The biggest pre draft bowl game is taking place next week in the Senior Bowl. This is an event that has included first overall picks and future hall of fame stars. All eyes will be on Mobile Alabama for this event next week.
However, this won’t be the only big event of the week. The East West Shrine Game will be this week on February 3rd and the practices are already underway. This is another opportunity for scouts to get an up close look at prospects and find those under the radar guys who can be a steal in the upcoming draft.
For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s a bit of uncertainty with big pending free agents and possible retirements. Finding an impact player on day three of the draft would go a long way in reloading and making another Super Bowl push next season. Here are three guys who I think the Bucs could be looking at.
If you like big strong defensive tackles, then Tayland Humphrey is the guy for you. Listed at 6’4 and 350 lbs, the Louisiana big man controls the point of attack. As you would expect with a man of his size, Humphrey isn’t a dynamic athlete. However, he is fluid enough to move down the line and possesses reasonable quickness for his size.
Humphrey could be a good backup to Vita Vea. He brings the same physical profile and that’s something that’s rare even at the NFL level. I’m not sure he’s your Ndamukong Suh replacement, but he can fill the role of Steve McLendon if he retires this spring.
With Jordan Whitehead as a pending free agent, the Bucs may have a need for a physical strong safety. Enter Miami Hurricanes very own Bubba Bolden. At 6’3 and 205 lbs, Bolden has the frame to be a true enforcer in the NFL. He’s at his best coming forward and attacking what’s in front of him. If you’re looking for an infusion of toughness, physicality and grit then Bolden is your man.
Bolden missed the back end of the season with a shoulder injury. When he went on the shelf he was leading the team in tackles. Between this and some limitations in coverage, Bolden is projected to be a day three pick. If the Bucs can pick him up at that point in the draft he would be a great value. I would project a similar career arc to Whitehead where he is brought along slowly as a rookie before getting meaningful playing time.
There are some guys whose physical gifts just jump off the screen. Ronnie Rivers is not one of those guys. Instead, he’s just a guy who does everything well. Rivers is a well rounded jack of all trades who you can feel comfortable with as a runner or in the passing game.
At just 5’7, Rivers has a compact build and good quickness. He’s Fresno State’s career leader in touchdowns, 40 on the ground and 11 through the air. Despite the lack of any one dominant skill set, Rivers does everything well and is a guy you always want on your team.