Never too early to talk Bucs, mock drafts ...
Before free agency comes and goes, before the NFL combine for that matter, it's early to have any real sense of authority in a mock draft -- even if you can rank a team's needs, you don't know which will be filled in free agency, let alone how a team ranks its options at each position.
Mock drafts are, however, a great conversation piece to help get year-round football fans from February to May -- at this point, it's just identifying options and storylines that will play out over the next three months. With that in mind, the early mock drafts you're seeing on major sports sites are all over the map for the Bucs with the No. 7 pick -- if there's a player you want the Bucs to take, with rare exceptions, someone has a scenario where that play is available at No. 7, and might even be passed over there.
Here's a rundown of the major mocks out there and who they have the Bucs taking. Again, this is something we'll be visiting on here all the way to May, but it's nice to get the conversation started and see how opinions form and shift over time. ...
ESPN: The network's dueling draft experts now have their second mock drafts out -- they're part of the premium Insider content, so the links won't help you unless you subscribe, but we can offer a few morsels. Mel Kiper has the Bucs taking Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack at 7 (UCF QB Blake Bortles is available, but goes 8th to Minnesota), while Todd McShay has the Bucs taking Mack, with Clemson WR Sammy Watkins falling clear to No. 9.
NFL.com: The site smartly has one page with all their mocks in one easy chart -- Daniel Jeremiah and Charles Davis have UCLA LB Anthony Barr going to the Bucs, while Bucky Brooks picks Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews and Matt Smith has Tampa Bay taking Watkins.
SI.com: There's a handful of mock drafts here, and Peter King won't chime in until closer to the draft. Doug Farrar has the Bucs taking Mack, again with Bortles falling to the Vikings; Chris Burke put one up a month ago with Barr going to the Bucs and Watkins at 10, but it still had Derek Carr going 8th as well.
Yahoo.com: New one from Eric Edholm has Auburn tackle Greg Robinson sticking around for the Bucs to take at 7 -- others have him as high as No. 2 overall.
USAtoday.com: Nate Evans goes with Mack to the Bucs, and a newly released three-for-one mock from the "Sports on Earth" gang has a few possibilities that may excite Bucs fans: Mike Tanier has Matthews falling to No. 7, and Russ Lande has ... (gasp) South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney falling clear to No. 7. Dan Pompei likes Barr.
I'm sure there are other good ones I've forgotten to link to, but it's a starting point for your pre-pre-draft perusing ... I'd like to start getting more of a conversation going in our comments here, and this seems like good fodder for that.