View photos of Daniel Jeremiah's second mock draft. Photos by AP Images.
The Combine provided a concrete way to either confirm or dismiss the evaluations that have already been done on the 300+ players invited. It also allowed the public to get a glimpse of what coaches, scouts and front office personnel see in each player. That brings about a flurry of hypotheses from draft experts across the country and there seems to have been a major shift in who most now see wearing red and pewter after the first round.
Safety Derwin James out of Florida State has caught the eye of experts, including NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah and ESPN's Todd McShay, who both have the Bucs picking James at No. 7 overall. It seems most experts have Tampa Bay adding to their secondary now, whether it be James, Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick or even Denzel Ward out of Ohio State. A few still have a defensive end or even the guard from Notre Dame Quenton Nelson. But after seeing how well-rounded of an offensive lineman Nelson is, many think he may already be off the board before the Bucs would have a shot at him.
Next up is free agency, which begins this week and should have another significant impact on next week's mock drafts.
Have you weighed in on which position you think the Bucs should take with their first-round pick? If not, vote here.
The full roundup of expert picks is below.
NFL.comLance Zierlein (March 8) – DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
Zierlein: "Fitzpatrick offers the Bucs a hybrid piece to help counter teams like the Saints that are always looking for matchup advantages."
Daniel Jeremiah (March 6) – S Derwin James (Florida State)
View photos of Peter Schrager's first mock draft. Photos by AP Images.
Peter Schrager (March 1) – DT Vita Vea (Washington)
Charley Casserly (February 13) – DE Bradley Chubb (NC State)
Bucky Brooks (January 30) – DE Marcus Davenport (UTSA)
CBSSports.comChris Trapasso (March 12) – DE Marcus Davenport (UTSA)
Trapasso: "This pick comes with some risk, but the Buccaneers must address their pass rush, and Davenport has a freakish blend of length and athleticism.
R.J. White (March 10) – CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)
White: "The Buccaneers should be looking to add multiple cornerbacks this offseason, and though Ward couldn't work out in drills after tweaking his ankle in the 40, he put up a 4.32 before calling it a day. Ohio State has produced multiple high-level corners in recent years, and Ward like Lattimore should be the top guy selected at his position this year."
Pete Prisco (March 4) – DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
Prisco: "Minkah Fitzpatrick, S-CB, Alabama. They have to get better on the back end, and this kid would give them a lot of versatility back there. He would be an ideal free safety to pair with Justin Evans."
Jared Dubin (March 1) – G Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame)
Todd McShay (March 7) – S Derwin James (Florida State)
McShay: "The Bucs were dead last in the NFL with 17 sacks last season, so they need an edge rusher badly. But the defensive end class this year lacks elite talent at the top, and this is a reach for someone like Marcus Davenport. Instead, Tampa Bay should take the best player available -- which is James. James is a versatile playmaker on the back end, and also a terrific athlete. His outstanding workout in Indy (40-inch vertical jump, 11-foot broad jump, 4.47 40-yard dash) wasn't surprising."
Dan Kadar (March 12) – S Derwin James (Florida State)
Kadar: "A season ago the Buccaneers used a second-round pick on free safety Justin Evans, and a player like James would pair nicely with him. James is a player who can do a little bit of everything for the Buccaneers, including rushing the passer and covering tight ends.
Scott Reynolds (March 11) – DE Vita Vea (Washington)
Reynolds: "Vea's experience playing nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme also gives defensive coordinator Mike Smith the ability to switch Tampa Bay to a 3-4 defense in 2018, or at least play more multiple fronts consisting of both 3-4 and 3-3-5 schemes in addition to a 4-3 front. For those Bucs fans that want the team to embrace the trend of the 3-4 defense, having a chess piece like Vea is key to making that happen due to the importance of the zero-technique nose tackle in that scheme.
New defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, a former NFL nose tackle, has coached both 3-4 and 4-3 fronts in Arizona and can take Vea's game to the next level.