Thursday, November 23, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL draft notes: Top 5 picks, biggest slides, absences from Round 1

RECOMMENDED READING


1. Kansas City: Eric Fisher, T, Central Mich.

The speculation was the Chiefs loved Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel. Turns out it was a passing fancy. Fisher, at 6 feet 7, 306 pounds, is considered more of a physical run-blocker than Joeckel. But most analysts had them rated as the top two players available. Fisher becomes the first player from the Mid-American Conference selected No. 1 overall.

Quotable: "This is so surreal. I can't process what's going on right now."

2. Jacksonville: Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M

The big issue is on which side Joeckel (6-6, 305) plays. The Jaguars have a left tackle in Eugene Monroe, the No. 8 overall pick in 2009. Joeckel hasn't played on the right since his junior year in high school. As a junior at A&M, he was an All-American, won the Outland (best interior lineman) and protected Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.

Quotable: "I understand playing right tackle. Eugene Monroe is a great player. I'm just trying to get on the field and help my team."

3. Miami (from Oakland): Dion Jordan, DE/LB, Oregon

The Dolphins, obviously, loved Jordan, moving up nine spots and giving up their second-round pick to get him. He is a bit of a hybrid and likely to play outside linebacker. He is considered a pass rush specialist. (He had 14½ sacks in 45 games with Oregon, but only five as a senior.) And questions remain about his versatility.

Quotable: "The trade, I wasn't expecting that. I'm surprised and very blessed."

4. Philadelphia: Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma

Johnson was an offensive lineman for only two seasons after playing QB, tight end and defensive end for the Sooners. He's not considered as strong as Fisher and Joeckel but is very athletic and a great lead blocker. His selection is just the second time three offensive linemen were among the first four players drafted (1968: Ron Yary, Bob Johnson and Russ Washington).

Quotable: "Going to tackle was a weird experience because I had been a skill-position player my whole life."

5. Detroit: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

The native of Ghana is a relative newcomer to football, playing only since 2010. A big Senior Bowl (3½ tackles for loss, 11/2 sacks and a forced fumble) and impressive numbers at the scouting combine (including a 4.63 40-yard dash) elevated his stock. He recorded 62 tackles and 4½ sacks last season and is expected to join Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley on a star-studded Lions defensive front.

Quotable: "I know how dominant (Suh) is. I'll be very excited to be next to him."

NFC South

Panthers: With the No. 14 pick the Panthers selected Star Lotuleilei, a defensive tackle from Utah. At 6 feet 3 and 311 pounds, Lotuleilei doesn't bring a lot of heat on the quarterback, but he can occupy offensive linemen and free up linebackers to make plays. Running up the middle just got a little tougher for Doug Martin.

New Orleans: With the No. 15 pick the Saints selected safety Kenny Vaccaro (6-0, 214) from Texas. With a potent offense, it was no secret the Saints wanted to improve their defense in the draft, making little noise on that side of the ball in free agency. And pass defense was a priority in a division that serves up quarterbacks Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman.

Falcons: They traded with the Rams and jumped up to the No. 22 pick and selected Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant (6-0, 190). Cornerback was considered Atlanta's biggest need position and Trufant should fill it nicely. Another important slot considering the passing talents in the NFC South.

Trading post

Thursday's deals:

No. 3 pick: Oakland traded its No. 3 pick for Miami's first- (No. 12) and second-round (No. 42) picks. Miami selected Oregon defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan.

No. 8 pick: Buffalo traded first- (No. 8) and third-round (No. 71) picks for St. Louis' picks in first (No. 16), second (No. 46), third (No. 78) and seventh (No. 222) rounds. The Rams used the pick to select West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin.

No. 18 pick: Dallas traded its first-round pick (No. 18) for San Francisco's first- (No. 31) and third-round (No. 74) picks. The 49ers used the pick to select LSU safety Eric Reid.

No. 22 pick: St. Louis traded a first-round pick (No. 22) and a seventh-round pick in 2015 for Atlanta's first- (No. 30), third- (No. 92) and seventh-round (No. 198) picks. The Falcons used the pick to select Desmond Trufant, a corner from Washington.

No. 29 pick: New England traded its first pick (No. 29) for Minnesota's second- (No. 52), third- (No. 83), fourth- (No. 102) and seventh-round (No. 229) picks. The Vikings used the pick to take Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

Quick hits

• It was the first time four offensive linemen were taken among the first seven picks.

• T Justin Pugh (No. 19, Giants) was the first Syracuse offensive player taken in the first round since Donovan McNabb in 1999.

• It's the first time that D.J.'s (Fluker, No. 11, Chargers; Hayden, No. 12, Raiders) have been taken with consecutive picks.

Left out of the party

Among the notable names not called on Thursday night: West Virginia's Geno Smith (above), considered by many analysts the top quarterback in the draft; USC quarterback Matt Barkley; Alabama running back Eddie Lacy and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, who many believed would be taken by Chicago or Minnesota.

Moving up

Nobody made a bigger late charge up the charts than West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin. The Rams gave up three picks to jump into the top 10 — and just ahead of the Jets, who had the next pick and were believed to be very interested in Austin as well. At 5 feet 9, 174 pounds, Austin is small but very fast and hard to tackle. He is considered the top playmaker in this year's draft.

Biggest slides

Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida: Nearly every mock draft had Floyd as the No. 3 pick to Oakland. But the Raiders traded the pick to Miami (which went with a linebacker), and Floyd tumbled to the Vikings at No. 23.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC: It wasn't so much that Barkley slid in this year's draft. It's that he was projected as the No. 2 quarterback in last year's draft (behind Robert Griffin III) but opted to return for his senior season and fell out of the first round.

Finally, a QB

When Buffalo took Florida State's EJ Manuel at No. 16, it was the latest the first quarterback was taken since Chad Pennington went No. 18 to the Jets (2000).

Gridiron of Dreams?

This week's draft at Radio City Music Hall is being used as the backdrop for a new Kevin Costner movie called Draft Day. Costner plays the general manager of the Browns. "It's a film about the day of the draft," actor Josh Pence told nfl.com. "It's about all the chaos that surrounds the GM on the day of the draft and a struggling team trying to piece together what he's going to do, who he's going to take No. 1." The film is scheduled to be released next year.

Other draft tidbits

• The 12 SEC players taken in the first round matched the first-round record of 12 by the ACC in 2006.

• No running back was taken in the first round for the first time since the 1963 draft.

• Center Travis Frederick of Wisconsin went to the Cowboys at No. 31, the latest the Big Ten has seen a player taken in the first round.

Comments
Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

TAMPA — In the jubilant moments after a Bucs win, Dirk Koetter will sometimes ask for a game-used ball from his equipment staff, hold it high in the locker room and present it to the player who was most crucial to the victory.NFL players can ask for ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Koetter says Bucs not distracted by Jameis Winston’s off-field issue

The Bucs are 1-0 since news broke last Friday of Jameis Winston being accused by an Uber driver of groping her during a ride in March of 2016.That's really all the evidence coach Dirk Koetter needs to say the issue has not been a distraction to the t...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!Today is a day of tradition.The Macy’s parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.And our annual "Turkey of the Year.’’It’s a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist P...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says team has not turned the corner yet

Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says team has not turned the corner yet

TAMPA — The Bucs have some positive momentum with back-to-back wins, but DT Gerald McCoy said it’s too soon to say his 4-6 team has turned a corner."We haven’t turned a corner yet," McCoy said Wednesday, preparing for Sunday’s game at Atlanta. "It’s ...
Published: 11/22/17
McCoy is only Bucs player in Pro Bowl voting top 10s

McCoy is only Bucs player in Pro Bowl voting top 10s

The Bucs aren't faring well in early Pro Bowl fan voting, with DT Gerald McCoy as the only Tampa Bay player ranking in the top 10 at his position.McCoy, seeking his sixth straight Pro Bowl selection, ranks seventh among NFL defensive tackles, one wee...
Published: 11/22/17
NFL Week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

NFL Week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

Happy Thanksgiving! It's already week 12 of the NFL season, and the football feast is set to begin. It all starts at at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Lions try to win their fifth straight Thanksgiving Day game against a Minnesota team out to bec...
Published: 11/22/17
Cannon Fodder podcast: Examining the Bucs’ Hall of Fame semifinalists

Cannon Fodder podcast: Examining the Bucs’ Hall of Fame semifinalists

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman takes a closer look at the three former Bucs who are semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.He also looks at the constant churn on the Bucs’ practice squad and why Julio Jones’ stats have dropped off this season,...
Published: 11/22/17
Bucs’ Barber, Lynch, Rice among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Bucs’ Barber, Lynch, Rice among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Ronde Barber, John Lynch and Simeon Rice — teammates on the Bucs' 2002 Super Bowl championship team — are among the 27 semifinalists to be considered for this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame class.Lynch is a semifinalist for the sixth st...
Published: 11/22/17
Rick and Tom podcast: USF vs UCF is the biggest game in Florida this weekend

Rick and Tom podcast: USF vs UCF is the biggest game in Florida this weekend

It’s a Thanksgiving Football Wednesday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones preview the Bucs-Falcons game, USF-UCF, Alabama-Auburn, Ohio State-Michigan and more.The guys agree on the Bucs game outcome with Rick saying they can’t win. They also agree that Tha...
Published: 11/22/17
Bucs-Falcons: It’s time to start believing Miko Grimes

Bucs-Falcons: It’s time to start believing Miko Grimes

TAMPA — The most valuable player for the Bucs is Brent Grimes.It felt odd typing that, but it’s time to say it.In Grimes’ two seasons in Tampa Bay, the Bucs haven’t won a game without him. This season they are 4-3 when he plays, 0-3 when he doesn’t.H...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17