With the Super Bowl officially over, the countdown begins to free agency and the NFL Draft. Only 80 days remain until the Buccaneers make their selection, and speculations are at an all-time high. Will they pull the trigger on Josh Jones, the athletic tackle out of Houston? Or will Bruce Arians and company elect to bolster the defensive line and choose A.J. Epenesa, the talented Iowa Hawkeyes defensive end?
In the second edition of the Bucs Report mock draft, we attempt to answer these questions for you and give our best guess as to who the Buccaneers will select in April.
Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
HT: 6’5 WT: 322 lbs
The more mock drafts I simulate, the more I like the number 14 overall pick. This draft has a ton of talent on the offensive and defensive line, which means the Buccaneers can simply sit back, and wait for players to fall. In this mock draft, that player was Tristan Wirfs, an offensive tackle out of Iowa.
While Wirfs primarily played right tackle in college, he has the versatility to swing over to the left side of the line. In terms of overall strengths, Wirfs excels in the running game and possesses a powerful frame to create open holes on the perimeter. You rarely see Wirfs taking a play off, and will find someone to hit until the play is blown dead. His instincts in the passing game are also top-notch, as he often is able to cover stunts with ease.
With that being said, Wirfs can struggle against athletic pass rushers. He often gets beat against counter moves and players with an elite bend. While his run blocking ability is top-notch, Wirfs doesn’t possess enough athleticism to engage linebackers in the second level.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
HT: 5’10 WT: 217 lbs
In the second round, things got weird. Josh Jones fell all the way to the Denver Broncos at pick 46, right after the Buccaneers at 45. In reality, I’m sure the phone lines would have been off the hook in Tampa Bay, as teams would attempt to trade up. I elected to pass on him here, as selecting two offensive linemen with the first two picks probably isn’t the best decision.
With that being said, I elected to draft J.K. Dobbins, running back out of Ohio State. We all know the Buccaneers have struggled mightily to run the football. Ronald Jones II improved from year one, but he still has a long way to go. Backup Peyton Barber is also nothing special, just an average NFL running back. If the Buccaneers want to improve this part of their offense, they need an offensive line upgrade, as well as a pass-catching running back. This is something Dobbins can provide day one.
Aside from his catching ability, Dobbins’ elite vision and deceptive elusiveness will translate well to a three-down role in the NFL. With over 300 carries in 2019, Dobbins proved that he can be a durable running back at the next level. One concern I have is his sub-par pass blocking, a trait that Bruce Arians benched Jones for last season.
Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
HT: 6’7 WT: 340 lbs
In round three, I decided to select another offensive tackle, Isaiah Wilson out of Georgia. Wilson is a very raw prospect, who lacks technique and some fundamentals. This can easily be refined and coached in the NFL. But a trait that is not easily taught is intensity and effort, something Wilson shows off on tape. Wilson consistently gets to the second level to take on linebackers and will hustle 20-30 yards down the field if necessary.
Some might question selecting two offensive linemen in the first three rounds, but football is played in the trenches. The Buccaneers have ignored the line in the draft for far too long, and if they hope to progress the offense even further, a re-investment is necessary.
Photo credit: Bleacher Report