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Pre-Draft: Potential Sleeper Options For The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

So, I guess this is the second installment of my newest “column.” Let’s just call the column “Pre-Draft.” Judging from the lack of negative comments, I’m going to assume that the first installment was quite successful. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the potential sleeper picks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the upcoming draft. So, without further ado:

1. Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California

Projected round: 2

Mychal Kendricks seems to be a good option in the second round for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He hasn’t really been talked about much, but had a fairly good combine, which definitely brought his draft stock up.

Pros: Kendricks just might be the most athletic linebacker in the draft. From what I’ve seen, he’s often in the backfield, and quick on his feet. His unofficial 40-yard dash time was 4.47. He also has great hands, which will definitely be a plus in the NFL. Moreover, Kendricks is also versatile. He played outside linebacker for two years before moving inside last year. He’s a physical tackler and is at best against the run. The Buccaneers need players who can stop the run.

Cons: His height is a little bit of a concern. There are also some injury concerns. Kendricks suffered an injured shoulder and thumb last year. He was also suspended twice for violating team rules. Kendricks needs to also learn how to complete tackles, but that’s something that can be taught. Overall, a solid choice and probably the second or third best linebacker in the draft.

2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

Projected round: 3

LaMichael James is someone who would be a great complement to LeGarrette Blount. James would probably be the most logical option if the Bucs decide to go with Morris Claiborne in the first round.

Pros: Very fast. LaMichael James’ most recent 40 time was a blazing 4.37. James is very elusive between the tackles, and is good at finding the open hole. He is an explosive runner who prefers to run north-south. His vision also impressed me, he’s very good in the open field. Although undersized, James does not shy away from the contact, which also helps him in pass protection. The Bucs desperately need someone that can hold off linbackers for Josh Freeman, and LaMichael James can.

Cons: James is undersized at 5-8, which can become a problem in the NFL. Especially, when running between the tackles. There are also minor character concerns, as James was suspended for a misdemeanor harassment charge. James also hasn’t been used as a receiver too often, which would give the Bucs another running back that can’t catch passes out of the backfield. However, his toughness cannot be understated, and James is a potential steal.

3. Brandon Taylor, FS, LSU

Projected round: 4 (Note: Tampa Bay does not have a fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft)

Brandon Taylor might be the second player out of LSU that the Bucs take in this year’s draft. After cutting Tanard Jackson, Tampa Bay needs a safety to fill the gap, but can’t draft one too early because of other needs. Taylor looks like the best option.

Pros: Brandon Taylor is a tall safety prospect, which definitely helps him in pass coverage. He has relatively good speed, running a 4.57 at the NFL Combine, and he’s also a solid tackler. Again, the Bucs need people who can tackle. His coverage ability is definitely above average, and Brandon Taylor isn’t afraid to make a tackle in the box. Hence, he’s pretty solid against the run, something Tanard Jackson was not.

Cons: At times, Taylor will take poor angles to the ball, and his tackling can be inconsistent. He can start off a bit flat-footed at times and this causes him to get behind in coverage. There are some injury concerns, as Taylor suffered a leg injury in 2010. He still needs some work, but has the talent to mature into a starter at the NFL level.

You can follow me on Twitter @MaxLuckan