Mock draft season has been going on since January began but it will now really begin to heat up with the NFL season officially over. A lot gets made over these mocks and fans can really grow attached to players and possibilities because of them. How serious should we all take a mock draft in February, or ever for that matter? Probably not very much at all, though they are great for looking at different scenarios and for driving up talk and content. Let’s take a look at who draft pundits Matt Miller, Will Brinson and Luke Easterling pegged to the Buccaneers last February.
Matt Miller a year ago at this time placed three quarterbacks to go in the top six picks including Sam Darnold as the number one overall selection. Of note, Baker Mayfield did not make Miller’s top ten in this mock draft, as he landed to the Dolphins at pick eleven which in hindsight, would have made Dolphin fans very happy. With the slew of quarterbacks going early and the Browns getting Saquon Barkley, that let a dynamic playmaker in Minkah Fitzpatrick fall to the Buccaneers at pick seven, where Miller has the team selecting him to help fix the defensive backfield. This clearly wasn’t the case as the team ended up trading back and selecting Vita Vea. For the record, Fitzpatrick ended up going 11th in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Will Brinson took a slightly different turn with his mock draft. Brinson placed four quarterbacks inside the top six picks with Saquon Barkley going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at pick seven. Brinson followed suit with many other analyst at the time and had Sam Darnold as the number one overall pick going to Cleveland. Mixing things up a bit, Brinson had Bradley Chubb to the Colts (eventually was drafted by the Broncos) and Minkah Fitzpatrick as the Browns second pick (4th overall). Barkley may have been a good choice for the Buccaneers should he have lasted to their pick in the draft, but alas, the team got their running back for the future (maybe?) in Ronald Jones a round later.
Luke Easterling’s mock draft will be the final we take a quick look into. Easterling’s is the most interesting of the three considering he predicted a trade back which did ultimately happen in 2018 and the trade back itself was with Buffalo, a popular opinion among analyst as a potential trade partner given their two first round selections. Easterling mixed things up at the top with Josh Rosen getting the nod as the top pick in the draft instead of Darnold or Baker Mayfield, who did end up going number one. Easterling had the Buccaneers taking Derwin James (who would’ve thunk it?) and Da’Ron Payne from Alabama. Easterling was on the right track with his positional thinking for sure as the team did trade back and ended up selecting Vita Vea to plug into the middle of that defensive line. The Buccaneers ultimately chose to pass on the play-making Swiss Army knife known as Derwin James but they did take a safety in the draft. The safety of choice turned out to be Jordan Whitehead who had some positive moments in 2018 but fans will be quick to point out that his play (and arguably Vea’s given his early injury) were a moot point in relation to the unreal rookie season Derwin James had.
What can fans take away from mock drafts this early into the process? Not much if you’re hoping to dial in a single player that the Buccaneers are interested in. What these mocks do provide is a good sense of positional need for the Buccaneers and can give fans a look into the mind of a general manager tasked with fixing needs and balancing those needs with the talent available. With that said, who will be this years Derwin James for the Buccaneer fans and draft analysts alike? Weigh in your thoughts in the comment section below.