Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s one of the fundamental laws of physics and a basis of science as we know it. However, when you broaden the scope, it can be used in myriad applications. Yes, even professional football. After all, far be it from the NFL to try to defy (or dictate) the laws of physics, right?
What Newton’s Third Law tells us in a general sense is that there are inadvertent effects of events. In the case we’ll study today, said 'actions' are the standout combine performances among this year’s crop of invitees. The 'reactions' will be how those performances affect the Buccaneers, specifically, because if you’re coming to the Bucs’ website reading this, you’re likely (hopefully) a fan.
The Bucs own the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. You think about players that go in the top five each year and you know the Bucs are probably looking at a franchise talent among their available options. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, the four teams ahead of them look to have similar needs. It seems everyone is essentially going after the pass rusher. How the tables have turned.
The good news is that this class is very deep in those, and all along the defensive line, really. But let’s just say for argument's sake that the Cardinals, 49ers, Jets and Raiders all take defensive linemen. That theoretically takes guys like Kentucky’s Josh Allen, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and now Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat, if we’re paying attention to NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mock draft, off the board.
A player among those guys who somehow still upped his stock, though it didn’t have far to go, was Williams. He was likely top-five talent to begin with, but his combine showing solidified it. Getting him at the fifth pick seems to be even more of a pipe dream at this point. At 303 pounds, the kid ran a 4.83 40-yard dash with a 1.67 10-yard split, which is the more pertinent measurement for a trench dweller. That’s insane. So, you have to think that he’s out of reach of Tampa Bay if any of the other four teams ahead of it know what’s good for them.
Sweat also tested off the charts in Indianapolis. You know about his inhuman 40-yard dash time already, but he was classified as a ‘top performer’ in every major category on NFL.com. Provided Sweat’s 4.41 40, along with all those other drills, did propel him into the top five, the Bucs are still left with options – and great ones at that.
View the top photos from the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
The first is Michigan’s Rashan Gary, a defensive lineman who ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at 277 pounds after leaping to a 38.0-inch vertical. Keep in mind, he’s already 6-foot-4. Gary was initially ranked as the fourth-best prospect period on Jeremiah’s Top 50 list, but he now falls out of the top five even with those ridiculous measurables. Or how about linebacker Devin White? The LSU-product has been a recent-favorite of draft pundits to end up in Tampa and he ended up running the fastest 40-yard dash of every linebacker at the combine with his 4.43. Plus, he has the tape to back it up. If you ask me, those aren't bad players to end up with in 2019 if you're the Bucs.
But ok, now let’s get away from worst-case scenario. If you believe the Kyler Murray-to-Arizona hype that has come out of the combine despite Murray doing zero on-field drills, you’ve now released one of those aforementioned four defensive linemen back into the pool. Which one falls is now the question.
Bosa’s pedigree is probably what speaks for him most. His combine performance was solid, but nothing extraordinary. In fact, he wasn’t among those 'top performers' in any category for his position group. Is that enough to ignore the tape you have from Ohio State and how well big brother is doing in the NFL, currently? No. But it might have forced a little nagging wedge under the lid of widely accepted opinion he’s the best pass rusher available this year.
That said, assume Williams and Bosa are still locks in the first four picks. The 49ers are desperate for a pass rusher. The Jets need another lineman to shore up new Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams’ 4-3 front. That all makes sense. Then there’s Allen, whose power was a slight concern coming into Indy. He then proceeded to put up 28 reps on the bench – the second-best mark among edge rushers. Cool.
Between Allen and Sweat, the Bucs would be getting a heck of a talent off the edge in their new defensive scheme. It’s a scenario that I think just about anybody would be happy with, and it only takes one non-defensive player to go off the board within the first four picks to happen.
But wait. What if there were two offensive players taken in the first four? That scenario is significantly more likely after the combine, courtesy of Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf. The buzz started at weigh-ins with this guy. It was reported he had 1.9% body fat, which I’m not sure I believe, but one look at his 6-foot-3, 228-pound frame and you know it isn’t too much of an exaggeration. The next day, he ran an absolutely unnatural 4.33 40-yard dash. He also registered a vertical jump of 40.5 inches and benched 27 reps, tying for the most in his wideout group. He’s an absolutely freaky athlete and the hype surrounding him now might be enough to get a team within the top four, cough-Raiders-cough, to pull the trigger on him.
That’s incredibly good news for Bucs fans.
If both Murray and Metcalf go within the first four picks, Tampa Bay is looking at having its pick of Allen, Sweat, Gary, White and maybe even Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. What a world.
We’ll see just have to wait to see the ‘reaction’ come draft time. After all, it’s science.