Another day, another mock draft. This time, SB Nation’s Adam Stites took a shot at a 2017 NFL mock draft with trades. The Bucs aren’t trading in this version, though a trade down might make some sense. Instead, they take Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers.
Strong safety is a bit of a logjam for the Buccaneers, but not in a good way. J.J. Wilcox, Chris Conte, and Keith Tandy all have value as special teamers and can rotate in at strong safety, if needed, but Peppers would be an upgrade and an instant starter who can help in both run and pass defense. With other options, like Wilcox, the Buccaneers can be creative and move Peppers around to use him in multiple ways, a la Tyrann Mathieu.
The problem is, can Peppers play free safety? If he can’t, the Bucs have four strong safeties with various strengths and weaknesses, and no one who can consistently cover the deep end. And Peppers hasn’t really shown the ability to consistently play deep so, you know, that’ll be an issue.
Which is why I just can’t see this pick, even though it comes up with some frequency. Budda Baker would make a lot more sense, and might be available in the second round. In fact, I can think of a number of second- to third-round safeties who would represent an instant and complementary upgrade for the Bucs.
What I could see, though, is a trade. Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds suggested today that a trade down would make a lot of sense, and I have to agree. David Njoku would be a solid pick I still like, but a trade down wouldn’t mean giving up a lot of value while adding a few picks. Coming away with an extra third-round pick and, say, Budda Baker in the mid-20s would be just fine, too.