Drafting A Linebacker

March 14th, 2021

Mocked to Bucs.

So what do the Bucs do in the draft?

If the Bucs are able to retain Bucs sack king Shaq Barrett, there are no weaknesses on the starting roster.

Oh sure, Ndamukong Suh could still walk. So Joe guesses a big ol’ defensive lineman to plug up running lanes might be smart.

Ryan McCrystal of Warren Sharp’s Sharp Football Analysis has been ranked as the second-most accurate mocker by The Huddle. He has the Bucs picking Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins at No. 32.

With Chris Godwin getting the franchise tag, re-signing Shaq Barrett has now become more difficult. If Barrett is allowed to walk, Zaven Collins could potentially be a good fit in his place as a linebacker who excels on blitzes and playing downhill against the run.

Now is McCrystal doing the clickbait parlor game that mock drafts have become, changing his mock draft every time he changes his briefs? This is Joe’s long-time argument against mock drafts. If you have one each week, which one is the accurate one? This is why Joe respected the late Joel Buchsbaum and Mike Mayock so much. Those guys did one mock draft and that was it.

Stick to your guns!

Joe remembers talking about this to Matt Miller, formerly of Bleacher Report. Miller is one of the most well-known draftniks and now works for BSPN as well as his own site. Miller told Joe he has little to no interest in being accurate with his mock drafts.

If someone is not striving for accuracy, then what the hell is the point? If accuracy is not a concern with mock drafts, then these things are little more than football porn for mental masturbation.

In other words, if one’s work is not rooted in accuracy, it’s useless.

Anyway, back to the Bucs. Joe believes the Bucs want to draft players that can make an immediate impact. Remember, the team is trying to repeat. Developing rookies isn’t an immediate priority. So what position has the best chance of being impacted by a rookie? Running back.

This is why Joe believes if Travis Ettiene drops to No. 32 — not insane if you look at the recent history of the draft — he would be the pickup. Ettiene can catch out the backfield (which RoJo struggles with) and even line up wide as a receiver.

Since the Bucs re-signed Lavonte David, Joe isn’t sure they need this Collins. Besides, Joe is more inclined to draft linebacker Nick Bolton out of Missouri. He’s proven to be stud defender in the SEC.

Which would you prefer? A linebacker who has proven he can dominate against Florida or a linebacker who has proven he can dominate against South Florida?

70 Responses to “Drafting A Linebacker”

  1. SOEbuc Says:

    Zavan Collins is gone before 32, Joe. Trade our first round.

  2. Drunkinybor Says:

    This is who I want. He probably won’t drop to 32 but I love him as a prospect.
    Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah from ND. I think he’s going to ball out in the pros.

  3. SOEbuc Says:

    I also love to get JOK. He can get to the QB and hold down his side of the field. Big potential with Bucs defense.

  4. C2asante Says:

    If he is there at 32 you take him, and worry about a 3rd down back later

  5. Mort Says:

    Aight, let’s go TU!

  6. Chris Thomas from Heaven Says:

    Take whoever is most NFL ready & will contribute immediately. No raw “projects”.

  7. Joe Says:

    Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah from ND

    Read good things about him.

  8. gotbbucs Says:

    If Collins is there it’s a no-brainer pick.

  9. gotbbucs Says:

    Bolton is a nice player, but it’s going to be harder to have him on the field at the same time as White and David. In our defense, Bolton would have to play MLB. He would struggle to hold up anywhere else other than off the ball.

    Collins can play middle or edge. He would be a really nice fit to mix up with JPP, Barrett, and Vea when they get into a nickel rush game.

    Owusu-Koramoah would probably play more of that joker role that Deone Buchanan played in Arizona for Bowles.

  10. Fred mcneil Says:

    Any really good pass catching back, Ala James White, would be my pick.

  11. Fred mcneil Says:

    But not the almost 30 real James White.

  12. Colin in Canada Says:

    It would be a bit of a projection to say that Zaven Collins could play the OLB in the Bucs scheme. He was more of an inside LB in college but it seems like he would be able to do it. This guy makes it look easy. If he is there we should draft him either way.

  13. Blackmagic00 Says:

    Still can’t wrap my head around us picking 32nd. Crazy! Love this team!

  14. Blackmagic00 Says:

    And still can’t figure out why the hell i have to use my VPN to make comments here. Been here since 08 and for whatever stupid reason I’ve been banned from commenting. Joe?

  15. Blackmagic00 Says:

    For whatever reason I was banned is the reason I don’t post much. It’s infuriating because I can’t just post. And still, after about 4 years, have no idea why.

  16. Fred mcneil Says:

    Immediately, you’re posting now.
    Could the prob be on your end?

  17. Fred mcneil Says:


  18. MadMax Says:

    Ive been posting about this kid. he’s got a nose for the football….if he’s there, take him! he wont be though. Wont slip past the Browns. He’s gonna be a stud. 6’4 260 and very fluid and fast in pads and helmet. If we lose Shaq, I’d be fine with trading up for him. Trust me, he wont look like a rookie with Bowles and the crew. Look how fast White came along.

    But if he’s gone and Etienne is there at 32, or baby Gronk Freiermuth…there you have it.

  19. Lunchbox Says:

    YES, THIS GUY!! Although I think we’d need to trade up a bit to get him I think Collins would definitely have more impact than Bolton, because of his being able to play OLB. This is who I’d want if we are going with a pass rusher with 32. IF NOT, and if E-T-N is there, he’d look awesome in Red and Pewter. But don’t forget, every year there is a player or two that everyone says is going to go in the teens, but somehow slides and presents great value. We need to keep an eye out for that guy and think BPA.

  20. Lunchbox Says:

    Gotta admit, Freiermuth looks pretty damned good too.

  21. westernbuc Says:

    Barring a great RB or defensive line we should trade out. I think quality depth should be where we spend our draft picks. We got lucky with injuries and more contracts are going to be up next year. We need some young guys to fill out our roster

  22. WhatTheBuc Says:

    You can’t really compare Collins to Nick Bolton. They play 2 different positions in our scheme. Collins would be an outside linebacker. Our OLBs rarely drop in coverage. Bolton plays inside LB. If we drafted Bolton, he would be an eventual David replacement. My concern is that Bolton is said to run 4.8-4.9. That’s not fast enough to draft in the 1st. Not for Bowles system. Collins may eventually be a good 3-4 OLB but he’s not one of the top pass rushers in the class.

  23. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Nick Bolton is 6′ 231…….Zaven Collins is 6’4″ 260……and both are very slow compared to Devin White…..

    My thoughts are totally on FA right now….hard to even think about the draft until we know who we lose. But, I am good with stacking the defense with some depth.

  24. Hodad Says:

    Want to help make the defense great? Draft Travis if he falls to 32. Our offense would become down right scary with this kid catching passes out of the backfield from Brady. More first downs, more scoring, help defense more then a small school LBer. That picks a joke by the way. Etty with our other weapons, you’ll need to score 40 to beat us.

  25. Mitch Says:

    No way he makes it to 32. This kid has the ability to be the next super star linebacker. He’s a physical specimen at 6’4 260 runs a 4.5 and has a knack for making game changing plays, creating turnovers, and scoring touchdowns. I would definitely draft him if he is there.

  26. Marine Buc Says:

    @ western

    I agree. Draft a RB that way we get him for 5 years if he is any good.

    Trading back and picking up an extra pick or two wouldn’t be a bad idea either. We really need backup o-line as well…

  27. MadMax Says:

    This is MY board (still need to work on a few other options for 2nd and 3rd, lol)

    LB Collins
    TE Freiermuth
    RB Etienne

    OT/G Jackson Carman

    DT Darius stills

    (think we’ll lose the rest in trade ups)

  28. PSL Bob Says:

    Hey, hey, hey. No need to dis my alma mater. You can state your preferences without alluding to the dismal nature of USF football!

  29. geno711 Says:

    Somebody else first said it on this site…. Maybe Joeinmichigan…

    Ronnie Perkins at DE/OLB hybrid and his eventual ability to replace JPP after this year might be the nice pick.

    Perkins might have some of the best game film for playing lots of snaps and effective against both the run and the pass. Something Bowles looks for in his guys.

    Suspended 5 games this year for Marijuana use in 2019. He had 23 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks in 6 games this year. Experts like him a lot more than fans.

    “Certainly he really elevated that defense once he got back on the field,” Kiper said on a media conference call this past Monday. “I mean he was a difference maker. And he was consistent…

  30. SKBucsFan Says:

    Linebacker or Edge. (1st and 2nd) I agree that the Bucs need to draft impact players , as all teams do. But drafting for depth and building for the future on defense isnt the worst thing. Drafting a running back would be. We have 2 good ones already, and cast offs are apparently a dime a dozen.
    I believe the Bucs have demonstrated ( twice now! ) that defense wins championships.

  31. Cobraboy Says:

    Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah from ND.

    I really haven’t studied the draft because I’m not a draftnick. It’s a crapshoot.

    But this guy was brought to my attention, and he can really play.

    Thing is he is way too small as a LB. He’s free/strong safety size, and I’m not sure how fast he is for those positions.

    I’m not sure where you play him.

    It is rare when a “tweener” has an impact in the NFL. It happens, but it’s rare.

  32. Cobraboy Says:

    Collins downside is speed and quickness.

    The Bucs have drafted many slow-footed LB’s in their past and they become forgettable.

    What you want in a 4-3 linebacker is totally different from what you want in a 3-4 linebacker.

  33. Erick Says:

    Draft a LB from LSU. Seem to do pretty good with those guys.

  34. ncbucsfan Says:

    Joe, bro, you just said with a straight face that you’d prefer Nick Bolton over Zaiven Collins!!! If you watched one smidget of actual tape/highlights, whatever, and this is your conclusion, your credibility is in the negative, below zero!! Nick Boltons momma wouldn’t pick Nick Bolton over Zaiven Collins!! This is not up for discussion. I’d wager that Nick Bolton might not get drafted until the 3rd – 4th rd. Zaiven can play ILB and OLB effectively!! He jumps out of the screen!!! Nick Bolton…not at all!

  35. ncbucsfan Says:

    And Cobraboy, you said Zaven Collins issue is speed and quickness? He’ll probably run a 4.5 in the 40 at 6’4, 255lbs lol!! What?!!! He is damn near considered a world-class athlete and you say he is slow? I’m literally shaking my head on that comment.

  36. Alaskabuc Says:

    I don’t care who is on the board if Etienne is available at 32 we need to take him and trust Licht to find an impact OLB in round two or later in that scenario.

  37. WhatTheBuc Says:

    There’s not a spot for Collins unless he moves to 3-4 OLB. If he does, you’re just projecting and hoping he will be good there. He’s more of a Leighton Vandereche. Maybe he’s better. Either way the Bucs don’t need to draft their future middle LB this year.

  38. Cobraboy Says:

    @ncbucsfan: Collins is predicted to run a 4.8 40. I ran a 4.8 in college. That is NOT superior LB speed in the NFL. Hell, Wirfs ran a 4.86 40.

    He will NOT run a 4.5, or he’d be a top-5 pick.

  39. Daniel Says:

    As joe said we don’t have any holes we won the Superbowl and teams with holes don’t win the Superbowl. We do have weaknesses and future holes (Suh & JPP).
    I’m ok with win now Ettiene but I don’t want to see the Bucs repeat past mistakes we made after our first Superbowl. We didn’t have any replacements for our aging high-priced Superstars; Dexter Jackson MVP, Sapp, Brooks, Lynch, Keyshawn, Brad Johnson.
    So I’d also be ok with the best available player at Linebacker or Lineman.

  40. Joe in Michigan Says:

    geno711: It wasn’t me who posted about Ronnie Perkins, I wouldn’t want Perkins for the Bucs unless it was 4th Round or later (just like other prospects more and heard Perkins had a bad pro day). I like Zaven Collins a lot, he can do different things (rush the passer, drop in coverage, run defense). I also expect Collins to be gone by 32nd pick, but you never know. Someone to watch for, maybe in the 2nd Round, would be Jabril Cox of LSU. He was an edge rusher with North Dakota State with a lot of sacks, not as many sacks after transferring to LSU, but looks really good in coverage. I think he has the versatility to be a backup edge rusher to start out, and also play ILB.

  41. SOEbuc Says:

    Joe are these people serious they want a THIRD down RB in the FIRST round because obviously Brady can’t win a Super Bowl without a pass catching RB like White??? Remove heads from ass’ people. We don’t even use our number one RB that much. Vaughn was one of the best pass blockers in college, a power back and good hands for a RB with being a receiver RB. I’m taking Vaughn to pound it into the end zone on 3rd and goal all day over James White. Of course I have to hold my tongue in FA but again Licht doesn’t come on JBF to scout players through blogs.

    We are already stacked with picks. I say we trade down for more and let Licht do his thing. 1. OLB (no Shaq) 2. Edge (I happen to like Ronnie Perkins he looks just like JPP) 3. Trenches. It’s always about the trenches. CB (we need serious depth).

  42. SB : Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    Blackmagic00 Says:
    March 14th, 2021 at 3:28 am
    For whatever reason I was banned is the reason I don’t post much. It’s infuriating because I can’t just post. And still, after about 4 years, have no idea why.


    I feel your pain sir. I also have been here for over 8 years. I have been in ‘moderation’ for the last 6 months. Joe says there is nothing he can do about his filters.

  43. Joe in Michigan Says:

    SOEBucs: I don’t speak for everybody, but I think Etienne, Najee Harris, and Javonte Williams are options for the Bucs at 32. Obviously these 3 are more than just 3rd down backs, they are 3-down backs that you can keep on the field. All of them can catch the ball consistently (Etienne was inconsistent early in his college career, but has gotten better), unlike what I’ve seen from Ronald Jones.
    I’d be happy with an edge rusher, DT/DE/NT that can be an eventual replacement for Suh, but stout enough to play NT (insurance against another Vea injury), RB, and developmental CB. No particular round, just get good football players that fit the Bucs system.

  44. SOEbuc Says:

    Also need to be looking at C in the draft for when Jensen contract is up next year. Jensen and Brady is a good duo to learn from a C his rookie year.

  45. The Daily Coroner Says:

    Javonte Williams

  46. ncbucsfan Says:

    @Cobraboy: you must be looking at a bum site like Walter Football or something to say that. Watch the tape of his 90-yd int return and how he completely pulls away from Tulane QB Michael Pratt, who’s pretty mobile and runs a 4.7, and tell me again with a straight-face he runs a 4.8!!! Hell, just look at the damn video AT ALL and still say that. You’re smoking or too prideful to say you quoted a bum source if you remotely try to defend saying he’ll run a 4.8!! And no, a 4.5 would not make him a top-5 pick because he played at Tulsa, inferior competition. Devin White went top 5 because of our need with a 4.4. Devin Bush out of Michigan didn’t and ran a 4.4. Montez Sweat, who is longer, taller, and bigger than Collins, and played in tbe SEC, ran a 4.4 and didn’t get picked until #26 to Washington so a 4.5 from Zaven Collins wouldn’t make him a top-5 pick Gump! Smh!!

  47. ncbucsfan Says:

    @The Daily Coroner: completely on board with the Javonte Williams recommendation!!

  48. Joe in Michigan Says:

    SOEBucs: Yes, Center, too. That was just a quick list off the top of my head. I was listening to an interview with Jason Licht recently, and a few of the quotes were “We have a phenomenal locker room in terms of football character, team attitude, and unselfishness”, and the Bucs look for “aggressive players that love football, that are very passionate about it”. I use this in my logic in trying to predict who the Bucs will draft. I remember the year the Bucs drafted Devon White, many fans predicted that the Bucs would take Ed Oliver. From what I knew of Oliver (sitting out games with minor injuries, having a blowout on the sidelines with his coach, etc.), I was almost certain the Bucs wouldn’t choose him, even though he is a good player. I’m not saying I know these guys or anything, but usually if you see red flags around a college player the Bucs don’t draft him. Just like everything, there are exceptions, but when I see a player that was suspended for a failed drug test, I wonder if the Bucs question said player’s commitment to football.

  49. ncbucsfan Says:

    @SOE Buc: Jensen may get an extension to free up cap room. If not, Landon Dickerson, 6’6 325, out of Alabama, while he got injured, would be a very nice addition to our Oline!! He’s nasty and versatile along the interior line. If healthy would probably supplant Cappa at RG, who is also going to be up for an extension soon. I like Dickerson alot!

  50. Joe in Michigan Says:

    ⬆️ Post above was about Ronnie Perkins, not Zaven Collins⬆️

  51. Joe in Michigan Says:

    FYI: Shaq Barrett ran a 4.73 at 251 pounds at his pro day. You can still be a good football player with a 4.8 40 time. If I had to guess on Zaven Collins, I’d say 4.7, or so.

  52. Joe in Michigan Says:

    A guy I went to school with swore up and down that he ran a 4.55 40. A friend of ours asked us to race, although I was much bigger than him. I beat him by a step (I was nowhere near 4.55 speed), so he said it was because I had better shoes than him. My friends and I laugh about that to this day.

  53. WillieG Says:

    “This is Joe’s long-time argument against mock drafts. If you have one each week, which one is the accurate one?” – Joe

    I agree with this, sort of. But a part of me thinks that some (SOME) of the mockers might be doing lots of fact finding, and updating their mock drafts accordingly.

  54. Cobraboy Says:

    @ncbucsfan (with a straight face): the dude runs a 4.8.

    Playing against inferior competition.

    If Collins ran a 4.6 in pads….well, that’s a different story.

    I want the BPA at 32, or trade up for more picks, even stockpile picks for NEXT year.

    This past college season was a CF in most conferences like the NFL was. I have not seen a worse season for judging draft talent with short seasons, no spring ball, and guys sitting out over Wuhan Flu panic.

    I don’t sport wood over any draft prospect, and won’t play liars poker over it. That’s Licht’s job.

    That said, of all that might be there at 32, if the Bucs don’t trade down, I would be fine with Williams kid, the RB out of UNC. Impressive in a lesser college conference (IMO, the ACC is a step down from other conferences.)

    Beyond that, and as far as “you’re smoking something”, you can bite me.

  55. ncbucsfan Says:

    @Cobraboy: Collins was clocked over 21 mph after running a total of 107 yds on that game clinching interception. Look it up! Its possible his get off lags, but that’s also pointed out as a strength of his, his short area quickness. Rojo’s top speed on his 98-yd touchdown this year against the Panthers was 21.19m mph, he ran a 4.5 40. Jeremy Chinn, who ran a 4.45 at the combine, reached a top speed of 22.09 mph trying to catch Rojo. Zaven Collins is damn near guaranteed to run at least a 4.6 or better with that type of top end speed!! Do your research

  56. Buczilla Says:

    Considering where we are picking in the first round, I just want a linebacker that can come in and spell JPP or Shaq (if he’s here) and not lose too much of our pass rush. Any more than that would be gravy.

  57. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Looks at least that there is somewhat of a consensus to go defense with this pick.

    Speed on the field and speed at the combine or pro day are two different things…

    Looks like this Collins has great football instincts…..

    And, I’m not bothered by his level of competition. But, I will say, I like LSU linebackers……Kwon, Beckwith, Minter, Devin White….

    Oh, how I wish we had Beckwith.

  58. Cobraboy Says:

    ncbucsfan, just stop it. Jeez, dude, you sound like a young boy with his/her/zir first love.

    WTF is wrong with you? You sound like ndog waxing the weasel over America’s Turnover Machine…

    We will wait to see if your fapping fantasy runs a 4.6. Good Lord…

    Casual Fans… :rolleyes:

  59. Cobraboy Says:

    There are numerous “draft experts” who have Collins rated very low on speed, quickness, burst, toughness, smarts, and versatility. One knock is his pursuit is poor: he gives up…and that is an indication of heart.

    One report says he is an a$$hole off the field, really stuck on himself.

    But casuals will fall in love with highlight reels and sport wood…

  60. Joe in Michigan Says:

    TBBF: Instincts are important, speed is a plus. I love a good pass rush, but seeing Devon White fly around the field is a thing of beauty, reminds me of a young Hugh Green, although different positions.

  61. Cobraboy Says:

    There is NO substitute for speed in today’s NFL, especially on defense. A step slow, .2 seconds in a 40, is losing football.

    The draft is now and has always been a crapshoot. Casuals devour “draft experts”…and lordy, anyone with an innerweb connection and no job can claim to be a “draft expert”…yet more often than not by a huge margin, those “experts” are totally wrong. Every high-round bust came with sterling reviews by the “experts”, and every year undrafted guys make good. Have y’all met Saquil Barrett? Cam Brate? Antonio Gates? Kurt Warner? Tony Romo? Shelton Quarles?

    Unless a guy is a freak of nature…think Devin White or Tristan Wirfs…I don’t get at all excited about the NFL draft.

  62. Defense Rules Says:

    Quick observation: Joe reeled you all in with this one. 2021 NFL draft doesn’t even start until Thurs, 29 Apr … 46 days from now (OK, 6 1/2 weeks). NFL free agency doesn’t even start until Weds, 17 Mar … 3 days from NOW (and 6 weeks BEFORE the draft starts).

    Gut feel is that our NEEDS & PRIORITIES will change markedly during those 6 1/2 weeks. And the strange thing is that picking #32 kinda means that 31 really good players will be gone BEFORE we get to pick. But IF one of those really good players falls in the draft for whatever reason (e.g., OJ Howard falling to us at #19? Or Tristan Wirfs falling to us at #9 last year?), my guess is that we’ll take a hard look before also passing.

    Agree with Cobraboy 100% … “The draft is now and has always been a crapshoot”.

  63. MadMax Says:

    ^ @DR, Wirfs was sitting at 13 and we traded our 14 to sanfran for him…

    btw, Collins passes the eye test for me, dont care about all of that other noise.

  64. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Defense Rules: I’m always up for some good draft talk, and the positions I mentioned earlier will probably still be the positions I would want the Bucs add, even after free agency.
    I’ve heard a lot of people say to trade down, in every Bucs draft, which I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to, but would rather have quality over quantity. The Bucs have been pretty good at drafting 3rd and 4th Rounders, so that has to be added into the equation.

  65. Joe in Michigan Says:

    *To add

  66. Capt.Tim Says:

    Regardless- We need to sign Edge Rusher, D line, OT.
    All for depth.
    Then, a big safety
    We have big corners, and smallish safeties.
    Could use a big safety- for goal line and running downs

    Then, yet another attempt at a kick returner.
    That would be a great draft

  67. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Capt. Tim: I like your draft ideas, except for the big safety. The rule changes have made a big, thumping safety somewhat obsolete, IMHO. Now if he’s big AND good in coverage, then I like that idea, too.

    A thought on the need for a Center of the future…Let Cappa and Stinnie have an open competition for the starting Right Guard job. The loser of that battle starts learning the Center position. Unless there’s something I’m missing on why either one of these guys couldn’t be an NFL Center.
    Possible trade I’m wondering about…Not sure the Bucs could trade O.J. Howard with his injury status, but how about if the Bucs traded him to Jacksonville for Gardner Minshew, and say a 5th Rounder? I know a lot of you don’t like Minshew, but I think he’d be a decent backup QB. I think he makes under $1 million, O.J. makes $6.5 million, the Bucs could use the salary cap space. Just a thought. O.J. is a great athlete, not the greatest football player, IMHO.

  68. firethecannons Says:

    we need to draft BPA
    bet that will end up being a running back–Fournette likely gone

  69. Merlin Says:

    It’s funny how so many people talk about 40 times for positions where a 40 time may literally have no impact over an entire season

  70. SOEbuc Says:

    Joe in MI

    I know about the suspension but if in all seriousness, these college kids aren’t getting a nickel from multi billion NCAA unless they need to get Jamies off the hook of a rape charge. NFL players get chargers likely dropped when they give cops their ID if they get pulled over.