September 29, 2023

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Draft Day: Addressing Team Needs

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Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots former player Ty Law before Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Which way should the Bucs go on draft day?

Okay, so everyone knows that quarterback is one of the biggest questions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have at the moment. Having said that, it’s very unlikely that the Bucs will spend a draft pick on a quarterback. The team saw something in Kyle Trask and spent that pick in last season’s NFL Draft. If the Bucs address the most important position on the team, I believe it will be through a trade. I think we can scratch quarterback off of the list of probable draft picks. The urgency of which position to target early will be somewhat affected by which of their free agents can be re-signed or who can be snagged in free agency. For instance, if they can re-sign Cornerback Carlton Davis, the urgency at the position will be more relaxed than urgent. The team will almost certainly select at least one Cornerback, and maybe a Safety as well if Jordan Whitehead doesn’t stay put. The team must strengthen that position. Injuries decimated the defensive backfield last season, and the team will have to take steps to prevent that situation soon.

The offensive line was a force after the arrival of Tristan Wirfs but the team could be facing the possibility of losing center Ryan Jensen to a big contract elsewhere. Alex Cappa, who is a few years younger than Jensen, will more than likely be re-signed. So I believe that either Center or Guard will be a major need in the first three rounds. Ronald Jones II was probably already gone by game 5 of this past season, so I can’t imagine anything, not even money, keeping him in Tampa after the way things went down last season. Leonard Fournette, as well as Jones, are both very good running backs, and I feel that whichever back was fed the ball the most would have had a great season last year. That player was Fournette this past season and the team never really paid much attention to Jones. He was truly the forgotten man last season after a successful 2020. Fournette and Jones may both be moving on. Fournette proved he still has plenty left in the tank and will surely garner much attention on the free-agent market. So, running back can be added to the list of needs. Giovani Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn may be the only starting-caliber running backs on the roster very soon. Bernard will more than likely sign a team-friendly contract and remain in Tampa.

Will Gronk join Brady in retirement? Chances are that he may very well do that. If so, a tight end will also be a more pressing need. First-round draft pick-bust, O.J. Howard will likely be moving on. I think both parties will be happy about that. That leaves only Cam Brate as the only experienced veteran at the position. So, add a tight end to the list.

Next up would be the Defensive Line position. Suh is old and running out of juice, and Pierre-Paul has seemed to lose a step this past season and may take a nice contract elsewhere. It seems like big-name defensive front men can get contracts even after their decline has started and they are beyond their prime. William Gholston could also slip away, but I’m thinking he will re-sign with the team.

So, in my opinion, these are the most pressing needs: Cornerback, Safety (maybe), Tight end, Center, Guard, Running back, Defensive tackle, and End (OLB), and don’t be surprised if the Bucs go with a Linebacker or Wide Receiver if it’s the right player, at the right spot. General Manager Jason Licht has made one thing very concrete: Never say never, for any round early or late. In the end, the best player on the board, at possibly any of those positions, may slip and fall to them. In my opinion, if I can find a very talented Center or Guard early, or if a gifted Corner is there, they could be selected early, but that’s just me. What would you do? Go Bucs!!