Don't Count Out Jack Conklin as a Top 15 Pick

If the Bucs are looking to draft more players in the Jason Licht mold, Michigan State's Jack Conklin may be under heavy consideration.

Most of you will hate this article and the suggestion in it, but with the NFL Draft, all possibilities are on the table.

Although it has been a short period of Jasoc Licht being the General Manager of the Bucs, the first step is looking at the type of players Licht has gone after in his first two drafts. Perhaps, to figure this out completely, we need to get the reasoning Jason Licht has as to why a player drafted becomes a bust.

“Ninety percent of busts, in my opinion, are because of something above the neck," Licht said at his pre-draft press conference. "All those things that you just said: work ethic, passion for football, interests that aren’t good for a football player, bad teammate – those types of things. That’s where most of the busts come from."

With that understanding of what Licht believes the cause for NFL Draft busts is, we can clearly see that most of his draft picks since he's been General Manager of the Buccaneers have been strong mentally. Despite a player's background and history, the players Licht has selected with the Bucs have all been mentally strong individuals who can handle the daily grind of transitioning to the NFL.

While most "NFL Draft experts" have mocked or linked most of the top players in this year's draft to the Bucs, there is one player that fits the above reasoning more than any other.

Enter Michigan State OT Jack Conklin.

Before I get into too much detail on Conklin, I think it's important to remember the journey of last year's 2nd round pick in Ali Marpet.

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Marpet was a little known offensive lineman from a division 3 college. Trading up into the late 2nd round for a division 3 football player might be sacrilegious to some, but Licht knew the mental capacity Marpet possessed, which was going to assist him in the big leap to the NFL. Marpet was not a highly recruited player out of high school who had to work harder than everyone else to get to where he ultimately was drafted.

Conklin's path to the NFL is very similar to that of Marpet's. Like Marpet, Conklin was not heavily recruited out of high school. Instead of going to a division 2 or 3 school, Conklin was a walk-on at Michigan State. Anyone that has been a walk-on or have seen how walk-ons are treated knows the mental toughness those players must possess. A walk-on in 2012, Conklin earned a scholarship halfway through that season, and became a starter in 2013. Conklin would go on to receive All Big Ten and All-American honors.

Conklin probably wouldn't be who I'd select. I've made my opinions perfectly clear. However, my opinions and what the Bucs actually do will probably be polar opposites.

I know, you'd hate this pick, much like you hated the pick of Ali Marpet. Conklin has not been talked about much locally or nationally, but in the end will be a top 15 pick. He's big, he's nasty, and he's physical.Most importantly, Conklin is mentally strong, which Jason Licht loves.

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