1st Round: Ronnie Stanley | OT | Notre Dame
I don't think anyone has a clue how the top 8 picks will play out. For the Bucs, the key will be the top 2 QBs and Ezekiel Elliot needing to go before their pick. If there is a situation where Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey, DeForest Buckner, Myles Jack, Ronnie Stanley, and Joey Bosa are all taken before the Bucs pick at 9, the Bucs should desperately try and trade down. In this scenario, I did have Ronnie Stanley slipping to the Bucs, and I think Jason Licht would love the opportunity to draft a franchise left tackle and move Donovan Smith to a more natural position at right tackle. With this selection, the Bucs offensive line would be complete and allowed to grow together for the next 3-5 years.
2nd Round: Chris Jones | DL | Mississippi State
By the time the draft gets here in a month, Jones will probably end up a 1st round pick, but just imagine a versatile DL in this position. If it's not Jones, then maybe it's Vernon Butler or Robert Nkemdiche or A'Shawn Robinson. There will be a top defensive lineman available with this pick. Forget about the old Tampa 2 and 4-3 defense. All indications to me point to the Bucs and Mike Smith running a hybrid defense that quickly shifts between a 4-3 and a 3-4. For this type of defense, you need versatile defensive linemen who fit both styles.Recently, NFL Network's Bucky Brooks said that Nkemdiche might be the best player in the draft to fit that type of role, but since I believe Nkemdiche should be long gone by this pick, Jones is also a suprememly versatile defensive lineman who can be used anywhere.
3rd Round: Hassan Ridgeway | DT | Texas
This piggybacks off of the last description for Jones. I believe Jason Licht understands that he needs to revamp the defensive line much like he has done to the Bucs' offensive line. I believe Ridgeway is one of the most underrated prospects in this draft. Nagging injuries will drop him to the mid rounds, but the talent is there for Ridgeway to be one of the steals of the draft. At 6'3'' and over 300 lbs, Ridgeway has the versatility I spoke about to play in a hybrid defense.
4th Round: Rashard Robinson | CB | LSU
Robinson is long, lean, fast, and athletic. I seriously considered Roberto Aguayo with this pick, but to grab a cornerback of Robinson's talent is just too good to pass up. Robinson sat out the 2015 season instead of transferring after LSU suspended him indefinitely, but that suspension seemed to revolve around academics. Robinson sat out the 2015 season and simply trained for the NFL and the NFL draft. Classes are over for him, and he can concentrate solely on football. As a 4th round pick, Robinson's talent far outweighs his risk for a Bucs' defense looking to add as much talent as possible.
5th Round: Kevin Byard | S | MTSU
Until Reggie Nelson signs with a team, I just still feel there's a strong chance he ends up with the Bucs. Rather than invest an early round pick on a safety, the Bucs can be patient and target another potential sleeper in this draft. Byard was not invited to the combine, so he instead lit up his pro day. According to our own Luke Easterling, Byard ran in the 4.4's in the 40, had 22 reps on the bench, and a 38" vertical. Byard is good in coverage and would be a solid pick here.
6th Round: James Cowser | DE | Southern Utah
These 6th round picks are so up in the air. These picks are normally used in trades, so the liklihood is that the Bucs will not remain here. I like Cowser as a late round pass rusher who will give effort and contribute on special teams. Solid late round pick who has a good shot at making the team.
6th Round: Mike Thomas | WR | Southern Miss
Thomas is not the biggest or fastest, but the Bucs do have insider information with the former head coach of Mike Thomas now on their staff in Todd Monken. Thomas won't "wow" anyone, but he never stops. He will keep grinding the defender covering him the entire game until he starts to break out. Thomas also returned kicks for Southern Miss, a position the Bucs may be looking for again this off-season.
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