This is something new that I’ve never done before.
When talking about the NFL draft, typically people go through and rank the players based solely on talent. Since every team has their own board that they go by, I wanted to put my board together by ranking the players in this draft of how the Buccaneers should select them once they are on the clock.
The main criteria here will still be talent level, but I will also incorporate their fit into the Bucs scheme, need, and character.
Here is my “Bucs Board” ranking the top 50 players from a Bucs perspective:
1. Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
Clowney is a game-changer as a pass rusher. A dominant pass rusher can change any game in his team’s favor by getting sacks and creating turnovers.
2. Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
The Bucs do not need an OT, but Robinson can play OG (a big need) early in his career before moving to OT. He is the most dominant offensive lineman in this draft.
3. Blake Bortles – QB – UCF
Bortles has done everything right this off-season. He is big, mobile, and shows the confidence of a franchise QB.
4. Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
WR is a big need for the Bucs and Watkins is one of the most talented WRs to come out in a while. Watkins might be ranked higher here if this draft wasn’t so deep at WR.
5. Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
Manziel is the biggest wildcard in this draft, but his playmaking skills are very intriguing. Manziel might be the best QB to learn behind Josh McCown both on and off the field.
6. Khalil Mack – LB – Buffalo
Mack is a violent pass rusher who plays with excellent leverage. Not ideal for the 4-3, but you find a spot for a pass rusher like this.
7. Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
Elite level TE who can become a game-changer in the NFL. Ebron can stretch the deep middle and keep drives alive with clutch catches on 3rd down.
8. Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
While the Bucs could use a slot receiver, they should also think about the future of Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson. Evans is a younger, faster, and cheaper Jackson.
9. Aaron Donald – DT – Pitt
Donald is slightly undersized, but he is a mega-producer. Donald would provide insurance behind Gerald McCoy and play next to him on passing downs.
10. Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma St.
Big, physical corner who could provide a 3rd young corner into Lovie’s defense to learn with Mike Jenkins only on a 1-year contract.
11. Derek Carr – QB – Fresno St.
Carr can make every throw on the field. The confidence he has shown this off-season has only helped his draft stock, which has been on a steady climb. Good fit for Tedford?
12. Brandin Cooks – WR – Oregon St.
If the Bucs are looking for “speed in space,” there won’t be better fits than the electric Cooks.
13. Zack Martin – OG – Notre Dame
Martin can play OT, but would play his more natural position at guard if drafted by the Bucs. He is a potential All Pro at guard.
14. Xavier Su’a-Filo – OG – UCLA
Su’a-Filo is a potential Pro Bowl guard with a nice blend of power and athleticism.
15. Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan St.
Physical corner and a good tackler. Can play man coverage or zone.
16. Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Bridgewater is becoming the toughest to predict. Loved watching him at Louisville and in-person a few times against USF. However, he was not good at his pro day when everyone looks good at their pro day. I have also been turned off of Bridgewater during the interviews he has done on ESPN and the NFL Network. He does not exude confidence and looks nervous at times. If he is nervous now, will he be able to handle the pressures of the NFL? Only teams know what he is like behind the scenes.
17. Kelvin Benjamin – WR – FSU
Benjamin isn’t exactly speed in space, but he will run over a CB rather than run around him. Benjamin’s elite size makes him a threat at any point of the field.
18. Anthony Barr – DE/OLB – UCLA
Barr has a ton of natural ability, but is an extremely raw player after only playing LB for 2 seasons. Barr does not play with much violence and relies on his speed to run around OTs far too often.
19. Odell Beckham Jr. – WR – LSU
Beckham is a big time playmaker with speed to go deep, but also the ability to be a reliable go-to receiver.
20. Jason Verrett – CB – TCU
Verrett reminds me of Alterraun Verner. Verrett is a smaller corner who excels in man coverage and is constantly around the ball.
21. Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri
Ealy is a physical end with enough explosion to be a very good pass rusher. Reminds me a little of Terrell Suggs when he came out in the draft.
22. CJ Mosley – MLB – Alabama
Mosley has some injury concerns and isn’t considered an elite level prospect, but could be an upgrade over Mason Foster. Foster would move to OLB.
23. Dee Ford – DE – Auburn
I’m a big Ford fan. He is a violent pass rusher who should see his stock continue to rise.
24. Jace Amaro – TE – Texas Tech
Big-bodied receiving threat at TE that can be a reliable target for a young quarterback.
25. Ryan Shazier – LB – Ohio St.
Shazier is probably a better OLB, but has the speed and athleticism to play middle linebacker and move Mason Foster to strongside LB.
26. Stephon Tuitt – DE – Notre Dame
Tuitt is a big defensive end that might be a good fit at left DE opposite of Michael Johnson.
27. David Yankey – OG – Stanford
Yankey is a physical guard who could fit a major need for the Bucs.
28. Marquis Lee – WR – USC
Lee does not have elite straight-line speed, but his quickness and agility makes him a playmaker at any part of the field.
29. Timmy Jernigan – DT – FSU
Jernigan has the build of an under-tackle, but could be a nice fit at either DT position in Lovie Smith’s defense.
30. Bradley Roby – CB – Ohio St.
Mega-talented CB who’s play dropped off at the end of 2013. With Mike Jenkisn under a 1-year contract, Roby could learn for a year before being thrown on the field.
31. Donte Moncrief – WR – Ole Miss
Greg Cosell recently compared Moncrief to Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas. Moncrief is 6’3” 225 lbs and runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. He’s the type of receiver that can catch a short pass and take it the distance.
32. Gabe Jackson – OG – Mississippi St.
Jackson is a massive 330 lb guard who fits a major need for the Bucs.
33. Jordan Matthews – WR – Vanderbilt
I’m a big fan of Matthews. Very good size, speed, and hands. Matthews could end up as an excellent pro.
34. Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE – Washington
Some character concerns (DUI) and injury concerns (foot) have Seferian-Jenkins slipping a bit. He has the potential to be a pro bowl TE.
35. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – S – Alabama
With Barron and Goldson, the Bucs have zero need for a safety this year, but Clinton-Dix could be groomed for next year when Goldson’s contract loses its guaranteed money and the Bucs might deem his $9m price tag too much.
36. Kyle Fuller – CB – Virginia Tech
Fuller has all of the traits you’d like in a cornerback, but injuries are a big concern with him.
37. Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota
Freak combination of size and athleticism. Raw talent who could develop into a dominant interior rusher.
38. Calvin Pryor – S – Louisville
See explanation for Clinton-Dix. Rated Clinton-Dix higher for the Bucs because I feel he’ll be a little better in coverage.
39. LaMarcus Joyner – CB/S – FSU
Playmaker and turnover machine.
40. Jimmy Garoppolo – QB – Eastern Illinois
Garoppolo has sky-rocketed up the charts during this off-season. He has an extremely quick release and good zip on his passes.
41. Brandon Thomas – OT/OG – Clemson
Thomas has seen his stock rise. Enough athleticism to play tackle, but could be an ideal fit at guard.
42. Scott Crichton – DE – Oregon St.
Crichton is a balanced end who could become a double-digit sack producer.
43. Kyle Van Noy – DE/OLB – BYU
Probably a better fit ain a 3-4 defense, but Van Noy is a good enough player that Lovie Smith would find a spot for him in his defense.
44. Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
I’m not naïve to think Matthews drops this far, but this is where the Bucs should consider drafting a pure OT. Collins and Dotson will be the Bucs OTs.
45. Louis Nix – DT – Notre Dame
Nix is a big and athletic nose tackle. The acquisition of Clinton McDonald makes Nix a long shot.
46. Troy Niklas – TE – Notre Dame
Niklas is a big and physical TE who can be a force as a run blocker, but is also athletic enough to make big plays in the pass game.
47. Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
The slightly crazy Lewan plays with a mean streak on the field. He’s limited to tackle, which is why the Bucs would pass on him.
48. Kareem Martin – DE – North Carolina
Martin has every characteristic you want in a DE. Could end up like Michael Johnson as a 2nd/3rd round pick who ends up playing like a 1st round pick.
49. Allen Robinson – WR – Penn St.
Robinson is a big receiver who could develop into a reliable go-to receiver.
50. Keith McGill – CB/S – Utah
McGill is a big DB who will get a shot at CB first. McGill could ultimately end up as a free safety.