2014 NFL Draft: 5 Late-Round Sleepers Tampa Bay Buccaneers Should Target
2014 NFL Draft: 5 Late-Round Sleepers the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Should Target
After a 4-12 finish last season and their sixth consecutive year without a postseason appearance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, replacing them with a Super Bowl coach in Lovie Smith and new GM Jason Licht. The Buccaneers will have serious questions to face this offseason. Is Mike Glennon the answer as the Buccaneers' franchise quarterback? Will Doug Martin be able to bounce back from a serious injury last season? Finally, the most important question of all, will the Buccaneers get back to the postseason in 2014? An 0-8 start and a 0-3 finish to the season led the Buccaneers to one of their worst seasons in franchise history, forgetting the off-field distractions. For the Buccaneers to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007, the Buccaneers have will to draft great players, especially in the later rounds, to improve their 30th ranked offense and their 21st ranked defense.
Not only did the Buccaneers address their coaching vacancy, the team also parted ways with their GM in Dominik, who was with the team for five years. With uncertainty everywhere in the organization, the on-field product will have to produce in 2014. The Buccaneers will also have several player issues they must address. Both defensive end Daniel Te'o-Neshem and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood are free agents this offseason.
With most analysts grading what happens in the first to third rounds, teams become great with what they do in the later rounds. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks last year, who had several key defensive players who were drafted in the fourth round or later with the Super Bowl MVP being drafted in the seventh round. For the Buccaneers, the franchise has made some solid picks in the later rounds of the draft. Players like Dave Logan, and John Lynch have been selected with late picks who would become great players for the Buccaneers, so the team has had success finding diamonds in the rough.
Looking at this year's draft prospects, I identified five late-round sleepers that the Buccaneers should target during the 2014 NFL Draft. Each of these players are going to be day three picks at least with each having a skill set perfect for Tampa Bay, and all who would play a crucial role for the organization in the near future.
5. Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB, Boston College
In new coach Lovie Smith's defensive scheme, the linebackers have to play fast and must be able to tackle. Smith has two of these positions filled with breakout star Lavonte David and solid middle linebacker Mason Foster. To get the missing ingredient at an important position, the Buccaneers have to look for linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis from Boston College.
Pierre-Louis exceled at the Combine, running a 4.51 40-yard dash. Pierre-Louis also was a productive player at Boston College where he was a first-team all-ACC selection last year, and an honorable mention the previous season. Pierre-Louis is a raw player needs to develop a little more in order to be a starting linebacker, but Pierre-Louis is also a good special teams player as well, with a transition to linebacker sooner rather than later.
4. Cameron Fleming, OL, Stanford
One of the main protectors who helped Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal rise to national prominence, Cameron Fleming would be a great late-round addition for a Tampa Bay line that is in turmoil. With Carl Nicks out of the lineup due to MRSA and right tackle Demar Dotson not performing up to par, Fleming would be an immediate upgrade.
At Stanford, Fleming was a powerful run-blocker who helped the Cardinal record the greatest rushing season in school history in 2013. Fleming's experience in a pro-style offense at Stanford is also a favorable addition to the struggling Tampa offensive line.
3. Jacob Pedersen, TE, Wisconsin
The Buccaneers have neglected the tight end position for quite some time. Last year, Tom Crabtree was a major disappointment and Timothy Wright, although he had a good season, is more of a wide receiver than a tight end. To remedy this situation, the Buccaneers should look no further than Wisconsin tight end Jacob Pedersen.
Pedersen from a list of good tight ends who have come out of Wisconsin in the past few years. Players like Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham, and Lance Kendricks have all been productive players for each of their teams. In Pedersen, although he is not the most athletic tight ends in the draft, Pedersen can catch the football and can make big catches in traffic.
2. Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan
The last time that I remember the Buccaneers having a good slot receiver was Joe Jurevicius back in 2002. The lack of weapons on offense along with Mike Williams' recent off-field issues warrants the team drafting a receiver or two in May.
In Michigan's Jeremy Gallon, the Buccaneers would get a tough yet undersized receiver who has produced big-time in a legendary receiver school. Gallon also has shown the ability to return kicks, which the Buccaneers struggled at last season. With Vincent Jackson, Wright and Williams on the outside, Gallon would get plenty of opportunities working in the slot.
1. Aaron Lynch, DL, USF
A good football player on some bad teams, South Florida defensive Aaron Lynch would be a steal in the late rounds for the Buccaneers, who are looking for a complimentary edge rusher to Adrian Clayborn. Lynch's 6'5" frame and long wingspan gives him an advantage on the rush and in swatting down passes.
Lynch fell off the map after transferring from Notre Dame, where he was a standout freshman. With some coaching and some maturing alongside a great defensive line, Lynch will get back to the player he was at Notre Dame rather than the one at South Florida.