Chris Ransom grades the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2015 NFL Draft. Does Tampa Bay have a bright future after drafting Jameis Winston with the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft?
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State A Grade
Tampa Bay needed a starting quarterback. The Buccaneers could not go wrong with either Heisman Trophy Winning quarterback.
Jameis Winston was the more Pro Ready quarterback. The bigger question with Winston will be his behavior. How Winston conducts himself will dictate the success of the Buccaneers 2015 Draft.
Both Winston and Mariota need to improve their accuracy. Neither is a can't miss guy in terms of accuracy like Andrew Luck was coming out of Stanford. Winston may not be an immediate impact guy, but I think you are getting more long-term potential with him instead of Marcus Mariota.
You have to be impressed that Winston signed his rookie contract right after the draft. At the same time, you also have to feel concerned because his rookie deal involves him getting $22-million with $15-million guaranteed. Andrew Luck only got $12-million guaranteed back in 2012. Some wonder if Winston got overpaid.
Time for Winston to practice and bust his tail as the leader of this team. In week 1, Winston will welcome Mariota who handed him his only defeat in college. Watching the top 2 draft picks in the 2015 NFL Draft fire passes at Raymond James Stadium in week 1 of the 2015 NFL Season will be a blast.
34. Donovan Smith, LT, Penn State A Grade
I originally gave Tampa Bay a B+ grade in my live NFL Draft results blog. After watching tape of Smith playing some right tackle I decided to move Smith up from a B+ to an A Grade. Having the versatility to play both offensive tackle positions helps tremendously.
Donovan Smith can be an effective pass blocker, run blocker, and zone blocker. At 6-6 341 lbs, Smith is capable of playing left tackle and protecting the blindside of the 6-4 231 lb Jameis Winston who has a cannon for an arm, yet thrives if you give him enough time in the pocket. Smith will be Winston's blindside at left tackle right away.
My biggest concern with Donovan Smith is that he fatigues at times throughout the game which is mainly why his blocking can get inconsistent at times. Conditioning this young man up front in the trenches will be paramount.
There may have been better offensive tackles available like Jake Fisher out of Oregon or T.J. Clemmings out of Pittsburgh. Taking Smith here is understandable since Fisher is awesome in pass protection, but inconsistent as a run blocker. Clemmings dealt with a foot injury. If you take that logic into account when the Buccaneers made this pick, you can defend this selection.
61. Ali Marpet, RG, Hobart A+ Grade
I love that Tampa Bay traded up for Ali Marpet. Call me a Hobart homer, but I think this was Tampa Bay's best pick in the entire draft.
Marpet has the versatility to play anywhere on the offensive line whether it be LT, LG, C, RG, or RT. Marpet can start right away at right guard which will solidify the offensive line.
Marpet was an unknown until he became the only Division 3 Player at the Senior Bowl. Marpet thrived on the interior offensive line after struggling at offensive tackle in Mobile.
Marpet continued to build his momentum at the 2015 NFL Combine. He ran an official 4.98 40-yard dash and did 30-reps on the bench press. Hobart's offensive lineman looks like an Pro Bowl caliber guard. When you consider that he will play right guard, the easiest position on the offensive line next to a guy like Logan Mankins at left guard this is an amazing pick.
124. Kwon Alexander, LOLB, LSU C- Grade
LSU left outside linebacker Kwon Alexander was the only defensive player Tampa Bay drafted. Alexander will be a backup to Free Agent Signing Bruce Carter to begin his career unless Tampa Bay moves the 227 lb LOLB to strong safety.
Alexander can stop the run. He held Alabama's T.J. Yeldon and Florida's Matt Jones to under 100 rushing yards and both players got drafted ahead of him. Josh Robinson ran for 197 rushing yards, but Alexander had a career high 13 total tackles against him. Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon ran for 140 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown against LSU's run defense as Alexander was limited to 8 total tackles in the season opener against the Badgers.
Alexander is effective, but inconsistent in zone coverage as he can use his range to take up space against the run or pass. Alexander's awareness has its ups and downs as his play recognition lacks mental focus and discipline at this time. Despite getting 90 total tackles in 2014, Alexander has to sit behind Bruce Carter at this time because he needs to sit on the bench his rookie year and learn to transition to the NFL.
162. Kenny Bell, WR, Nebraska B Grade
Kenny Bell is a good pick here. The 6-1 197 lb receiver ran a 4.42 40 time at the 2015 NFL Combine. Bell can get you a minimum of 32 receptions, 460 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns per season. With guys like Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans occupying the outside at wide receiver with their size, having a speedster like Bell in the slot will make Winston's job a lot easier. Don't forget the 6-6 241 lb Austin Seferian-Jenkins enters his second season as a starting tight end, so Winston will have an abundance of targets in the passing game in 2015.
Bell isn't just a slot receiver. He's also an awesome blocker on tape, and reminds me a little of Ty Hilton coming out Florida International. Bell will be at his best if he stays inside on the slot, but if Vincent Jackson or Mike Evans goes down with an injury, he might be able to play on the outside as a starter just like Hilton and Antonio Brown.
184. Kaelin Clay, WR, Utah C+ Grade
I originally gave this pick a C grade. When examining what Clay can do on special teams, I bumped this grade up to a C+.
Clay had 1 kickoff return for a touchdown and 3 punt returns for a touchdown in 2014. He also averaged 24.9 yards per kickoff return and 15 yards per punt return.
Clay can move into the slot receiver role if Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, or Kenny Bell goes down with an injury. For now special teams will be Clay's top priority.
231. Joey Iosefa, RB, Hawaii C- Grade
The 6-1 247 lb Joey Iosefa plays running back, but may end up moving to fullback in the NFL. Tampa Bay believes Iosefa, who ran a 5.02 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine is the future running back of this team since the organization did not give running back Doug Martin a fifth year player option.
Iosefa lost 10 pounds and ran a 4.82 40 at his Pro Day. That's still not that impressive, and I'm still puzzled as to why Tampa Bay took him with their final selection. If Tampa Bay really wanted a running back/full back they should have gone with Tyler Varga out of Yale in round 7 who dominated the Senior Bowl before going undrafted.
I originally gave the Buccaneers an A grade. Now I want to give Tampa Bay an F grade for Iosefa, but realize that's too low of a grade. Tampa Bay gets an average of a C- grade for making a terrible selection with Joey Iosefa in the seventh round.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Grade: B Grade
Tampa Bay took Winston with the top pick before getting starters on the offensive line in Day 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft before selecting wide receivers on Day 3 of the 2015 NFL Draft. Winston could end up having a huge rookie season like Cam Newton or Andrew Luck throwing for over 4,000 passing yards. At the same time, he could have a rookie season like Matthew Stafford in 2009-2010 where he posts 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. If the latter occurs, Buccaneers' fans cannot panic by calling Winston a bust if he has a rough rookie season. He will get better over time with the needs Tampa Bay addressed in this years NFL Draft.
I like the addition to Kaelin Clay on special teams. One thing Tampa Bay did wrong was only draft one defensive player and it wasn't even at a position of need.
The Buccaneers ignored defense on Day 3 of the 2015 NFL Draft and I thought that was foolish. Tampa Bay needs two defensive ends, a second defensive tackle next to Gerald McCoy, a middle linebacker, and two starting safeties. The Buccaneers will have to address those needs in 2016.
Despite ignoring defense, it wasn't as irresponsible as drafting Iosefa. This guy ran a 5.02 40 time as a running back and you drafted him. Taking a pair of crab legs with a seventh round pick to keep Jameis Winston from stealing would have been a better selection for Tampa Bay. Overall, I think the Buccaneers deserve a solid B grade when you add up the good and the bad picks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2014 NFL Draft Grades
Posted By Chris Ransom on 5/16/2014
Chris Ransom breaks down the Buccaneers 2014 NFL Draft grades.
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