Did you miss our Thursday Bucs Combine Analysis? We broke down every player we could confirm the Bucs met with that day. If you missed it, Just click here.
Did you miss our Friday Bucs Combine Analysis? We broke down every player we could confirm the Bucs met with that day, plus other we anticipated meeting with the Bucs. If you missed it, Just click here.
Did you miss our Saturday Bucs Combine Analysis? We broke down every player we could confirm the Bucs met with that day, plus other we anticipated meeting with the Bucs. If you missed it, Just click here.
The following capsules are on players that have either confirmed to Bucsblitz.com that they have met with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or could meet with the team during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week:
|South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins, at the moment, is the draft's No. 1 cornerback. (USFnation.com photo)|
Statistics: Recorded a career-high 41 tackles (31 solos), four stops for losses of 17 yards and a quarterback pressure. He also returned kickoffs, scoring a touchdown late in the season.
How he fits with the Bucs?: Like many players the Buccaneers are looking at right now, Jenkins adds value by returning kickoffs. He only returned seven kickoffs last season but he averaged 30.4 yards per return on just seven attempts. Most scouts consider him the No. 1 corner in the draft. He has the right size and build for the Cover 2. The scouts that are critical say he could be a better fit at free safety. But he has 4.4 speed, has good hands in coverage and keeps up with most receivers. Jenkins said he would love to play in Tampa, considering that he grew up in nearby Bradenton. The real question is whether Jenkins would drop to the Bucs at No. 20. But he has some serious upside for any team that drafts him.
Projected selection: First round. Scout.com ranks him as its No. 3 cornerback in the draft. He met with the Bucs at the Senior Bowl and in Indianapolis.
Statistics: Started all twelve games at left cornerback, coming up with 60 tackles (50 solos), including 2.5 stops for losses of 6 yards. He's considered one of college football's top returners.
How he fits with the Bucs?: The value McKelvin brings in the return game won't be underestimated by most teams in the wake of Devin Hester. He finished third in the Sun Belt with 33 kickoff returns for a school season-record 765 yards (23.2 avg), topping his own mark of 634 yards in 2006. He's a confident player and believes he's the best corner in the draft. He probably isn't but he's a better corner than the competition he faced would suggest. He held his own at the Senior Bowl and compares to R.W. McQuarters. He's going to face a learning curve going from the Sun Belt to the NFL, but Troy's recent NFL entries have fared well, and teams will take note of that.
DeMario Pressley, DT (6-foot-3, 301), North Carolina State
Projected selection: Fourth round. Scout.com ranks him No. 11 among defensive tackles. He met with the Bucs on Monday morning.
|North Carolina State defensive tackle DeMario Pressley enters this draft on the heels of three other Wolfpack stars now in the NFL. (Ed Thompson/Scout.com)|
How he fits with the Bucs?: He played nose tackle at N.C. State, but he can play the three technique. He's a pretty physical player who doesn't mind getting dirty in the trenches and learned some tricks from the Wolfpack's recent defensive draft picks — Mario Williams, John McCargo, Tank Tyler and Manny Lawson. He's the right size, but scouts are critical of his lack of penetration of the backfield. Nose tackles aren't playmakers, but under tackles are and he'll have to show NFL teams that he can be that penetrator at the three-technique. If he can do that, his draft horizons will expand and he could be a player for the Bucs on draft day.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB (6-foot-2, 183), Tennessee State
Projected selection: First round. Scout.com ranks him No. 5 among the draft's cornerbacks.
Statistics: All-American second-team choice by The NFL Draft Report...All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team selection...Started all 11 games at left cornerback and recorded 37 tackles (28 solo) with two stops for losses of eight yards.
How he fits with the Bucs?: The fact that he's a tallish cornerback is a bit of a novelty. But the first cousin of Chargers Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie has above-average ball skills, good enough that some scouts say if he adds a little weight he could move to free safety. He knows how to hit and he knows how to anticipate passes in coverage. Scouts say he can be a bit overconfident, but some teams would be willing to overlook that for a player of Cromartie's skills. He's being mentioned in the same breath as Aeneas Williams and Dallas' Terrence Newman. That would make Cromartie the picture of an island cornerback, someone who takes on the top opposing receiver and doesn't get much safety help. Problem is, the Bucs don't play a lot of island coverage in the Cover 2, so Cromartie might be a better fit at safety, where the Bucs are set.
Projected selection: Seventh round. Scout.com ranks him as its No. 28 cornerback.
Statistics: Capped off a fine comeback season by starting 12 games...Played left cornerback most of the season...Posted a career-best 44 tackles (31 solo), with two tackles for loss, one QB pressure, a team-high 14 pass deflections and two interceptions.
How he fits with the Bucs?: Sharpe is a survivor, as he's still playing after three knee surgeries, including surgeries to repair the ACL in each knee. That's a lot of wear and tear and that makes him a huge risk. Thing is, scouts consider him intriguing because he has the size, quickness and athleticism they all look for at the position. He can hit 4.4 in the 40. He's also had former Miami defensive back Ed Reed on his side, as he's getting advice from the current Ravens safety. Any team that drafts him will have to be willing to accept his medical past and know that it's taking a risk. So, for that reason alone, I don't see Sharpe going higher than the sixth round. He's a classic risk-reward player, and if the Bucs take the risk, I would take it in the seventh round, or even if Sharpe drops out of the draft.
|Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib is considered one of the top shut-down cornerbacks in the draft. (J. Pat Carter/AP Photo)|
Statistics: Talib led the Big 12 in passes defended for the second year in a row with 17, including four interceptions.
How he fits with the Bucs?: Talib is a lock-down corner. That's the reputation that he cultivated in college and that's what he'll be in the pros. He's the right size for the position. In fact, he's a bit taller. Scouts like the way he reads quarterbacks and his leaping ability. Scouts are concerned about his catch-up speed on deep routes. But he's physical and doesn't mind playing the run, so there's a good chance he could play bump-and-run coverage and throw receivers off their routes. Bump-and-run coverage is not something the Bucs play a lot of, and Talib admitted Kansas didn't play a lot of Cover 2. I think Talib would be a good fit in most defenses, and he has the right skill set to be a nickel corner — if he's willing to wait a few years for Ronde Barber to retire. For what the Bucs would have to give up to get him, they won't be able to wait that long.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.