Real Bucs Talk Mailbag: Combine, Combine, Combine…

by Douglas O’Connor
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     Here at Real Bucs Talk we pride ourselves on communication with Buccaneer fans. You can mostly find us on Twitter but sometimes 140 characters isn’t enough, so we started a Mailbag. This gives us ample space to answer your questions. Look for the Mailbag every Sunday during the off season and maybe see your questioned answered.

     We are smack dab in the middle of the NFL Combine so it wasn’t a surprise that all this weeks Mailbag questions are combine related. Real Bucs Talk have been following the combine closely and are ready to answer want you want to know.

Does John Ross 4.22 40 Make Him A Must Draft If He Is There At 19?

     It’s no secret that head coach Dirk Koetter is looking for speed on the offensive side of the ball. What better way to fill that need than draft the player that has the fastest 40 combine time ever. However, I do have some concerns.
     Ross has already had two knee surgeries and is scheduled to go under the knife again to repair his soldier. So labeling him as injury prone is more than fair. Because of his knee injuries Ross only has one year of production and when the light were brightest, a game against Alabama he didn’t show up.
     This isn’t to say that I don’t like Ross, I do, but this draft is so deep at wide receiver Jason Licht might feel a 1st round pick is to risky. I also think that because of his size Ross might be better suited as a slot receiver. Since the Bucs like Adam Humphries maybe Ross isn’t in the Bucs plans.
     If the Bucs do select Ross at 19 I will be more than okay with the pick. Even though I have my reservations about he medicals I have all the confidence in Jason Licht and his vetting process. After winning the lottery with Jameis Winston, Jason hit a home run the next year with Noah Spence. Both players had major red flags coming out of college. #InLichtITrust.

Who Was Your Biggest Combine Surprise?

     The combine isn’t over with yet as of time of post, so safeties and corner backs are going to be excluded but that’s okay because a player really caught my eye during the tight end drills.
     If you follow Real Bucs Talk them you know that we have taken a long look at free agent tight end Jack Doyle. He spent his first three years in the NFL as the Colts blocking tight end, think Luke Stocker. Then when Coby Fleener moved on to the Saints he got his shot to catch some passes and he responded, think Cameron Brate.

     When I first started writing about Doyle it seemed like no one was talking about him. Now I hear his name more and more, so he may not end up being the bargain I hoped he would be.

     Enter George Kittle.

     Kittle played his college ball at the University of Iowa, so you know he block, but when he ran a 4.52 40 I started to take notice. Not only did Kittle place 3rd overall in the fastest tight end class of all time, but he placed 3rd in the broad jump and 6th in the vert.

     Huh… let’s go find some tape.

     There isn’t much tape of Kittle catching passes. If you want to see some superb blocking no problem but receptions are rare. So I checked with some draft evaluators that I trust and pick their brains. Both draft guys weren’t surprised by Kittle’s combine performance. Although his 40 time wasn’t expected they felt that Kittle is undervalued. A guy that can get to all three levels and has more make you miss than you’d think and of course block. Just what Jason Licht is looking for.

     This tight end draft class was billed as the deepest ever and they came out during the combine and proved it. As a Bucs fan I’m hoping Kittle is around in the 4th or 5th round and Licht gets his tight end for a bargain.

Who Were You High On That Didn’t Have A Good Combine?

     To be honest no one. Sure some guys under preformed in some drills, but I don’t think anyone had a combine that killed their draft chances. I will list one player from each position that had a bad drill or two and might need a closer look to cement their draft grade.
RB Wayne Gallman, Clemson: Some experts have Gallman as a top 5 back. He was middle of the road all day. Need to see more.
OL Zach Banner, USC: He has been struggling with his weight and it’s a work in progress, needs a better pro day.
QB Seth Russell, Baylor: Injuries derailed his college career. Needed a huge combine to create some buzz. Didn’t happen.
TE Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas: This guy just got lost in the historically deep tight end draft. Personally I don’t think he loves the game. 
LB Reuben Foster, Alabama: Sent home for getting into a shouting match with a hospital worker during the medicals at the combine. If it hurts his draft stock at all it will only be a position or two but that’s a lot of money. If you can’t keep your cool at the combine when are you going to, Red Flag!

DL Tim Williams, Alabama: His expected explosiveness wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I mean nowhere. Every team will be going back over tape on this guy. Could be nothing could be everything.
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