Mock drafts are always fun to talk about, but they've been significantly less useful this year. In previous season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers always had multiple options, significant uncertainty, and were reliant on other teams to see who would fall to them. This year, though, there are basically two options: either they take Jameis Winston, or Marcus Mariota. And the consensus remains that Winston will be the pick.
That's what we see in both Mel Kiper's latest mock draft, as well as CBS Sports' recent seven-round mock. Nothing much to see there: Winston is the pick, unless something changes. Nothing really seems to have changed, though a few reports in the last week at least added a little uncertainty.
More interesting is what Kiper and CBS' Chris Trapasso decided to do beyond Winston. Kiper went with the reliable one-two combo of filling needs with quality players -- and local talent, too. He has the Bucs going all-Florida (the state, not the university) in the first three rounds with Florida (the university, not the state) tackle D.J. Humphries and Florida State defensive end Mario Edwards.
There's no debate in my war room about the No. 1 pick. It's not just because I think Winston is more NFL-ready than any other QB in the draft, and thus it serves me as GM to take him and perhaps help my own job security; it's about talent, and I'm willing to bet on Winston's here. We make this pick and start planning with the goal of Winston as our Week 1 starter. I think we have the weapons to help him succeed early. We also have a clear need for a tackle, and I'm happy to see Humphries available at No. 34, though I would have taken Jake Fisher ahead of him (the Titans grabbed him at No. 33). Humphries could push to start at right tackle. Edwards isn't a great pass-rusher, but I think he's really tough to move in the run game and is a pretty good value at No. 65. My reasoning for having WR as a need is that that depth chart looks much different if either Vincent Jackson (now 32 years old) or Mike Evans is on the shelf for any period of time.
That's easy enough. Fill some needs with quality players and move on. Humphries should compete for a starting job at right tackle, or maybe even left tackle -- Demar Dotson's best position remains on the right -- with last year's fifth-round pick Kevin Pamphile in the mix as well. Meanwhile, Edwards should be part of what looks like a pretty decent rotation at defensive end, with George Johnson, Jacquies Smith, William Gholston and T.J. Fatinikun -- no top-end players there, but the combination should provide enough of a pass rush given the massive talent the Bucs have at defensive tackle.
Trapasso went in a similar direction in his seven-round mock. Owamagbe Odighizuwa gets to fill his spot on the defensive line -- another defensive end stronger against the run than the pass, who should be useful in a rotation. Penn State's Donovan Smith is the offensive lineman the Bucs add at the top of the third round. You won't get a great starting lineman at that point, which is something the Bucs really do need, but Dane Brugler makes it sound like a little (or lot of) technique work could turn him into a competent starting left tackle pretty quickly.
Beyond that, the Bucs add a safety in Adrian Amos also out of Penn State -- a position the Bucs have shown a lot of interest in this offseason -- Baylor linebacker Bryce Hager in the fifth round (and Oklahoma tight end Blake Bell with the pick they traded to the Lions for George Johnson). Finally, Rice defensive tackle Chris Covington and Memphis cornerback Bobby McCain are added to the list -- both players the Bucs have worked out or visited with.
Overall, I like both of these mock drafts. They fill needed holes with quality players, and high enough in the draft where we can at least expect those players to contribute this season. I'm a little wary with waiting until the third round to add an offensive lineman, given how massive that hole has become, but it's not the worst thing they could do -- at least there's no sign of a running back here.