As usual, a number of highly-rated (at least on the internet) players fell to the second round of the 2014 NFL draft. According to Mocking the Draft's rankings, three of their top twenty players are still available, and two of those players would fit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers very well.
The Bucs hold the sixth pick in the second round (38th overall) and the fifth pick in the third round (69th overall). Let's look at some of the players they could target at the top of the second round today.
The consensus top offensive guard in the draft is still on the board -- not counting the tackles-who-can-also-play-guard. He's so good that Mocking the Draft sees him as the 14th best player in the entire 2014 NFL draft. Guards may not be sexy, but they are absolutely critical to any offense -- and the Bucs don't have any solid starters on their roster with Carl Nicks' future in doubt due to injury.
Su'a-Filo has everything you're looking for in a guard, really. He has the quick feet and athleticism to move in space, he has the quickness to mirror defensive linemen, the anchor to work against power rushers and the awareness to step in and be a high-level starter immediately. He'd fill the Bucs' biggest remaining need, and would be a very good pick because of it.
Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
Bitonio has been receiving a lot of buzz recently as a versatile lineman who could play all over any offensive line. He has the quick feet and athleticism to appeal to the Bucs, and could step in as an immediate starter at either guard spot. The Bucs badly need that kind of talent. What sets him apart from Su'a-Filo is his versatility: he's not strictly a guard, which increases his value for any team.
With Jeff Tedford's mobile offense, having a quality offensive line is very important, and having blockers who can operate in space even more so. Bitonio would fit that and would provide extra insurance with his ability to play offensive tackle.
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
All the talk of Aaron Donald didn't make much sense with Gerald McCoy on the roster, but another player at the same position would work: Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. He's not quite the disruptive pass-rusher Lovie Smith usually loves, but he's a very powerful player who could be an ideal fit at nose tackle for the Bucs.
That's not really a position of need with Akeem Spence and Clinton McDonald on the roster, but that doesn't mean he won't be the pick. Tampa 2 coaches love to collect defensive linemen, and Jernigan consistently displays the kind of motor and hustle Lovie Smith will love. Stephen White loved his effort, and would give him the benefit of the doubt. He's not flashy, and he's not the ideal pass rusher, but he'd be an instant starter.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
It's kind of shocking to see Marqise Lee on board this late. Back when he first stepped on the field for USC, it was immediately obvious that he was the most talented player on that offense. But injuries and lackluster play (including "hands like feet") combined with very strong competition at the position means he's available at the top of the second round.
He's far from the only quality receiver still available at this point, with Jordan Matthews being another potential fit, and the Bucs could even wait until the third round and *still* grab a very explosive and talented wideout. But Lee's probably at the top of the group, and his explosive athleticism would complement Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans very well.
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
It's a small surprise to still see Carr on the board as the second round gets under way. Recent consensus said he'd be selected somewhere in the 20s, and could even jump into the top five based on his strong arm and quick release. That didn't happen, which means he could be the Bucs' selection with the sixth pick of the second round.
Lovie Smith provided a ringing endorsement of Mike Glennon as the future of this franchise, however. That may or may not be a smokescreen, but he was a lot more emphatic than he had to be or had been in the past. Still, the Bucs didn't bring in (at least) seven quarterbacks for visits and workouts before the draft because they love Mike Glennon, and the constant talk of a need for athleticism at the quarterback position means we can't rule out a selection there. It's just less likely.
The Jeff Tedford connection helps Derek Carr in this case. Tedford coaches Carr's big brother David in college, and is a strong friend of the family who helped Derek improve over the past year as well. Physically, Carr fits the Bucs very well. The question is whether they think his problems handling the pocket can be mitigated.
Of the player rankings we did before the draft, polling our loyal readers, the top remaining players are:
16. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
18. Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
21. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
26. Timmy Jernigan, DT, FSU
27. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
30. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
31. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
33. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
34. Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
35. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
36. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
37. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
39. Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
40. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Bucs' remaining picks:
|4||Traded to Jets|
|6||Traded to Bears|
|6||9 (from Bills)||185|