After winning Super Bowl LV, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the 32nd pick in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft.
This will be a year like no other without the combine, several collegiate players opting out, and no in-house visits with prospects. Head coach Bruce Arians, general manger Jason Licht and the scouting department have their work cut out for them. Arians has already said that the team will rely more heavily on the tape, but with so many prospects opting out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that could present challenges of its own.
In a recent press conference Licht and Arians said they hope to be able to re-sign most of their priority free agents. With this accomplished, they will be able to focus more on luxury options and the future while making their selections. This mock is going under the assumption that the Buccaneers are able to bring a majority of their top free agents back in Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh, Antonio Brown, and Ryan Succop. While also re-signing special teams aces and backups Kevin Minter and Ryan Smith. In doing so the team will have very few holes to address in the draft but some of their needs would still be: defensive line, offensive line, running back and an outside edge rusher.
The Buccaneers are without a sixth-round pick this years as part of a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The trade, which occurred in 2019, saw them send a 2021 sixth-round pick for back up tackle Jerald Hawkins and the Steelers 2021 seventh-round selection. Another thing to note is the potential compensatory pick the Buccaneers are in line to receive. As of January 21, Nick Korte of Overthecap.com is projecting the Buccaneers to receive a fifth-round selection for the departure of wide receiver Breshad Perriman, which we will include in this exercise.
1st Round (Trade)
Dallas gets: 1st (32) and 7th (255)
Bucs gets: 2nd (44) & 3rd comp (99) and a 2022 5th round selection.
Noticing the value still on the board the Buccaneers decide to move down into the second round. In exchange for also including pick 255 they gain an extra third this year and future fifth in the process. In this scenario, the Cowboys see a defensive player they like, but they don’t think he will fall to them. This helps the Boys get that fifth-year option on a player they covet. On the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart this trade actually favors the Cowboys by four points, 587-591, and that’s valuing the fifth-round pick that was gained as a 2021 pick.
44th via Dallas: RB, Javonte Williams, UNC
Javonte Williams is one of the most complete running backs in the draft. He’s a powerful runner who frequently breaks tackles yet also has the elusiveness to makes defenders miss in the open field. His collegiate career ended with 2,297 rushing yards on 366 attempts and 29 touchdowns, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. His production increased each year, culminating into a fantastic junior year for the Tar Heels. He finished with 1140 yards rushing, 19 touchdowns, 25 receptions, 305 yards and three touchdowns. And this was all accomplished while splitting time with fellow back, Michael Carter.
Williams is also an efficient pass catcher, evidenced by his 50 receptions, 539 yards, and four touchdowns over three seasons. Williams is an above-average prospect in terms of pass protection which should help him see the field early in his NFL career. With Ronald Jones Jr. in a contract year the Buccaneers could see the luxury of drafting his replacement early on in the draft.
65th: DT, Jay Tufele, USC
Jay Tufele is an intriguing prospect to scout as he opted out of the 2020 season but was a monster in 2019. He finished that season with 42 total tackles and 4.5 sacks. His dynamic first step and quickness off the line makes him as dangerous a pass rusher as he is in run defense. The biggest thing Tufele offers, though, is scheme versatility and flexibility. His size and speed often lead to consistent double teams. When he does receive single blockers, his array of rush moves and hand technique is among the best in the draft. In the Buccaneers defense he projects as a 5-technique with the ability to kick inside on even-front looks and sub packages. The ability to learn from Suh will be great for his development and it will also help set him up as the heir apparent.
65th: OLB, Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt
The Buccaneers dip back into Vanderbilt, after selecting Ke’Shawn Vaughn last year, to pluck one of the most versatile edge rushers in the draft. Dayo Odeyingbo has the ability to line up virtually anywhere on the defensive line and as a stand-up OLB in a 3-4 system. His athleticism and length are something that jumps off the page with 38” arms and exceptional body control and agility.
He finished the 2020 season racking up 32 tackles, eight TFLs, and 5.5 sacks, which earned him second team All-SEC honors. Odeyingbo reminds me a lot of Jason Pierre-Paul coming out of college. He’s a raw player that sometimes plays a little too tall with his size but offers tremendous scheme versatility. He would probably go much higher, but he tore his achilles in January. The Buccaneers don’t have an immediate need for help on the outside, so it will give him plenty of time to heal and learn from Pierre-Paul.
99th via DAL: DE, Janarius Robinson, FSU
With William Gholston in a contract year the Buccaneers will be looking for an eventual replacement. Enter Janarius Robinson. Robinson has the size and strength to excel as a 5-tech in the NFL. A great run defender, he has a powerful push off the snap that allows him to dominate at the point of attack. He wasn’t as productive a player in college tallying only 8.0 sacks in his four year stint but is the kind of “do the dirty things” player that would thrive in this system. Again, another player that should be afforded the luxury to sit behind Gholston and learn the system and the NFL game before becoming a starter.
137: TE, Tre McKitty, Georgia
Tre McKitty was an under-used prospect at his time at FSU and Georgia, but showed great potential as a receiving threat. His versatility had him lined up in in the slot and backfield where he utilized his athleticism in the passing game. He needs to work on his route running but has exceptional run after the catch ability. While McKitty is a willing blocker, it is still an area where he needs to improve. He won’t run a 4.5 40, but he has great football speed on the field. McKitty underwent knee surgery before the start of the 2020 season which limited him to 4 games. With questions around Cam Brate’s future and OJ Howard in a contract year, it would be worth addressing the position in the draft.
177th: C, Drake Jackson, Kentucky
Drake Jackson was a four-year starter at Kentucky and also made second team All-SEC in 2020. Possessing good quickness and agility in short areas, he is able to routinely to climb to the next level. The mobility on screen and pulling plays is there, as well. Jackson uses his leverage and strong anchor, combined with a strong first punch to knock defenders off balance and holds up well one-on-one against nose tackles. He is also a very smart player who is able to read and call out defenders pre-snap. While size may be an issue for some teams -as well as his developing pass blocking skills- he projects as an eventual starting center in the NFL.
182nd: COMP: OG, David Moore, Grambling
David Moore is the typical small school player that Licht loves to target in the draft. While he is compact at 5-foot-10, he has formidable power. Moore is aggressive in the run game often seeking the action and not waiting for it to come to him. He shows enough athleticism when pulling to be successful at the next level. He needs to play with better balance and more control at times but projects into a nice developmental prospect that should be a starter by his third season.
247th: via PITT: OT, Alaric Jackson, Iowa
Alaric Jackson, the teammate of last year’s rookie standout Tristan Wirfs, comes from a program where they routinely pump out quality NFL offensive lineman. A four-year starter, he shows great lateral mobility and has all the traits of an NFL caliber lineman. Jackson displays great flashes blocking in both the passing and run game.
However, he demonstrates inconsistent footwork in his sets and anchors that powerful edge rushers can exploit. Jackson isn’t very versatile either, projecting strictly at left tackle. He is suited best in a system that sees the quarterback release the ball quickly to capitalize on his skill set. A developmental prospect that could evolve into a starter, but projects as a quality back up in the NFL.