by Douglas O’Connor
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There was plenty of opinions on how the Buccaneers 2016 draft went. Claims that the Bucs had found 4 new starters, if you count a kicker as a starter. To cries calling for Jason Licht’s head for drafting a Kicker in the 2nd round. I’m going to recap each pick and assign it a letter grade based on where the player was taken and how they have impacted the the team.
Vernon Hargreaves: Touted as the best cover corner in the draft, fell to the Bucs when they moved down 2 spots from 9 the the 11th pick. Hargreaves was inserted as the starting nickle back during training camp while playing the outside on the 2nd team. During the preseason Vernon was grading out as the best corner in the league, due mostly to a 2 interception game against the Jaguars. Only a few games into the season and VH3 has moved to a starting outside corner spot. Essentially benching Alterraun Verner and his $6.7 million contract. He’s 4th on the team with 23 TOT and caused an interception on Monday night, deflecting a ball into the air that LB Daryl Smith circled under to complete the turnover.
My Grade: I’m giving Hargreaves an A. Besides all the reasons mentioned above there is no other position in the NFL that is a harder transition from college to the pro’s, besides quarterback, than corner. Recently Head Coach gave Vernon high praise, when he mentioned that Hargreaves was low maintenance. Translation, you can treat him like a veteran. He knows his assignment, he’s where he’s supposed to be in the defense, you don’t have to hold his hand.
Noah Spence: Considered the best pure pass rushing defensive end in the draft and was linked to the Bucs with their 1st pick, early in mock drafts. Taken in the 2nd round as an answer to the Buccaneers decade drought of not having a 10+ sack man. Noah was praised for having great hands and an array of rush moves during training camp. His edge speed is undeniable, but fans quickly learned that he is to small to stand up against the run. Even with all the injuries along the defensive line Spence is still being used as a situational pass rusher.
My Grade: Noah earns a B. You may think this is a little generous but he does have one sack, one off the team lead. If that’s still isn’t enough to convince you checkout this clip. Spence is at the top of the screen.
Noah Spence here with a nice swim move getting pressure. If he holds it 1/2 a second longer he’s on the gro… https://t.co/gZinztOiWO
— realbucstalk (@realbucstalk) October 16, 2016
He’s going to be special.
Roberto Aguayo: Regarded as the best kicker, well ever. The Bucs gave up their 3rd round pick and the 4th rounder that the acquired in the Giants trade to move up and take this once in a generation kicker. The Bucs let loose of all his competition before training camp. Aguayo couldn’t lose his job unless his leg fell off. That didn’t keep him from trying though.
My Grade: D. The game winner against Carolina on Monday night saved Roberto from a failing grade. Actually I like the pick of Aguayo, but he has to kick for the Bucs for the next 10 years to ever grade out as an A draft pick.
Ryan Smith: Picked in the 4th round from North Carolina Central University. Brought into play safety even though he played corner back in college. A broken hand in the preseason has slowed Smith’s progress. Mike Smith is bringing him along slowly in hopes that he’s ready to go if the injury bug bites.
My Grade: C. Hard to give him a grade due to the lack of playing time. It is a bit concerning that he isn’t getting any snaps at the position that is easily to worst on the team. On the plus side Ryan does return kickoffs for the Bucs and not a skill everyone possesses.
Caleb Benenoch: 5th round pick Benenoch came out his junior year when most draft experts thought he would improve his stock with another year at UCLA. There is some obscure NCAA rule about being in school and practicing with an NFL team. It’s only a problem if your university grade on a trimester system. Guess which system UCLA uses? Due to this Caleb missed OTA’s and fell behind.
My Grade: B. Caleb got a slow start but did make the team at the deepest position on the team. He also can play all 3 line positions and has been active for every game.
Devante Bond: Was all primed to have a breakout senior year at the University of Oklahoma. An ankle injury derailed most of his senior season but the Bucs found him and drafted Devante in the 6th round. Bond was drafted to take over for bridge free agent signee Daryl Smith once he learns the SAM LB position. Bond was put on IR with a hamstring injury and might return later this year.
My Grade: Incomplete. Bond could be the starting strong side linebacker next year or he could be on the street. Time will tell.
I found this highlight reel of Devante back in his JuCo days, he was a man amongst boys.
Dan Vitale: Best fullback in the draft was the buzz. Jason Licht has used late round picks to try to find his team a lead blocker. Buc fans thought they had their man in the 6th round draft pick from Northwestern. Even though Vitale was an instant fan favorite his lack of blocking ability doomed him in the end.
My Grade: I’m giving Danny a C. Now hear me out. Late round draft picks aren’t supposed to make good teams. Also, others must like his skill set because he’s been picked from the Bucs practice squad twice. If Vitale was drafted in any earlier rounder his grade would be lower.
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