The NFL combine is over and we are quickly moving towards the NFL draft. By this point in the process, we know a lot of the big names tied to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with their first round pick. Guys like Broderick Jones, Nolan Smith, and Christian Gonzales are some of the big names who could be in play at pick 19.
However, there’s a chance all of those guys are off the board. The Bucs could be forced to look at a secondary tier of players with their top pick. They could also be thinking outside the box and pick a name that isn’t really on the radar yet.
Keeping in mind that the Buccaneers prioritize elite athletes and they have met with their top draft pick for five straight years, I compiled a list of potential dark horse prospects who the team could draft. Be aware of these five names come draft day.
Cam Smith, Cornerback, South Carolina
The Bucs had a formal interview with Smith at the combine. He also had a chance to show off his athletic ability with an impressive day of testing. In terms of prototype, Smith fits the criteria of what the Bucs have typically drafted with their top pick.
Smith could also fill one of the Bucs biggest needs. With Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting about to hit free agency, the Buccaneers need a cornerback. Smith looks ready to step in right away as the number two corner with Carlton Davis
Will McDonald, EDGE, Iowa State
Of all the players on this list, McDonald is my favorite. He has a relentless motor and has shown the ability to use multiple moves as a pass rusher. In fact, he really might be the second best edge rusher in the draft behind Will Anderson.
McDonald didn’t do enough drills to really have a complete combine score. It’s unclear if this will take him out of the running for the Buccaneers, especially considering that the drills he did do he tested very well in, but we know that these workouts are important to Jason Licht.
The team did have a formal interview with him at the combine, but time will tell how interested the Bucs are.
Darnell Wright, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
With Donovan Smith now cut, the Bucs are going to need a new left tackle. Should the team decide to flip Tristian Wirfs from the right side to the left then his position will need to be filled. Enter Darnell Wright.
Wright is as big and athletic as you could hope for at 6’5 and 330+ lbs. He moves very well and would be a good fit in the wide zone system that the team is moving towards. He might not be the biggest name in the draft, but he very well could be in play in the middle of the first round.
Derek Hall, EDGE, Auburn
The Buccaneers spoke to several of the top pass rushers at the combine. One of those was Auburn big man Derek Hall. He was a top performer in the workouts and fits what the Bucs might be looking for.
Hall is a big physical pass rusher. He comes off as a good leader and someone with strong intangibles. He could be a part of the Bucs next wave of foundation player that they can build on moving forward.
Emmanuel Forbes, Cornerback, Mississippi State
There is a lot to like about Forbes. He has great ball skills and tested extremely well at the NFL combine. In terms of fit for what the Bucs need and look for this would be a great fit.
He might be considered a leading candidate for the Buccaneers at pick 19 if it weren’t for one little thing. Forbes weighed in extremely small at the combine. He came in at 166 lbs to be exact.
With such a thin build it leads to a lot of questions. Can he stay healthy in a bigger, stronger league? How much can he bring as a tackler when most receivers will have 25 lbs on him?
As much as I like him as a cover corner and think he would work in this defense, these concerns make him a dark horse candidate at best.