Jason Licht has had an outstanding first two days of this 2018 NFL Draft. Anyone that says otherwise is either still crying about not taking Derwin James in the first round or simply doesn’t know or understand shat about the game of football.
After bending the Bills over in a Day 1 trade that netted them two additional second round picks, Licht entered Day 2 with three picks and he nailed them all. At least on paper.
The Giants ruined my Will Hernandez dream with their 34th pick. Then right after that, the Browns wrecked my running back pick by taking Nick Chubb with the 35th pick. Luckily for the Bucs, the Colts went with a linebacker and an offensive lineman with the 36th and 37th picks leaving Jason Licht with a decision to make between grabbing a running back or a cornerback. Once again he was able to follow his draft board and take the best player available which turned out to be USC’s Ronald Jones who was surprisingly still on the available with the 38th pick. He’s a 5’11″/205lb running back with sub 4.5 speed and explosiveness who draws player comparisons to Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles. He also takes care of the football with only two fumbles in 591 carries. He’ll add a good contrast to Peyton Barber in the Bucs backfield. He finished 2017 with 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns averaging 6 yards per carry.
Licht then used their second pick of the second round, the 53rd, on a much needed defensive. North Carolina’s M.J. Stewart is a 5’11″/200lb cornerback who ran a 4.54 forty, put up 18 bench reps, jumped a 35″ vertical and draws player comparisons to Micah Hyde. He’s really athletic and very physical both in coverage and in run support. He’s a smart player with good instincts and above average ball skills who adds versatility to the Bucs secondary with his ability to play inside or outside. He will have an opportunity to compete for the nickel corner and/or strong safety spots. He finished 2017 with 45 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 12 passes defensed.
Licht then traded the 56th pick to the Patriots in exchange for their 63rd pick and an additional fourth round pick. He then used their third second round pick to again address the secondary selecting Auburn cornerback Carlton Davis. He’s a big 6’1″/205lb corner who ran a 4.53 forty, put up 16 bench reps and jumped a 35″ vertical drawing player comparisons to Richard Sherman. He uses his size and length to physically overpower wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and to frustrate them in coverage. His own quarterback stayed away from throwing to his side of the field in practice which may explain his “lack of productivity” statistically. He finished 2017 with 36 tackles, 1 interception and 11 passes defensed. He immediately offers competition for the starting CB job opposite veteran Brent Grimes and should push the slightly disappointing Vernon Hargreaves.
That should’ve been the end of the Buccaneers Day 2 and I think everyone would’ve been satisfied with the results. But Jason Licht had other plans and decided to trade their 102nd pick of the fourth round plus their 180th pick of the sixth round to the Vikings to move up to the 94th pick of the third round. With that selection, the Buccaneers took offensive tackle Alex Cappa from D-2 school Humboldt State College. He’s a 6’6″/305lb mauler who earned Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year honors in four straight seasons as the left tackle. It sounds as though the Bucs are looking to let him compete for the starting right guard spot but the worst case scenario is that he becomes their new reserve swing tackle and maybe even the eventual successor to starting right tackle Demar Dotson. He has good athleticism, size and power and uses his strong, violent hands and nasty demeanor to emphatically finish blocks. He should fit right in with the Bucs new look and attitude in the trenches.
After four picks on Day 2, the Bucs finally wrapped it up and started looking towards Saturday. With those four picks in the second and third rounds, they were able to address so many needs that it’s a little difficult to zoom in on potential Day 3 targets. However, I think that they can still add a strong safety and maybe another offensive lineman today. So here’s some of the better options that the team could select with their three picks of the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
OT Tyrell Crosby, Oregon:
He’s a 6’5″/310lb monster who only allowed 3 QB hurries in 13 games in 2017 and at one point won the Ducks “Pancake Award” for the most blocks knocking defenders to the ground. He was projected as early as the second round but is still available going into the fourth.
SS Kyzir White, West Virginia:
He’s a 6’2″/220lb strong safety who ran a 4.6 forty, put up 21 bench reps, had a 35.5″ vert and a 10′ broad at the NFL Combine. He finished 2017 with 94 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 4 passes defensed and 2 forced fumbles. He fits the type of players the Bucs are looking for being a team captain and a locker room leader who let’s his fearless, physical play on the field speak for itself.
RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona St:
Yeah I know the Bucs drafted Ronald Jones yesterday and just re-signed Charles Sims as well, but I’ve been a huge Ballage fan throughout this whole process. He’s a 6’2″/220lb back who ran a 4.46 forty, put up 16 bench reps and had a 33.5″ vertical at the Combine. His appeal is as a third down back with his route running ability, soft, sure hands and pass protection capabilities. He would add some versatility both as a pass catcher out of the backfield and on special teams as a kick returner.
WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame:
He’s a 6’5″/215lb wideout who ran a 4.48 forty and put up 20 bench reps. He’s a good route runner with good hands and leaping ability. A height, weight, speed prospect who was projected to go on Day 2 but he’s still hanging around in the fourth round. I know the Bucs are pretty comfortable with their receiving corps, but he could be an option.
G/C Colby Gossett, Appalachian State:
A huge 6’5″/310lb lineman who ran a 5.1 forty and put up 32 bench reps at the Combine and started 46 straight games in college. He’s another mauler with a nasty demeanor who could add some nice depth to the Bucs offensive line.
LB Shaquem Griffin, UCF:
At 6’/220lbs, he’s a bit undersized for the NFL but don’t tell him that. After finishing 2017 with an impressive 74 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, he wowed everyone at the NFL Combine by running a 4.38 forty and putting up 20 bench reps. He’s a team leader and a smart player with good instincts and solid technique who would add depth and situational pass rushing to the Bucs defense.
Some other possibilities are DE Justin Lawler, DB Dane Cruikshank, DE Josh Sweat and K Eddy Pineiro. There are plenty of good prospects left for the Bucs to choose from and we’re about to find out who they get in these final four rounds. Once the dust settles, I’ll be back with an overall draft grade and review.
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!