With the ninth overall pick in the NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select someone on defense.
Just who exactly they’ll take depends on which mock draft you read, but the consensus among several that we’ve browsed suggests the Bucs will address their need for a young shutdown corner or dynamic pass rusher when their time to pick comes tonight sometime after 10:15.
While The Tampa Tribune/TBO.com’s Ira Kaufman says the Bucs says the Bucs will take Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner because “Pass rushers are at a premium in the NFC South,” there was a wide disparity of players who registered among 10 of the more prominent mock drafts around. Yet only one predicts the Bucs will opt for help on offense.
Sampling of mock drafts:
♦ Charles Davis, NFL.com: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida. Hargreaves, the former Wharton High School star, is a popular choice to continue his playing career in Tampa. Davis suggests a pass rusher would be a better pick, but Hargreaves will be “the top CB left on the board.”
♦ Mike Mayock, NFL.com: Leonard Floyd, OLB Georgia. Mayock says the Bucs will pass on Hargreaves to take Floyd, who Mayock calls “one of the most polarizing players in this draft” but “has a chance to be special.”
♦ Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Hargreaves. King points to the fact Hargreaves can receive significant playing time from the start as a reason the Bucs will turn to him. Plus the fact the Bucs “allowed a pathetic 70 percent completion rate last season.”
♦ Jason LaCanfora, CBS Sports: Hargreaves. “They were looking at Josh Norman, right?” LaCanfora wrote about the former Panthers quarterback who signed with Washington for big bucks earlier this week.
♦ Todd McShay/Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame. Since both McShay’s and Kiper’s mock drafts are on the ESPN Insider subscription site, we opted for a combined mock draft with the two trading picks, starting with Kiper taking QB Jared Goff for the Rams. Once it got down to the Bucs, Kiper was the only one in our list to opt for offense. Said Kiper: “They started a pair of rookies on the O-line here last season, and will want real competition to protect the franchise QB.”
♦ Nate Davis, USA Today: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State. The Bucs get help from their pass rush and some relief for DT Gerald McCoy, from “an excellent technician” who “doesn’t take plays off and effectively smothers both running backs and quarterbacks.”
♦ Peter Schrager, Fox Sports: Buckner. Schrager concurs with Kaufman, calling Buckner “an ideal fit next to Gerald McCoy on that Tampa Bay defensive line.”
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Hargreaves. Miller suggests an offensive lineman may be a bigger needs, but Hargreaves “would be a dynamite player in tandem with Verner and Johnthan Banks in a remade defense.”
♦ Cris Collinsworth, Pro Football Focus: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville. Collinsworth says the Bucs will take a cue from teams that recently took smaller big quicker inside pass rushers (Geno Atkins, Aaron Donald, Malik Jackson) who can open things up for a team’s outside rushers. “Rankins has that type of elite quickness,” Collinsworth says.
♦ Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Bosa. “This just makes sense,” Prisco writes, pointing to the Bucs’ need to improve their pass rush and landing a player who “was considered a potential top-five pick.”
So of these mock drafts, Hargreaves led the way with four selections, followed by Bosa (2) and one apiece for Buckner, Floyd, Stanley and Rankins.
Who will get it right? It’s anyone’s guess at this point. Stay tuned ...