Sunday, May 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Draft preview: Wide receivers

The situation

The Bucs are committed to surrounding quarterback Josh Freeman, top, with more weapons, and they proved it by signing Chargers free agent Vincent Jackson, bottom, to a five-year, $55.55 million contract. Jackson is a No. 1 wideout who can get vertical and force the defense to rotate in his direction, opening up other areas of the passing game. There's a pretty good chance that the best receiver in the draft, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, could be available with the No. 5 overall pick. The Vikings at No. 3 and the Browns at No. 4 will have to consider him. After signing Jackson, it seems less likely the Bucs will address wide receiver in the first round. Coach Greg Schiano has a run-first philosophy and adding Blackmon would make either him or Mike Williams the No. 3 receiver.

What they're looking for

Since we're combining the receivers and tight ends for this exercise, let's consider the latter position. Tight end Kellen Winslow will be 29 in July but has been very consistent, averaging 72 catches for 792 yards in three seasons in Tampa Bay. Luke Stocker, a fourth-round pick from Tennessee, struggled with injuries as a rookie and caught only 12 passes. Chase Coffman, Colin Franklin and Zack Pianalto are largely unproven. It's a deep draft for wide receivers, but quality tight ends are a little harder to find. In fact, only Stanford's Coby Fleener is expected to crack the first round.

Fitting the bill

Schiano has an eye out for Mohamed Sanu, his former Rutgers receiver who could add to the mix of young talent at that position for the Bucs. Schiano raved about Sanu's work ethic and he could be had in the later rounds. Despite serious off-field baggage, Georgia's Orson Charles, from Plant High, would have to be a candidate for a homecoming of sorts.

The top 10

1. Justin Blackmon, WR, 6-1, 207, Oklahoma StateBlackmon would be an even cleaner pick if he was a burner, but his ability to make yards after the catch is his strong suit.
2. Michael Floyd, WR, 6-3, 220, Notre DameSome off-field troubles to sort through but Floyd makes some acrobatic receptions.
3. Kendall Wright, WR, 5-10, 196, BaylorSet school records with 108 receptions for 1,663 yards and 14 receiving TDs as the favorite target for Robert Griffin III. Lost luster with a combine 40-yard dash time of 4.61 seconds.
4. Stephen Hill, WR, 6-4, 215, Georgia TechTremendous physically gifted with size in the Calvin Johnson mold. But Hill was cursed to play in the Yellow Jackets' option attack.
5. Brian Quick, WR, 6-3, 220, Appalachian St.Impressed at the Senior Bowl as favorite target for Boise State's Kellen Moore. Good top end speed but level of competition is a concern.
6. Coby Fleener, TE, 6-6, 247, StanfordBest athlete among tight ends, he can use his speed to blow the top off the defense. A good route runner but needs to improve upper-body strength.
7. Dwayne Allen, TE, 6-3, 255, ClemsonAllen might be a throwback as a tight end as a blocker. He still caught 50 passes last season, but is used to doing the dirty work in the run game.
8. Orson Charles, TE, 6-2, 251, GeorgiaFormer Plant High star knocked over Florida's crystal national championship trophy during a recruiting visit. Caught 94 passes for 1,370 yards and 13 touchdowns in three seasons.
9. Mohamed Sanu, WR, 6-2, 211, RutgersOne of Schiano's favorite players who knows how to get open. Has a great work ethic but could struggle to get separation.
10. Rueben Randle, WR, 6-3, 210, LSURan a 4.42 40-yard dash and has a lot of measurables. But Randall did not have great production playing with quarterbacks who were limited in the passing game.

Best guess

Because the Bucs lack depth at tight end, look for them to address that in the middle to late rounds. Sanu might bring a comfort level for Schiano as someone he has background with as a leader.

Rick Stroud, Times staff writer

ROUND 1:ROUNDS 2-3ROUNDS 4-7
8 p.m. Thursday, ESPN, NFL Network. Bucs pick: No. 5 overall7 p.m. Friday, ESPN, NFL Network Bucs: Round 2, 4/36th overall; Round 3, 5/68Noon Saturday, ESPN, NFL Network Bucs: Round 5, 5/140; Round 6, 4/174; Round 7, 5/212




2012

NFL DRAFT

   
Comments
O-line coach ‘ecstatic’ about Bucs drafting Vita Vea

O-line coach ‘ecstatic’ about Bucs drafting Vita Vea

Add another to the long list of Bucs players and coaches excited about first-round pick Vita Vea: offensive line coach George Warhop.Warhop said the 347-pound defensive tackle from Washington kept showing up as he looked at tape on Pac-12 offensive l...
Published: 05/19/18
Pillow talk: O-line coach says Bucs need tougher approach to run the ball

Pillow talk: O-line coach says Bucs need tougher approach to run the ball

TAMPA — At least he stopped short of calling them soft. That's not a word you ever want to use when describing an NFL player, much less the entire offensive line. That would be a tough pillow to swallow.But it's clear George Warhop didn't like ...
Published: 05/19/18
Pop Warner to honor Bucs’ Gerald McCoy as ‘Inspiration to Youth’

Pop Warner to honor Bucs’ Gerald McCoy as ‘Inspiration to Youth’

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will be honored at Pop Warner's annual "All-American Scholars Banquet" in Orlando with the national sports organization's "Inspiration to Youth" award.McCoy, who has been to six straight Pro Bowls, is the first-ever...
Published: 05/18/18
Land O’Lakes grad Shaheed Salmon gets contract with Bucs

Land O’Lakes grad Shaheed Salmon gets contract with Bucs

Most appropriately named player on the Bucs roster? Undrafted rookie Shaheed Salmon, a linebacker from Land O'Lakes who has quickly shown the ability to fight against the current and get to where he wants to go.Salmon, 22, wasn't drafted and didn't h...
Published: 05/18/18
Mike Evans, Jameis Winston among top 25 players under 25, Pro Football Focus says

Mike Evans, Jameis Winston among top 25 players under 25, Pro Football Focus says

Mike Evans and Jameis Winston are two of the 25 best young players in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.In the website's Top 25 Under 25 list, Evans ranks 11th and Winston ranks 20th. Evans is the highest-ranked receiver, and Winston is the hi...
Published: 05/18/18
More praise for Bucs WR Chris Godwin: ‘I see him as a starter’

More praise for Bucs WR Chris Godwin: ‘I see him as a starter’

Perhaps no Bucs player is drawing more consistent praise from coaches than second-year receiver Chris Godwin, who emerged in the second half last year and got his first career touchdown on the Bucs' final pass of the year to beat the Saints in the se...
Published: 05/17/18
George Warhop on Donovan Smith: ‘You have something here that’s special’

George Warhop on Donovan Smith: ‘You have something here that’s special’

A year ago, Bucs offensive line coach George Warhop was unwavering in his support for left tackle Donovan Smith, and on Thursday, he again made it clear he considers the fourth-year player among the best at his position."I don't think I'd take anybod...
Published: 05/17/18
Bucs OC Todd Monken to Jameis Winston: ‘Let’s not try so hard’

Bucs OC Todd Monken to Jameis Winston: ‘Let’s not try so hard’

Jameis Winston doesn't lack for leadership qualities, but sometimes he can go over the top. Whether it's eating Ws before games, picking fights with opposing defensive backs or playing hurt, the Bucs quarterback can put added pressure on himself.Bucs...
Published: 05/17/18
Jameis Winston: Most underrated quarterback of 2017?

Jameis Winston: Most underrated quarterback of 2017?

To the casual observer, Jameis Winston had a disappointing 2017 season. He missed three games because of a shoulder injury, and in the games he did play in, the Buccaneers had a 3-10 record.Did Winston regress? No. In fact, he might have been th...
Published: 05/17/18
Vernon Hargreaves has the starting right cornerback job in the Bucs base defense. For now.

Vernon Hargreaves has the starting right cornerback job in the Bucs base defense. For now.

It's Vernon Hargreaves' job to lose. He will begin the off-season as the Bucs starting right cornerback and move to the slot when the team goes to five defensive backs in their nickel package."We told everybody that we want everybody to come in with ...
Published: 05/17/18