie Snead, Ball State
WHO WE WILL DRAFT: WR (Whoever has the best hands and jump skills left on board)
DON'T BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: Someone on Defense
BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: Don't be surprised.
BE ANGRY IF WE DRAFT: A running back. Seriously, we got three on roster that are good. Why waste a pick?
Also: Bucs are expecting a Compensatory pick in the Seventh Round as well, so we can project that selection:
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: S Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma St.
WHO WE WILL DRAFT: A humanoid male with some skill sets playing football
DON'T BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: A punter. Yeah, at this point, we can live with it.
BE SURPRISED IF WE DRAFT: A Quarterback who slipped out of the top rounds altogether.
BE ANGRY IF WE DRAFT: Ryan Leaf
What do you think, sirs?
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