The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are starting their offseason, which means draft draft draft draft draft draft draft. Unsurprisingly, that also means lots of mock drafts. So let’s take a look at three early 2017 NFL mock drafts to see what they have in store for the Bucs.
Let’s start with Dan Kadar’s two-round mock draft from earlier this week. He has the Bucs picking the extremely productive Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis in the first round, and Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins in the second.
Davis is an easy pick for the Bucs if he’s there. He’s shown up in a lot of mock drafts for the Bucs with good reason: they need a replacement for Vincent Jackson at receiver, and Davis’ speed — especially after the catch — would add a new dimension to an offense that can feel a little plodding at times.
Watkins is also an intriguing prospect, for a second-rounder. He’s not as explosive as you’d like in a defensive tackle, but he has solid size and athleticism and some potential to be a disruptive force. The Bucs could use some depth at defensive tackle, with Gerald McCoy aging (though not slowing down yet) and Akeem Spence set to hit free agency.
Moving on, there’s Matt Miller’s seven-round mock draft, which seems awfully overambitious this early in the process, but fun to talk about nonetheless. Miller goes with Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, a good blocker who also has potential as an explosive seam player. He’d be a nice replacement for Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who got cut mid-season, though Cameron Brate filled that role nicely as well.
Miller has the Bucs taking Carlos Watkins too, albeit in the third round, with ballhawk Iowa safety Desmond King in the second round. Both players fill some needs and could potentially start right away. The other rounds don’t carry any surprises: two interior linemen, a receiver and a cornerback.
Finally, over at The MMQB, Emily Kaplan has the Bucs taking Michigan safety Jabril Pepper in round one. The Bucs could certainly use a safety, but Peppers seems like the exact kind of safety they don’t need: a linebacker/safety hybrid who can play well in the box. Essentially, a Mark Barron clone — Barron, of course, is now a full-time linebacker.
The Bucs have players like that and have had them for years. Keith Tandy and Bradley McDougald are both perfectly okay in that role. Peppers wouldn’t add much, and that’s before we get to the question marks surrounding his transition to the NFL and his lackluster play against top competition.
All in all, there’s no consistent picture emerging from these mock drafts, which is to be expected this early in the process for a mid first-round pick. I’d be happiest with either Davis or Howard, both of whom would add an explosive element to the Bucs offense, but it remains to be seen whether players like that will fall that far.