With the 2019 NFL Combine in the books the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be looking at some key players for their draft board. A few positions under the scope should be Guard and Tackle. Let’s take a look at the top rated players and an under the radar guy who dominated the Combine.
Alabama Offensive Left Tackle, Jonah Williams
If we are going to start a list of players worth noting, it would make sense to start with a National Champion. Could the Tampa Bay Buccaneers target Jonah Williams who spent his career at the NCAA juggernaut, Alabama Crimson Tide? Williams, a Five-Star recruit for the Tide played every game possible once Cam Robinson left for the NFL. Touted as a “rich in technique” player by NFL scouts, Williams appears to be the top rated tackle.
Initial reactions are naturally going to come from the big stage and that’s where we’ll start. Jonah Williams and the Tide faced off against the Clemson Tigers and, more specifically for Williams, Edge Rusher Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell just so happens to be in the discussion for a 2019 top ten draft pick selection as well. By all accounts, this was exactly what you’d expect from the top prospects in this game. Battles were back and forth. Some won by Williams, but mostly this night belonged to Ferrell, who caught Williams on his heels on more than a few snaps. Not to discount Williams’ career based on one game, but these matchups are great ways of measuring the NFL caliber in prospects.
With the 5th overall pick, this choice definitely is within reach for the Bucs if they feel inclined to bolster the trench.
Florida Right Tackle, Jawaan Taylor
How about a local prospect for the table? Most Buccaneers fans might be more familiar with Florida Tackle Jawaan Taylor than probably any other Lineman in this draft. For Taylor, his familiarity with Florida goes all the way back. Coming out of Cocoa, Florida, Taylor won’t have to do much acclimation to the heat and humidity down here. Though he didn’t test much during the Combine due to injury, the film on this kid is promising. Starting every game as a Sophomore at Right Tackle. Following it up with 9 more, plus 2 games at Left Tackle, Taylor can play either side.
The one great thing we get from the Combine is the measurable stats. Interviews may give you access to what’s between the ears but one story may be left off the profiles for Taylor that stood out for me. Coming in to college, Taylor was asked to lose some weight in order to get more fluid. As a once 20 year old male, I can tell you that losing weight at that age, especially when playing football, is no easy feat. Taylor took the challenge head on and impressively lost almost forty pounds in the process. Accomplishing such an grueling task on the body, specifically for an Offensive Lineman should be applauded.
North Carolina State Center, Garrett Bradbury
I know we are skipping over some popular names like Cody Ford, Greg Little and even Dalton Risner. They all deserve proper respect and will likely get taken early enough to affirm their legitimacy. However, there was one player who stood out in the Combine and we need to acknowledge him. Garrett Bradbury came to N.C. Sate as a Tight End prospect. Not surprisingly, his athleticism that Tight Ends need to produce showed up on the field this week. Out of every single event for Offensive Linemen, Bradbury was in the top ten in each category. Physically gifted and nailing every interview, Bradbury will not stay in the draft pool for very long.
After a quick review of each player, let’s take a look at their totals for the week:
Taylor’s injury makes this difficult to compare but his tape from Florida should suffice. Prototypical in size for Right Tackle with decent reach.
The knock on Williams is likely to be the same as with Bradbury. Both deemed as slightly undersized or lacking strength to hold up at the next level. The athleticism and know-how of the positions they play would never be in question which is a coaches dream.
If you have been watching the news lately, a few Buccaneers just got re-signed. Left Tackle Donovan Smith and Right Tackle Demar Dotson will both be Buccaneers in 2019. So how does this effect the priority of the Bucs and the aforementioned Linemen?
Multiple scouts, including PFF’s Greg Gabriel believe that Jonah Williams is better suited for Guard at the next level anyways. A position that happens to be a weak spot up front. With Ali Marpet locked in at Left Guard, the Buccaneers need to upgrade from Kappa and Benenoch.
Speaking of changing positions, Bradbury would have a tough time to unseat Jensen at this point but could definitely fill in as a Guard while backing up Jensen. Such versatility is a value in and of itself. Not to mention that the Buccaneers likely wouldn’t have to spend a day one draft choice on him.
Lastly, Jawaan Taylor is a Tackle and only that. Demar Dotson’s option was picked up for one season and I don’t think his contract makes it beyond 2019.
Post Combine has shined a light on this position for the Buccaneers. Based on the fact that both Dotson and Smith are returning, these three players are not likely to be drafted early by Tampa Bay. However, in a trade down scenario, the value may be too good to pass up. A good rule of thumb when approaching making a pick is addressing value in the draft and trading for need later. Best pick available (BPA) never fails to allow the team to house the best talent available. A process that could help the Buccaneers acquire one of, if not more than a few Linemen from this class. Possibly a name or two we just covered.