The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter the 2014 NFL Draft with a huge need at the wide receiver position, needing at least one if not two or three prospects to fill out a respectable depth chart by the time opening day rolls around.
And while Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins represent sexy names at the top of the draft, the Buccaneers may not select a WR at 7 (or may not have a shot at Evans or Watkins at that pick), and may seek to add their receivers later on in this very deep draft at the position. So who are some of the other options?
Davante Adams, teammate of Bucs-linked prospect Derek Carr at Fresno State, represents a player who should be available to the Bucs in the early second round, and brings an intriguing skill set and incredible college production along with him.
What He Does Well
Adams doesn't have the biggest build in the draft at only 6'2", but he uses that frame well, getting his body in good positions downfield. He seems to play bigger than he is due to good positioning, a good vertical leap, and strong hands that catch the ball away from his body.
He's not incredibly fast, but once he gets going, his long strides make him hard to keep up with. He's also got decent moves in space, and when asked to break open on stop-and-go routes or other hesitation moves, he succeeds more often than not.
But what stands out the most when watching Adams is his flair for the dramatic. He hauls in one-handed catches with ease, and has a third eye for the sideline when making toe-tapping receptions at the boundary. Derek Carr only needed to put the ball in Adams' area code for it to turn into a catch for the Bulldogs.
And while he's not the best blocker ever, he's certainly willing and capable in that area, especially coming from an offense which used wide receiver screens regularly, putting Adams in a position to lead block on several occasions.
Where He Can Improve
Despite having good, strong hands, Adams does tend to double-catch the ball at times. Based on what I've seen of his hands, these are probably more concentration-based bobbles than poor technique.
Adams' offense at Fresno State did limit the amount of things he was able to do on tape, as most of his time was spent catching a screen, blocking for a screen, or running straight down the field. In doing so, Adams showed he's capable of all three, but there's not a ton of tape showing him running NFL-style route trees.
He's also not the strongest receiver, and he can get pushed around by a physical defensive back. He has a good arsenal of moves to get away at the line of scrimmage, but if he gets jammed, he's not going to fight his way out against most DBs.
After the play, Adams can be a very demonstrative, passionate player. In typical WR fashion, he talks trash and does little dances, but he also shoved and lashed out at opponents several times on the tape I watched. Passion is good, but frustration that turns into penalties is not.
How He Fits the Buccaneers
Vincent Jackson is a tried-and-true number one receiver, but the Buccaneers need someone to line up on the outside across from Jackson and provide a reason for safeties to take notice, and leave Jackson in one-on-one coverage. Adams has the potential to be a thorn in the side of defenses, opening up the field for other Bucs' receivers.
Despite not being all that fast, Adams has a wide catching radius and good body placement which make him a threat to get down the sideline and make a big play. Bringing in Adams would give the Buccaneers a one-two punch much like the one they had in Jackson and Mike Williams, with Adams representing a slightly more explosive version of the departed Syracuse product.
What They're Saying
A rangy, sure-handed possession receiver with starter-caliber, positional traits. Lacks top-end speed and strength. As a 21-year-old, third-year sophomore entering the draft early, is still growing into his body and developing core strength. Comparing favorably to a poor man's Michael Crabtree, Adams possesses very intriguing upside to be groomed.
Former Bears' Scouting Director Greg Gabriel:
"Overall, Adams is still a raw "work in progress". He hasn't begun to reach the level of receiver he can be. It's all in front of him, and he has the physical traits to become an excellent NFL receiver. He will need time to develop, but the team that drafts him will look at what he can be, not what he is."
At 6-1, 212-pounds, Adams possesses an ideal frame for a wideout. Most importantly, he is incredibly sure-handed rarely dropping the ball. Although he isn't a sprinter, Adams has good speed which he uses to great effect with big play ability. He has also shown a willingness to mix it up, out-muscling defenders both with the ball and while running routes.
Adams’ detractors admit he had incredible productivity, but caution it came against questionable competition in the Mountain West. Still, with comparisons to James Jones and Michael Crabtree, Adams figures to be one of a number of wide receiver prospects to hear his name early during the Draft this May.