Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
June 11, 2013

Solid Starter

Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois – Round 4
I wasn’t a fan of Spence as a prospect, but the Bucs like him so much that they are practically forcing him into the starting lineup as a rookie. Tampa Bay let veteran nose tackle Roy Miller leave in free agency, so the team had a hole for a run-stuffer next to Gerald McCoy.

Spence was hit and miss in his final season. He didn’t play well against Wisconsin, but did well versus Penn State. Spence has some speed and explosiveness, but needs to improve his overall game and become more consistent. THe junior totaled 72 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble in 2012. He played better in 2011, but the sophomore had defensive end Whitney Mercilus commanding a lot of attention as Mercilus led the nation in sacks. Spence totaled 69 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2011.

Tampa Bay has a serious lack of depth on the defensive line, leaving Spence with only pedestrian veterans Gary Gibson and Derek Landri as starting competition. Spence (6-1, 305) will probably end up starting as a rookie and if he plays well, he could be a long-term starter next to McCoy.

Most Likely To Bust

William Gholston, DE, Michigan State – Round 4
I tweeted last season that Gholston looked like Tarzan, but played like Vernon. The cousin of Vernon Gholston, William Gholston never lived up to his billing at Michigan State. The Spartans were expecting him to be star player for them, but he turned up far short of that. Gholston was a good run-defender, but his pass rush was a serious weakness.

The 6-foot-6, 281-pounder is strong and can hold his ground at the point of attack. He fills his gap, but doesn’t make a lot of plays outside of it. Gholston totaled 59 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 10 passes broken up, one forced fumble and 4.5 sacks in 2012. He broke into the lineup as a sophomore in 2011, totaling 70 tackles with five sacks, one forced fumble and 16 tackles for a loss.

Gholston didn’t take the next step last year and was a disappointment. He had an easy slate of offensive tackles, but rarely put heat on the quarterback. The junior needed to develop pass-rushing moves, but it didn’t happen. He tried to bull rush constantly with a few spin moves mixed in. Gholston doesn’t seem to have a good get-off and lacks a speed rush that threatens offensive tackles.

Gholston would have fit best in the NFL as a 3-4 defensive end. The Bucs run a 4-3, so he will probably be a situational backup who only plays in running situations. I don’t think that Gholston has the speed or pass-rushing moves to pan out in the NFL. I don’t think he’ll earn a starting spot and will only be a backup run-defender before he falls out of the league.

Potential Boom Pick

Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State – Round 2
I had Banks mocked to the Bucs for many months. Sources with the team told me last January that the Buccaneers loved Banks, so it wasn’t a surprise when they took him. Tampa Bay had nothing at the cornerback position entering the offseason, and Banks is an immediate upgrade over the corners the team was fielding last December.

If it weren’t for a knee injury that helped lead to a poor Combine performance, Banks probably would’ve been a first-round pick. The senior amassed 63 tackles, four interceptions and seven passes broken up in 2012. He averaged 9.8 yards per punt return, too. Banks had a number of great performances in the first half of the year, including games against Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State and Auburn. A lingering knee injury hurt him later in the season as he had ugly outings against Alabama and Texas A&M.

Banks was a good contributor at Mississippi State for four years after getting onto the field as a freshman. He is very polished and experienced. Banks has the ability to be a press-man corner. He is strong and physical with receivers. Banks plays well in both zone and man. He is a solid run-defender and has good instincts.

Tampa Bay wants to play man coverage, so Banks looks like a nice scheme fit. The Bucs didn’t have the corners to pull it off last year, but the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder’s length and quickness translates well as a press corner.

It would be surprising if Banks didn’t work out. He should be a superb long-term starter on the other side from Darrelle Revis. The rookie could be the third cornerback behind Revis and Eric Wright. Banks should take Wright’s place before too long. Banks could end up being a steal for Tampa Bay with the ability to be a very good pro corner.

Future Depth Player

Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State – Round 3
I don’t think Glennon was a reach in the third round, but I don’t think he will turn into a good starter in the NFL. Glennon (6-6, 220) has a rifle for an arm and can make all the throws, but he has some major flaws of inaccuracy and inconsistent decision-making. The senior completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 4,031 yards, 31 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2012.

Glennon is a nice fit for the Bucs’ offensive system. I think the only way he plays as a rookie is if Josh Freeman has more meltdown performances or gets injured. If Tampa Bay re-signs Freeman, it will relegate Glennon to being a backup for years to come. If the team doesn’t re-sign Freeman, I think it will get another quarterback via the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft or a veteran addition. While Glennon may never be the starter, he could be a solid backup.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

14. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: A Grade
I think Sharrif Floyd would have been a better pick because A) he’s a superior pass-rusher and B) he doesn’t have any sort of health concerns. But this is still a great pick for the Panthers because they needed tons of help on the interior of their defensive line. Star Lotulelei would have gone in the top 10 if smarter teams were drafting there, so Carolina is reaping the benefits, much like other smarter teams will in the second half of the draft.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

44. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue: B+ Grade
Back-to-back defensive tackles for the Panthers? Well, it makes sense considering how terrible they were at the position. Short’s range was around 28-45, so there is pretty solid value with this selection. The only concern I have here is that the Panthers don’t pick again until Round 4, and they have yet to address their woeful secondary.

108. Edmund Kugbila, G, Valdosta State: C Grade
This is a reach, as Edmund Kugbila was widely viewed as a sixth- or a seventh-round prospect. The Panthers needed some competition at the guard position, so maybe Kugbila can eventually claim a starting job.

148. A.J. Klein, ILB, Iowa State: B Grade
I thought A.J. Klein would be a fourth-rounder, so this is a nice value selection. Klein won’t project as a starter, but he’ll provide depth for a Carolina team that wasn’t very deep at linebacker.

182. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon: B Grade
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are both immensely overpaid, so one of them will have to go soon. Once that happens, Kenjon Barner will be a nice change-of-pace back. No surprise that he went around the sixth frame.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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