Gerald McCoy and Jacquies Smith were considered the Buccaneers' top two pass-rushers last season. McCoy is great, but Smith? It's quite apparent that Tampa needed someone better to get to the quarterback, and while it already added Robert Ayers, a long-term option is needed. Fortunately for the front office, this class is loaded with talented edge rushers.
The Buccaneers have been linked to Leonard Floyd, as Charlie Campbell mentioned on our podcast. Floyd would definitely help Tampa's efforts of generating heavy pressure on Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Floyd may not seem like a logical fit for a 4-3, but Tampa would use him like Anthony Barr.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Shaq Lawson, DE - Another pass-rushing possibility for the Buccaneers, but Floyd seems like the better option.
2. Ronnie Stanley, OT - I'm sure the Buccaneers would love the idea of acquiring a franchise left tackle to protect Jameis Winston for the next dozen years.
Rd. 2, Pk. 8
Keanu Neal, S, Florida
The Buccaneers managed to re-sign Chris Conte, but they still need another safety to go along with a cornerback they're surely bound to draft. Keanu Neal could be chosen at the end of the first round, so he's a steal at this juncture.
Rd. 3, Pk. 11
James Bradberry, CB/S, Samford
The Buccaneers might have the weakest group of cornerbacks in the NFL. Alterraun Verner was an abomination this past season, while Johnthan Banks has only been marginally better, but only by default. This is an area that absolutely must be addressed this offseason. And no, signing Brent Grimes doesn't count as addressing the position.
Rd. 4, Pk. 10
Connor Wujciak, DT, Boston College
The Buccaneers had numerous defensive tackles hitting free agency, so they could be looking for depth at the position in the middle rounds.
Rd. 5, Pk. 9
Stephen Weatherly, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Vanderbilt
Leonard Floyd would be used as an Anthony Barr-type player, but here's a more-traditional edge rusher to help the Buccaneers get to the quarterback.
Rd. 6, Pk. 7
Devon Cajuste, WR, Stanford
Tampa is getting frustrated with Austin Seferian-Jenkins' inability to stay healthy, so competition will be added.
Rd. 6, Pk. 21
Dan Vitale, FB, Northwestern
The Buccaneers have had an eye on Dan Vitale as perhaps someone who could further improve Doug Martin's already-terrific rushing totals.
After the signing of DeSean Jackson, I think it is unlikely that John Ross is headed for Tampa Bay. I think this pick will then come down to Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, O.J. Howard or Corey Davis. Via sources, I know the Bucs like all of those players. I think Howard and one of the running backs will be gone, which usually leaves Davis and a running back to consider. Running back is a bigger need on the roster given the Doug Martin situation, and there is depth at wide receiver on Day 2 for the Bucs to land an outside No. 2 receiver to platoon with Mike Evans and Jackson. There are lots of rumors of Dalvin Cook sliding. I've reached out to teams and gotten mixed feedback on that possibility. However if he slides, I don't think the Bucs would pass on him after speaking with Tampa Bay sources.
In 2016, Cook averaged 6.0 yards per carry for 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had 33 receptions for 488 yards. Cook (5-10, 210) is well-built and has the speed to slash through a defense; however, he has some strange ball-security issues. Cook also has some power to him, but he seems to use it selectively as he runs out of bounds often and is consistently looking to bounce runs to the outside. In the passing game, Cook is a tremendous receiver out of the backfield and will be a weapon there. He reminds me of Marshall Faulk at times.
Teams do have some off-the-field concerns about Cook. They say he isn't a bad kid, but worry about his associates. He escaped some legal issues last year, and teams say that Cook has an entourage of gang-bangers that could put Cook in the wrong place at the wrong time.
With Jameis Winston in the NFL, Cook carried the Florida State offense in 2015. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry on his way to 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns. The sophomore also had 24 receptions for 244 yards and a score. As a true freshman in 2014, Cook averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He caught 22 passes for 203 yards, too.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Jordan Willis, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Kansas State
Tampa Bay could target some more edge rush. Here's a player who can rush from the outside and give the Bucs a young tandem with Noah Spence.
Willis caused a lot of disruption and negative plays for his defense in an impressive senior year. In 2016, he totaled 11.5 sacks, 52 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss, three passes batted and three forced fumbles. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder had a respectable week at the Senior Bowl that confirmed his second-day potential for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Willis has good strength to set the edge in rush defense and pass-rushing skills off the edge. He could be a defensive end in a 4-3 or an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia
The Bucs grab a speed receiver to team with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.
Gibson notched 43 receptions for 951 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. Sources say that Gibson has some real speed to him, but isn't the biggest of receivers and needs to improve his route-running. That latter point was an issue for the Bears' 2015 first-round pick, Kevin White, coming out West Virginia because of the Mountaineers' spread offense. Some sources think Gibson (5-11, 191) should've returned for his senior year to improve on that before going pro.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Lorenzo Jerome, S, St Francis (PA)
The Bucs could use some more safety talent.
Jerome (5-10, 202) is an intriguing player who has created a buzz in scouting circles. He was a productive player with a tremendous display of ball skills in college. Jerome had interception totals of six, three, three and six over the past four seasons with pass breakup totals of five, seven, 13 and four. He also had 59 tackles as a senior. Jerome impressed at the East-West Shrine and at the Senior Bowl. He could be a find from the mid-rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Adam Bisnowaty, OT, Pittsburgh
The Bucs could use more offensive line depth and competition.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Joe Williams, RB, Utah
The Bucs grab a backup speed running back.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Jerod Evans, QB, Virginia Tech
The Bucs could use a backup quarterback, and Evans has a good skill set to develop. Perhaps they could turn him into a commodity they could trade for draft picks.
Serious drop off at this point. This pick could be a few different things. Pass rusher and corner are easily the two biggest needs and the board stacks up pretty well for the Buccs here. Noah Spence, Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd, Leonard Floyd are all potential options should they choose to go the pass rusher route, but in my opinion the bigger need is corner and Hargreaves is also the best prospect of the few potential options here. Alterraun Verner has been a flop of a signing as a Buccaneer and Johnathon Banks has been a disappointment as well. The Brent Grimes signing helps a bit but he’s on the decline and definitely not a piece for the future. Hargreaves is an amazing athlete with incredible hips able to turn and run with anyone. He doesn’t have the prototypical size (5’10” 204lbs) necessarily and that leads him to fall ever so slightly, but he has the best pure man-to-man cover skills in this class, even better than Ramsey. His jumping measurements are absolutely unreal a 39” vertical and 130” broad jump are both best amongst his position this season. Hargreaves really is a safe bet to be at the least a solid CB1 with an even higher ceiling. I love this kid.
Leonard Floyd has a very wide skill set that make him an enticing prospect. The collegiate production was not top 10 level, but the skill set and athleticism is top 5. Tampa needs a lot of help in it’s front 7, and I think Floyd will appeal to them because he can do a couple different things. He can man the strongside linebacker position, as well as put his hand down and play DE. Some scouts are concerned about his lack of sack production to make him an edge rusher, but coaches don’t care about that. They believe in themselves and their ability to get the most out of each prospect, therefore they want the best athletes who they can get the most out of. Some may also argue that Floyd is undersized for a 4-3 DE, but he is identical in size to a future hall of famer by the name of Jason Taylor. I think Jason Taylor worked out alright for the Dolphins at DE, despite only weighing 244 pounds.
Tampa Bay gets lucky here and had Buckner fall right into their hands. The Buccaneers had a hard time getting to the QB last year. Buckner will be a great addition to a defense that needs help.
Scouting report: Impressive NFL-ready physique. Has natural strength and power in his hands and improved their effectiveness this year. Not a content player, Buckner plays with effort and will continue working hands and feet to improve his positioning. Light went on as pass rusher in 2015. Generated top-end production by combining his power and dynamic athletic traits. Improved his pad level as rusher creating dominating pocket push that he was able to convert into sacks and knockdowns. Rare tackle production for defensive lineman with 163 over last two seasons. Long arms and good play speed allow him maximum field coverage to tackle. Flexible upper body. Can flip shoulders, then hips around the edge of blockers allowing him to play on the other side of the line. Has size and athleticism for scheme versatility. Quick off the snap and difficult to cut off in run game.
Other possibilities: Josh Doctson WR, Mackensie Alexander CB
I love it in the draft when prospects and teams are a match made in heaven this seems to be one of those pairings. Shaq Lawson is the perfect mix of size, talent, run stopping and pass rushing for a defensive style that demands so much out of their DEs. Tampa will forever be associated with the Tampa 2 and although only small amounts of that scheme still remain, the one that is a glaring hole is the dependency on the DEs to simultaneously set the edge in the run game as well as create a pass rush on 3rd down. Lawson played hurt most of the year and wasn't able to show off all of the skill he has, but the draft process and his junior tape more than prove that he is worthy of this selection.
As synonymous as new QB's are with new regimes, new left tackles are synonymous with new QB's. Last year's second rounder Donovan Smith struggled mightily protecting Jameis Winston and is a better fit at right tackle. Additionally, Gosder Cherlius is getting old and will be a free agent after the season. Drafting Ronnie Stanley would provide more options for the Buccaneers to protect their franchise QB and would make sure they stay competitive in one of the toughest divisions in the league.
1. Shaq Lawson - If he's not taken by the 49ers, expect Lawson to be a serious contender for this pick. The Bucs don't usually interview prospects to avoid tipping their hand, so avoiding him in the pre-draft process means nothing.
2. Leonard Floyd - Experts on the Buccaneers (you know who I'm talking about - C.C.) expect Tampa Bay to take Georgia's Leonard Floyd. However, these so-called experts have been wrong the past few years about the Bucs and this could just be a ploy.
3. Myles Jack - The team is optimistic about Kwon Alexander, and signed Daryl Smith this past month, but Tampa Bay could opt for Myles Jack if he's available, and not off their board.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Ronnie Stanley Going to Buccaneers
Rd. 1, Pk. 11
Vernon Hargreaves, CB
The Buccaneers landed a prospect many consider to be the second-best cornerback prospect in this class. Even better, they did so while trading down. That's exactly how teams should draft. Cornerback has been a huge problem area for Tampa, and Hargreaves projects as an immediate upgrade. This is a big win for the Buccaneers, even if the deal to move from nine to 11 wasn't that great. I'll be grading all of the trades on a separate page. I'll have those posted later tonight.
Rd. 2, Pk. 8
Noah Spence, DE/3-4OLB
The Buccaneers have taken chances on players with character concerns before, and it has panned out for this new regime thus far, for the most part. Noah Spence fits into that theme. If he wasn't attached with any off-the-field issues, he would've been a top-10 pick. He's extremely talented, and he fits exactly what the Buccaneers needed. They were desperate for a pass-rusher, and Spence was the best player available who could fill that void.
Rd. 2, Pk. 28
Roberto Aguayo, K
KICK THE KIELBASA INTO THE BACKSIDE MILLEN Grade
Oh, man. I'm always giddy when I get to give out a Millen grade, and this was a Millen grade if I've ever seen one. Look, I get that kickers are more important now, and I understand that Roberto Aguayo projects as a great kicker. But, come on. Another team that really needed Aguayo was planning on taking him in the fourth round, which would've been justified. The Buccaneers grabbed him in the second - and surrendered a fourth to move up to get him! Who were the Buccaneers leaping to get a kicker? Why would they make such a stupid decision like this!?