Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mel Kiper Gives Bucs' Draft Class an A

The ESPN draft analyst re-graded the Buccaneers' 2015 draft class.


Immediately following the 2015 NFL Draft, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper was confident in the players the Buccaneers had selected, but he also had his doubts. He graded all 32 teams and handed the Bucs a B- last spring. Following the season, Kiper's opinion has been swayed. When he re-graded every team's draft earlier this week, he changed the Buccaneers' grade to an A.

"Safe to say this draft looks a lot better," Kiper [wrote](http://espn.go.com/nfl/draft2015/insider/story/_/id/14589908/mel-kiper-hands-new-grades-every-2015-nfl-draft-class#NFC E). "Not only did Jameis Winston make major strides and end up throwing for more than 4,000 yards -- the third-highest rookie total since the merger behind Cam Newton and Andrew Luck -- he showed he can be a locker room leader early on. Can he maintain that into the offseason? That's the question, but judging on what he did, Tampa's decision looks smart.

"Donovan Smith was a slight reach for me, but he came in and played left tackle. It wasn't always pretty, but what can you expect? Ali Marpet also started and was solid in the run game, and Kwon Alexander looks like one of the steals of the draft. It'd be one thing if this team played all these guys and was a train wreck, but they truly got better in 2015. So they deserve a major bump."

Winston, Smith, Marpet and Alexander were the only four Buccaneer draft picks to land on the team's active roster and all four earned starting spots for the first game of the regular season. Winston was selected as the NFL's Rookie of the Week three times this season, while Alexander won the award twice. Kiper already named Winston as his selection for Rookie of the Year earlier this month.

Winston is also up for the NFL's Rookie of the Year award, which is determined by a fan vote. Buccaneer fans are encouraged to vote for Winston early and often by clicking HERE. For all of Kiper's grades, click HERE.

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