It's Monday, and that means that it's mock draft. In today's installment, Dan Kadar has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picking between DeForest Buckner, Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence -- and he has them going with Buckner.
Whether he plays in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense, Buckner is going to make a lot of plays at the next level. Among prospects this year, he's unrivaled in his combination of size, athleticism and playing strength. The Buccaneers need to improve their pass rush, and Buckner can start as a rookie and improve that area.
I've seen people argue that Buckner fits the Bucs because they may be playing more 3-4 or hybrid fronts, and there's some truth to that. The Bucs will be more flexible with their front seven personnel, which means they will be able to find a place for Buckner. The problem is that even with a hybrid front, the Bucs have one clear need: they need an edge rusher. And whether it's in a 3-4 or in a 4-3, Buckner is unlikely to be a difference maker in that role.
Noah Spence might be more of a difference maker, despite a somewhat disappointing combine performance, while there's always Vernon Hargreaves and the specter of taking a cornerback -- even though he doesn't have quite the height most NFL teams want out of cornerbacks.
Of course, one mock draft is just one man's opinion, so let's check what Adam Stites' mock draft tracker has to say about the Buccaneers.
Seems like there's a clear top three forming: Vernon Hargreaves, Noah Spence and DeForest Buckner, in that order. That fits both the Bucs' needs, as well as most trends and analysis. The Bucs will almost certainly pick either a pass-rusher, or a cornerback with their first pick. And those three players are the top available options.