Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mel Kiper Grades Buccaneers' Draft Class

The ESPN analyst believes the Buccaneers had one of the best drafts of any team in the league.

Take a look at all of the Buccaneers 2017 draft picks.

Few draft analysts, including ESPN's Mel Kiper, could have predicted that O.J. Howard would have been available when the Buccaneers were ready to pick at No. 19 in this year's NFL Draft. In his final mock draft last week, Kiper predicted Howard would be taken sixth overall by the Jets. But Howard slipped toward the bottom half of the first round and the Buccaneers promptly submitted their pick.

Howard was the cornerstone in a draft class Kiper considers to be one of the NFL's best. He graded the Buccaneers' class as an A-, with anyone earning an A or higher being "exceptional." Only five teams received an A- or an A.

"O.J. Howard at 19 is in the running for best pick of the entire draft," Kiper wrote. "I can't believe he made it there -- I thought he might go as high as No. 4. He wasn't a prolific pass-catcher at Alabama, including only 37 catches last season, but he has all the tools scouts look for in an NFL tight end. And he's already an above-average blocker. This is a value pick at Tampa's No. 1 position of need."

Kiper believes the Buccaneers also found value with their later-round picks, helping him reach the decision to grade the Bucs' class so highly.

"I liked Chris Godwin in the third round," Kiper added. "His 4.42 40 at 6-foot-1, 209 at the combine turned some heads, and his tape is solid. The receiving corps of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Godwin -- plus Howard and Cameron Brate -- has to be one of the most improved units in the league since the season ended. Justin Evans was picked about 50 spots too high based on my board, especially with Josh Jones and Obi Melifonwu still on the board. The junior college transfer is more of a center fielder. Kendell Beckwith, on the other hand, was picked 40 spots lower than where I had him. He's coming off a torn ACL suffered in late November, but he should be ready for training camp. Jeremy McNichols is my ninth-ranked rusher, and so getting him in the fifth round qualifies as a nice pick. He had 88 catches over the past two seasons."

For Kiper's list of grades for all 32 teams, click HERE. An ESPN Insider account is required to view the full list.

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