Senior Bowl Preview: Buccaneers Offensive Targets

0
280

By J.T. Olson – Bucs Report special to Sports Talk Florida

The season is over for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And while many fans are still mourning the disappointing loss to the Detroit Lions, the Bucs front office must move on quickly to one of the premier NFL draft events of the offseason. The NFL Senior Bowl officially starts next week!

This is a big event for all front offices around the league. A chance to see and work with players first hand and get a chance to speak with them to see how they might fit in your culture. This type of hands-on work with a prospect can’t be replicated. 

However, this event seems to carry more weight for the Buccaneers than most teams. General Manager Jason Licht is notorious for drafting players from the Seniors Bowl. This includes the likes of Cody Mauch, Yaya Diaby, Trey Palmer and SirVocea Dennis from last year’s draft.

So who will be the next Senior Bowl star to dawn the red and pewter? There are a lot of good prospects to choose from, but here are the offensive players that I think the Bucs will be looking at. 

Kimani Vidal, RB, Troy

Vidal is a small, yet compact running back. At just 5’8 and a stout 215, he is like a bowling ball bouncing off would-be tacklers. On top of that, his north and south running style make him an unexpected between the tackles runner

However, Vidal is much more than just a stocky powerful running back. He has excellent acceleration to hit the hole hard and blow by defenders. He also has a good amount of wiggle to where it always seems like he makes the first man miss in space.

These are the traits that led him to being the second leading rusher in all of college football last season. This skill set will be an excellent compliment to the pass catching ability that Rachaad White brings.

Comparison – Kareem Hunt

Ben Sinnott, TE, Kansas State

Whether you believe that Cade Otton is a true starting tight end or not, there is no doubt that the overall talent at the position has to be improved for the Bucs. One name who can do that is Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott. This well rounded prospect has the ability to supplant Otton as the lead dog in the room.

Sinnott brings a balanced skill set of blocking ability, versatility and athletic ability. He can line up from anywhere, in line to out wide and even at fullback. He has the mobility to run past linebackers as well as the size to go in motion and go toe to toe with defensive linemen. 

In terms of his blocking ability, I believe he can step in as a rookie and be better than what the Bucs have now. As a pass catcher, I believe he has a high ceiling and could develop into one of the better pass catchers in the league. An ideal piece for a Bucs offense that needs to improve overall talent and depth. 

Comparison – Jonnu Smith

Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

The best way to support a journeyman quarterback is to put him in the best possible situation. That includes surrounding him with playmakers such as Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. However, the more you surround him with, the better he will be.

McConkey can help set up the Bucs next wave of wide receiving talent in Tampa Bay. He is incredibly quick and can create separation by stopping on a dime in his routes. However, he also has good overall speed and can run right by a defender if they aren’t prepared for it.

I see McConkey as someone who can step in right away and thrive in the slot. He would be a great compliment to what the Bucs already have and can be a solid starter in the long term. I expect him to be one of the biggest winners at the Senior Bowl.

Comparison – Dieonte Johnson

Jackson Powers-Johnson, OC, Oregon

One of the Buccaneers biggest needs is on their interior offensive line. Both left guard and center are positions that could stand a serious upgrade. This is one of the biggest names in the draft that could fill that need.

Powers-Johnson was the Rimington Award winning this year as the nations best center. He is a widely built and powerful center who can generate movement at the point of attack. He is also pretty agile and can get to the second level well to find work in space.

The same strengths apply to pass blocking as well as run blocking. Powers-Johnson has a strong base and good size to anchor down against the best of defensive tackles. He also has the foot speed to slide and protect where he is needed.

There is some thought that he could be a late first round pick, but I think it’s more likely that you’ll see him go in round two. Expect him to dominate this week.

Comparison – Erik McCoy

Zach Frazier, OC, West Virginia

If Powers-Johnson is the best center in this draft, then Zach Frazier isn’t far behind. However, in terms of pure fit, I think it could be more likely that this is where the Bucs are looking. This is the ideal mold of center that the Buccaneers need.

Frazier is incredibly mobile; one of the best in the last several years in terms of mobility. He can sustain blocks while moving down the line of scrimmage and is great at working up to the second level and making blocks in space. A perfect fit for a zone blocking team.

While Frazier is a little smaller at 6’2 and 310 lbs, he is stronger than I expected. He’s feisty and brings the right type of mentality for an offensive lineman. And while I do have slight concerns with his anchor in pass protection, he has proven to be nearly as good as a pass blocker as he is a run blocker.

Comparison – Garrett Bradburry 

Troy Fautanu, IOL, Washington

If there is an offensive lineman that the Buccaneers should be targeting this year, it is Fautanu. He is perfectly on brand for the Bucs as a left tackle who would be shifting inside, as well as a Washington Huskie (which has been a popular school for the Bucs in recent years). This is currently my top choice for the 26th overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Fautanu moves very well. Much like Frazier, he can make blocks down the line of scrimmage as well as find work in space at the second level. I believe this will be a massive boost for a Buccaneers rushing attack that has been pitiful in recent years. 

This is also someone who can project to be a very good pass blocker at the NFL level. At 6’4 and 317 lbs he brings very good size to play guard. He also has smooth footwork, as we have seen with him playing left tackle for most of his college career. 

Some might scoff at the idea of drafting a guard in the first round, but at this point in the draft I feel it’s more than appropriate. This is someone I see as having pro bowl and all pro potential and that is always worthy of a first round pick. 

Comparison – Zack Martin

For more from J.T. click here, then make sure to follow him on Twitter.

Follow, Like and Subscribe to Bucs Report

BucsReport.com