Mel Kiper's latest mock draft has him making picks he'd give an A grade for every team. For the Bucs, that means tackle Jack Conklin, cornerback Kendall Fuller, and defensive Jonathan Bullard. An okay haul, I guess, but that's what passes for a grade A draft these days?
Protect. The. Franchise. I have my quarterback of the future coming off a good rookie season, and the one way he's going to regress is if my shaky offensive line doesn't get better and provide more running lanes (better down and distance football) and more time for my franchise QB. Conklin might not ever be a great NFL left tackle, but he can certainly challenge for that role and probably end up as a very good right tackle. Either way I'm getting better up front. Fuller hits what is arguably the top need, and if he's 100 percent he could be a steal. He tried to play hurt during his last season at Virginia Tech but had to shut it down. Bullard is a disruptive, versatile defensive lineman who can be a part of the rotation immediately.
I don't get this, at all. Yes, the Bucs need a right tackle at some point in the next year and I guess Conklin's a decent player, but is he really a top ten tackle? Especially because he won't unseat Donovan Smith on the left side. The Bucs really like Smith there, and Conklin's mostly a right tackle anyway. That's cool, but he's not going to be an improvement over Demar Dotson's pass-blocking, so the notion that this is about protecting the franchise is even more confusing.
Fuller works, of course, and Bullard should help -- though the fact that the Bucs won't find a pure edge rusher in this version is once again disappointing. The Bucs have interior pass rushers, they also have defensive tackles who can rush the passers, and they also have hybrid end-tackles. What they don't have is a pure edge rusher, and Bullard doesn't quite fit that role either.
In that sense, this mock is similar to Dane Brugler's mock draft earlier today, which had the Bucs passing up edge rusher until the fifth round. When your team doesn't address its biggest need until well into the draft, that's not a very good result -- though the makeup of this draft may force the Bucs to go that route anyway.
Regardless, I wouldn't give this draft more than a D -- and that was true for Todd McShay's supposed grade A mock a few weeks ago, too. ESPN personalities don't quite know what to do with the Bucs, apparently.