The 2015 NFL draft has wrapped up, following three days of relatively uneventful draft picks. The big news came right at the start of the draft, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NFL both: Jameis Winston was the first overall pick, and the Bucs' new franchise quarterback.
And the Bucs didn't stop rebuilding their offense after Winston. All but one pick in this draft class came on offense, joining last year's all-offense draft group to create what they hope is a solid foundation for the future. Because it's been a very long time since Tampa Bay has seen a good offense, let alone the kind of explosive offense they hope to build. But Tampa Bay came away from this draft with a lot of quality players who should help the team improve both immediately, and in the long run.
Let's recap the entire Bucs draft, pick by pick.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Round one, number one, first overall
Regardless of what happens with the rest of the Buccaneers' draft class, this pick will make or break the draft class as a whole, and the front office and coaching staff, too. The Bucs are convinced they've drafted a true franchise quarterback, someone who can change the fate of the franchise and carry the team on his back for the next twenty years.
Winston was the consensus-best quarterback in the draft, and showed many of the necessary traits to succeed in the NFL: football intelligence, the ability to throw with anticipation and tremendous pocket presence. The 18 interceptions in his final season are more of a problem, though, as are the many minor off-field incidents as well as a rape accusation for which he was never criminally charged, but now faces a civil suit.
Overall, though, Winston certainly has the look and feel of a real franchise quarterback, and the best chance at success the Bucs have had since winning the Super Bowl.
Winston is your franchise quarterback
Buccaneers confident in Winston's character
The conversation that convinced the Buccaneers to take Winston
Analysts grade Jameis Winston pick
Donovan Smith, T, Penn State
Round two, number two, 34th overall
Smith will be tasked with protecting Winston's blind side, as the Bucs have tabbed him as their starting left tackle -- at least initially, things can change in training camp. A huge offensive tackle, Smith has all the physical tools necessary to succeed as a left tackle in the NFL, but his consistency and work ethic have been questioned.
At times he looks like a mauler -- dominant and nasty. At other times he seems to be going through the motions. That may change at the next level, and he's certainly good enough to start somewhere on the offensive line, but he's going to have to be more reliable to be a good starting left tackle. Still, he easily provides an upgrade for the Buccaneers and has a chance to be very, very good.
What drafting Donovan Smith means for the Bucs
Ali Marpet, G, Hobart College
Round two, pick 29, 61st overall
Who? Where from? Why did the Bucs draft someone from a tiny college who's never played against good players?
For three reasons. First, because Marpet absolutely dominated the opposition at his level. That's really all you can ask him to do. Second, because Marpet was the most athletic lineman at the NFL scouting combine. The man's a ridiculous athlete, and that always translates if paired with a good work ethic and a feel for technique. And third, because he demonstrated that technique and work ethic at the Senior Bowl, where he had no problem keeping up with the Division I-AA players.
Marpet should step right in at right guard for the Bucs, in part because he doesn't have a lot of competition. And he should do well there, even if there are likely to be a few growing pains. Jason Licht was gushing about him, and from the sound of it the Bucs expect him to turn into a superstar down the line -- at least as much of a superstar as a guard can be. That's why the Bucs traded up for him, of course -- four spots, to be precise, giving up 19 spots in the fourth round to do so.
What drafting Ali Marpet means for the Bucs
Kwon Alexander, LB, LSU
Round four, pick 25, 124th overall
Another pick, another trade up. This time, the Bucs gave up the first pick of the seventh round to move up four spots and take a speedy, athletic, undersized linebacker. If that sounds familiar, that's because those terms describe basically entire Tampa Bay linebacking corps -- and now you know why they liked this LSU player.
Alexander should compete for a starting spot at strongside linebacker with Danny Lansanah, and he will make an immediate impact as a special teams player. He's also the first and only defensive player the Bucs have drafted over the past two years -- so much for defensive head coach Lovie Smith.
What drafting Alexander means for the Bucs
Kenny Bell, WR, Nebraska
Round five, pick 26, 162nd overall
One defender, and we're back to drafting offensive players. Bell's a fairly big and very fast receiver who has a lot of big-play potential. In fact, if you watch him play you basically only see big plays and big blocks -- this is not a move-the-chains receiver who beats cornerbacks with shifty route running. He's a straight-line, deep receiver who can make some amazing catches with great body control.
So why did he fall this far? Because he's pretty raw, can't beat press coverage and isn't very good at all of the small catches that tend to be the bread and butter of NFL offenses. He's not quick twitch, and he's not a great route runner. Bell should start as a valuable special teamer, and perhaps a rotational receiver -- though I wouldn't expect to see him too often as a rookie. If he develops, though, he has the potential to turn into a very good starter.
Get excited about Kenny Bell, Bucs fans
Kaelin Clay, WR, Utah
Round six, pick eight, 184th overall
Another round, another receiver. Or rather, a return specialist. Clay's an odd prospect:at 5'8" he doesn't have the size to be a useful receiver, even in the slot. But that's not what the Bucs are going to ask him to do: they want him to be their return specialist, especially on punts. Clay spent three years at junior college before going to Utah, so he only has one year of scaring special teams coaches -- but in that one year, he put up three punt returns for touchdowns on just 23 returns. That's a remarkable average, and the Bucs are hoping that translates to the NFL level.
Joe Iosefa, RB, Hawaii
Round seven, pick 14, 231st overall
Hey, a running back. Maybe the Bucs finally found a guy who can carry the ro-- oh, he weighs 245 lbs. and ran a 5.02-second 40-yard dash. Okay then. Fullback it is.