For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the offseason is in full swing. That means evaluating prospects and getting ready for the NFL Draft. And with shrine game and the senior bowl now in the rearview mirror, some of the pieces are starting to fall into place. Granted many things will change with the combine and free agency still to come, but it’s never too early to start mapping out how the Bucs might attack the draft. Here is my January edition of the Bucs seven-round mock draft.
*Trade back with Denver* First-Round – Byron Murphy, Cornerback, Washington.
Murphy has exceptional ball skills. If the ball is in the air, there’s a good chance that he’s going to make a play in it. He thrives in zone coverage but has all physical tools to run hip to hip with receivers in man coverage. He’d be a great addition to a Bucs secondary that just wasn’t good enough last year.
Second–Round – Dalton Risner, Offensive Tackle, Kansas State.
It’s no secret that the Bucs need to improve their offensive line. Both tackle positions and right guard are a question mark at this point. Enter Risner who can play both positions on the right. He’s a physical bully who can beat opponents up in the run game. He’s also allowed just one sack in his college career. Risner would be an anchor on the Bucs offensive line for years to come.
*Denver’s Second-Round Pick* – Darnell Savage, Safety, Maryland.
Savage lives up to his name. He’s a fast, physical strong safety who can fly up and lay the boom on ball carriers. Great tackler who would improve the Bucs run defense. However, Savage isn’t just a big body enforcer; he’s also very good in coverage. He can read the quarterback’s eyes and make plays on the ball.
Third Round – Christian Miller, Defensive End, Alabama.
Miller is a fast pass rusher who can bend the edge. He has a very good jump off the line of scrimmage and he can really put offensive tackles on their heels. He’s a bit on the smaller side at just 235 lbs, but he can be that deadly rotational pass rusher that the Bucs have needed for a long time.
Fourth–Round – Oli Udoh, Offensive Tackle, Elon
Udoh is a true diamond in the rough. He has great physical tools to work with at 6’5, 335 lbs and moves very well. He impressed at both the shrine game and the senior bowl. I’m not sure he’d be ready to step into the NFL and start right away, but he could be developed into a legitimate starting left tackle down the line.
Fifth-Round – Kelvin McKnight, Wide Receiver, Samford.
This is the speed receiver the Bucs are looking for. He is explosive out of the slot and can be a weapon as a kick returner. This could be the Bucs version of John Brown and a great replacement for Adam Humphries if Tampa Bay doesn’t want to pay him big bucks in free agency.
Seventh-Round – Jordan Ellis, Running Back, Virginia.
You bring the nails because Ellis will bring the hammer. A physical between the tackles runner who hits the hole hard. He won’t wow anyone with his breakaway speed or his ability to make defenders miss, but he will drive his legs and rush the pile forward. He’d be great short yardage back who can help the Bucs punch the ball into the end zone.