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ESPN’s Mel Kiper talks Bucs’ first-round pick, Feleipe Franks and Miami’s star pass rushers

ESPN’s NFL draft expert also weighs in on the draft potential of Wesley Chapel native Tre’ McKitty.
Georgia's Azeez Ojulari is a potential Bucs target with the No. 32 pick in this spring's NFL draft.
Georgia's Azeez Ojulari is a potential Bucs target with the No. 32 pick in this spring's NFL draft. [ BRYNN ANDERSON | AP ]
Published Mar. 2
Updated Mar. 2

The Bucs might look for another pass rusher in the NFL draft to bolster their shot at repeating as Super Bowl champions, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said this week.

One possibility: Georgia outside linebacker/defensive end Azeez Ojulari.

Kiper has had Ojulari as the last pick of the first round in both of his mock drafts after a second-team all-SEC season as a redshirt sophomore. Ojulari led the SEC with 12 ½ tackles for a loss and 8 ½ sacks, and his 35 quarterback pressures were 11 more than any other Georgia player. His three sacks against Cincinnati made him the Peach Bowl defensive MVP.

Related: Why Mel Kiper Jr. is praising former Gators star Kyle Trask

Kiper said he would like to see the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Georgia native add another five or 10 pounds and could have benefitted from another college season.

“I would have liked to have seen another year,” Kiper said. “But based on what I saw, it’s worthy of being a late first/early second rounder.”

Some of the other notable players Kiper spoke about Monday during a Zoom session with reporters in advance of the draft, which starts April 29:

Miami's Jaelan Phillips (right), seen here against Alabama Birmingham in September, is one of the top pass rushers in the draft.
Miami's Jaelan Phillips (right), seen here against Alabama Birmingham in September, is one of the top pass rushers in the draft. [ AL DIAZ | adiaz@miamiherald.com ]

He prefers Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips to the Hurricanes’ other potential first-round pass rusher, Gregory Rousseau. Phillips tied for 13th nationally with eight sacks last year, while Rousseau had 15 ½ in 2019 before opting out because of the coronavirus. “That’s going to be intriguing there, to see how that goes,” Kiper said.

At least two state defensive backs, UCF’s Richie Grant and FSU’s Asante Samuel Jr., are likely second-round picks, according to Kiper.

Kiper views Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks, the former Florida starter, as a possible Day 3 selection. “There’s some things I like about him, maybe as a late-round pick, down the road,” Kiper said.

Related: Feleipe Franks is already an MLB draftee. What about NFL?
Wesley Chapel native Tre' McKitty, a former Seminole who finished his college career at Georgia, is a potential Day 3 pick.
Wesley Chapel native Tre' McKitty, a former Seminole who finished his college career at Georgia, is a potential Day 3 pick. [ Tampa Bay Times ]

Gators star Kyle Pitts won’t be the only tight end from the state drafted. Kiper views Miami’s Brevin Jordan as a fourth/fifth round pick. He has a comparable grade on Georgia’s Tre’ McKitty, a Wesley Chapel native who started his college career at Florida State. Kiper said it was “amazing” how the Seminoles used him as a runner on jet sweeps in addition to his jobs as a blocker and receiver.