Five Potential Buccaneers Targets With The Most To Prove At The NFL Combine


Hey Buccaneers fans the NFL Combine is taking place next week. This will be a chance for prospects to show what they can do in terms of athletic testing. It’s something that players have been preparing for since the college football season ended.

This is one of the biggest events of the offseason because it’s a chance to have questions answered for teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Watching the prospects on the field tells most of the story, but there are some things in terms of physical ability that scouts want clarification on. Is this player fast enough to stretch the field, is that player strong enough to hold the point of attack, and so on.

Five Potential Buccaneers Draft Targets

For some prospects, this event is more important than it is for others. Some players have more questions floating around them that teams want answered. Here are five potential Bucs draft targets with the most to prove at the NFL Combine.

5) Quinyon Mitchell

Playing at Toledo, Mitchell hasn’t really had much opportunity to show his stuff against top competition. It’s one thing to dominate the Mid American Conference (which he has), but it’s another to lock down NFL caliber opponents. This is the question that surrounds him going into the Combine.

We got a glimpse of this at the Senior Bowl, where he was one of the best players of the week. Now Mitchell will attempt to eliminate any doubt that he is a top prospect in this draft. Testing as an elite athlete will likely solidify him as an early first round pick, but if he slides to the late first then I’d expect the Bucs to be very interested. 

4) Keon Coleman

The Buccaneers need to be thinking about the next wave of great pass catchers for their franchise. With Mike Evans as a free agent in his early 30s and Chris Godwin set to become a free agent next year, wide receiver is quietly a big need in Tampa Bay.

Coleman has great size and agility. He is a power forward type of play maker, yet also has the quickness to be a punt returner at the college level. This is a very intriguing blend that leaves just one question in terms of him being a star at the NFL level.

As with most big body wide receivers, there are questions about how fast he is. Most prospects aren’t like Mike Evans or Calvin Johnson who can stretch the field at that size. However, if Coleman can show enough speed to keep the defense honest then Coleman will likely cement himself as a first round pick and potentially a future Buccaneer.

3) Graham Barton

Barton is a name that has been commonly associated with the Bucs at pick 26. He is a left tackle that projects to the interior, which is the prototype that Jason Licht likes to target. In some ways, he makes a lot of sense.

The one thing he will have to prove is that he has all the athletic ability to warrant that type of pick. The Buccaneers only target elite athletes with their first pick and I’m not totally convinced that Barton is in that category. 

In terms of agility drills and strength/explosiveness drills Barton will have to show out. If he does then I wouldn’t be surprised if he were in the mix for the Bucs. If not, then it’s time to take him off the table.

2) Payton Wilson

While most prospects will be looking to prove themselves from an athletic testing standpoint, Wilson has a completely different type of question to answer. This will be regarding his projected long term health. As someone who has suffered multiple major injuries in his career it will be the medical checks that most people are looking at here.

As a player, Wilson might be the best linebacker in the draft. He is fast, a good tackler and fluid in coverage. In terms of play, I think most would agree that he is one of the 50 best players in the draft.

However, he could fall much further than that due to his perceived health. Regardless of his talent, if teams don’t think he can stay on the field then he won’t be drafted as high as he could be. If Wilson can have these concerns cleared then he could be in play on day two for the Bucs.

1) Austin Booker

Booker has a lot to gain, in general, at the Combine. He recorded 8.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss last season and looked the part of an NFL pass rusher. However, this was his only year of production after transferring from Minnesota.

So the question is, was he a flash in the pan or is Booker the real deal. Great athletic testing would go a long way in answering that. Elite athletes can certainly translate to the NFL from a physical standpoint and that in itself is half the battle.

Right now Booker is projected as a third round pick. However, with big testing numbers then I believe that he would be a slam dunk pick for the Bucs in the second round. This team has the need at edge rusher and if they believe that Booker has the talent then they won’t hesitate regardless of how he is perceived by others.

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