As we head closer to the draft, mock drafts usually give us an increasingly clear picture of who teams are targeting, and who they’re likely to end up with. That is not really the case for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year, though, as the 2017 NFL mock drafts that pass on by every week are, simply put, a mess.
The team’s biggest need, by far, is wide receiver. They simply do not have a number two wideout right now, and it is the one position that must be addressed, and won’t be solved by re-signing a veteran who’s set to hit free agency: Vincent Jackson’s days in Tampa appear entirely numbered.
And yet, week after week, draftniks keep handing the Bucs players who are not receivers. I could forgive them a safety, which would at least fit a need, and I could forgive them tight ends and running backs, who both at least address the gaping hole on offense in different ways.
But for some reason, the professional draftniks are really into giving the Bucs defensive linemen. Despite the fact that the team has no immediate need along the defensive line, though they could use some depth, and despite the fact that Noah Spence looked promising, and Robert Ayers had a pretty good year.
So when I look at NFL.com and I see the last three mock drafts to have been published there give the Bucs defensive tackle Malik McDowell, defensive end Derek Barnett and defensive end Charles Harris, I get slightly annoyed. They’re good players, certainly, and they’d kind of fit the scheme — but are they difference makers worth ignoring massive needs for?
No, I’d sooner go with Dan Kadar of SB Nation. He goes with a tried and true method: pick the best player at the position of biggest need, in this case Washington receiver John Ross. A speedster, which fits the Bucs’ needs as well.
Will a torn labrum in his shoulder – which Ross will have surgery for after the combine – make 2017 a lost season for Ross?
This is also what fits Jason Licht’s history of first-round picks: top players at positions of need. When they needed a receiver, they drafted Mike Evans. When they needed a quarterback, Jameis Winston. When they needed a cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves. Now they need a wide receiver — so guess what they’ll draft? I’m not betting on defensive linemen.