Deez Bucz Mock Draft 2.0

After putting out my first mock draft of 2018, I decided to go back to the draft board and start all over again. This time I’m going with the assumption that the Bucs are content with the offensive line depth that they currently have, even though I still think there’s a huge question mark surrounding the starting guard position. Dirk Koetter made the statement last week that Ali Marpet would be moving to left guard to play next to his BFF Donovan Smith. That sounds like a great idea until you realize that move leaves a giant hole on the other side at right guard now. With J.R. Sweezy still apparently battling an injury, it sounds as though Caleb Benenoch could end up being the right guard if the season started tomorrow. As much as I do like his versatility as a reserve guard/tackle, I’m not too sure how I feel about him being a full-time starter. I’m not so sure the Bucs are completely sold either. However, seeing as how the team re-signed backup guard/center Evan Smith and guard Adam Gettis and they still have solid reserves such as tackle Leonard Wester and guard/tackle Mike Liedtke, they very well may not draft any o-linemen this year at all. In my Mock 1.0, I drafted at least two of them in each version. This time I’ll leave out the big guys and concentrate on other areas of need such as safety, cornerback, running back and defensive line. With only 7 picks in this draft and no third rounder, there will have to be a good mixture of planning, flexibility and luck in order for the Bucs to have a successful draft.

In this Mock 2.0, I will assume that Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is already off the board at #7 and the Bucs were not able to find a trade partner so they’re basically stuck picking in that spot. I personally don’t think that the Bucs secondary is as bad as some people think but for the sake of this mock we’ll go with the assumption that it is in need of some attention. With no third rounder, the Bucs may be forced into deciding between getting a RB early on or solidifying their secondary. So I’ve come up with two more possible scenarios that could happen. Now without any further adieu, let’s get started.

Mock Draft 2.0A

Rd.1, Pk.7: S Derwin James, FSU-

6’3″/215lbs, 4.5 forty, 21 bench reps, 40″ vert, 11′ broad

Career stats: 26 games, 186 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 15 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries

Even though I don’t have an issue with Chris Conte like some Bucs fans, and I like Keith Tandy’s reliability, and I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far from Justin Evan’s, they still need a safety to replace the recently departed T.J. Ward. Yes they could have the choice between James and Bama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, but if it’s up to me then I choose Derwin. He possesses the height, weight, speed and versatility to play anywhere on the field. He has the size to cover tight ends and big wide receivers but the speed to cover slots and backs inside. He’s an alpha male in the locker room meaning when he talks, other players listen. Sound like any other former FSU turned Bucs players you know? He can play both strong or free safety which means he would fit nicely into the Bucs defensive scheme, even though he’s probably better suited playing closer to the line where he can help in run support and rush the passer. His NFL Draft Profile states that “James has the athletic traits and the mental makeup of an All-Pro safety who not only has the ability to set the tone but change the course of games”. Teaming him up with 2017 second round pick Justin Evan’s gives the Bucs one of the best young safety duos in football and really helps the back end of the defense.

Rd.2, Pk.38: RB Nick Chubb, Georgia-

5’11″/228lbs, 4.52 forty, 29 bench reps, 38 1/2″ vert, 10’8″ broad

Career stats: 47 games, 758 attempts, 4,769 yards, 6.3 yards per carry, 44 touchdowns, 31 receptions, 361 yards, 11.6 yards per catch, 4 touchdowns

At this point, I have a feeling that my top choices for RB like Sony Michel and Derrius Guice are already gone. Even though Chubb is my third choice, he’s a heck of a consolation prize. He’s got a powerful body to get yards after contact, but still has the speed and quickness to avoid contact altogether. He has the size and mindset of an NFL primary ball carrier and his ball security is a plus. The team captain ended his college career as the Bulldogs second leading all-time rusher behind Herschel Walker. It’s even more impressive when you consider the players that he passed on that list including Knowshon Moreno, Garrison Hearst, Todd Gurley and teammate Sony Michel. WalterFootball.com states that “Chubb is a human bowling ball rolling over defenders while being a physical force in the SEC. He’s a powerful runner, but also has the quickness to rip off yards in chunks and is an explosive track star”. Pairing him up with Peyton Barber gives the Bucs a couple of hammers in their backfield but they still need a homerun hitting third down back to replace Charles Sims.

Rd.4, Pk.102: RB Kalen Ballage, ASU-

6’2″/227lbs, 4.46 forty, 15 bench reps, 33 1/2″ vert, 10’2″ broad

Career stats: 46 games, 450 attempts, 1,984 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 27 touchdowns, 82 receptions, 684 yards, 8.3 yards per catch, 2 touchdowns

There are mixed opinions from scouts and analysts about this guy. They say that he possesses the size and ability to put up massive numbers in college yet didn’t produce. So why? I don’t really have an answer. All I do know is the kid is talented. He has a rare combination of size, speed, power and quickness. He’s surprisingly fast and quick for his size, but his versatility is what’s really appealing about him. He lined up all over the field as an off set runner, a pass catcher out of the backfield, a wildcat QB, slot receiver and even kick returner. His soft, clean hands, route running ability, pass protection capability and agility in the open field make him a legit third down back candidate and an upgrade from Sims. His ability to return kicks is the icing on the cake. Adding his skill set to a group with Barber, Chubb and Rodgers gives the Bucs a pretty stout backfield for years to come.

Rd.5, Pk.144: CB Dane Cruikshank, Arizona-

6’1″/210lbs, 4.41 forty, 25 bench reps, 38 1/2″ vert, 10’1″ broad

Career stats: 25 games, 134 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 5 interceptions, 12 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles

Some of you are probably wondering why I decided to wait until the fifth round to address corner, but as I said before I don’t share the opinion that the secondary is that bad. Besides, if the Bucs can somehow snag this guy this late, it’ll be one of the steals of the draft as he’s projected to go by the fourth round. He has almost identical size to projected top 10 pick Minkah Fitzpatrick (he’s actually bigger than Minkah), but tested better than him in almost every event at the Combine. Their styles of play mirror each other as both have experience playing nearly every position in the secondary. They both cover well, have ball skills like a wide receiver and hit like linebackers. Cruikshank’s quickness, hip fluidity and recovery speed, in addition to his length, makes him a real asset in man coverage. Even though Cruikshank is slightly bigger, more athletic and maybe even better at man coverage, he’s not quite as “NFL ready” as Minkah. WalterFootball.com says that “Cruikshank could be a sleeper pick as a corner to match up against bigger NFL wide receivers”. That’s a plus for a defense playing in a division with players like Julio Jones, Michael Thomas and Devin Funchess.

Rd.6, Pk.180: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, USF-

6’5″/210lbs, 4.37 forty, 15 bench reps, 30 1/2″ vert, 10’4″ broad

Career stats: 23 games, 75 receptions, 1,294 yards, 17.3 yards per catch, 11 touchdowns, 10 attempts, 112 yards, 11.2 yards per carry, 1 touchdown

I included this guy in my first mock and I like him so much that I kept him in my second. The Bucs are pretty set at WR with the group they have now, but they could stand to add some size to it. He’s got ideal size to be a prototypical NFL wide receiver, but combines that size with track speed and great athleticism. An impressive stat that I found on him is that 26% of his catches went for 25 yards or more. It could’ve been even more had his QB been better at throwing the deep ball. He’s a local kid from St. Petersburg who ended up going to college in Tampa. His NFL Draft Profile states that “he’s a height, weight, speed prospect with intriguing deep threat capabilities as a field stretcher”. He would be a project and could very well end up on the Bucs practice squad, but who better for a big, fast wide receiver to watch and learn from than Mike Evan’s.

Rd.6, Pk.202: DT Bruce Hector, USF-

6’2″/300lbs, 4.95 forty

Career stats: 31 games, 90 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, 3 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles

Again, he’s a player that I had in my first mock and I kept him in. He’s also the second straight selection from USF where he led the team in sacks and tackles for loss. He’s projected to be a quick, penetrating 3-technique who will contribute to the pass rush in the NFL. He’s a “late round sleeper pick”  according to WalterFootball.com. They also said that “Interior pass rushers are hard to find so Hector could end up as a hot prospect”.

Rd.7, Pk.255: DE Justin Lawler, Southern Methodist-

6’4″/265lbs, 4.97 forty

Career stats: 47 games, 226 tackles, 40.5 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks, 3 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles

He was highly productive at a small school, but also had a very solid showing at the East/West Shrine game and he had 4 tackles for loss and 4 sacks against UConn. He’s a weight room junkie with upper body power and quickness who uses a relentless effort and motor to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He blocked three kicks in college so the former high school power lifter could end up being a special teams standout in the NFL. According to WalterFootball.com, “Lawler could end up as a late round pick that ends up exceeding expectations”. With all the new additions to the d-line, he could end up as a candidate for the Bucs practice squad which is par for the course with most sixth and seventh round picks.

Mock Draft A Recap

Rd.1- S Derwin James, FSU

Rd.2- RB Nick Chubb, Georgia

Rd.4- RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State

Rd.5- CB Dane Cruikshank, Arizona

Rd.6- WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, USF

Rd.6- DT Bruce Hector, USF

Rd.7- DE Justin Lawler, SMU

As you can see, in Mock A I’ve elected to grab a RB in the second round and wait on finding a CB until the fifth round. I made up for the delay by going with Derwin James in the first round which helps out tremendously on the back end of that defense. Now on to Mock B!

 

Mock Draft B

Rd.1, Pk.7: S Derwin James, FSU-

***Same as Mock A***

Rd.2, Pk.38: CB Mike Hughes, UCF-

5’10″/190lbs, 4.53 forty, 20 bench reps, 35 1/2″ vert, 10’7″ broad

Career stats: 23 games, 60 tackles, 4 interceptions, 11 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble

Two picks. Two defensive backs. This should make the Bucs secondary criticizers happy. Even though he lacks experience only playing two years of college football, his speed, quickness and agility make him a natural cover corner. He has tremendous ball skills which when paired with his speed and elusiveness makes him a dynamic kick/punt returner. He would add versatility with his ability to play outside or at nickel even though his strength is on the edge in press coverage. His NFL Draft Profile states that “If he can go to a team that can wait for him to gain some NFL coverage experience, they can still benefit from his tremendous talent as a return man”. The Bucs are in a situation where they can let him watch and learn this entire season from another 5’10″/190lb corner in Brent Grimes. It really is an ideal scenario for all involved and he could end up as Grimes replacement come the 2019 season.

Rd.4, Pk.102: RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State-

***Same as Mock A***

Rd.5, Pk.144: RB Nyheim Hines, NC State-

5’9″/200lbs, 4.38 forty, 35 1/2″ vert, 9’11” broad

2017 stats: 13 games, 197 attempts, 1,113 yards, 5.6 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns

Once again I’m taking a second RB in this draft. The Bucs already have a bruising runner in Peyton Barber and took Ballage in the fourth round to be their new 3rd down back. Now they add a change of pace back who also adds value as a return specialist. Hines may not have the size to be a full-time NFL back, but would provide dual threat capabilities similar to the role that Darren Sproles has thrived in throughout his career. With time,he could end up taking on a role similar to what Alvin Kamara provides for the Saints. It gives the Bucs an eclectic blend of different styles in their backfield that will help keep defenses on their toes. The Bucs had success in the past with another back of similar size named Warrick Dunn so why not try it again?

Rd.6, Pk.180: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, USF-

***Same as Mock A***

Rd.6, Pk.202: DT Bruce Hector, USF-

***Same as Mock A***

Rd.7, Pk.255: DE Justin Lawler, Southern Methodist-

***Same as Mock A***

Mock Draft B Recap

Rd.1- S Derwin James, FSU

Rd.2- CB Mike Hughes, UCF

Rd.4- RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State

Rd.5- RB Nyheim Hines, NC State

Rd.6- WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, USF

Rd.6- DT Bruce Hector, USF

Rd.7- DE Justin Lawler, SMU

With this mock, I went DB with my first and second round picks and waited until the fourth round to find my RB. In my opinion, Mock B is more of a gamble. One of the Bucs biggest needs is running back. After releasing Doug Martin and not re-signing Charles Sims, the only decent backs currently on the roster are Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers. I’m not so sure that they can wait this late to find a back but it is an option.

Well, there you have it. Both versions of my Mock Draft 2.0 have positives and negatives. Both versions start things off by adding Derwin James. Both versions add a solid cornerback. Both versions add even more depth to the d-line. And both versions end up with not one but two solid additions to the Bucs RB stable. I think both versions are viable options, but let me know what you think. Which one do you think is the better option? Give me some feedback, Buc Nation!

I haven’t decided yet if I will be putting out a Mock Draft 3.0, but if I come up with another way to fill the team’s needs I surely will.

Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!

Jon Hinkle

Jon Hinkle

My name is Jon Hinkle, also know as Deez Bucz to most Buccaneers fans. I have been given the opportunity by WhatTheBuc.net to do some writing about one of my favorite subjects...Buccaneer football and all that goes with it. This is my first public writing gig, so I'm hoping that I can entertain the fine fans of Tampa Bay while learning and gaining experience towards a possible new career in sports reporting. I hope everyone enjoys the fruits of my labor and I look forward to bringing some new and exciting stories to Bucs Nation! And as always.....GO BUCS!!!

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