The NFL Draft, to me, is like Christmas.
That’s a heck of a way to start off a feature column, I dig, but it’s the truth.
What I’m going to be doing over the next several months up until Draft Day is looking at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and covering their position of need, starting from things that probably will not address, or that aren’t a “top priority”, and I will end with focusing on several key positions that will address early and often.
Knowing how the Bucs are setup, I’ll start with a position in this first week that certainly isn’t something they’ll take a hard look at, but if they do, it’ll be addressed in later rounds, or perhaps as they look at undrafted rookies.
I’ll briefly touch on rounds that the position can be addressed in, as well as briefly detailing each of the players mentioned, so with that being said, we’ll start DRAFTING THE BUCS!
This shouldn’t come as any sort of a shocker, as the Bucs seem very content, for the time being at least, with Jameis Winston, as well as with veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Veterans come and go, but Fitz stepped in and delivered a satisfactory performance during a season marred with injury and ripe with adversity.
The Bucs will look to turn it around this year, but they’ll look to this position VERY late, if at all.
Here are some names to key an an eye on, view footage of, and due your due diligence with, to see if you agree that they’ll be a fit as a potential third string option, or what we refer to as a “practice squad guy”.
Mike White (QB, Western Kentucky, 6’4, 225 lbs.)
White started his collegiate career at South Florida, which should make Tampa fans happy, if at the very least, he began his college career down the street. He transferred to Western Kentucky and began the 2016 season, having to sit out the 2015 season due to the transfer rule.
His 2017 season saw him put up 4177 yards on 368/560 passes with 26 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
Scouts have him pegged anymore between a Day 2 and a Day 3 guy. A Day 3 guy seems logical given the depth of the QB class this year.
He’s raw, and he played in a smaller program, but if you look to some of the undrafted QB’s of recent years, they have a chance to show up in the pre-season, earning them either a practice squad opportunity or a backup role. White is currently living and training in Florida as he readies for the next step in his career.
Quinton Flowers (QB, South Florida, 5’10, 210 lbs.)
One of the biggest knocks on Flowers is his size, but he has some great athleticism. He is pegged as a late 6th rounders and some scouts have him going undrafted. This would be another case where the Bucs take a local guy and that is always good as it relates to fan support, at least during the pre-season.
In 2017, Flowers completed 53% of his passes for 2911 yards with 25 touchdowns to 6 interceptions.
That’s impressive enough, but add to that the fact that he also ran for 1078 yards and 11 touchdowns at 5.5 yards per carry and you have the potential for some unique offensive plays if they opt to get creative and go that route.
Flowers has an amazing backstory and was named the AAC player of the year during his 2016 season. He is certainly worth a hard look and can be a steal with a late round pick if teams want to “kick the tires” as the old saying goes.
Of the quarterbacks I’ll be covering in this premiere article, Flowers is certainly the name worthy of taking a hard look at. There have been teams in past years that have gambled on Day 3 or undrafted guys and they’ve hit pay dirt.
J.T. Barrett (QB, Ohio State, 6’2, 220 lbs.)
I can hear the gritting of teeth even before we get into this. Barrett is a VERY polarizing prospect. He has his supporters and detractors alike and there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground as it relates to how he’ll translate to the NFL.
Scouts and fans alike have him pegged as a third string quarterback at best, but he has something incredibly unique at his disposal, and IF he’s brought in, it has to be the predominant focus for why a team, specifically a team like the Bucs, would take a look at him.
Dude can run, straight up. His arm strength leaves a lot to be desired and he doesn’t have that downfield accuracy that makes coaches and GM’s salivate, but if you bring him in for a sub-package or let him come in because of a dire need, if you pair him with a solid workhorse or bellcow running back, you can achieve some success in the latter part of a game.
Barrett is pegged as a seventh round pick and many expect him to go undrafted. He completed 65% of his passes in 2017 for 3053 yards with 35 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also racked up 12 rushing touchdowns off 798 yards on 168 attempts, averaging 4.8 a carry. You see those numbers and scratch your head, thinking wait a second, those are pretty solid numbers, all things considered.
We are talking about Ohio State, and he has a plethora of talent surrounding him, but Barrett, despite overcoming a knee injury that has hurt his prospects and concerns over several off field issues, has the chance to make waves if a team rolls the dice and gambles on him to see if things will work out for both parties.
As I stated, Flowers makes A LOT of sense in a later round projection, especially if you add the “feel good” story of him being a USF alumni, but Barrett in the Bucs scheme, even as a practice squad guy, has a chance to at least get a fair shake.
As we get into the true crucial and necessary needs in the coming weeks and months, we are going to really delve into the holes on both sides of the ball and the belief that building through the draft can lead to great success.
If you look at the Bucs over the past few years, they have whiffed on some talent, but they have drafted guys in the later rounds that have become day one starters and dominant players in a division that is littered with playoff contenders each and every year.
We’ll come back in our next feature with another position that doesn’t truly have a deep class this year and one that isn’t a position of focus for the Buccaneers, as they are stacked with potential future pro-bowlers, the linebacker class.
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