Luke Easterling's Top Targets for the Bucs in Each Round of the NFL Draft

Here's who Luke Easterling would target in every round if he was calling the shots at One Buc Place.


Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

If there's a top talent in this draft most likely to fall to the No. 9 overall pick, I think it's Bosa. He's not the flashiest EDGE player in this class, but he's the most complete. He wins with power and can anchor against the run, while still collapsing the pocket and impacting opposing quarterbacks. He'd be an absolute steal if he falls to the Bucs.

Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

I doubt Stanley falls to the Bucs, but with the quarterbacks inching up the board by the day, it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility. Stanley was my top tackle in last year's draft class, and after another year in South Bend, he's not far behind Mississippi's Laremy Tunsil in this year's group. He'd allow the Bucs to upgrade and get younger at the other tackle spot across from Donovan Smith.

Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Mississippi

There are plenty of questions about Nkemdiche's off-field issues and lack of production, but traits and talent should be of more value, especially early in the draft. Nkemdiche needs plenty of refinement, but he's easily one of the most talented players in this draft. If the Bucs can trade back into the teens and grab him, it would be a fantastic move, but he's talented enough to warrant the No. 9 pick.

Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky

Another player I would target in a trade back but wouldn't mind if the Bucs took at No. 9, Spence is the best pure edge rusher in this draft. It seems like he's put his off-field issues behind him, and his combine performance was overblown by the national media in a negative way. He's explosive, productive and exactly what the Tampa Bay defense needs.

Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

If the Bucs move back into the teens or even move back up into the late-1st round, this is a guy I'd love to see them target. It's rare to see a man of Butler's size (6-4, 325) move with such quickness, explosion and agility, and Butler brings that along with the power you'd expect from a player that size. He'd be the perfect addition right next to Gerald McCoy in the middle.



Artie Burns, DB, Miami (FL)

The value in the secondary is one Day 2, in my opinion, and a guy like Burns is a perfect example. He's got the size/speed/skills combo to be a legitimate No. 1 cover man in the NFL, has the production to match, and has showed incredibly maturity and mental toughness in dealing with difficult personal circumstances over the past year.

Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

A knee injury cost Joseph a decent chunk of his senior season, but the film he'd put out up to that point speaks for itself. Joseph is a violent hitter with great range and instincts who can survive as a single-high ballhawk or in the box defending the run. If his medicals check out, he'd be well worth a pick at the top of the 2nd round to fill Tampa Bay's bigger need in the secondary.

Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma

Don't let his lack of size fool you; Shepard is arguably the most complete receiver in this year's class. He can win from the slot or outside with quick, precise routes, great ball skills and reliable hands. He could make an immediate impact in the return game before eventually taking over for Vincent Jackson as the Bucs' No. 2 receiver.

Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State

This year's overall EDGE class is fairly weak, but Calhoun is one player who isn't getting enough buzz right now. He's a bit light, but has the frame to add some bulk and play end in a 4-3 alignment, but also has the flexibility and athleticism to stand up on the edge or drop into coverage. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith could get creative with him.

Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida

One of many versatile defensive linemen in this draft, Bullard can line up in multiple spots up front and disrupt the line of scrimmage. He's got an explosive first step and plays with a nasty mean streak, something the Bucs need more of in the trenches.



Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana

Even after a stellar performance at the Senior Bowl, Miller still seems to be flying under the radar quite a bit. He's got a thin frame, but could easily add a few pounds of quality bulk to allow him to play more physical at the line of scrimmage. He's got the cover skills and fluidity to develop into a quality starter very quickly.

Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State

If the Bucs are looking for dynamic, versatile weapons to use on offense and special teams, there are few in this draft more intriguing than Miller. He'd be an instant upgrade as a return man, and Dirk Koetter could find plenty of creative ways to maximize his talent on offense while he develops into an eventual replacement for Vincent Jackson.

Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers

Yet another pass-catcher who could start in the slot and eventually transition to being the No. 2 target, Carroo is a tough receiver who is built more like a running back. He's got strong hands and isn't afraid to make the tough catches over the middle, which could end up making him one of the better values at the position in the entire draft.

Kevin Byard, S, Middle Tennessee State

I've been banging the drum for Byard for months, and it feels like people are finally starting to see the light. Despite an extremely productive career, solid film and an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, Byard wasn't invited to the Combine. He responded by blowing up his pro day workout, and people are starting to catch on to his value as a Day 2 pick.

Deion Jones, LB, LSU

There are plenty of similarities between Jones and his former LSU teammate, Bucs LB Kwon Alexander. Undersized but ridiculously fast and explosive, Jones would give the Bucs some young depth and immediate special teams help, with the potential to replace veteran Daryl Smith as the starter on the strong side.



Justin Simmons, S, Boston College

Simmons is one of the better-kept secrets in this safety class. Miscast as a corner at times, Simmons is much better suited to play on the back end, using his instincts and knack for creating turnovers to be successful. He could use a little more bulk, but has the physical and mental tools to develop quickly into a quality starter.

Travis Feeney, LB, Washington

Feeney turned heads with his impressive combine performance, but the film backs up his numbers, showing a great combination of size and athleticism. He'll be a special teams standout from Day 1 at the NFL level, but has the versatile skill set to get on the field and impact the game in multiple ways on defense.

Matt Judon, DE, Grand Valley State

Judon certainly looks the part with his size and frame, and his production speaks for itself, as he led all divisions of college football in sacks last season. It's always hard to project players who were clearly the best player on the field every time they lined up, but the Bucs were able to peg Ali Marpet last year, and Judon could be a similar situation.

Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama

It looks like the Bucs are going to give Johnthan Banks and Alterraun Verner every chance to re-establish themselves as the team's starting outside corners, but the team could use a young slot corner who could contribute immediately on special teams. Jones has the skills to excel is both roles, as a small but tough cover man and a dynamic return specialist.

Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Maryland

One of the most underrated pass-rushers in the draft, Ngakoue could end up sneaking into the late-Day 2 range. With Robert Ayers and Jacquies Smith in place, a raw talent like Ngakoue could be used as a rotational player while he develops and refines his skills, eventually becoming a productive rusher off the edge.



Dominique Robertson, OT, West Georgia

Most people see Texas Tech's Le'Raven Clark as the raw but promising tackle prospect in this draft, but for my money, I'm targeting Robertson on Day 3. He's got similar length and athleticism, with a bit more bulk and power as a run-blocker. He'd be a fantastic addition who could eventually develop into a starting tackle or guard.

Mike Thomas, WR, Southern Mississippi

Another one of my favorite players in this draft, Thomas got a 3rd-round grade from me, but is projected by most to go in the later rounds. He's big enough, with the ball skills and route-running abilty required to succeed in the NFL, and proved to be a big-play machine in 2015 with nearly 20 yards per catch.

Tyrone Holmes, DE, Montana

Judon might go earlier than I would take him, and if that's the case, Holmes could easily end up being the best value as a Day 3 pass-rusher. Like most players from smaller programs, he's still a bit raw, but he has the size and natural pass-rushing skills that can be developed at the next level by a quality defensive line coach like Jay Hayes.

Kalan Reed, CB, Southern Mississippi

Reed is flying under the radar, but is one of my favorite corner prospects in this draft. He's got the skills to succeed in man or zone coverages, and doesn't mind getting his hands dirty in run support. If he's still on the board halfway through Day 3, the Bucs should pull the trigger.

Tavon Young, CB, Temple

One of my favorite players from Senior Bowl week, Young could slide down the draft board due to his lack of size, but he's got the talent and mentality to succeed at the next level. He's more physical at the line of scrimmage than you might expect from a 5'9" corner, and he brings the confidence you have to have at the position.



Dan Vitale, FB, Northwestern

I really think the Bucs target a fullback with one of their two 6th-rounders, and Vitale should be their guy. A jack-of-all-trades for the Wildcats, Vitale would give the Bucs a capable lead blocker who can line up anywhere and catch the ball out of the backfield.

Antwione Williams, LB, Georgia Southern

Tampa Bay's starting linebackers are set for the time being, but they need to improve their depth with players who can make an instant impact on special teams. Williams led the Eagles with 107 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks in 2015.

Jakeem Grant, KR, Texas Tech

It's not easy to find impact players this late in the draft, but an explosive return man like Grant could be one of the few exceptions. He falls well short of just about every size threshold for the NFL, but there's no denying he can do some special things with the ball in his hands. The Bucs are desperate for a spark in the return game, and Grant could certainly bring it.

Cre'von LeBlanc, CB, Florida Atlantic

There are obviously quite a few undersized corners I like in the Day 3 range. His size is really his only glaring weakness, as he plays physical at the line and has the confidence and cover skills to make in the NFL. He could carve out a solid career as a slot corner at the next level.

Antonio Morrison, LB, Florida

Alabama's Reggie Ragland is the old-school thumper from the SEC getting the most attention, but I don't get why Morrison doesn't have more buzz. Durability questions are understandable, but if he's really available late on Day 3, his physical presence and leadership ability would be a great addition to the Bucs' depth chart at linebacker.

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