So... Having made two different mock drafts of the 2014 First Round, which one do I think is more likely: the one with trades or the one without?
Trades do happen every year - it's rare when a trade in the First never happens - so it's more likely. But will the Bucs benefit from a trade-down (anyone saying the Bucs should trade up is asking the team to cough up future picks, the team doesn't have enough current ones of value) this year, or are they stuck picking at 7th overall, which is a nice place to visit but it's not exactly the best spot to be even in this deep draft?
I'm going with the Bucs pulling off the trade because I'm predicting at least one of the top two Offensive Tackles - Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson - are going to be there at the 7th spot as trade bait for a OT-needy team like Pittsburgh to jump at. So this mock draft for the Bucs is predicted a few extra picks to throw in. It hurt that the Bucs didn't even snag a compensatory pick in the Seventh Round - it would have been meager but still - so trading down and bartering for additional picks is a smart play.
The rules are simple: two men enter, I leave. Bucs will not draft a punter. And the Bucs will draft to best player filling high need. No exceptions, no appeal, no possibility of parole. Anyone questions these rules, that's a rules violation.
Now, let's begin shall we?
First Round - 15th Overall (Trade from Pittsburgh)
NEEDS: WR, WR, OG, WR, mmmmmmmaybe another WR
With the recent trade of troubled WR Mike Williams, the Bucs are down to just one surefire starting WR in Vincent Jackson. Everyone else - the backup guys like Owusu and Page, the recent FA signees Murphy and Hawkins - are not exactly guys keeping opposing defenses asleep at night. Before Free Agency the needs looked like OT, DE, TE and then WR (for slot position and depth). Now the WR has jumped to the front of the Needs list... big time.
There's only one Must Have WR on the boards this year in Sammy Watkins, and the odds are certain that one of the higher drafting teams - Rams most likely, Raiders still possible - will draft him. If he slides to 7th, the Bucs won't trade they'll draft him within 5 seconds of getting onto the clock. With him gone, the options become murkier.
Mike Evans is the next most-liked rookie on the board. He's not as fast as Watkins, and he's got a few other question marks, but he's practically a clone of Jackson, which is a good thing (V Jax is pretty much a Top Ten caliber WR, and that was playing with Freeman and Glennon as his QBs). The thing is, if the Bucs pass on him at 7th and trade down, there's no guarantee he'll still be there at 15th (the Bills in particular are a team in need of WR and could take him). I'm gonna gamble that he will be: the Bills have needs elsewhere, and I'm gambling on the fact that the 49ers are up for trading to Buffalo at the 11th for their need at DE/OLB pass-rusher...
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
WE WILL DRAFT: Evans.
Don't Be Surprised If We Draft: OL Zack Martin, Notre Dame (if Evans also gone, next best need is O-line depth and someone who could start Guard. Reaching for another player at WR seems risky and could wait for the Second Round...)
Be Surprised If We Draft: QB Teddy Bridgewater, because yeah he slid THIS far into the First? Kinda means most of the guys I was hoping we'd get in the First - Watkins AND Evans, especially - were got.
Be Angry If We Draft: DE Javedeon Clowney, because that means we traded up for a position we didn't need to fill, and that means we had nuked much of this year's draft and most likely next year's to make the move.
Second Round - 38th overall
NEEDS: OG/OL, TE, CB, ILB
In my first mock, I had it so that the Bucs were taking care of defensive needs by working on the questionable depth at Cornerback. With the situation changing re: wide receiver spot, the needs have changed.
I also had Verrett here as available, but his stock has seemingly risen and he may be gone in the First now. So the Bucs should consider the other top need: the offensive line and especially a starting Guard. For what I know, this guy should still be available, and I haven't heard anything bad in the current scouting. In fact, last I heard his stock went from Third Round value to Second, so drafting him here makes more sense...
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: OG David Yankey, Stanford
WE WILL DRAFT: Yankey
Don't Be Surprised If We Draft: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
Be Surprised If We Draft: Bridgewater. Dude, there's NO WAY he slips THIS far.
Be Angry If We Draft: A Linebacker. While I have the need listed at this point, it's not the high priority that Guard is.
Third Round - 69th overall
NEEDS: LB (either Outside or Inside), TE, CB, QB
This is one of those interesting drafts where the top talent is meager but the overall quality of some key positions are good well into the Third. The odds of finding a decent starter are still here at the top-half where the Bucs sit, so getting a decent Tight End to challenge for a starting spot is good. Deal is, the defense has some depth issues in the secondary and the linebacker spots. Losing a couple of key guys at LB - Dekoda Watson in particualr - is smarting. While Foster is very good as the starting Middle LB, the Bucs need to consider finding depth help, or possibly someone to play the strongside LB (who will end up rotating out of nickel and dime formations). There's an expectation the Bucs are looking to draft a QB for Lovie Smith's start of his tenure, despite Glennon sitting there as a potentially decent backup to McCown. Decisions, decisions...
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (he may slide this far)
WE WILL DRAFT: LB Telvin Smith, Florida St.
Don't Be Surprised If We Draft: A Cornerback or Safety to improve depth needs.
Be Surprised If We Draft:
Be Angry If We Draft: A Running Back. Dude, not needed.
Fourth Round - 118th overall (from Pittsburgh)
NEEDS: ILB, CB, S, OL, QB
Getting this extra pick helps with the depth issues the Bucs have at any of those need spots I list here. While it's possible the Bucs may go after a linebacker in the Third, I have them taking a Tight End instead, at which point the need to get good depth for LB comes here. I'm think middle is needed more than outside for depth, but let's see how it goes.
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: LB Preston Brown, Louisville (Telvin Smith if he's here in the Fourth)
WE WILL DRAFT: A linebacker
Don't Be Surprised If We Draft: More offensive line depth, someone G/C.
Be Surprised If We Draft: WR. Starter need trumped depth need earlier. We've got guys on the roster for coaching up or taking care of slot/fourth receiver needs already.
Be Angry If We Draft: A punter! RAGE! NAPALM! RIOT!
Fifth Round - 143rd overall
NEEDS: OL, QB, S
Also Fifth - 157th overall (from Pittsburgh)
If we trade with Pittsburgh, the Bucs would profit from getting just their Second Rounder to help with starter needs, but the Steelers I suspect won't want to cough that much up. As a trade-off, getting the Fourth AND this Fifth makes up for it with getting our depth needs considered (Steelers' Third is comp, meaning it can't trade).
Depth needs are it from this point on. Offensive line and the secondary should be considered as I've got the LB depth needs in hand this mock. If Quarterback hasn't been taken by now, it won't be past this point.
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: OL Michael Schofield, Michigan (143) and QB Aaron Murray, Georgia (157)
WE WILL DRAFT: If Murray falls this far, he's definitely going to be taken by this Round.
Don't Be Surprised If We Draft: Defensive line depth, although we really don't need it
Be Surprised If We Draft: Teddy Bridgewater. DUDES, HE'S NOT SLIPPING THIS FAR
Be Angry If We Draft: Trent Dilfer. HE'S RETIRED...!
Sixth Round - 185th overall (from Buffalo)
NEEDS: Special Teams (defensive player)
From this point, as I said, it's all depth need and basically whoever's left on the board at decent value. Somebody with speed, good tackling skills, ball-hawking... uh, yeah, someone like that would've gone by Third Round by now.
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: S Lonnie Ballentine, Memphis
WE WILL DRAFT: someone for secondary depth.
Don't Be Surprised If We Draft: someone with a pulse.
Be Surprised If We Draft: Me. This is a hell of a reach for a fat 43 yr old with a bum knee and pinched back nerve.
Be Angry If We Draft: Me. DUDES. NOT FUNNY.
Seventh Round - 221nd overall
NEEDS: The ability to walk and chew gum at the same time
WHO WE SHOULD DRAFT: DE Aaron Lynch, South Florida (my traditional attempt at snagging a Bulls alum)
WE WILL DRAFT: A punter. Just to spite me. It's the Seventh Round, this is acceptable at this point...
Don't Be Surprised If We Draft: You. Yes you! DIE FOR THE TEAM! DIE!
Be Surprised If We Draft: Teddy Bridgewater. If he really does slide this far into the draft, might as well indulge.
Be Angry If We Draft: Ryan Leaf. DAAAAAFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUQQQQQQQQQQ...
What do you think, sirs?