Mel Kiper's latest 2014 NFL mock draft is out, the fourth edition of his mock draft, and he's taking the safe route with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans in the first round, and Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson in the second round.
Analysis: The Bucs brought in a new QB and addressed some needs on defense in free agency, but I still see wide receiver as a pretty significant need, with Vincent Jackson 31 and entering what could be his final season in Tampa, and no depth behind him. And if you just want to be able to say you're drafting the best player available on the board at this slot, if you take Evans, you can do that too. Evans makes up for a lack of short-area burst (and thus the ability to separate underneath) by dominating at the catch point, particularly up high. The combination of him and Jackson will be a matchup nightmare, particularly in the red zone.
This is boring. Mel Kiper, you are boring. Mike Evans and Gabe Jackson are both solid selections that fill obvious needs, although drafting Gabe Jackson that high may be a bit of a stretch, especially with Xavier Su'a-Filo on the board there. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and linebacker Kyle Van Noy would be interesting choices at that point, too, as would a receiver like Donte Moncrief.
What's more interesting, though, is that in the first round, Johnny Manziel is the only quarterback off the board at that point. That means the Bucs pass on Blake Bortles, who they reported would draft at number seven (but it's lying season), it means they pass on Derek Carr, who has some connections to the Bucs, and it means they pass on Teddy Bridgewater, my personal favorite quarterback. It even means they pass on Zach Mettenberger and Jimmy Garoppolo in round two.
That doesn't really match what we know of the Bucs' draft plans. They want a quarterback to groom behind Josh McCown, and possibly start this year. We don't know which quarterbacks they really like, though reports suggest they want either Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles, but it seems like a stretch they'd pass on effectively every top quarterback. It's not impossible, just a little unlikely, in my opinion.