On Wednesday, March 27th, some of the top NFL brass, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, gathered in Mississippi for the Mississippi State Pro Day. At this event, some of the top draft prospects were on display. Big names such as defensive end Montez Sweat, defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, and safety Johnathan Abram had the opportunity to work out and meet with teams one last time before next months draft.
One team that was very interested in Wednesday’s events were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As a team that is looking for help along the defensive line and in the secondary, this was a great opportunity to see some of the best in the country gathered in one place. And they made no secret of the fact that they were interested in this group of prospects.
It was reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have scheduled a meeting with Sweat. Sweat has been projected as a top 20 pick in the upcoming draft after a historically great combine performance.
Sweat opened a lot of eyes at the combine. His 4.41 40 yard dash time is the fastest a defensive lineman has run in the combine’s history. He also did very well in the agility drills, which was a part of his game that some questioned coming into the event. With his elite physical tools, he could be that versatile edge rusher the Bucs are looking for.
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Pelissero also reported that the Bucs plan to meet with Abram as well. Abram has been projected as high as a late first round pick, but most commonly is expected to be selected in the middle of the second to early in the third round.
However, the most interesting prospect of the group is the one the Buccaneers didn’t meet with. Jeffery Simmons was not invited to the combine and this was due to an incident where he punched a woman in high school. Even if he had been invited, he’s recovering from an ACL injury and would have been very limited in his workouts. It goes without saying that this supreme talent comes with question marks.
Today was Simmons’ opportunity to answer some of these questions. He participated in the bench press where he put up 28 reps. More importantly, he had the chance to show teams his character through interviews and his attitude on the field.
It’s hard to project where Simmons will be drafted due to his injury and history off the field. Without these issues, he could very likely be a top ten pick, but as is he could slide to the second round. With uncertainty about Gerald McCoy’s future with the Bucs and Bruce Arians’ history of giving players a second chance, Simmons could be very much on the Bucs radar at the top of the second round.