NFL Draft: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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TAMPA, Fla. -- A wrap-up of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' draft. Click here for a full list of Buccaneers draftees.

[+] EnlargeMike Evans
Thomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesMike Evans can begin his career as Tampa Bay's
No. 2 receiver opposite Vincent Jackson.
Best move: There was a lot of smoke about the Buccaneers possibly drafting quarterback Johnny Manziel. But Tampa Bay’s top target all along was wide receiver Mike Evans. The Bucs got him with the seventh overall pick. Evans projects as an immediate starter opposite Vincent Jackson. At 6-foot-4, Evans has a frame similar to Jackson, and this duo is going to cause matchup problems for opposing defenses. Evans can begin his career as the No. 2 receiver, but Jackson already is in his 30s. It might not be long before Evans takes over as the No. 1 receiver. By resisting the urge to take Manziel, the Bucs made it very clear they view Josh McCown as their short-term starter and Mike Glennon as their quarterback of the future. Evans’ arrival makes both McCown and Glennon better.

Riskiest move: The Bucs began the draft without a clear-cut starter at right guard. They still don’t have one. They did take guard Kadeem Edwards out of Tennessee State and Purdue's Kevin Pamphile, who projects as a tackle, in the fifth round. But it’s a lot to expect a fifth-round pick to be an immediate starter. The Bucs might have to keep an eye on the free-agent market to get their starting right guard. There also are health concerns with left guard Carl Nicks, so Tampa Bay doesn't have a lot of depth at guard.

Most surprising move: The selection of running back Charles Sims in the third round. The team already had a deep stable of running backs with Doug Martin, Mike James, Bobby Rainey and Jeff Demps. It wasn’t really necessary to add another back to the mix. But Sims isn’t a typical back. He was used extensively as a receiver out of the backfield in college, and it’s likely the Bucs want to take advantage of those skills. We don’t know what coordinator Jeff Tedford’s offense will look like just yet. But, with the addition of Sims, it probably is fair to say the Bucs want to throw some passes to a running back.

File it away: You generally don’t expect a sixth-round pick to get playing time early, but Wyoming wide receiver Robert Herron has a shot. The Bucs have an opening for a slot receiver, and Herron has speed to spare. He’ll get a chance to compete for the slot receiver spot. Herron also has return skills and could factor in on special teams.
Austin Seferian-JenkinsOtto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesThe Bucs began their Day 2 of the draft by taking Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith has repeatedly talked about how his year off from coaching gave him new perspective. Apparently, that's no exaggeration.

Back in his days with the Chicago Bears, Smith was known as a coach who was focused almost solely on defense, often to the detriment of his offense and the bottom line. But Smith's Tampa Bay tenure is off to an offensive start.

A day after taking wide receiver Mike Evans with a first-round pick, the Bucs selected University of Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round (38th overall). They followed that up by taking West Virginia running back Charles Sims in the third round (69th overall).

[+] EnlargeCharles Sims
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsThe Bucs took West Virginia running back Charles Sims in the third round.
It might appear as if offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford was calling the shots in the draft room, but Smith has final say over personnel matters and he has signed off on three offensive players so far.

"We had a plan and that was to get great football players," general manager Jason Licht said. "It wasn't necessarily we're just going to address the offense, but it just so happened the way it fell, I've always talked about having the best player available versus need and where they converge."

They converged on offense, largely because that side of the ball was a weakness for the Bucs last season. That helped cost coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik their jobs and brought Smith and Licht to town.

The selection of Evans was no surprise at all. The addition of Seferian-Jenkins addressed a very underrated need. The Bucs had a stockpile of tight ends already, but none of them stood out. Seferian-Jenkins will likely get a chance to start right away.

"We didn't go into the draft thinking we had to get a tight end," Licht said. "But when a guy is sticking out like a sore thumb, you pounce."

Seferian-Jenkins had 36 catches for 450 yards and eight touchdowns in his final season of college. He also played basketball early in his career and he said he can give the Bucs a complete tight end.

"I'm going to bring explosiveness," Seferian-Jenkins said. "I'm going to bring playmaking ability. I'm going to bring blocking. I'm going to bring an all-around tight end that can play on all three downs and a guy that's going to work hard and chase Super Bowls and try to win as many games as possible for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization."

The selection of Sims, who excelled as a receiver out of the backfield, was more of a surprise because the Bucs already had Doug Martin, Mike James, Bobby Rainey and Jeff Demps on the roster.

"It may seem to the outside that running back was a pretty strong position, and we felt that way, but this one kind of stood out like the tight end did," Licht said. "We have a chance to get a back that has a versatile skill set that can score points for us, and we didn't want to turn it down."

Analyzing McShay mock: Buccaneers 

April, 24, 2014
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Todd McShay's latest mock draft is out and it's a little different than usual.

In this one, McShay makes the picks he would make and isn't predicting what teams will do. But McShay's pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 7 overall isn't a major surprise.

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Buccaneers

March, 13, 2014
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Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft is out and he has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

I like the pick and I think the chances of it happening are better than they were a few days ago. The Bucs added defensive end Michael Johnson and cornerback Alterraun Verner in free agency, so they have narrowed their needs. I still think the Bucs might consider an offensive lineman (Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews) with the No. 7 overall pick.

But Watkins, who might be the most dynamic offensive player in the draft, is starting to make more and more sense to me. The Bucs could use another playmaker on offense. They have Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams as their starting receivers. Williams might be in some hot water with the coaching staff and front office because of some off-field trouble.

Even if Williams is going to stick around, I still think Watkins makes sense. The Bucs have very little depth after Jackson and Williams. In the modern game, a third receiver can play as much as a starter.

The Bucs have to get deeper and better at receiver, and Watkins would bring more speed to a passing game that needs some spicing up.

Kiper's Mock 3.0: Buccaneers

March, 13, 2014
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After a 4-12 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the seventh overall pick in the draft.

It's hard to predict what the new regime of general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith will do with that pick. But the Bucs definitely have options as they start a new era.

Even after signing veteran quarterback Josh McCown, Smith said it remains possible the Bucs could use their first-round pick on the position. That could come into play if Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr remain on the board when the Bucs pick.

If the Bucs don't go with a quarterback, there are other options on offense. Tampa Bay is overhauling its offensive line and tackles Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson could be options. If the Bucs really want to spice up their offense, wide receiver Sammy Watkins could be a possibility.

But Smith is a defensive coach and he might go with what he knows best. Outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr have been tied to the Bucs in some mock drafts.

Check out ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's latest mock draft to see which players he thinks Buccaneers should target with their first pick.

McShay Mock 3.0: Bucs 

March, 6, 2014
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Todd McShay's third NFL mock draft for 2014 is out on ESPN Insider today. McShay projected Khalil Mack (whose stock continues to rise) to the Bucs in his second mock draft. He would be an excellent every-down addition to the Bucs defense in a similar mold to how the Broncos use Von Miller and would address a major need. Edge pass-rush is a probably the Buccaneers biggest area of weakness right now.

Even if Tampa Bay upgrades at defensive end in free agency, Mack should still be strongly considered with the No. 7 pick. No one would argue Mack in this spot, but the Bucs could really use quite a few things, including a dynamic wide receiver like Watkins, one of the top three offensive tackles or even a quarterback if one falls.

Personally, I would stick with Mike Glennon, but the new Tampa Bay regime inherited Glennon and might disagree. Tampa Bay is sitting in a great spot to land a very strong prospect at a need area and also should be plenty busy in free agency.

Whom does McShay have the Buccaneers drafting at No. 7? Let's take a look:

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Kiper-McShay Mocks 2.0: Buccaneers 

February, 6, 2014
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In their first mock drafts, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper both projected defensive players, but the same position, for the Buccaneers.

Todd McShay's Mock 1.0: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Mel Kiper's Mock 1.0: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo


Has there been a change for their second mocks? Here's the latest projection from each of our experts.

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Kiper Mock Draft 1.0: Buccaneers 

January, 15, 2014
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the seventh pick in the draft after a 4-12 season that exposed many holes. The new regime could go in several directions with its pick.

Much depends on what the new coaching staff and front office decide on quarterback Mike Glennon. If the consensus is that Glennon has a chance to be a solid starter, that will free up the team to go in several different directions. But, if the decision is that Glennon isn’t the long-term answer, the team could use the first pick on a quarterback.

The pass rush also is an area of need. The Bucs generated a good pass rush from defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and the linebackers last season, but there was little production from the defensive ends. At No. 7, the Bucs could be in prime position to take a defensive end.

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Who will be No. 1 pick in 2014? 

December, 4, 2013
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Teddy BridgewaterAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesWith Marcus Mariota returning to school, Teddy Bridgewater is now the top QB prospect for 2014.
The number of potential No. 1 overall picks for the 2014 NFL draft shrunk by one Tuesday afternoon, with the announcement that Marcus Mariota will be returning to Oregon for his redshirt junior season.

With Mariota no longer in the equation, who will go No. 1? Let's answer that question by looking at the most logical picks for the six likeliest teams to land the top pick in the 2014 draft.

One note before we get started: It is still very early in the draft process, and I'm just scratching the surface with my evaluations at this point, especially when it comes to the quarterbacks. I still have nearly all of the 2013 season tape to study, in addition to background checks, measureables, pressure drops tests, etc. But what follows is a look based on what we know right now.

We've ordered the teams below based on which are likeliest to land the No. 1 pick, according to Football Outsiders' projections.

1. Houston Texans
Needs: QB, OT
Likeliest No. 1 pick: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Case Keenum is not the long-term answer at quarterback for the Texans. I think it would have been easier for Houston to take Mariota as its QB of the future, given his elite potential, especially since there are some long-term durability concerns with Bridgewater because of his frame. So there's a chance they would instead choose to address their offensive line and take Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews at No. 1.

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