Finishing out our list of first round draft selections, we’ll look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers, where Keith Tandy and Don Barclay reside. Both teams have multiple needs and could go either side of the ball. In my picks, one gets an offensive playmaker and the other adds stability on defense.
In Tampa Bay, Tandy has been making a name for himself in the nickel package. Playing in the shadows during his rookie season, Tandy has emerged as one of the top playmakers in the Tampa Bay defense. The West Virginia corner back had 40 tackles, three interceptions and a forced fumble last season.
But the Bucs won’t be drafting anyone to play on his side of the ball in the first round.
The Bucs finished in last place in the NFL in terms of passing yards, gaining just 176.3 yards through the air. That was due in large part to a struggling wide receiver corps. Receivers had to learn from a different quarterback and that relationship didn’t have time to build up, the only consistent receiver being Vincent Jackson.
Jackson is known for being a solid possession receiver but if he needs to turn the after burners on, don’t hold your breath. He did, though, catch 78 passes for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns. The next best receiver caught 54 passes for just 541 yards. They need Evans.
At Texas A&M, Evans was Johnny Manziel’s favorite target. He caught 69 passes for 1,394 yards and 12 scores. He ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, proving that he can get things moving.
If you put a guy like Evans, who could be a No. 1 on a lot of teams in the NFL from day one, and put him opposite of Jackson, the Buccaneers could find success against the corners of the NFC South.
No one attacked free agency like Tampa, which gives head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht plenty of options with this pick. Wide receiver is probably the likeliest scenario given the jettisoning of Mike Williams. Evans is a virtual clone of current Tampa star Vincent Jackson and would provide the Bucs with a monstrous duo of pass-catchers similar to the Brandon Marshall-Alshon Jeffery pairing Josh McCown enjoyed great success with a year ago.
While the Bucs haven’t figured out their quarterback situation, suring up the receiver position might make that a little better.
The Green Bay Packers are a little different, having a rough patch offensively last season due to injuries, mainly Aaron Rodgers.
Barclay had an off season, too, on the offensive line. Struggling a bit, Barclay still was able to see starting playing time and was able to move around at several spots on the offensive line. Despite his struggles, though, the Packers have kept him around and shown confidence in him.
But they won’t be drafting anyone on the offensive side of the ball in the first round even though wide receiver might be an option later in the draft.
In the offseason, the Packers added defensive end Julius Peppers to sure up the defensive line for the time being. And, of course, they have Clay Matthews and AJ Hawk at linebacker. But, opposite of Hawk, is Andy Mulumba according to the Packers depth chart. He had 30 tackles last season.
Taking Shazier here makes sense.
He’s a guy that can play anywhere in the linebacking corps but the Packers could use his speed and athleticism outside behind Peppers. Shazier had 258 tackles and 44.5 tackles for loss over his career.
Shazier can do it all. He’s fast, can drop in coverage, he can rush the passer and his 258 tackles in 39 games speaks for itself. Nine forced fumbles is just another indicator he’s around the ball.
The Packers can find receivers deeper in the draft but working on a defense that ranked 24th in passing defense and 25th in rushing defense seems to be the logical move.