Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Roberto Aguayo, S, Florida State – Round 2
I think the Buccaneers taking a kicker in the second round and trading up for Aguayo was terrible value. Sources from other teams said they would have taken Aguayo in the fourth round, and other teams that didn’t need a kicker also said they had Aguayo in the fourth round of their big boards. There were sources at playoff teams that said they were laughing in their war room when Tampa Bay traded up for Aguayo in the second round. There isn’t another team that was known to be targeting Aguayo that high, and Tampa Bay clearly panicked in trading up from its third-round pick. Aguayo would have been there, and it cost the Bucs another talented player who was available in the fourth round.

All that being said, I think Aguayo will be a solid kicker for Tampa Bay. I think he is going to continue to be a very accurate kicker in the pro game. Aguayo was tremendous in college and should be one of the best kickers in the NFL for extra points. He also should be a steady point-producer for field goals.

I think Tampa Bay had a mega-reach with Aguayo, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a Pro Bowl kicker and helps the Buccaneers to put more points on the scoreboard. It would be a real shock if he was a bust and didn’t turn into a productive NFL kicker.

Most Likely To Bust

Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky – Round 2
The Buccaneers badly needed to upgrade their edge rush as they really struggled to get after the quarterback last season. Tampa Bay hasn’t had a consistent pass-rusher in over decade since Simeon Rice finished up his tremendous run with the team. The late Gaines Adams never panned out, Michael Bennett was allowed to leave in free agency, and the 2011 NFL Draft’s class was loaded with great edge rushers, but Tampa Bay selected two of the few busts with Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers. Thus, taking Spence in the second round was understandable. He was a dangerous pass-rusher for Ohio State and Eastern Kentucky during his collegiate career.

At the Senior Bowl, Spence created a buzz with his speed-rushing skills that were very impressive in the one-on-ones. He was fast around the corner to get a lot of wins. A lot of media were caught up in Spence speed rushing, and they failed to recognize that he struggled to get off blocks in the ground game. That was an issue in the pass rush as well. When tackles got their hands on Spence, he was in trouble as his lack of size and strength had him incapable of getting off blocks. When tackles locked on to him, he was done. That was why sources at other teams said they had Spence graded in Round 2. Some teams had a late first round on him, but no team that I spoke with ever had him as a top-10 talent like some media members were suggesting.

I think with Tampa Bay, Spence is going to have to be protected and be out of the game in running situations. Teams will have success running at the 6-foot-2, 254-pounder. That will make Spence more of a situational pass-rusher. In that role, I think Spence could have some success, but until he gets better at shedding blocks, I think it is possible that he could disappoint. NFL offensive tackles can’t be beaten with just speed alone, and Spence will need to become more well-rounded. I think he was a good gamble in the second round, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the size and strength issues hurt as a pro. Not to mention, Spence has had off-the-field issues with drug usage and the Tampa Bay area has a party atmosphere that has derailed other promising young talents for the Bucs. Thus, I see the most bust potential with Spence of the Buccaneers’ early round picks.

Potential Boom Pick

Vernon Hargreaves, S, Florida – Round 1
From the very start of the 2016 NFL Draft process, I had Hargreaves rated in the top 10 of all prospects available. In my final Big Board, I had Hargreaves as the sixth-best player in the 2016 NFL Draft, so obviously, I think the Bucs made a great pick by landing Hargreaves with the 11th selection in the draft. Tampa Bay has some veteran corners, but they are all short-term players, and before long Hargreaves will be the team’s No. 1 corner.

Over the past three seasons, Hargreaves was phenomenal for Florida. He did very well in his matchup against Amari Cooper and handled every other elite receiver who came his direction. For the NFL, Hargreaves is a well-balanced cornerback. He is a quick athlete with very good feet and agility. He can run the route with receivers in the short to intermediate part of the field and prevent separation. Hargreaves is not a limited corner in his technique as he has the ability to play off-man, press-man, or zone concepts. Hargreaves avoids penalties and plays the ball well. He has the ability to take passes away and has come up with some clutch interceptions for the Gators.

I think Hargreaves is ready to play immediately, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he passes up Brent Grimes, Johnthan Banks and Alterraun Verner as the Bucs’ best cornerback this season. In time, I think Hargreaves will be a No. 1 corner and a Pro Bowl player. He is a natural cover corner with good character and a work ethic. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he ends up being one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL.

Future Depth Player

Devante Bond, LB, Oklahoma – Round 6
This was an astute pick by the Buccaneers as they got themselves a nice value and a sleeper pick. For those that watched Oklahoma closely last year, especially in the back half of the season, it would be hard not to be impressed with Bond. Other linebackers like Frank Shannon and Dominique Alexander had more media buzz in their collegiate career, but Bond was the better player on Oklahoma’s run to the college football playoff. In nine games, he totaled 43 tackles with seven for a loss, three sacks, two passes batted and a forced fumble. Bond may not be a starter for Tampa Bay with Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David in house, but Bond could be an excellent backup and special teams player for the Bucs. This was a really nice late-round pick by Tampa Bay.

Walt’s 2016 NFL Draft Grades:

11. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida A Grade
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.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

39. Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky A Grade
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.

59. Roberto Aguayo, K, Florida State 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!?

108. Ryan Smith, CB, N.C. Central B+ Grade
It’s hardly a surprise that the Buccaneers have spent another pick on a cornerback, given how dire that situation has been for them. They’re getting a good one at the beginning of the fourth round, though, as Ryan Smith could’ve been chosen a bit earlier than this. It’s a bit surprising that the Buccaneers didn’t take a corner with more athletic ability, but this is a solid choice.

148. Caleb Benenoch, OT, UCLA B Grade
This pick definitely makes sense to me, unlike the kicker selection made earlier. The Buccaneers had to find some depth at tackle with some contracts expiring soon. Caleb Benenoch needs to add some strength, but if he does, he could be a solid reserve for Tampa for quite some time.

183. Devante Bond, LB, Oklahoma C Grade
I can’t say I’m surprised that the Buccaneers took a flier on an athletic player in the late rounds. I didn’t think Devante Bond would be drafted though, given that he didn’t do much as a member of the Sooners. He’s a major project.

197. Dan Vitale, FB, Northwestern A- Grade
The Buccaneers were really hoping that Dan Vitale was going to fall to them to the sixth round. Their wish was granted, as they nabbed the man they were coveting. Vitale, who is very athletic for his position, should be a valuable piece in Tampa’s offense as a pass-catching fullback.

2016 NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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