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NFL draft observations


Many mock drafts have Texas A&M putting three players — QB Johnny Manziel, WR Mike Evans and OT Jake Matthews — in the top 10 picks, something a school has done just twice in the past 18 drafts. All three Aggies match up with positions the Bucs could address with the No. 7 pick, and the Bucs were involved both times a school recently had three top-10 picks.

In 2010, Oklahoma had three of the top four overall picks — QB Sam Bradford went No. 1 to the Rams, DT Gerald McCoy went No. 3 to the Bucs and OT Trent Williams went No. 4 to the Redskins. In 2005, Miami took RB Ronnie Brown with the No. 2 pick, Tampa Bay took RB Cadillac Williams at No. 5 and Washington took CB Carlos Rogers at No. 9, all Auburn Tigers. The mock draft from Sports Illustrated's Peter King even had the three Texas A&M players going in consecutive picks, with the Bucs landing Manziel at 7. To find one school landing three first-round picks in a row, you'd have to go all the way back to … last year, when Alabama saw CB Dee Milliner, OG Chance Warmack and DB D.J. Fluker go 9-10-11 overall.

Early picks not always better

Of the 75 players currently on the Bucs roster, only 17 were drafted by Tampa Bay, and only 37 were drafted at all.

What round of the draft has produced the most current Bucs? It's not the first round, which has just five (Mark Barron, Doug Martin, Adrian Clayborn, Gerald McCoy and Mike Jenkins). It's actually the fourth round, which is responsible for twice as many — 10 overall, including seven drafted by other teams.

Two of the Bucs' big free-agent additions this spring — CB Alterraun Verner and OT Anthony Collins — came into the league as fourth-round picks, as did S Dashon Goldson, a high-dollar signing last year.

And as much has been made of the Bucs having zero players remaining from their 2009 draft class, they now have three members of the Bengals' 2009 draft: Collins and DE Michael Johnson, as well as DT Clinton McDonald.

Just five years later, only 14 percent of the 256 players drafted in 2009 remain with the team that picked them — 37 total. The Bucs are one of eight teams without an '09 pick left on their roster.

Expect some postdraft moves

The Bucs have only six picks, but expect a flurry of moves after the weekend, as the team has added at least 20 rookies in each of the last three drafts. With 15 spots left under the 90-player offseason limit, that likely means a few cuts by Monday.

Among the current Bucs to break into the league as an undrafted rookie are plenty of familiar names, including TE Tim Wright, LB Jonathan Casillas, PK Connor Barth, P Michael Koenen, OT Demar Dotson, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, DB Leonard Johnson and RB Bobby Rainey.

A familiar face

One name Gator fans might remember in the draft: TE A.C. Leonard, who played only one year for Florida before transferring to I-AA Tennessee State. He's had 11 touchdown catches in two years since, and wowed scouts with a 4.50 40 at the combine. He's likely a late-round pick with intriguing speed for a 6-foot-2, 252-pound prospect.

A much less familiar face

Could the draft have a Canadian player taken? OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of McGill University in Montreal hopes to do just that. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound tackle impressed scouts at the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg in January and could sneak into the middle rounds.

Quite a run

If Alabama can get a player picked in the top 10, it will be the first college to have a top-10 pick six years in a row since the first common draft began in 1967. The longest run has been Southern California from 1993-97. It won't be a lock for the Tide, which would need to have LB C.J. Mosley or S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix sneak into the top 10. Texas A&M and LSU have three-year streaks in the top 10, with the Aggies most likely to keep that streak intact.

Who might be interested in the Bucs' pick?

GM Jason Licht is used to working with much more than six picks — his teams have had 10 or more in five of his last 10 drafts. So if the Bucs want to trade down and add more picks — say, if the players they covet most aren't around at No. 7 — which teams could they deal with?

San Francisco: Best-stocked team, with six picks in the top 100, including two in the second round and three in the third. The 49ers don't have any pick higher than 30th, however, so you could see a package of three of those picks to move high enough to land a top-tier wide receiver. Could that be the Bucs at No. 7 if A&M's Mike Evans is someone the 49ers prize?

Cleveland: Picks at No. 4, but if there's a second top-tier player they want, the Browns have extra picks in the first (26th overall), third and fourth rounds. Again, this would only make sense if the Bucs value the depth of the draft to fill multiple needs and not one specific player.

N.Y. Jets: They have 12 picks, and while four are non-tradeable compensatory picks, they sit at No. 18 and could also use a top-tier receiver. If the Bucs were keen on Jeff Tedford-connected QB Derek Carr, for instance, they could probably still get him at 18 and pick up a second- and fourth-rounder, for instance, to slide down 11 spots.

The player most likely to move up

No player has moved up the perceived draft board more than Pitt DT Aaron Donald, who was seen as a second-day pick until strong showings in the postseason showcase games. Now he's a mid first-rounder who's even been linked to the Bucs at No. 7. After the top five picks, he and LSU WR Odell Beckham are two players that teams could overspend to trade up and get. Could the Bucs benefit from that?

Greg Auman, Times staff writer; Times wires

Which QB could fall the furthest?

Even the best QBs can take a draft-day dive — Aaron Rodgers fell to 24th in 2005, after all — and it looks like at least one quarterback once perceived as a top 10 could fall to the second round.

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville: Many had Bridgewater (top) as the No. 1 overall pick at the end of the college season. Now concerns over a lackluster pro day could drop him to the Cardinals at No. 20, or lower.

Derek Carr, Fresno State: Depending on which mock draft you look at, you'll see Carr (middle) projected as high as No. 4 to the Browns, or falling into the second round. Perhaps NFL teams are worried he'll be a repeat of brother David?

Blake Bortles, Central Florida: Some think he could go No. 1 overall to Houston, but if Bortles (bottom) is not gone by No. 8 to the Vikings, there's a run of teams without glaring QB needs — which means he could be in for a long night.

NFL draft observations 05/07/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 9:11pm]
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