If February is for the scouting combine and March is for free agency, then April is for player visits and the NFL Draft.
Throughout April the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be hosting up to 30 draft-eligible players — the most on-site visits they're entitled to by the NFL — leading up to the draft. All are players the Bucs are legitimately interested in. It's just that degree of interest rises and falls according to the player and their needs.
Those visits will end next week.
For instance, Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas visited One Buc Place on Tuesday. Thomas might not be available at No. 4 on April 28, but the Bucs want to do their homework. Thomas' agent, Peter Schaffer, confirmed the visit, but downplayed the significance.
"He said he had a good time," Schaffer said. "Joe is going to visit with a lot of teams. I wouldn't read anything into it. It was a real good visit and he had a great time."
Still, the Bucs might call Thomas' name on April 28, depending on what happens before that No. 4 selection.
There will be plenty more action at One Buc before the Draft. Here's a list of players that have either already visited, will visit or get a personal visit on their turf, all confirmed by the vast manpower of Scout.com:
QBs Brady Quinn, Notre Dame; JaMarcus Russell, LSU; Trent Edwards, Stanford: The Bucs have hosted Edwards, are planning to host Russell and will work privately with Quinn in South Bend next week, according to Scout.com's Ed Thompson. Logic says the Bucs don't need a quarterback, especially since they're intent on trying to convince Jake Plummer to play again. But this is Jon Gruden, who collects quarterbacks like a 10-year-old collects baseball cards. Gruden's like that one kid on your block who needed just one card to fill out his Topps set and will do anything to get it. Even sacrifice several team needs to take a player he might not be around to enjoy.
LBs Justin Durant, Hampton; Quincy Black, New Mexico: Both are low-cost options at the position that could produce high yield. Durant, despite playing at a Division I-AA school, is getting a load of attention and could go as high as the second round. One scouting service wrote that he's the best inside linebacker against the outside run. Black showed nice coverage skills at the Shrine Bowl, a key component to success in the Cover 2.
DE Tim Crowder, Texas; DE/DT Ray McDonald, Florida, DT Alan Branch, Michigan; DT Amobi Okoye, Louisville: Crowder made it onto my mock draft in the second round. He's a base end that I believe has room to add bulk (he's 271 pounds) and has the skills to play at a pro level thanks to playing at Texas. McDonald is a player I wanted to get into my mock, and still might. Tampa Bay is definitely interested. I watched a scout and a conditioning coach for the Bucs put McDonald through some one-one-one drills at Florida's pro day in March. Plus, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin gave his seal of approval afterward. Branch's visit, confirmed by Scout.com's Denis Savage, took place on Wednesday. Branch's strength is his versatility. He played both end and tackle at Michigan. Scout.com NFL expert Adam Caplan confirmed Okoye's visit, which is upcoming. The former Cardinal is just 19 years old and has some of the best upside of any player at any position in this draft.
DBs Tanard Jackson, Syracuse; David Irons, Auburn; Eric Wright, UNLV; Usama Young, Kent State: Jackson was actually a pro day visit for the Bucs, but he bears mentioning because he's grading out as a second-rounder and is versatile enough to play corner or safety. Scout.com's New England publisher, Jon Scott, reported that Bucs secondary coach Raheem Morris worked closely with Wright at his pro day. Young, a mid-major sleeper I slotted into my mock draft in the seventh round, got a one-on-one with Bucs scouts, but isn't expected to visit Tampa. Irons is a bit of a project some scouts project can be a starter in a couple of years.
OG Arron Sears, Tennessee: His grade varies widely. Some scouts project him as the top guard in the draft. Others grade him as a third-rounder. He's considered an NFL-caliber run-blocker now and would provide some competition for Dan Buenning on the left side. He's a player I wanted to fit into my mock, but I couldn't see where to place him. Second round? Third round? His grade is all over the place.
WR Jordan Kent, Oregon: Most scouts look at Kent as a raw prospect. Not sure why he's visiting, unless the Bucs see him as a possible answer at kick or punt returner.
RB Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma: Savage also confirmed this upcoming visit. He's the top back in the draft, and given the recent trend toward two-back offenses, it's not a total stretch that the Bucs could take Peterson.