With the combine underway today with offensive linemen and tight ends, the draft season is starting to kick into gear.
I know there are already numerous stories, rumors, and mock drafts that have been posted, but without knowing who will go where in free agency, predicting the draft at this point is very difficult.
With that said, I will be providing all of my NFL Draft coverage this year right here at 987thefan.com. I will have my stories, rumors, mock drafts, rankings, and podcasts here relating to the draft with a Buccaneer perspective.
Since free agency is still a few weeks away, the combine is not the place a general manager will decide who he drafts, but I look at it as starting a relationship with 60 players over the course of 6 days.
Here are 5 players (in no particular order) I'd want extra research on at the combine if I were Bucs GM Mark Dominik:
1. Ezekiel (Ziggy) Ansah - DE - BYU - Ansah does not have a lot of film to go by, but possesses rare size and ability. I would use the combine to gauge where Ansah stands at this point of his career after playing just 3 years of football in his life. I expect him to test off the charts, so the one-on-one meeting will be imperative. Ansah has the potential to be this year's Jason Pierre-Paul, but even JPP had to wait a while on draft day due to his inexperience.
2. Alec Ogletree - MLB - Georgia - Ogletree was arrested just a few weeks back for a DUI. This is an inopportune time for any prospect to have any run-ins with the law. I think Ogletree is a very talented player and might have the most ability of any 4-3 linebacker in this class. This meeting would be very important for me to see if Ogletree is a player with questionable character or if his DUI was a one-time mistake.
3. Jarvis Jones - OLB - Georgia - Like his teammate Ogletree, Jones is a very talented linebacker who knows how to rush the quarterback. Unlike Ogletree, Jones' issues lie more with long-term health than character. Jones was diagnosed with spinal stenosis while at USC after sustaining a neck injury against Oregon. The USC medical staff would not clear him to play for the Trojans ever again. Jones transferred to Georgia and had an excellent career. I need to know the long-term effects of spinal stenosis. Mark Dominik has already taken medical risks in Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers. Clayborn is not as serious as Bowers, but you do not want to load your team up with guys whose long-term health is already in doubt.
4. Marcus Lattimore - RB - South Carolina - Lattimore suffered a horrific knee injury to end his 2012 season and essentially his collegiate career. The doctor who performed his surgery, Dr. James Andrews, has since said that Lattimore will shock people by his progress at the combine. With Legarrette Blount potentially gone, I'm going to look long and hard at those medical records to see if Lattimore is worth a day 3 pick.
5. David Amerson - CB - NC St. - After his 13 INTs in 2011, Amerson was being hyped as the top corner heading into 2012. His INTs dropped in 2012 to just 5, while the amount of times he got beat deep rose. Amerson is a big kid at nearly 6'3'' so he has the size to play bigger receivers and has shown the ability to be physical and a good tackler. I would want to sit him down and find out what happened in 2012. If I see enough raw talent and believe in my coaches enough, I could see Amerson being a fit if he gives me the right answers to my questions. One question I would have to ask myself is if Amerson can play man coverage or if he needs to move to free safety. Along with Amerson, you could put numerous CBs names here from Xavier Rhodes to Desmond Trufant to Johnathan Banks to Dee Milliner to Greg Schiano's old Rutgers player Logan Ryan. The Bucs should draft a corner even if a corner is signed in free agency. I'm just not certain that they HAVE to draft a corner in the 1st round.
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