With the NFL Combine officially in the rear view mirror, the draft is a little bit more clear. Players like Mekhi Becton and Tristan Wirfs saw their stock rise, while Derrick Brown may have some short-term regrets. In the 6th edition of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-round mock draft, we will do our best to predict what the team might do in April.
As always, you can check out the full mock draft at thedraftnetwork.com
Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
HT: 6’5″ WT: 320 lbs
With top tackles Mekhi Becton, Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills all performing well at the combine, it’s safe to say they will likely be gone before pick 14. It’s still a possibility that one will fall, but that outlook looks less likely after last weekend. Andrew Thomas didn’t have a bad combine by any means, it just didn’t have that wow factor like the other top lineman. 17 reps on the bench is highly disappointing, but these metrics should only be taken with a grain of salt. Here is what I said about Thomas in a previous article: Buccaneers 2020 3-Round Mock Draft 4.0
“Thomas is incredibly powerful in the running game, his ability to maintain his frame is already at an elite level. His quickness off the ball is trait that I think is underrated in most analyst’s assessments of Thomas. One trait I like to see in first round prospects is intelligence, and Thomas has experience in pro-style passing sets.
One of the biggest drawbacks in film evaluation is Thomas’ endurance. He can get sloppy in his technique as the game progresses. This can cause slip-ups against quicker edge rushers, but I think with good coaching, Thomas can iron out these deficiencies.”
I have been pounding the table for the Buccaneers to draft a top offensive tackle. If Thomas falls, he has to be the pick.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
HT: 5’11” WT: 219 lbs
After an insane combine workout, Jonathan Taylor proved why he is the best running back in this draft class. With a 98th percentile 40 time and a 99th percentile speed score, Taylor can absolutely change an offense day one. A few days prior, I compared him to NFL superstar Ezekiel Elite. With elite catching ability, speed and agility, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the next running back teams drool over.
Some might be thinking it would be a pipe dream to see Taylor still on the board at 45, and you might be right, but I think the slow embrace of analytics by NFL front offices will cause running backs to fall. Who knows, maybe a team has J.K. Dobbins over Taylor. The draft is so volatile that I can absolutely see a world where Taylor reaches the second round.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
HT: 6’1″ WT: 218 lbs
In the third round, I elected to draft quarterback Jalen Hurts. I don’t care how you spin it, this team needs to draft a quarterback at some point in this draft. Whether you re-sign Jameis Winston or roll with a veteran, you need a backup plan in place.
But please don’t twist it. This pick is not a slight on Winston, it’s just a fail safe IF the current plan fails.
With that being said, I’m not sure if Bruce Arians will see Hurts as a better fit in his offense over a player like Jacob Eason. His naturally strong arm makes projects him into a vertical style offense, but in my opinion, Hurts is the better athlete and quarterback.
His mobility allows him to improvise like a Russell Wilson, and his speed is matched only by Lamar Jackson. He has the power to push the ball downfield, and while it tends to sail, it can still work in the current system. Will Bruce Arians have to adapt to compliment Hurts’ mobility? Yes, but adapting your scheme to player strengths is what top coaches do best.