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NFL Mock Draft 2017: Speed for the Buccaneers

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NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Colorado vs Washington Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We’re two weeks removed from the end of the 2016 regular season, so draft time is coming closer and closer. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still focused on making the playoffs, but they’re not in it yet — and before you know it, they could be back in the offseason, looking for some extra help.

Which is why we can take a quick look at another mock draft today. Dan Kadar’s latest mock draft for SB Nation has the Bucs picking Washington receiver John Ross, a pick we’ve seen before.

Mike Evans is an obvious talent for the Buccaneers, and tight end Cameron Brate is really turning into a nice player. But Tampa Bay could still use a speed receiver like Ross to really open up the passing offense.

Ross had a pretty good year, racking up 1,122 yards and a whopping 17 touchdowns in 76 catches. And he managed to do that with some horrendous quarterback play.

Ross is a slightly undersized speedster, with CBS Sports’ Rob Rang calling him a “DeSean Jackson clone”. He’s the kind of player the Bucs don’t have on the roster right now.

They have the big-bodied, big-play receiver in Mike Evans, who can also function as a possession receiver. They have the shifty slot receiver in Adam Humphries, and the reliable tight end in Cameron Brate. They don’t have someone whose speed can break an opposing defense, both before and after the catch.

In that sense, Ross would complement the current receiving corps nicely. There’s one question, though, one that always surfaces with undersized receivers: how well would he hold up on the outside? At 5’11”, 190 lbs. he’s not the smallest guy around, but it’s certainly a concern.

There’s also the question to what extent the Bucs can fill this need in free agency, and whether they can better use this pick elsewhere (for instance, at safety). The Bucs definitely need a new receiver with Vincent Jackson set to hit free agency, but they could also use some extra help in the secondary (Brent Grimes and Robert Ayers are no long-term answers and safety could be improved), for instance.

Still, I’d be pretty happy with Ross in the end, I think.