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2016 NFL Mock Draft: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select DE Shaq Lawson at No. 9

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Shaq Lawson led a defensive unit that almost gave the Tigers a title last season.
Shaq Lawson led a defensive unit that almost gave the Tigers a title last season.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With the ninth pick in the 2016 DBN Community NFL Mock Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select...

Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

The selection and write-up were made by Ezweav:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter 2016 with genuine optimism for a big year, as last year's #1 overall selection, FSU's Jameis Winston, is firmly ensconced as the team's QBOT foreseeable F.  If something were to happen to him, the team has thus far not parted ways with NC's Mike Glennon, a better than capable backup.

The rest of the offense is therefore set up nicely; Doug Martin inked a new, long-term deal coming off a career year.  The tandem of Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans is among the best in the league.  Third-year pro Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6'7) is poised to have a break-out year with several capable options behind him.

The O-line, the team's Achilles' heel two seasons ago (2-14), is pretty well set, and while improvements are always welcome, the team is fully capable of moving the ball down the field with the run or the pass with this one.  Yes, they will have to replace Logan Mankins, but that won't be the selection here.  In fact the only offensive chance would be possibly one of the top T's (Tunsil/Stanley).

However, even if both of those guys were available, the Bucs are going defense this year.  The offense can function at every level as-is, and the defense is significantly behind.  There are star players like (future HOF'er) Gerald McCoy and LaVonte David, as well as newly acquired Brent Grimes, but there are still big needs here.  There is need for pass-rush, and there is severe need in the secondary.

As such, this selection was easy.  I lined up the nine best defensive players for the Bucs and waited to see which one fell.  I thought I might wind up with the top guy on my board (Joey Bosa).  However, with Philly snatching him up, that leaves the best pure edge-rusher in this class for Tampa Bay:

Shaq Lawson, DE - Clemson

Sure, for some Bucs fans the idea of a defensive end from Clemson in the top 10 can bring back unpleasant memories of Gaines Adams (RIP) but this is the right pick for this defense.  Presently, the DL for Tampa Bay has some nice pieces; the aforementioned McCoy anchors the entire defensive unit but Clinton McDonald and Jaquies Smith are decent complimentary players on the line.  They just collectively lack real firepower to get to the QB consistently.  Lawson can bring that immediately.

Lawson made the most of his time sitting behind Vic Beasley (who was the best pass-rusher in last year's draft), and had a breakout senior season with 12.5 sacks and an eye-popping 25.5 tackles for loss.  His combo of pass-rush moves along with a powerful frame make him a day 1 starter for Tampa Bay and takes some of the pressure off of his other line-mates.  Moreover, the ability to disrupt the opposing running games will allow a very talented stable of LBs to make plays all over the field.

You could make the case that secondary help may have been a bigger need here, but with both Ramsey and Hargraeves off the board, and Houston's William Jackson being just a bit of a stretch here, the call became to make the secondary better by getting pressure on the passer.  Lawson helps to do that, and instantly fortifies the TB front-7 and puts the Bucs in a position to give Carolina some headaches sooner rather than later.

I am still surprised that the Buccaneers' offensive line was as stable as they were in 2015 after an abysmal 2014. They still need to upgrade in that area, but they don't have to address it with their top pick. For that, I like taking one of the high-impact defensive players still left on the board in Lawson.

The New York Giants are up next, led by mrwhitman.

2016 DBN Community Mock Draft Results (so far)

Pick Team Player Position School Username
1 Tennessee Titans Laremy Tunsil OT Ole Miss aszabo1
2 Cleveland Browns Jared Goff QB California Robo Dawg
3 San Diego Chargers Jalen Ramsey DB Florida State Crawford_T
4 Dallas Cowboys Myles Jack OLB UCLA Manly and Loving It
5 Jacksonville Jaguars DeForest Buckner DE Oregon Bob Stalnaker
6 Baltimore Ravens Vernon Hargreaves III CB Florida pt_999
7 San Francisco 49ers Carson Wentz QB North Dakota St. apocrylle
8 Philadelphia Eagles Joey Bosa DE Ohio State Bizono
9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Shaq Lawson DE Clemson Ezweav
10 New York Giants mrwhitman
11 Chicago Bears Barnestorm
12 New Orleans Saints Rube Sports
13 Miami Dolphins Brocolis154033
14 Oakland Raiders makeaplay59
15 Los Angeles Rams michael.hamper
16 Detroit Lions Mean Ol' Pete
17 Atlanta Falcons Mudville
18 Indianapolis Colts fjblessi
19 Buffalo Bills GratefulDawg
20 New York Jets troy145
21 Washington Redskins Greg"TheDropper"Little
22 Houston Texans Royce Groff
23 Minnesota Vikings MissinTheVicius
24 Cincinnati Bengals OhioCityBrownsBeliever
25 Pittsburgh Steelers Legoman0721
26 Seattle Seahawks Southern Cali Dog
27 Green Bay Packers Matt Wood
28 Kansas City Chiefs Ted Washington's Belly
29 Arizona Cardinals a2342432a
30 Carolina Panthers Suppa Bob
31 Denver Broncos poultman
32 Cleveland Browns Adam Rice