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2018 NFL mock draft: Buccaneers add a playmaker in Derwin James

The Florida State star stays local in the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Florida State Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a tough spot. After going 9-7 in 2016, the Buccaneers dropped to 5-11 a season ago. Head coach Dirk Koetter should go into the season firmly on the hot seat.

Tampa Bay traded away its third-round pick this year for pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, which basically addressed the team’s greatest need. Going into the draft, the Buccaneers have holes at running back and in the secondary. They could also use a right tackle to eventually replace the aging Demar Dotson.

Which of those needs do they address in the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft? Gil Arcia of Bucs Nation is here to make the pick:

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

Arcia: With safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and quarterback Josh Allen still on the board, the seventh spot in the draft is ideal for the Bucs to trade down since Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson are taken. Regardless of staying put or trading down, Florida State safety Derwin James should be the pick.

James is the best all-around athlete. He would shore up the Buccaneers secondary and will help in the run game, too. The Bucs struggled mightily in both the pass and run game last season. James is great in coverage as well as playing in the box and isn’t afraid to go head-on with a running back.

The FSU product will undoubtedly take the stress off of the corners in a division that is home to receivers like Julio Jones, Devin Funchess, and Michael Thomas. He would easily assist in the box and defend the run against running backs like Devonta Freeman, Christian McCaffrey, and Alvin Kamara.

Analysis: The Buccaneers really couldn’t go wrong with James, Fitzpatrick or even Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. Of those three, James is rated the lowest while Fitzpatrick is the highest. I may have gone with the Alabama star. However, James may have more potential simply because he’s a bigger, faster and stronger player. He was just misused some at Florida State last season after coming back from an injury.

Dan Kadar’s top five players remaining

  • 3. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
  • 4. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
  • 7. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
  • 9. Vita Vea, DT, Washington
  • 11. Derwin James, S, Florida State

Our final pick of the day is from Lester Wiltfong of Windy City Gridiron, making the choice at No. 8 for the Chicago Bears.


What grade would you give the pick of James by the Buccaneers?

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