Did you miss our Thursday Bucs Combine Analysis? We broke down every player we could confirm the Bucs met with that day. If you missed it, Just click here.
The following capsules are on players that have either confirmed to Bucsblitz.com that they have met with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or could meet with the team during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week:
|Florida wide receiver Andre Caldwell is projected as a second round pick right now. (Getty Images)|
Statistics: 56 receptions for 761 yards (13.6 avg.) and seven touchdowns.
How he fits with the Bucs?: Caldwell saw a stock bump after his great game-winning catch at the Senior Bowl. But the fact is he's a versatile receiver who played both outside and inside at Florida. Again, the Bucs don't typically play small receivers in the slot, but times are changing in the NFL and Caldwell is more physical than one would think. He showed an uncanny ability to go over the middle at Senior Bowl practices. He doesn't bring extra value as a returner, but his solid hands and big-program pedigree will go a long way. He's also tough as nails and able to play through injuries. Those are qualities Jon Gruden likes. If the Bucs don't take a wide receiver in the first round, I think Caldwell enters the running in the second.
Projected selection: Fourth round. Scout.com ranks him as its No. 7 wide receiver. He has not met with the Bucs yet.
Statistics: 70 receptions,1,265 yards, 6 TDs.
How he fits with the Bucs?: I see him as a Paris Warren-type. Douglas came from a program where he caught a lot of passes in a pass-first system. Warren was the same way and he struggled to develop his first two seasons. Douglas is a great interview, but I'm not sure how his talent will translate to the pro level. I liked what I saw at the Senior Bowl. He had great hands and ran solid routes. But he'll need to add some weight and he'll need to show he has the breakaway speed needed to beat NFL DBs. The Bucs, frankly, need a player that can make a bigger impact.
Joe Flacco, QB (6-foot-6, 232), Delaware
Projected selection: Second or third round. Scout.com ranks him as its No. 2 quarterback. It is unknown if he's met with the Bucs in Indy, but he met with them at the Senior Bowl.
|Delaware QB Joe Flacco is zooming up draft charts. (Dave Martin/AP photo)|
How he fits with the Bucs?: This guy has scorched up draft charts and could cruise right into the first round if he has a great Combine. Scouts say he can make all the NFL throws, his height allows him to see over defenses and he has solid mechanics. The Bucs — along with the rest of the league — are clearly intrigued. But Flacco is missing one intangible that Jon Gruden values and that's mobility. He's not a Jeff Garcia-type, and you could make a case based on Gruden's past that mobile quarterbacks fare far better in his offense than pocket passers. Flacco is definitely in the latter. If it gets to April, it bears watching whether Flacco comes to Tampa for a visit. But for now, I don't think he's the best fit for a young quarterback in Gruden's system.
Projected selection: Fifth or sixth round. Scout.com ranks him as its No. 14 running back. He met with the Bucs at the Senior Bowl but was unclear if he was set to meet with the Bucs this weekend.
Statistics: Forsett's 3,220 yards rushing rank third in school history, topped only by Russell White (3,367 yards, 1990-92) and Marshawn Lynch (3,230 yards 2004-06)
How he fits with the Bucs?: I'll reference Maurice Jones-Drew a little later, and that's whom many people reference when they talk about Forsett. He was very productive at Cal and he's got plenty of supporters. The thing I keep hearing from scouts is that Forsett is an instinctive runner who would fare well as a change of pace back. I'd have to agree. I was impressed with his elusiveness at the Senior Bowl. Two problems he might face is his 40 time (if he times out in the 4.5 range, teams might become skeptical about his talent) and his versatility (he's only returned a handful of kicks in his career). That track record may prevent him from competing with players like East Carolina's Chris Johnson for a higher draft slot. The Bucs may not be interested, as they already have a similar back in Michael Bennett under contract.
Projected selection: Sixth round. Grice-Mullen is ranked No. 27 among Scout.com's top wide receivers. He met with the Bucs on Thursday.
Statistics: 100 receptions for 1,335 yards and 12 touchdowns.
How he fits with the Bucs?: I'm not sure. This guy is running in the high 4.4s, which is probably all right when you're rated a sixth-round prospect. But he won't stand out in a draft that's filled with talented wide receivers. Plus he doesn't appear to bring extra value in the return game, something the Bucs are putting great value on this offseason. He has great hands, given his numbers, but he'll likely be limited by the perception that he's a system wide receiver. I think there are better options for the Bucs in this regard.
Projected selection: Second round. Scout.com ranks him as its No. 10 wide receiver. He met with the Bucs before the Combine and wasn't sure if the Bucs were on his schedule this weekend.
Statistics: 79 catches for 1,125 yards (14.2 avg) and sixteen touchdowns. All were school records at Indiana.
How he fits with the Bucs?: He is probably the best red-zone target in this draft in terms of potential success in the NFL. The guy is just massive and he has great hands and leaping ability. He would be a great fit for most NFL offenses in that regard. He's not top-shelf fast (his best appears to be a 4.54 coming into the Combine), but with his physical tools he doesn't have to be that fast. The question is whether Hardy would be there at No. 20 when the Bucs select. If he is, do they spend that pick on a player that, while undeniably talented, might only be successful inside the 20s? Of course, the way the Bucs score points a player with Hardy's height would be welcome.
Dexter Jackson, WR (5-foot-9, 178), Appalachian State
Projected selection: Fifth round. Scout.com ranks him as its No. 15 wide receiver. He wasn't sure if the Bucs were on his schedule this weekend.
Statistics: 30 receptions for 470 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also returned 30 punts for a 12.3-yard average and two touchdowns.
How he fits with the Bucs?: He's a slot receiver who compares with New England's Wes Welker, but that's probably the best comparison. He has blazing speed (sub 4.3 in the 40), good hands and can return punts. The Bucs would love to take his 12.3-yard average on punts and plug it consistently into its special teams lineup. Slot receivers are in vogue because of Welker, so he'll get a longer look than most Division I-AA prospects. But he has to prove he's durable enough for the pro level. Being 178 pounds probably won't do it. If he's there in the fifth round, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing the Bucs select him.
DeSean Jackson, WR (6-foot, 178), California
|Cal's DeSean Jackson can catch passes and return punts, something the Bucs value in this draft. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)|
Statistics: Caught a career-high 65 passes for 762 yards (11.7-yard average) and six touchdowns his senior year. He's also considered a top punt returner.
How he fits with the Bucs?: This tells you how open scouts are to this wide receiver class. Scout.com has him ranked No. 15, while nfldraftscout.com has Jackson at No. 1, ahead of Malcolm Kelly. Why? Jackson's size has to be the issue. Yes he's fast and he adds value by being a former all-America punt returner (sophomore year), but he's only 6-foot, and that will be an issue with some teams. As for the Bucs, they are desperate for a punt returner that can break some long returns next season. Jackson is certainly capable of that. But can he give the Bucs some value as a receiver as well? That's the real question. The Dolphins spent a high pick on Ted Ginn Jr. because they felt he would add to their return game. That's not a good enough reason to spend a first-round pick on a player. He has to be a slam dunk, especially for a Bucs team that needs a wide receiver. They would probably love nothing more than for Jackson to drop into the second round, but that probably won't happen. It's a tough decision for the Bucs who crave what Jackson has to offer but might not like the potential unknown of how Jackson's skills will translate in the NFL.
Chris Johnson, RB (5-foot-11 195), East Carolina
Projected selection: Second round. Scout.com ranks him as its No. 6 running back. He will meet with the Bucs this weekend.
Statistics: Set a Conference USA record with an average of 227.69 all-purpose yards per game, which also led the nation. Ranked 24th in the nation with 109.5 rushing yards per game. He was a first-team all-America selection as a kickoff returner.
How he fits with the Bucs?: This guy just intrigues the heck out of me. He's the right size and speed to be a multi-purpose NFL back. His ability to return kicks and punts gives him additional value and thanks to the plethora of junior backs that have come out early he'll likely drop into the second round, which could be great news for the Bucs. Imagine having a back that's been timed as low as 4.20 in the 40, who can rush, has great hands out of the backfield and can be your No. 1 return guy. If Jon Gruden isn't already having dreams about this guy, he ought to be. I get the feeling whoever gets this guy will be extremely happy. It could be the Bucs if they're willing to take him on Draft Saturday.
Projected selection: Sixth round. Scout.com ranks him as its No. 25 wide receiver. He met with the Bucs on Thursday.
Statistics: 59 catches for 691 yards, an average of 11.7 yards per catch and 11 touchdowns.
How he fits with the Bucs?: Here's another slot guy with kick-return ability. Do you detect a trend yet? He's been timed in the 4.5 range, which is solid for a slot guy weighing better than 200 pounds. He's leaving a year early, too, which means he'll likely need some time to develop. He's also coming from a spread system, and projecting a player's NFL ceiling out of that system is difficult. The fact that the Bucs met with him tells me that they're really interested in finding a player that can offer them receiving and return ability. At least a half-dozen players on this list can do that. So, to earn a pick from the Bucs — who don't have many late picks to begin with — Reynaud is going to have to stand out.
Steve Slaton, RB (5-foot-10, 195), West Virginia
|West Virginia's Steve Slaton could be a great change of pace back for the Buccaneers. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)|
Statistics: 1,053 yards on 210 carries and scored 17 touchdowns in 2007.
How he fits with the Bucs?: Slaton finished with three straight 1,000-yard seasons before coming out early. The guy has plenty of talent. He's gotten as low as the mid 4.3s in the 40 and you have to love the way he bursts through the line. But he played in a system that spread the field, thereby taking most opposing defenders off the line of scrimmage. Slaton won't run into that nearly as often in the NFL, and that's why many perceive him as a third-down back. Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew faced that perception and overcame it. Perhaps Slaton can too. I think he's more of a third-round value for that reason, but if the Bucs decide to sign one more free agent back this offseason I don't think Slaton will be in the mix. He would make an interesting contrast to their previous third-down back, Michael Pittman. Jon Gruden's history suggests he likes his third-down backs a little bigger.
Projected selection: First or second round. Scout.com ranks him as its No. 9 wide receiver. He met with the Bucs on Thursday.
Statistics: Finished with a career-low nineteen catches for 306 yards (16.1 avg) and three touchdowns in 2007, thanks to a wrist injury that caused him to miss six games and limited most of his season.
How he fits with the Bucs?: Here's another tall red zone target, but Sweed faces an uphill battle, thanks to his wrist injury. He said he has about 65 percent range of motion in that wrist now, which is much better than the Senior Bowl. He'll have to show teams he's not an injury risk. Still, if you look at his junior year, where he caught 46 passes for 801 yards and 12 touchdowns, it's easy to see why the Bucs might be interested in Sweed. Watch his vertical jump at the combine. Scouts will be doing the same, because his speed runs at about 4.55 in the 40. If he shows the leaping ability most believe he has, I think he might stay in the first round. He's doing everything at the combine and that's a good sign. A good weekend puts a lot of questions to rest. He'll be available at No. 20, and the Bucs might roll the dice on him.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.