Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2016 Mock Draft Roundtable, Part 4

With the real thing about to begin, Buccaneers.com contributors finish up their mock draft with selections 25-31, including a useful pick for the defending NFC South champs.

See every first-round Draft pick ever selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

An NFL mock draft necessarily gets more difficult as you go along. Or, to be more specific, it becomes much harder to make a correct prediction. We can all confidently guess that quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz will be picked first and second (though we might get the order wrong), and that Dallas seems like a great landing spot for Jalen Ramsey at #4. It just takes one unexpected pick in the early going, however, to throw the rest of the mock draft off its rails.

RELATED: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

But we've come this far, so it's time to put a cap on the fourth annual Buccaneers.com mock draft. Our goal is modest: To get at least two picks right this year after our dismal performance of one accurate prediction 12 months ago.

In preparation for the 2016 NFL Draft, lets take a look back at every 9th pick in NFL Draft History.

Who knows, the winning edge could be right here in picks 25-31 (New England's first-round pick was forfeited). So let's get to it.

But first, one more time for posterity: These are our own opinions. They are not meant to reflect the opinions of Jason Licht, Dirk Koetter or anybody who will actually be making non-mock picks on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Actually, given that we're well past the Bucs' own pick at this point, that's probably moot, but you get the point.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (Joe Kania's pick)

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Just two cornerbacks have been selected thus far, with Jalen Ramsey going to the Cowboys at No. 4 and Vernon Hargreaves landing with the Bucs at No. 9. As of recently, reports have surfaced indicating that Apple could be in the conversation with those two. Should Apple fall to No. 25, the Steelers would be him at a great price. I was torn between Apple and MacKensie Alexander with this pick, but couldn't get past the fact that Alexander didn't record a single interception in his college career. Apple had four in two seasons, including three as a freshman.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State (Scott Smith's pick)

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This isn't a sexy pick, but the Seahawks don't need sexy here. They need big and ugly. Seattle has just about every piece in place to make another title run, but they were getting subpar results from their O-Line even before the departures of J.R. Sweezy and Russell Okung. They could use help on the edge and in the interior, but our early run on tackles leaves the better value at guard, and Whitehair might have the highest ceiling of players projected to play that position (he was a tackle in college but is expected to move inside). There's a pretty good tradition of very good guards being picked right around this spot in the first round in recent years, from David DeCastro to Ben Grubbs to Davin Joseph and Logan Mankins.

27. Green Bay Packers: Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State (Andrew Norton's pick)

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A big run-stopper in the middle makes sense here for the Packers, and in our scenario Chris Jones or Vernon Butler fit the bill, but I think the bigger hole for the Packers lies at linebacker, both inside and outside. Clay Matthews has proven to be a versatile linebacker talent and drafting Darron Lee would help ease his workload. Lee has strong coverage skills, can rush the passer and is quick to get to the football. He was a standout at the Combine and could prove a good one-two punch to help solidify the Green Bay defense.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson (Casey Phillips's pick)

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This was my most difficult decision so far in these mocks. I planned to take a cornerback here to replace Sean Smith, whom the Chiefs lost to Oakland. But Lawson is considered the third-best defensive end in this draft and a top 15 prospect. If that falls to you at 28, it's a hard thing to pass up. Defensive end may not be the biggest position of need, but this is a team that obviously knows the value of defense. The Chiefs need to start looking to replace Tamba Hali and are unsure of Justin Houston's status moving forward, so Lawson could be a perfect fit. He has great size, and although he's not the ideal edge rusher around the corner, he could be a great run stopper and would be difficult for tight ends to block as an OLB in a 3-4 defense.

29. Arizona Cardinals: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia (Joe Kania's pick)

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The Cardinals need help in the secondary, but with three corners already off the board a viable option would be to turn to the top safety in this year's draft class. Joseph could have very well been a top 15 pick had he not missed the majority of the 2015 season with a knee injury. At the time of his injury, Joseph led the country in interceptions, picking up five in four games. I also considered Mackensie Alexander, who was on my radar at No. 25 as well.

30. Carolina Panthers: William Jackson III, CB, Houston (Scott Smith's pick)

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Something tells me the Panthers' draft board got shuffled a little bit about, oh, a week ago. Cornerback could have already been considered a position of need, even after the free agency acquisition of Brandon Boykin and his seven career starts. Now there's a Josh Norman-sized hole to fill. I don't think the departure of Norman puts the Panthers' brain trust in scramble mode to get a cornerback at all costs, but the strength of the draft happens to match up nicely with that need right here. The player Joe's been flirting with for five picks, Alexander, is still there, but I'm going with the Houston corner whose draft stock has been on the rise. He's got good size to match up with the Bucs' big receivers.

31. Denver Broncos: Germain Ifedi, G, Texas A&M (Andrew Norton's pick)

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The Broncos could hunt for their Malik Jackson replacement along the defensive line, or find an heir apparent for DeMarcus Ware to line up with Von Miller in the future, but the most pressing matter here for the Broncos is to find some offensive line help for whoever they put under center. Ifedi is 6-6 and 324 pounds and projects to transition from tackle to guard in the NFL. Whether he plays the left next to Okung or the right to shore up protection on that side, Ifedi should be a first-day starter for a team that, despite losing their starting Super Bowl winning QB, could remain a playoff contender based on the strength of their defense.

* (Click here to for Part 1, here for Part 2 and here for Part 3 of the Buccaneers.com Mock Draft. A review of all 31 picks is below.)*

Buccaneers.com Mock Draft Results

  1. Los Angeles: QB Carson Wentz
  2. Philadelphia: QB Jared Goff
  3. San Diego: T Laremy Tunsil
  4. Dallas: CB Jalen Ramsey
  5. Jacksonville: DE Joey Bosa
  6. Baltimore: DE DeFortest Buckner
  7. San Francisco: LB Myles Jack
  8. Cleveland: T Ronnie Stanley
  9. Tampa Bay: CB Vernon Hargreaves
  10. N.Y. Giants: RB Ezekiel Elliott
  11. Chicago: DT A'Shawn Robinson
  12. New Orleans: DT Sheldon Rankins
  13. Miami: T Jack Conklin
  14. Oakland: LB Reggie Ragland
  15. Tennessee: T Taylor Decker
  16. Detroit: DT Andrew Billings
  17. Atlanta: LB Leonard Floyd
  18. Indianapolis: C Ryan Kelly
  19. Buffalo: DE Kevin Dodd
  20. N.Y. Jets: QB Paxton Lynch
  21. Washington: DT Jarran Reed
  22. Houston: WR Corey Coleman
  23. Minnesota: WR Laquon Treadwell
  24. Cincinnati: WR Will Fuller
  25. Pittsburgh: CB Eli Apple
  26. Seattle: G Cody Whitehair
  27. Green Bay: LB Darron Lee
  28. Kansas City: DE Shaq Lawson
  29. Arizona: S Karl Joseph
  30. Carolina: CB William Jackson III
  31. Denver: G Germain Ifedi
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