Greetings Buc Nation!
I was thinking about putting out my fifth and final mock draft of the season, but by this point you guys might be over the mock drafts. Instead, I decided to put together a list of possibilities for the Bucs first round pick. A list of choices that Jason Licht may have to weigh out when they go on the clock with that 32nd pick on Thursday night.
The Buccaneers are in the unique position of being able to literally pick the best player available in this draft, regardless of position. It’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But when it comes to people like me who write about the team or even real draft experts, it really complicates things. It’s nearly impossible to narrow down who the Bucs might pick or even what position they’ll take in the first round. That’s why I’ve decided to break down the list of possible candidates that I feel could be the Bucs first pick of this 2021 Draft.
I’ve based my choices on a few different things. First, who I think could still be available at that 32nd pick. NFL drafts are unpredictable. Anything can and usually does happen. Unexpected picks. Last minute trades. One surprise move can throw the entire first round into a frenzy. But I can at least give you guys an idea of who could still be an option.
Second is the Bucs positions of need. Luckily, this team doesn’t “need” anything but depth and potential starters for the future. It’s highly unlikely that any of the players chosen by the Bucs in this draft will start this year, barring a catastrophic injury. Tampa Bay is the first Super Bowl winning team to bring back all 22 of their starters in about 50 years, so they shouldn’t need any of these rookies to start right away. In fact, they’ve technically brought back even more than that. They still have all three of their kicking specialists. They re-signed Leonard Fournette who wasn’t a “starter” last year until Ronald Jones got hurt late in the season. They brought back Aaron Stinnie who wasn’t a starter until Alex Cappa got injured in the playoffs. They’re bringing back Rakeem Nunez-Roches who only started last season because Vita Vea was injured. They’ll be getting OJ Howard back as a starter. And I think they’ll end up re-signing Antonio Brown who you can consider a starter as the third wide receiver. That makes 30 players that either started significant games, or at least should’ve been starters last season, that the Bucs have returning.
The third thing is the Bucs draft board. Now obviously nobody outside the organization has any idea what the Bucs draft board actually looks like. However, those who have been following the team closely over the years and are familiar with the types of players that Jason Licht likes can put a probable board together pretty easily. He loves players who love football. He likes high character guys. He likes team captains and leaders. He likes high football IQ guys. He likes workhorses. He likes the guys that are first to show up and last to leave. He just likes football players. So those are the attributes that Jason looks for and those are the types of players that I chose.
With that being said, here are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers options with their 32nd pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
OPTION 1: TRADE OUT
Jason Licht has a history of making moves throughout the draft, so I think the Bucs trading back and not even making a Day 1 pick is a real possibility here. Teams that are rebuilding like the Miami Dolphins or New York Jets, picking early in the second round and who have the draft capital to trade up, might look to jump back into the first round. If the Bucs can get another second or third round pick in this draft to move back a few spots, then don’t be surprised if they do it. It’s likely that whoever the Bucs might be targeting at #32 would still be sitting there a few picks later, so if they can make a trade that gets them and an extra pick or two, then why not pull that trigger?
OPTION 2 : EDGE RUSHER
This isn’t a very deep draft when it comes to dominant edge rushers. In fact most of the high end edge guys in this draft are still unpolished projects, meaning that they might not be starters right away but they have the potential to be very good players in the near future. This is good for the Bucs. One of their thinnest positions on the roster is edge rusher, but their starters are set with Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul. What they lack is depth behind them. It’s just the right situation for the players in this draft. No pressure to start right away and the chance to develop and learn from two of the best in the business. So here are some edge rushers that could be available for the Bucs with the 32nd pick.
Joe Tryon, Washington
Jayson Oweh, Penn State
Joseph Ossai, Texas
OPTION 3 : OFFENSIVE LINE
Like all of these positions, the starters on the Buccaneers offensive line are pretty much set in stone. The only position that might be up for grabs in training camp is right guard, but it’s still Alex Cappa’s position to lose. That being said, the Bucs could stand to add some depth on the interior. Both Cappa and center Ryan Jensen are heading into the final year of their current contracts, so it wouldn’t hurt to find a potential replacement for one or even both of them in this draft. Just like the other positions, there wouldn’t be any pressure to start right away and these guys would have a chance to develop slowly. Here are some guys that I’m sure are on the Bucs radar for the first two rounds.
OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
C Landon Dickerson, Alabama
G/C Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater
OPTION 4 : RUNNING BACK
Yes the Bucs did just sign third down receiving back Giovanni Bernard in free agency, but I don’t think it takes running back out of the running with that 32nd pick. As it stands right now, the only running back on the roster after 2021 is going to be second year player Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Fournette and Bernard are both on one year deals and Ronald Jones is in the final year of his rookie deal. If the Bucs grab a running back in this first round, it would give them a running back under contract for the next four or five years. So here’s a few guys that could be available that the Bucs might be eyeballing.
Najee Harris, Alabama
Travis Etienne, Clemson
Javonte Williams, North Carolina
OPTION 5 : WIDE RECEIVER/KICK RETURNER
Even though I do think that the Bucs will re-sign Antonio Brown after the draft, they could still choose to pick one up here. Sure they still have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson, but what would it hurt to add another weapon to Tom Brady’s arsenal. Besides, they really need to add a legit kick returner to this roster. So here’s a few guys that should be available late in the first round that might be on the Bucs radar.
Kadarius Toney, Florida
Rondale Moore, Purdue
Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
OPTION 6 : DEFENSIVE BACK
The Bucs already have a talented, young secondary, but anyone in the NFL will tell you that you can never have enough good defensive backs on your team. They were able to keep free agent cornerback Ross Cockrell, but they did lose veteran safety Andrew Adams to the Eagles and cornerback/special teams ace Ryan Smith to the Chargers in free agency. So they do have room on this roster to add another defensive back or two. Even though they might be a bit of a reach this early, here’s a few possible options.
S Jevon Holland, Oregon
S Richie Grant, Syracuse
CB Greg Newsome II, Northwest
CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
OPTION 7 : INSIDE LINEBACKER
The Bucs have the best LB duo in the NFL with Lavonte David and Devin White, but not much behind them for depth besides the recently re-signed Kevin Minter. They need to add depth and it wouldn’t hurt to find someone who could eventually replace David in the starting lineup. Here are a few of the better linebackers from this draft that could slide to the end of the first round.
Zaven Collins, Tulsa
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
Jabril Cox, LSU
OPTION 8 : QUARTERBACK
Tom Brady has said that he wants to keep playing until he’s at least 45 years old. That gives the Bucs at least one more year, maybe two to find his heir apparent. They don’t necessarily need to find his replacement here, but if the right guy falls to them at #32 or they want to go ahead and reach for a guy early, then more power to them. That’s the beauty of being able to pick “best player available“. I don’t think they’ll take a QB here, but just to be thorough here are a few prospects that could be the pick.
Kyle Trask, Florida
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Davis Mills, Stanford
OPTION 9 : TRADE UP
It’s doubtful, but it’s an option. I can’t see a player intriguing them so much that the Bucs would be willing to give up draft picks to move up and go get them. Not in the first round anyway. I think it could be a realistic option in the second round, but not in the first. However, it is the NFL Draft and anything can and will happen.
OPTION 10 : DEFENSIVE TACKLE
There’s a reason that I have this position as my last option. There are no interior defensive linemen in this draft worth a first round pick. Even legendary Buccaneers not tackle Warren Sapp agrees. And he would know. I’ve seen some mock drafts that have the Bucs taking a defensive tackle, but I’m just not seeing it. So in order to cover my basis, I’ll list a few guys that might make good projects.
Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
Christian Barmore, Alabama
Tommy Togiai, Ohio State
The NFL Draft begins Thursday night at 8pm consisting of only the first round. That means that we have to wait 31 long picks for Tampa Bay to go on the clock and even then they may not make a pick that night. We may have to wait until the second round begins Friday at 7pm to see their first pick. Either way, your boy Deez will be front and center in Cleveland watching that pick in person. The 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season is almost here. So is the mission to win two in a row. And I can’t wait for it all to begin!
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!