Well, we’re about a week away from the 2020 NFL Draft, and the rumors are starting to swirl around the league already. One of the latest rumors circulating is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of three teams calling around about trading up into the top ten in the first round, with the other two being Denver and Atlanta. If true, this means that the Bucs are seriously looking for a new right tackle, and Jason Licht doesn’t think one of those top four offensive tackles will be there when they go on the clock with their 14th pick.
It’s a scenario that I haven’t explored with any of my five previous mock drafts. There’s a reason for that. I DESPISE TRADING UP! I hate it with a passion. I don’t like giving up draft capital at all. Trading up typically means giving up multiple picks for a single pick. It usually doesn’t make sense to me. In 2016, when Licht traded up into the second round to get kicker Roberto Aguayo, a piece of my soul died. Literally. However, I’m not hating the idea of it this year; and I’ll explain why.
Despite their 7-9 record last season, this team is not that far off from being a serious playoff contender. Especially with their new quarterback Tom Brady. For the first time in a long time, this Buccaneers roster doesn’t have a ton of holes to fill in the draft. They have seven picks next week after receiving a fourth-round compensatory pick. In addition to that, this team is in “win now” mode. They have a small window with Brady’s and Bruce Arians‘ contracts both up in two years. So with those two things in mind, I can see where Jason Licht could be contemplating giving up a little bit of their long term future for some immediate help with a real position of need like; right tackle.
In order to have a real shot at one of the top four offensive tackles in this draft, the Bucs will likely have to trade up into the top ten. One possible trade partner might be the Jacksonville Jaguars at the 9th pick. So here are the logistics of this possible trade scenario. That 9th pick, according to the 2020 NFL Draft trade chart, is worth 1,350 points. The Bucs 14th pick is worth 1,100 points. That means the Bucs would have to throw in at least another 250 points worth of picks to make this happen. If there are multiple teams looking to trade up with the Jags, it’ll likely take more than that. Despite what the trade chart says, the cost of trading up in the draft still depends on how bad one team wants the pick and how bad the other team wants to stay put. Jacksonville already has 12 picks in this draft, so I’m not sure how much they’ll be tempted to move back for even more picks this year. Plus, one of their many needs is offensive tackle. So I don’t see the Jaguars as a likely trade partner for the Bucs.
Just ahead of the Jags are the Arizona Cardinals with the 8th pick. This seems more like the trade to make, in my opinion. Arizona has plenty of holes to fill as well. The difference is that they only have six picks in this draft to fill them with and no second-round pick. In other words, they could be a little more desperate to gain picks than Jacksonville, and maybe Licht and Arians can take advantage of their relationships in the Cardinals organization. Their 8th pick is worth 1,400 points on the trade chart, meaning the Bucs would have to come up with an additional 300 points worth of picks to make this happen. Here’s what I came up with for this scenario, so try to follow along with me on this.
Cardinals 8th pick of the first
Cardinals 72nd pick of the third
Cardinals 114th pick of the fourth
Cardinals 131st pick of the fourth
Bucs 14th pick of the first
Bucs 45th pick of the second
Bucs 76th pick of the third round
Bucs 139th pick (comp) of the fourth round
In other words, the Bucs and Cardinals would swap first, third, and late fourth-round picks while Tampa would give up their second-round pick, and Arizona would give up their early fourth-round pick. As far as the trade chart goes, it’s 1,796 points from the Bucs for the Cards 1,737 points. It’s a bunch of moving parts, but it could work. The Bucs would move up to the 8th pick, which all but guarantees them one of those top four tackles. They do give up that second-round pick, but they move up in the third a few spots AND they gain a fourth-round pick. I think it’s a possible scenario, so let’s see what I can do with this new set of picks.
Rd.1/Pk.8 (from the Cardinals)
OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama
Jason Licht, Bruce Arians, Tom Brady, and Bucs fans everywhere can relax and let out a big sigh of relief. They got their man. At 6’5″/320lbs, Wills might be the most technically sound offensive tackle in this draft. The only reason he might not be the first tackle off the board is because he played right tackle instead of left at Alabama, even though that was technically Tua’s blindside. He’s a mauler in the run game and a technician in pass protection. Drawing comparisons to Philadelphia’s All-Pro tackle Jason Peters, he’s just what the Bucs need to add stability on the right side of that o-line.
Rd.3/Pk.72 (from the Cardinals)
RB Cam Akers, Florida State
With the departure of Peyton Barber to the Redskins in free agency, the Bucs need a running back to compliment Ronald Jones II in the backfield. At 5’11″/212lbs, Akers is a powerful back that adds value in the passing game as a pass protector and pass catcher. It was impressive how much he was able to produce at FSU despite playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in college football. The Bucs already missed out on one FSU running back with Dalvin Cook in the 2017 Draft, so they don’t want to pass up on another one.
Rd.4/Pk.114 (from the Cardinals)
WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota
With the departure of Breshad Perriman to the Jets in free agency, the Bucs will probably be looking for a new #3 receiver in this draft. At 6’2″/205lbs, Johnson is a Chris Godwin clone. Not a burner by any means, but a very technical route runner with exceptional hands who’s dangerous after the catch. Sound familiar? With question marks surrounding the other receivers not named Evans or Godwin on the Bucs roster, they would be smart to add some more quality depth to this group..
RB Antonio Gibson, Memphis
This is the only player that I’ve had in every one of my mock drafts, and for good reason. He’s one of the best athletes in this entire draft. At 6’1″/225lbs, Gibson played running back AND wide receiver at Memphis, producing some insane numbers in a shared backfield. Averaging 19 yards per catch and 11 yards per carry, this guy averaged 15 yards every time he touched the football. He would be an interesting weapon to add to Tom Brady’s arsenal and a fun new toy for Bruce Arians in his offense. And bonus, he also returns kicks as well.
Rd.4/Pk.131 (from the Cardinals)
OL Ben Bartch, St. John’s
It never hurts to build depth in the trenches through the draft. Yes, the Bucs signed free agent o-lineman Joe Haeg, but they also lost some depth from last year. At 6’6″/310lbs, he’s a developmental prospect that could add some much-needed depth to the guard and tackle positions. He comes from a Division III college, which is the reason he could slide this far down, but you know how much the Bucs like their small school offensive line prospects. If he’s still hanging around the board at this point, I think Tampa would be all over him.
DT Leki Fotu, Utah
The Bucs need to find an eventual replacement for Ndamukong Suh, but they won’t find one this late in the draft. Maybe next year. Instead, they grab a depth guy to replace Beau Allen, who signed with the Patriots in free agency. At 6’5″/340lbs, he’s built like a brick shithouse and is an absolute run stuffer. He doesn’t bring much as a pass rusher, but he can wreak havoc up the middle and collapse the pocket. He could add value in the d-line rotation and could potentially be a real contributor to the Bucs defensive front.
S Jaylinn Hawkins, California
The Bucs safety position is a bit perplexing, and it all hinges on the health of Justin Evans. If he can return to form following multiple injuries and surgeries, then the Bucs should be fine at this position. If not, they could stand to add some depth. At 6’2″/210lbs, Hawkins has great size and the athleticism to play multiple positions in any defense. A trait that would allow him to thrive in a Todd Bowles defense. He’s a ballhawk with range as a free safety and a physical, instinctive run supporter that can “lay the wood” as a strong safety. He could also play the nickel safety, or “money backer” position and add some value as a blitzer.
Round 1- OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama
Round 3- RB Cam Akers, Florida State
Round 4- WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota
Round 4- RB/WR Antonio Gibson, Memphis
Round 4- OL Ben Bartch, St. John’s
Round 5- DT Leki Fotu, Utah
Round 6- S Jaylinn Hawkins, California
Well, there you have it. This will likely be my final mock draft for 2020 since the draft is now a week away. I’ve explored trading up, trading back, trading OJ Howard and staying put at the 14th pick. All of them are interesting options and have their pros and cons. I have no idea what will happen next week or who the Bucs will pick, but I do know this…anything can happen during the draft. And I’m pretty excited to see which way our Bucs go next Thursday!
Until then, as always, GO BUCS!!!