It has been quite the offseason for the Buccaneers. In fact, during the writing of this draft guide, it got even more surreal with the acquisition of formerly retired tight end Rob Gronkowski from the New England Patriots. It cost the Buccaneers only one of their two fourth-round selections (139th overall) to bring in one of the best tight ends of all time.
However you slice it, the Buccaneers went from 7-9 in 2019 to Super Bowl contender (and perhaps favorite) in a span of a month with the acquisition of Gronkowski, and most importantly, quarterback Tom Brady. With heightened expectations, the draft becomes even more crucial. Especially when you consider the Bucs still of some huge needs to address before they start the season.
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The biggest of which is the offensive tackle position. It has long been reported that the Bucs have had their sights on one of the big four tackles (Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, Jederick Wills, and Mehki Becton) in this draft. At pick 14, there is a possibility one falls to them, however, it is a huge risk if Jason Licht and Bucs management are dead set on one of them.
In addition, the Bucs will need to address the running back position. Ideally, they will be able to draft either D’Andre Swift or Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the second or third as they would address the rushing need but they are also talented pass-catching backs as well.
The Bucs are in a win-now mode for the next couple of seasons. Brady will be 43 once the season begins so the Bucs need to draft accordingly. Tackle and running back are top priorities. As is addressing the depth in the secondary and linebacking group.
Mock Draft Central
To this point, we have released three seven-round mock drafts. All of which were completed before the move to acquire Rob Gronkowski. Each of the three mock drafts took a different approach to the event including trading up and trading back in the first.
Mock Draft 1.0: Bucs Trade Back in the First
Mock Draft 2.0: Bucs Stand Pat, Draft Offensive Lineman
Mock Draft 3.0: What if the Bucs Trade Up?
When Things Go Right
In a perfect world, the Buccaneers will trade back in the first and pick up an additional second-rounder in the process. In our first mock draft, we had the Bucs trade back with the Dolphins to give them three picks between 26 and 45. In this scenario, the Bucs were able to draft a lineman (Austin Jackson), a safety (Antoine Winfield), and a running back (Clyde Edwards-Helaire). If that is the Bucs haul through the first three rounds it won’t matter what they do during the rest of the event. It will be a win. With the loss of their second fourth-round pick (Gronkowski trade), it may be more important now than ever to try and pick up an additional pick in the second or third.
When Things Go Wrong
In the darkest timeline, the Bucs reach at 14 for one of the second tier tackles with the top four off the board. In addition, they miss out on both D’Andre Swift and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. To be clear, it is not about the available talent. It is about missing an opportunity to not gain additional assets while improving the quality of their players.
Should the Bucs draft a quarterback?
Before the trade for Gronkowski, you could have made the case the Bucs could use one of their first five picks on a quarterback if there was one available that they liked. This would have likely not happened until their third round or pair of fourth-round selections came around. However, since the Bucs had to give up a fourth to get Gronkowski from the Patriots, it doesn’t seem that it is likely to happen now.
That is not to say they won’t address the situation in later rounds. Even before Gronkowski was acquired, the Bucs didn’t NEED to draft a quarterback. It wouldn’t hurt. But it definitely didn’t have to happen this year. Now, if they do, look to rounds five and six and guys like James Morgan as potential targets.
Key Players to Watch
|Josh Jones OT, Houston||Van Jefferson WR, Florida|
|D’Andre Swift RB, Georgia||Antoine Winfield Jr. S, Minnesota|
|Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB, LSU||Ben Bartch OT, St. John|
|Zack Moss RB, Utah||James Morgan QB, Florida International|
|Austin Jackson OT, USC||Alex Highsmith EDGE, Charlotte|