The NFL is only five games into the 2016 season, so it’s a bit early to talk draft — but let’s do it anyway. Draftnik and erstwhile Bucs expert Luke Easterling of USA Today’s Draft Wire published a 2017 mock draft today, giving the Bucs Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen.
The Bucs still need a lot of help in many different areas, so they can go BPA here and grab a versatile, disruptive defender to line up next to Gerald McCoy. Allen has the size and power to anchor against the run, along with the quickness and burst to create mismatches as a pass rusher.
Who doesn’t like a 6’3”, 291 lbs. defensive lineman with 12.5 sacks last season and four so far in this year? That’s a pretty good result, especially for a big, hybrid player like Allen. He might be the perfect successor to Robert Ayers, who’s getting old and is currently injured — also known as: not a long-term solution. He’d also fit Mike Smith’s preference for bigger defensive linemen.
As usual, though, the second-round pick might be a little more interesting. Easterling has the Bucs taking a wide receiver — specifically, Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford. The 6’2”, 195 lbs. receiver had 75 catches for 1,164 yards last season, and has 24 catches for 376 yards in four games this year.
Ford has a bit of speed, which the Bucs offense could use, and the pedigree to be an outside starter. With Vincent Jackson slowing down significantly and set to be a free agent next year, that’s no luxury.
However, this kind of draft would once again leave the Bucs’ safety position unaddressed. That spot has been an issue since Tanard Jackson started getting suspended in 2010, and has been a weakness on every single defense since then. It would be nice if the Bucs could actually find a long-term answer at that position.