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Two late-round options for the Buccaneers in the 2017 NFL draft

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Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2017 NFL draft looming, many are closely looking at the first three rounds of the draft for immediate help. Who shouldn't do that? That is what the first three rounds should hopefully net. But what of other talents further down the draft? And how have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers done in later rounds in recent seasons?

2014

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Not on Team in 2017 offseason
2014 NFL Draft
Rd Pos Player College
1 WR Mike Evans Texas A&M
2 TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins Washington x
3 RB Charles Sims West Virginia
5 OG Kadeem Edwards Tennessee State x
5 OT Kevin Pamphile Purdue
6 WR Robert Herron Wyoming x

2015

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Not on Team in 2017 offseason
2015 NFL Draft
Rd Pos Player College
1 QB Jameis Winston Florida State
2 OT Donovan Smith Penn St
2 OG Ali Marpet Hobart College
4 LB Kwon Alexander LSU
5 WR Kenny Bell Nebraska x
6 WR/KR Kaelin Clay Utah x
7 FB Joey Iosefa Hawaii x

2016

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Not on Team in 2017 offseason
2016 NFL Draft
Rd Pos Player College
1 CB Jameis Winston Florida State
2 DE Noah Spence Easter Kentucky
2 K Roberto Aguayo Florida State
4 DB Ryan Smith NCCU
5 OT Caleb Benenoch UCLA
6 LB Devante Bond Oklahoma
6 FB Dan Vitale Northwestern x

The further down the draft you go, the more difficult talent is to evaluate. So allow me to introduce a couple of players who are flying under the radar. Although I am a Florida State fan, I do have a secondary NCAA team that I follow. That team is the Air Force Falcons. Like all military academies at the NCAA level, their football teams are usually the smaller teams. It is always impressive when any of the academies are ranked because it is a rarity for that to occur.

Due to being undersized and often lack of talent, the academies usually employ a lot of running by way of the wishbone offense. This allows the game to be shortened if the offense can continually earn first downs on the ground and eat up the clock. The first peregrine on deck is wide receiver Jalen Robinette.

Do not blink, but I wrote down wide receiver. Robinette stands around 6 foot, 4 inches and weighs about 240 pounds. To give some reference, Mike Evans is 6 foot, 5 inches and weighs 231 pounds. Recently, Robinette was invited to the NFL Combine. If his 40 time is in the 4.5 range, then his stock might rise above rounds 6 and 7. Yet it is in rounds 6 and 7 is where I would hope to draft Robinette and develop him.

Talking about Robinette does not do much justice even though he does average 27.4 yards per reception. Here is a video of his receptions. Recall, Koetter talked about explosive players who can catch the ball, break a tackle, and run-after-the-catch traits. Enjoy.

Although you have seen the video and might come away impressed, there is a lot of chatter on Robinette. In the words of LeVar Burton, "you don't have to take my word for it," here is a link with a lot of press clippings on Robinette: Colorado Springs online.

The other peregrine of note has stats that reflect his name. Here is a scouting write-up found on nfldraftscout.com:

... leads the Falcons in tackles for the second straight year with 75 and has 4.5 tackles for loss and a sack.  He leads the Mountain West and ranks fifth in the nation with six interceptions.  He has 17 for his career which ties the Academy record.


Who is he?  He is Weston Steelhammer. He is of 6 foot, 1 inch stature and an earthly mass of 189 pounds. While Steelhammer is not the fleetest of foot, his interception production implies he has a feel for the game to put himself in an opportunistic position at a specific time.

Usually, if you belong to any of the military academies, then you must serve a two year commitment before the cadet can apply for reserve status and be eligible to play professional sports. That has changed recently. Here is a quote from a Washington Post article by Amie Just:

That essentially meant a service academy graduate would not be eligible to be placed on reserve status for the purpose of pursing pro sports until serving 24 months on active duty. But the policy, which was changed in May, now reads: "A service member can request to be tendered an appointment in the reserve upon graduation and satisfy their commissioned service obligation in the Ready Reserve."

For the price of sixth- and seventh-round picks, maybe it is possible for the Bucs to draft these two Falcons and nurture them for the possibility of something more. And with hopes that Vincent Jackson remains in the Tampa Bay area, then it would be match made for all parties involved as these two cadets can still promote the military by joining Jackson's efforts with the military. These two cadets have potential, especially Robinette.