Since I published my first "Buccaneers Mock Draft" two weeks ago I've done a lot of thinking about the Buccaneers' team needs and potential value at each selection. I still believe that the primary needs in this draft are at wide receiver, cornerback and defensive tackle. But I'm still quite unsettled as to whom to take where.
So, in this Mock Draft 2.0, I'm shaking things up a bit — as you'll see when you read on.
First round — No. 20 overall
|South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins could turn out to be a great pick for Tampa Bay at No. 20. (Michael Conroy/AP Photo)|
It now appears as if most experts consider Jenkins the No. 2 corner behind Leodis McKelvin of Troy. Some mocks have Jenkins dropping to No. 20 and the Bucs. If that happens, I could easily see the Bucs pulling the trigger on Jenkins and making him their third corner, initially, and eventually Ronde Barber's successor.
Alternate theory: The Bucs still need wide receivers, and Jackson may well be there at No. 20. But our Chris Steuber has Jackson going to Philly at No. 19 in his most recent mock draft. If that happens, the Bucs could be tempted to take Michigan State WR Devin Thomas instead. The question is whether the Bucs value the top players at wide receiver higher than the top players at cornerback. If it's cornerback, the pick should be Jenkins, because there are plenty of solid wide receivers in this draft that can offer the Bucs help (as you'll see).
Second round — No. 52 overall
Why?: The wide receiver position does need to be addressed, and Avery could be just as good a prospect as Jackson, who I believe will be a first-round pick. I liked what I saw out of Avery at the Senior Bowl. He's not quite as fast at Jackson, but he can get downfield in a hurry. Scouts like his concentration and the way he catches balls away from his frame, as well as his acceleration off the line of scrimmage. Defenders are on their heels quite a bit against Avery. He's also bigger than Jackson (5-foot-11, 194 pounds). Scouts say he needs to improve his ability to shed contact at the line of scrimmage, but say that as he gets stronger that will be less of an issue. The guy is a game-breaker, without question, and he was very productive for the Cougars.
Alternate theory: It's not clear if Avery will drop that far to Tampa Bay. If he doesn't, there are plenty of other receivers that could be available, including Louisville's Harry Douglas, who fits the Avery mold of a quick receiver with above-average hands. If the Bucs choose to address defense, Arkansas DT Marcus Harrison could be there as an option to shore up the inside defensive line. The Bucs could also choose to take a young tight end like Michigan State's Kellen Davis and Missouri's Martin Rucker, both of which would be great values in this round.
Third round — No. 83 overall
Why?: The Buccaneers sorely need to address their wide receiving and return game, and Royal can do both. He proved to be a capable receiver with the Hokies, especially in the slot. And, thanks to New England's Wes Welker, players of Welker's build, like Royal, can be productive in the slot. Now, he's only 5-foot-9 ½, so durability could be an issue. But if you've watched Royal play, you know he can just about flat outrun anyone on the field — and you can't hit what you can't catch. Royal may not contribute as quickly at wide receiver as he would in the return game, but his talent would satisfy head coach Jon Gruden's desire to have one player handle the kickoff and punt return duties, like Mark Jones did last year before his injury (and Jones was producing at a Pro Bowl level). Royal would be a great pick here.
Alternate theory: Yes, wide receivers two rounds in a row is a bit strange. But there's great value in Avery and Royal, I believe. But, if the Bucs want to go in other directions, watch out for these projected third-round picks — Texas WR Limas Sweed (great height and body control in the red zone), Virginia Tech LB Xavier Adibi (a player the Bucs have privately called a "Derrick Brooks clone"), Maryland DT Dre Moore (a tank of a player that can play under tackle) and Arizona State C Mike Pollak (it's never too late to think about life without Jeff Faine).
Fourth round — No. 116 overall
DT DeMario Pressley, North Carolina State
Mock Draft 1.0 selection: DT DeMario Pressley, N.C. State
Why?: I'm going to stick with this pick because I don't believe Pressley will fall much farther than this. There are some mock drafts that have Pressley selected in the third round, but I think he'll fall into the fourth. As I mentioned in my first mock draft, he's a 300-pound tackle who is quick enough to get into the backfield and strong enough to occupy offensive linemen at the line of scrimmage. He still needs refinement, but in the fourth round you're not going to get a finished product.
Alternate theory: At this point in the draft, teams are more likely to take the best player available on the their board rather than draft for need. But, using the Bucs' team needs as a template, keep an eye on these players: Michigan RB Mike Hart, Alabama WR D.J. Hall, Eastern Michigan DE Jason Jones, Florida State LB Geno Hayes and Connecticut CB Tyvon Branch.
Fifth round — No. 147 overall
Justin Forsett, RB, California
Why?: The acquisition of Kansas City FB/TE Kris Wilson means the Bucs don't have to go after a fullback here. They can, instead, take a chance on the 5-foot-8, 194-pound Forsett, who was very productive at Cal and has the capability of helping the Bucs in the return games. He only started one full season (and 17 games), but this explosive back still managed to score 26 touchdowns (fourth-most in school history) and finished third in school history in rushing. The Bucs talked to him at the Senior Bowl and, even though he fits the same mold as veterans Warrick Dunn and Michael Bennett, both are veterans that have no more than three years left on their new deals. Tampa Bay would control Forsett for four years, and he's talented enough to be worth the selection here.
Alternate theory: Let me throw this out at you. The injury to Oregon's Jonathan Stewart really throws his draft value into a loop. There's no real way to know where he'll be selected in this draft (unless his agent can pull a Willis McGahee-type of P.R. push). So, what if Stewart drops into the fifth round? I think he would be worth a flier here, simple because if he's not healthy enough to play you haven't really lost that much. If he is healthy, he could be an explosive asset to the running game and create some future competition for Carnell Williams — or, potentially, a tandem backfield that would benefit both players.
Just something to think about.
Did you miss our first Buccaneers mock draft? No worries. Click here for my analysis.
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.