Terry Beckner Jersey

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers concluded their 2019 draft efforts on Saturday afternoon with a pair of picks executed within minutes of each other. Those selections produced one new prospect for each side of the ball but also continued some very obvious themes in this Tampa Bay draft class.

With the 36th pick in the sixth round (208th overall), a selection gained from the Philadelphia Eagles in last month’s trade of DeSean Jackson, the Buccaneers selected another speedy receiver in Bowling Green’s Scotty Miller. Though Miller was the only offensive player the Bucs chose in this year’s draft, his speed unites him with most of the rest of his rookie teammates.

The Buccaneers were back on the clock shortly after that pick as the result of owning the Arizona Cardinals’ seventh-round selection, the first spot in that final frame. The Buccaneers got that pick in the trade that facilitated the hiring of Head Coach Bruce Arians, giving up their own sixth-rounder in the process.

With that final choice, the Buccaneers nabbed Missouri defensive lineman Terry Beckner Jr., who projects as a defensive end in the team’s new 3-4 scheme. The addition of Beckner continues a more obvious theme: defense, defense, defense and more defense. Tampa Bay used six of its eight selections on that side of the ball, adding to all three levels of the defense. (The eighth pick was kicker Matt Gay.)

Miller ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at Bowling Green’s Pro Day but is more than just a one-dimensional speed threat. He led the Falcons in receiving in each of the last three years and last season was seventh in the FBS with 104.4 receiving yards per game. Arians and Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich could find several ways to utilize Miller’s suddenness.

“A lot of times when you get guys that are really fast they’re kind of stiff and straight-line,” said Buccaneers Director of College Scouting Mike Biehl. “This guy’s got that change-of-direction and short-area quickness. And he was productive. It wasn’t like he had just two or three hundred yards. He was over 1,000 yards this season and had a lot of deep balls. His yards per catch was really high. He just fits a role with this new offense. Coach BA and Coach Leftwich want speed and he fits that role.”

Miller will naturally draw comparisons to Adam Humphries, who developed from an undrafted free agent into one of the league’s best slot receivers before getting a lucrative deal from Tennessee in free agency this spring. Miller profiles as faster but smaller than Humphries but he could indeed be a weapon in the slot.

“We see him as a slot and a guy who has the ability to play outside just because of his speed,” said Biehl. “I imagine we’ll probably give him a shot as a returner as well; he’s done a little bit of that in his career, too. The big thing was his speed. He’s a really good athlete, route-runner, kind of a complete package. He’s a little undersized but we’re excited about him.”

One thing that Miller and Humphries have in common, in Biehl’s estimation: “They’re going to win. Both of them won in short areas and that’s what we want.”

Beckner was a top recruit heading to Missouri in 2015 but had to fight through some injury issues before playing in and starting all 26 games for the Tigers the past two seasons. The Buccaneers think he has a legitimate shot at making the roster and contributing in the team’s new front. He was one of two Day Three players Tampa Bay nabbed to help them in that area, as the Bucs also landed Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson in the fourth round.

“We’ll end up playing him at defensive end in this 34 scheme,” said Biehl. “He can rush inside, too, when we go to a four-man front. He’s just a big strong run-stuffer. He was a big-time recruit coming out. He had some knee injuries that hit him over his career but still we see a good player who can help us against the run and still give us something against the pass.”

Beckner, in fact, had 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons after coming back from his injuries. He’s got good size (6-4, 295) and strength to take on multiple blockers in the middle of the line, as evidenced by his 28 reps in the bench press at the Combine.

“Big, strong guy,” said Biehl. “That’s a big part of his game. He plays with some anger to him and he’s physical. He can take up blocks and athletic enough to get off them and make some plays, too.”

Lamont Gaillard Jersey

The National Football League amateur draft has featured many of the top players from Cape Fear region high schools through the years. But out of 51 region standouts selected since 1947, only seven have been offensive linemen with the most recent being Lumberton’s Sean Locklear in 2004.

Those numbers could be altered by two sometime over the next three days as the NFL conducts its 84th annual draft in Nashville, Tennessee. Pine Forest graduate Lamont Gaillard and Terry Sanford’s Olisaemeka “Oli″ Udoh are both strong candidates to be taken in the two days following Thursday’s first round.

The first 32 picks will be made Thursday, starting at 8 p.m. with the Arizona Cardinals holding the first selection. Rounds two and three will be held Friday and four through seven on Saturday.

Gaillard was a two-time All-Mid-South 4-A Conference pick on the defensive line in 2012 and 2013 for Pine Forest, and was recruited by Georgia as a defensive tackle. But in the spring of 2015 Gaillard was shifted to the offensive line where he would start 42 consecutive games – 13 at guard and the final 29 at center for the Bulldogs, including the 2017 national title game against Alabama.

After earning first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors as a senior at Georgia, the 6-foot-3, 305-pounder participated in the East-West Shrine all-star game and the NFL’s Draft Combine. During the latter two events, Gaillard met with NFL team officials from the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints and New York Jets.

“In this day and age where kids in high school are transferring to other places where they might have a better chance to play, Lamont went to Georgia as a defensive tackle,″ Pine Forest coach Bill Sochovka said. “Literally, before he got to Georgia, the defensive coordinator and the guy who recruited Lamont left. That first year as a freshman the new coaches decided he wasn’t a good fit for defense and asked him about playing offense. He said, ‘Sure.’

“Now, he’s played three years as a starter in the SEC for one of the nation’s top offenses. That is pretty impressive.″

NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein projects Gaillard to be selected in the fourth or fifth round. Zierlein also has Terry Sanford’s Udoh being taken in the sixth round of the draft.

KeeSean Johnson Jersey

The Arizona Cardinals selected standout receiver KeeSean Johnson out of Fresno State. He has a familiar name for fans old enough to remember former New York Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson.

However, despite the similarities in name and playing the same position, the Cardinals sixth-round pick is not named for the former NFL player.

He is actually named for his father.

“My dad’s name is Sean and they didn’t want to have a junior, but he wanted his name in there somehow, so they named me KeeSean,” he explained in a conference call after he was drafted.

He has met the original Keyshawn, though, and he joked about being named after him. KeeSean said he and his family are friends with Keyshawn now.

The elder Johnson made a name for himself in the league. The Cardinals’ KeeSean now has that opportunity.

Deionte Thompson Jersey

TEMPE, Ariz. — Starting defensive backs the Arizona Cardinals have. It might be their best position group as it stands, but the depth chart looks thin to murky.

The Cardinals have addressed those issues through the NFL Draft and Saturday led off the fifth round by taking Alabama safety Deionte Thompson.

“We don’t have a post safety that really has the range and movement skill as this guy,” Arizona general manager Steve Keim said.

A high-profile recruit to the Crimson Tide, Thompson redshirted his first year and was a backup safety his freshman and sophomore seasons.

He got a chance to produce as a junior in 2018, recording 78 tackles with 3.5 for loss. Thompson added six passes defensed, two interceptions and three forced fumbles for the national runner-up squad.

Thompson had the fourth-highest forced incompletion percentage among safeties in the draft class, according to Pro Football Focus. He was ranked 66th on PFF’s big board, giving Arizona six players in the top-66 of the service’s board through 139 picks.

“I’m not worried about where I got picked. It really doesn’t matter. I got an opportunity and that’s all you can ask for in this day and age.”

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound safety did not go through the NFL Draft Combine after suffering a ligament tear in his wrist while lifting.

“I’ve been cleared by my doctors to do everything full-go, so I’m ready to go,” he said.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Thompson’s fall to the fifth round was possibly related to a degenerative knee condition. Thompson said the issue is related to a 2017 knee surgery to repair his meniscus that at the time only cost him about a month of time.

Hakeem Butler Jersey

Hakeem Butler is a great wide receiver prospect. But NFL teams didn’t like him enough to break Iowa State’s ignominious draft streak.

The Cyclones deep threat had the chance to be his university’s first first-round selection since 1973 when the immortal George Amundson (74 carries, 194 yards as an NFL tailback) went 14th overall to the Houston Oilers. While that didn’t come to fruition, he was the first ISU wide receiver to hear his name called at the draft since Tracy Henderson in 1985.

At 6’5, Butler has the length to be an elite red zone threat — the prototypical “go up and get it” threat in the corner of the end zone. With 4.48-second 40-yard dash speed, he’s also a proven burner who can tear up opposing defenses down the sideline. While questions remain about his hands, he’s a physical presence who feasted in the offense-happy realm of the Big 12.

He’ll have the chance to prove himself while learning from one of the greatest wide receivers off all time, Larry Fitzgerald. The good news for the Cardinals is he’s got a track record of developing quickly. The former two-star recruit — the high school standout whose only other FBS offers were from Houston and New Mexico State — is already one of the 2019 NFL Draft’s greatest success stories. His trajectory suggests he’ll only get better as a pro.

Iowa State has typically been a blind spot for college football excellence. The Big 12 member has occasionally been the source of exciting upsets if you were willing to dig through the rubble of three- and four-win seasons, but was more often a sigil of disappointment. When Campbell began his second year as the Cyclones’ head coach, the program was working through an 11-year streak of failing to crack the AP Top 25.

That changed that season, when the Cyclones’ eight-win 2017 gave way to an eight-win 2018 — the first time Iowa State had recorded 16 wins in a two-year span since 1978. And a major part of the offense that grew strong enough to fight for a top spot in the scoring-heavy Big 12 was the occasionally uncoverable Butler.

Zach Allen Jersey

The Cardinals drafted Zach Allen with the first pick of the third round on Friday, and he will never be confused with Benedict Arnold.

The defensive end amassed 100 tackles in his junior season at Boston College, many of which were due to flat-out hustle. While it remains to be seen how well his other traits translate to the NFL, Allen promises his motor won’t ever be a problem.

“Without effort, you’re loafing, and a loaf means you’re a traitor to your team,” Allen said. “At the end of the day, the only thing you can control is your effort and your mindset.”

Allen, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, rounded out his career with 61 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks as a senior. He joins a defensive line group that is headlined by the quartet of Corey Peters, Darius Philon, Rodney Gunter and Robert Nkemdiche. There figures to be a rotation of players along the line, and Allen hopes to be in that mix.

General Manager Steve Keim has talked often about identifying prospects with a strong love for the game, and Allen seems to fit that bill.

“This guy plays like his hair is on fire,” Keim said. “He’s relentless.”

Allen is a versatile piece on the line and is happy to do anything asked of him as a rookie — on the field or off.

“Gain weight, lose weight, whatever it is,” Allen said. “Special teams, sell popcorn, I’m willing to do it.”

The Cardinals struggled stopping the run a year ago, and Keim believes Allen’s style is well-suited to shore up that weakness.

“If you get 11 guys running to the football, you’ve got a chance,” Keim said. “I think the one thing that he brings to the table is the ability to get people around him excited. He’s that kind of guy that people feed off of.”

Allen said he was hoping to be drafted by the Cardinals. He trained in Phoenix heading into the NFL Scouting combine and developed a good relationship with Cardinals defensive line coach Chris Achuff during the pre-draft process.

Allen fell in love with the city during his time here.

“From growing up in New England, these cold winters, I don’t know how many more of them I could have handled any more,” Allen said. “(Arizona) has its own beauty with the mountains and everything. The people. It’s a growing city, a vibrant city. I’m really glad I get to be there again.”