Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL draft: Linebackers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Linebackers

Draft facts

When: Thursday (Round 1), 8 p.m., ESPN, NFL Network; Friday (Rounds 2-3), 6:30 p.m., ESPN, ESPN2, NFL Network; Saturday (Rounds 4-7), noon, ESPN, NFL Network

Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York

Bucs picks (round/overall): 1/7, 2/38, 3/69, 5/143, 6/185, 7/221

Bucs watch party: Thursday, Raymond James Stadium. Gates C & D open 6 p.m.

First-round draft order: 1. Texans, 2. Rams (from Redskins), 3. Jaguars, 4. Browns, 5. Raiders, 6. Falcons, 7. Bucs, 8. Vikings, 9. Bills, 10. Lions, 11. Titans, 12. Giants, 13. Rams, 14, Bears, 15. Steelers, 16. Cowboys, 17. Ravens, 18. Jets, 19. Dolphins, 20. Cardinals, 21. Packers, 22. Eagles, 23. Chiefs, 24. Bengals, 25. Chargers, 26. Browns (from Colts), 27. Saints, 28. Panthers, 29. Patriots, 30. 49ers, 31. Broncos, 32. Seahawks

Who the Bucs have

Lavonte David, WLB (6-1, 233): Did everything as sophomore in breakout 2013 season: 145 tackles, seven sacks, five INTs on the way to All-Pro honors.

Mason Foster, MLB (6-2, 242): Two pick-sixes among his big plays last season. Will make defensive calls in new scheme, as he did as rookie in 2011.

Jonathan Casillas, SLB (6-1, 227): Veteran leader of linebacker group re-signed as free agent, will battle Dane Fletcher for SLB nod, keeps busy on special teams.

Dane Fletcher, LB (6-2, 245): Free agent from Patriots will be special-teams leader while battling for playing time at MLB and SLB.

Top five draft prospects

Khalil Mack, Buffalo (6-3, 251, right): Close behind Jadeveon Clowney as top defensive player in draft. From Fort Pierce, so a Florida talent the state powers missed on.

C.J. Mosley, Alabama (6-2, 234): Tide's leading tackler last two years has two national titles on resume. Shoulder injury is only concern. Should go in top 15.

Anthony Barr, UCLA (6-5, 255): Once seen as top-10 pick, he has fallen to lower half of first round. Likely a 3-4 OLB but could get look as a 4-3 defensive end.

Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (6-1, 237): Another Floridian (Fort Lauderdale) totaled 39.5 tackles for loss last two years. Speedy playmaker, if a bit short.

Kyle Van Noy, BYU (6-3, 243): Prolific in college, with 62 tackles for loss and 11 forced fumbles. Had off-field concerns early in college, but should be high second-rounder.

Under the radar

Max Bullough, Michigan State (6-3, 245): Bucs know the Spartans D well from taking Will Gholston last year. Some off-field concerns, but a leader in college and productive player. Would be a steal on Saturday.

Free agency

The Bucs didn't keep many of their free agents, but Jonathan Casillas was one that came back, keeping a veteran presence at a young position. With Adam Heyward (Redskins) and Dekoda Watson (Jaguars) signing elsewhere, Dane Fletcher will step in as a special-teams leader who will compete with Casillas for snaps at linebacker. CFL star Damaso Munoz also signed and will battle for a special-teams roster spot.

Best guess

Do the Bucs draft a linebacker? With David and Foster steady and the team likely in nickel more often than not, it would be drafting for depth, so we only see it as a late-round pick if this position is addressed at all.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

   
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