The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be in the playoff hunt, and at 6-5 have a realistic chance of earning a playoff berth, there’s still the matter of the 2017 NFL draft — and the rest of the offseason. As soon as the season is over, the Bucs will have to get to work on building next year’s team. In fact, the front office is already working on that as we speak.
This week, Dan Kadar of SB Nation put out a nice mock draft to give us an early look at the first round. The Bucs pick 19th there, their current draft position, and go with Washington receiver John Ross.
The thought of pairing Ross with Mike Evans is too enticing to pass up. Ross will get the distinction of being called this draft's Antonio Brown. It's a lazy comparison, but an appropriate one.
Oh dear, I love the idea of stocking up on offensive weapons. Ross has 72 catches for 1,071 yards and a whopping 16 touchdowns this year, though he was much less productive in previous years, in part because of a torn ACL in 2015, in part because he played both cornerback and receiver in his first two seasons.
Ross is more of a shifty receiver who needs to win with speed and route-running, rather than someone who can overpower and win with size the way Mike Evans. In that sense, he’d be a good complement. That also means he needs to become a lot more polished in his route-running than he is now, at least from what I can see in watching a few of his games.
Picking yet another offensive players also leaves the Bucs shorthanded at other positions. They brought in a few veterans to tide them mover on defense, but they need to consistently supply that side of the ball with young talent. Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence were a nice start last year, but two players do not a consistent talent base make. Alabama safety Malik Hooker would be a particularly interesting player on that side of the ball.
Regardless of who the Bucs pick, though, it’s nice to see them having a pick in the late teens and possibly even in the 20s. That hasn’t happened in quite some time.