On the eve of the 2017 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are talking about possibly trading down in the first round and possibly out of it altogether, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. "At least three teams" are involved in these discussions.
The news doesn't come as a surprise. The Bucs' front office regards this as a deep draft class, where there is a lot of value outside of the first round, and this is reflected by a large number of the players they met with. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook (who I mocked to the Bucs in the ESPN NFL Nation mock draft) may be the highest-projected pick they worked out privately and/or brought in for a pre-draft visit. General manager Jason Licht also dropped some subtle clues about this last week in his annual pre-draft news conference, when he was asked what type of player they could get at No. 19. "You can get a good player at 50, you can get a player throughout the draft," Licht said. "A lot of times when you’re picking high, if you go back and study it, there’s a lot of high-ceiling, but also low-floor players up there, a little boom or bust. That’s the case throughout the draft. But a lot of times when you’re picking later in the first round, you’re getting sometimes a safe player that may not have the flash, but ends up being a very solid player." Sticking with the running back position, Cook, who the team remains very high on as far as talent goes, is a true game-wrecker and would be an instant upgrade on offense. But he did have three shoulder surgeries and does carry off-the-field concerns. What if he comes off the board or what if the Bucs saw enough out of Doug Martin in 10 days of offseason workouts that they want to give him a shot, while not closing the door on a running back entirely? They could trade down and get a top pass-rusher like Michigan's Taco Charlton or Kansas State's Jordan Willis, or they could address safety with Washington's Budda Baker or UConn's Obi Melifonwu, or grab USC cornerback Adoree' Jackson to groom as Brent Grimes' future replacement. They could address running back with Texas' D'Onta Foreman, who rushed for 2,028 yards last year, second-most in FBS, or South Florida's all-time leading rusher, Marlon Mack. If they wanted to grab a wide receiver, they could grab Ohio State's Curtis Samuel or Penn State's Chris Godwin, both of whom could go in the second round and possibly even later. If they wanted a tight end, they could grab Toledo's Michael Roberts, who fills the need for a blocking and receiving tight end and might even be available on Day 3. If they wanted to address offensive tackle, they could draft Bucknell's Julien Davenport. The Elias Sports Bureau recently compiled this gem: of the 1,992 players who appeared in at least one NFL game during the 2016 season, 65 percent of them were drafted in the fourth round or later or were undrafted. So bottom line -- there is talent in a lot of places this year, and the Bucs are wise to explore moving around to see where it will get them.