Under the direction of San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, the South team had some standouts of their own this week. Arguably the best defensive end invited to the Senior Bowl took the field for South practice in Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat. There was also an all-too-familiar wide receiver in Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow, who could easily be Adam Humphries 2.0. The Bucs’ scouting staff is sure to have their targets for each phase of the draft. Below are a few of mine from the South team and how they could fit in Tampa Bay.
DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Sweat came into this week with a buzz and given the depth of edge rushers and defensive linemen, that’s saying something. In person, Sweat is a pretty massive figure. He stands at 6’6 and weighs 245, all distributed in the prototypical defensive end way. He carries himself like an NFL player already according to Mississippi State personnel. He works out like a pro, he’s around the facility like one, essentially he’s already all business. On the field, he showcased a great bend off the edge and a great get off. His athletic ability is apparent and his complementary work ethic should make him extremely successful at the next level.
A two-way player, he played tight end in addition to defensive end in high school and was ranked as one of the top recruits at the tight end position nationally as he entered college. On top of that, he played basketball, so his athletic ability is unparalleled. He started his collegiate career at Michigan State before transferring and spending a year in junior college and then getting to Mississippi State from there. He led the SEC in sacks as a junior in 2017 and was named a first-team All-American by three different outlets in his senior season after recording 11.5 sacks, which was good for seventh-best in Mississippi State history in a single season.
WR Hunter Renfrow, Clemson
He’s consistent. He’s dependable. He’s always in the place you need him to be. Did I just describe current Bucs’ wide receiver Adam Humphries? I very easily could have, but those traits also happen to apply to more-recent Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. More than his effort and dependability, Renfrow is smart, which is apparent in his route running. He had capable and reliable hands this week in practice, as well, and was very productive during his time at Clemson. As a part of a program that is known for its wide receivers, Renfrow started all 13 games for the National Champion Tigers as a senior. He should see even more production at the next level, where schematically slot receivers are used a lot more fluidly.
Humphries is due to hit free agency this year for the Bucs and after having his most productive season in the NFL, could command more than the Bucs could feasibly pay. Should that scenario play out, Renfrow would be an instant fill-in given their similarities both on and off the field.
CB Lonnie Johnson Jr., Kentucky
Here’s a guy that not a lot of people were talking about prior to this week in Mobile, which is kind of puzzling given Johnson’s size. Standing at 6’3 and weighing in at 206 pounds, he would rival most of the receivers he would be matching up against at the NFL level. During practices this week, he really impressed. He proved physical and able to get the right angles on opposing receivers. He also delivered some major hits. Like, some of the best tackles I’ve seen from a corner and this was in practice for an all-star game.
The Bucs are facing a dilemma with cornerback Brent Grimes coming up in free agency and another young outside corner in Carlton Davis. Feasibly, Vernon Hargreaves will be coming back and hopefully remain healthy, but with this propensity for spending time at nickel corner, getting another true outside corner could be a point of emphasis. Johnson is a very attractive prospect especially considering his size. In an NFC South that includes the likes of Falcons’ wide receiver Julio Jones, Saints’ wide receiver Michael Thomas and Panthers’ wide receiver Devin Funchess, all of which are 6’3 or taller, a corner of comparable size that can run with these guys would be (literally) huge for the Bucs.
FB/TE Trevon Wesco, West Virginia
So I tweeted a video of Wesco and it ended up with hundreds of likes. This guy is the total package that you’d want out of a full back, tight end, all-around utility player. Realistically, he would probably be more of a tight end at the NFL level but he could do all aspects of the ‘Y’ position. He’s very good in the blocking game given his weight of over 270 pounds. He can clearly lead the running back and sit in pass protection.
“When I block people, I feel like I’m a very physical blocker, so I feel like that separates me from most,” Wesco said.I “ did a good bit of both [run and pass protection] at West Virginia and I think both of them I do well in.”
At 6’3, he might be on the shorter side for a tight end but how incredibly solid he is makes up for it. He’s also a great route runner. Even with a brand new team made up of some of the best talent in the country, he was able to stand out. He emphasized that he truly is a utility player and prides himself on doing it all.
“Yeah, I can definitely catch. I’m really a tight end, but I can do both,” Wesco said. “I’m versatile with it, hand in the dirt, backfield, in the slot, I can do all of it. We didn’t do a lot of attached tight end but I was in the backfield a lot and I was ‘ghost’ tight end, they call it. Things like that.”
RB Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Armstead absolutely refused to be stopped during practice this week. He fought his way through tackles constantly and attacked his gaps. He also flashed some very capable hands as he proved a viable underneath option in the passing game. He definitely seemed to be one that upped his stock this week. He didn’t come in with the buzz around him like Notre Dame’s Dexter Williams and isn’t from a small enough school to warrant a shout out from Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy like Bruce Anderson out of North Dakota State did. But like so many running backs, Armstead may go overlooked. He had a great first day of practice. He could be a great prospect in the later rounds of the draft for the Bucs and here’s why: Head Coach Bruce Arians seems to have an affinity for guys out of his former program. Temple was where he got his first head coaching job and some of his coaches, including Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles, played for him or coached with him there.