Part 3. The Conclusion & Way too early 2014 Mock Draft.
Now the final edition, if we called edition one "The New Hope", and edition two "The Salary Cap Strikes Back" , then clearly edition three will have to be "Return of the Buccaneers". At the end of these three seasons we could be the preeminent team in the National Football League. The team everyone scratches their heads and figures out how to beat. Load up the consecutive 10 win seasons and Super Bowl runs. Here come the pirates from Tampa. This section has a final consolidated statement of team needs and a mock draft. Feel free to add in your own comments and touches.
Lots of Team Needs. Our immediate needs are stated as QB, TE, and then based on the scheme either a second TE or slot WR. We have developmental wants at Guard, Center, Left Tackle, Free Safety, Cornerback, Middle Linebacker, Defensive Tackle, and Defensive End. Remember we don’t want rookie starters for our 2016-2017 Super Bowl Championship team at QB, Offensive Line, or Defensive Secondary. The others we can kind of live with if we have to adjust for depth or injury.
Limited Draft Ammo begins "RELOAD" of Roster. Unfortunately Tampa enters the 2014 NFL Draft a little short on ammunition. Our 3rd Round Draft Pick belongs to the Jets and our 6th Round pick to the Chicago Bears. In a further sign of just how badly this team needs a President of Operations (someone to watch out for the next decade) Josh Freeman was waived prematurely meaning we won’t get a 2015 Compensatory pick for him either.
So we have picks in Round 1,2, 4, 5, and 7. Just five picks without further maneuvering in order to fill a number of critical needs including a franchise quarterback. Needing a franchise QB robs us of the opportunity to trade back unless you fall in love with one of the later first round prospects or one of the trade possibilities for an existing QB.
That brings us to my 2014 Bucs Only Mock Draft with Candidates. For the purposes of this mock I’ll assume , based on current projections, that we have the 3rd overall pick in every round.
ROUND 1 – Let the new franchise begin. With the 3rd overall pick in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Tampa Bay would have just one choice:
Brett Hundley QB SO(RS) UCLA - The very mobile strong armed Quarterback is the clear cut #2 QB, at this point, in this draft. I said in part two of this trilogy that you only trade for a quarterback or trade back if your Offensive Coordinator and Head Coach are both pounding their fists on the table saying so-and-so is actually the best guy. After Teddy Bridgewater, Hundley is the man. We’ll need more out of Doug Martin, not in terms of rushing, but for our rookie well need Doug to call out the line protections at least until Hundley’s second season. Hundley can make the downfield throws and should instantly improve play under center while providing a long term franchise QB we can build our offense around. Let me steal a line from Witty and say "Tampa Bay fans don’t fret here comes Brett"
Round 2 – I’m never a fan of reaching or passing on the best available player when you draft. It always leads to trouble. I am, however, a big fan of moving to value. Tight End has been an eye sore so I’m ready to move to value, up or down, if my board falls "just so". Here are six Round 1&2 TE Possibilities that are capable of starting day one:
Eric Ebron 6’4" 235lbs TE North Carolina – A physical beast and bad ball catcher, Ebron can split out wide and threaten a defense down the middle as well. Not quite Tyler Eifert but pretty close.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins 6’6" 266lbs TE Washington – Blocking and off field behavior issues but can really fly down the field. Right now figures in the very late round 1 early round 2 territory.
Jace Amaro 6’5" 255lbs TE Texas Tech – Nasty good receiving TE who can threaten a defense, will need pro coaching to improve his blocking technique but could very well end up the #1 overall TE in this draft.
Colt Lyerla 6’5" 246lbs TE Oregon – Good receiver but a zone blocker so his selection would be based partly on a future scheme would need development for man blocking. Probably best suited for a two tight end set anyway as the Y TE who is used in motion often.
C.J. Fiedorowicz 6’5" 264lbs TE Iowa – Big nasty powerful TE does not have deep speed and again currently in a zone blocking scheme but could be a quality NFL starter in the right system. This pick would need to depend on who is calling the offensive signals and how he plans to use the TE in blocking schemes.
In round two Tampa selects: Colt Lyerla TE Oregon, I’d look to trade back in Round 2 and accumulate more picks, unless one of my top TE’s starts to come close to the end of round 1. Lyerla would qualify as a starting TE and doesn’t come with the off field issues that Jace Amaro or Sefarian-Jenkins would bring to the kitchen table. If I have a rookie QB I want a TE he can depend on. More than that, Lyerla doesn’t come with the question marks of some of the others.
Round 4 – I’ve been forced to plug a couple of immediate holes in Rounds 1&2 due to some poor roster management. At this point I’m really going to take the best player available at a number of positions including: TE, WR, C, G, OT, MLB, CB, or FS. That’s a pretty wide group of players I can select from so I’ll give you a couple interesting players at each position group for us to select from who could be mid round prospects:
Rob Blanchflower 6’4" 260lbs TE UMASS – Another big powerful TE who is simply playing on a horrid team, his senior bowl will determine where he goes. Branchflower could well be a steal that teams hear their fans go "who" when he’s drafted, and quickly scream like a Florida shuffle board club watching the Golden Girls reruns going "Blanch, Blanch, Blanch".
Robert Herron 5’9" 180lbs WR Wyoming – One of the better kept secrets in College football Herron is an old fashioned speedster from a small school who has dominated the WAC and MWC. He’s going to be an instant, if diminutive, deep ball threat.
Travis Swanson 6’4" 304lbs C Arkansas – This upcoming draft does not appear to have any elite centers who are plug and play but Swanson has the physical toughness and should develop the mental acuity to compete for a starting job down the road.
Sean Hickey 6’5" 291lbs OT Syracuse – Right now Hickey is a bit underpowered for the pro level but factors as a developmental LT type with smooth lateral movement and could see himself in the mid rounds.
Marcus Williams 5’11" 196lbs North Dakota St. – One of the top FCS prospects coming out he plays in the Big Sky and if his measurables hold up in the post season I wouldn’t be surprised to see him placed much higher than this.
In Round 4 Tampa Selects Robert Herron WR Wyoming, an amazing prospect in terms of stretching the field clearly he’ll need to adjust to the speed of the pro game and get better at hand checking. However this guy average better than 20 yards per catch last season and has looked good early.
Round 5 – Another round another 5 prospects to spin the wheel on. Here goes another pick.
Kain Colter WR/QB 5’10" 189lbs Northwestern – Kain Colter has played both WR and QB at Northwestern and is a well known team leader. Obviously he’s still raw at WR but this round seems about right for him. He is athletic so while he’ll never be an NFL quarterback I do expect him to be a contributing WR with enough development.
Brandon Thomas G/T 6’3" 315lbs Clemson – Given his length and what appears to be shorter arms Brandon will probably shift inside to guard at the NFL level. He does have some good lower body power so given time, he could develop into a pile driver.
Shamar Stephen DT 6’5" 323lbs Connecticut – Shamar comes in with some injury concerns from 2012, but is very experienced and despite his size actually has some up field gitty up.
Shayne Skov ILB 6’2" 240lbs Stanford – Skov has to be the hardest guy on the Stanford defense and perhaps in the whole country. He’s a tough physical defender who just lacks some basic athleticism. He will always be a stretch and an effort guy.
Nickoe Whitley FS 5’11" 202lbs Mississippi St. – Whitley might not be here for long it wouldn’t surprise me if he jumped out draft boards. He’s got some serious upside and 10 career interceptions to date. He’s one of my favorite guys to watch in the secondary and in my opinion is underrated. If the rest of the league catches on I’ll have to bump him up, but right now this appears to be his consensus position.
In Round 5 Tampa Selects Nickoe Whitley FS, the ball hawking SEC centerfielder would be an ideal backup to Goldson and someone we could develop. He’d also be some nice insurance should Goldson finally lose an appeal with the league at some point.
Round 7 – One final pick to go and another 5 final prospects who could suit up in Petwer.
Denarius Mcghee QB 5’10" 210lbs Montana St. – Mcghee is currently nursing a separated shoulder after spending a consecutive 3 years as a starter. Watch some clips on him and you’ll see a mobile dynamic quarterback with a big strong arm. Long term backup QB developmental type.
Crockett Gillmore TE 6’6" 255lbs Colorado St. – A former DE Gillmore is a load at the point of attack and is a load to bring down. Much more likely to run over defenders than away from them and still has some upside left.
Zac Kerin C 6’5" 300ls Toledo – Scrappy Conference USA veteran whose logged an appearance on the Rimington watch list. He’s a pretty good all around blocker but excels in pass blocking and appears to have more of a frame to add weight to.
Beau Allen DT 6’3" 325lbs Wisconsin – A one mode run plugger who isn’t very disruptive for Badgers opponents but also comes with a powerful lower frame and generally requires a quick double team to dislodge.
Gregory Hickman DE 6’3" 285lbs Florida International – Spotlight player on a pretty mediocre front, Hickman is more of a mx effort battle for position defensive end. He seems like a strong side DE for a 43 but wouldn’t disappoint coaches with effort in the preseason.
With their 7th round pick and final pick in the 2014 NFL Draft Tampa Bay selects Zac Kerin C Toledo. Who could provide us with an upgrade at Center should Zuttah need to fill in for one of our much maligned guards and someone with some upside if he gets into a pro weight room. If I had more draft ammo I would have grabbed more offensive lineman, this would be our first selection of one since 2009, but with limited draft picks, and a shallow offensive line pool, its probably best left for the "heavy" investment in 2015.
Well that concludes it, why don’t you tell us which prospect excites you the most, hint Teddy Bridgewater is too easy be brave be bold and remember………….we really are just 3 seasons from a SuperBowl and a dynasty if things go our way.