Who Bucs Should Have Taken: 1st Round

Luke Easterling dives into who the Bucs should have taken with their 1st round pick.

It's only been a couple of weeks since the 2016 NFL Draft took place, but it's never too early for a little hindsight, right?

In this series, I'll be taking a look at who else was on the board when the Bucs made each of their picks, highlighting which player I would have chosen instead. Let's get things started with Tampa Bay's first-round selection, which they made at the 11th overall pick after trading back two spots with the Chicago Bears.

ACTUAL PICK: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

SHOULD HAVE PICKED: Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Mississippi

There's been little doubt about Nkemdiche's natural talent, which had him considered a potential top-five pick heading into the 2015 college football season. But his lack of production in the stat sheet was concerning to some, and his bizarre off-field incident (falling out of a hotel window, drug charges, suspended for Sugar Bowl) seemed to give teams pause about spending a premium pick on him.

I think both his lack of production and his "character concerns" were both blown out of proportion. Nkemdiche might not be a cookie-cutter personality, but prior to that one incident, he'd gotten in no trouble off the field. His production might not look like much in the box score, but even a cursory look at his game film shows one of the most explosive and disruptive interior defenders to come along in years. He has physical traits that simply can't be taught, and while his technique needs work, those are the things that can be developed by a quality position coach. The Bucs have one of the NFL's best in Jay Hayes.

Hargreaves is a solid player, but I believe his ceiling is a really good No. 2 or slot corner in the NFL. If given the choice between that kind of player, or a rare talent like Nkemdiche (even one that will need plenty of refinement), it would have been an easy choice. Nkemdiche was already having to be told to "tone it down" at the Cardinals' rookie minicamp (Arizona stole him at the 29th overall pick), physically destroying everyone in his path. Many teams will regret passing on him, and the Bucs will be one of them.

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