Mel Kiper loved the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2017 NFL draft, which puts him in the company of the vast majority of draft analysts. Kiper gave the Bucs an A- for their efforts, praising the pick of O.J. Howard in particular—which, again, isn’t really surprising.
The only pick Kiper didn’t like: second-round safety Justin Evans.
Justin Evans was picked about 50 spots too high based on my board, especially with Josh Jones and Obi Melifonwu still on the board. The junior college transfer is more of a center fielder. Kendell Beckwith, on the other hand, was picked 40 spots lower than where I had him. He's coming off a torn ACL suffered in late November, but he should be ready for training camp. Jeremy McNichols is my ninth-ranked rusher, and so getting him in the fifth round qualifies as a nice pick. He had 88 catches over the past two seasons.”
Evans got some wildly mixed reviews. Some love his speed and potential, others hate his tackling and think he’ll struggle to adapt to the NFL. Obviously the Bucs fall into the former camp and Kiper into the latter—we’ll see how that works out in reality.
I continue to be intrigued by everyone loving Beckwith who, by most accounts, is a two-down linebacker. That is not really a high-value position, no matter how good he is, but perhaps I’m missing something there.
Still, the consensus for the Bucs is clear: they had a good draft. Jason Licht can be proud of himself, for now. This evaluation could look completely different in three years, after all.