Now that the brunt of free agency is out of the way, we can begin to focus on the 2021 NFL Draft. The Buccaneers have filled quite a few holes over the last week, which really helps this exercise.
Tampa Bay is in excellent shape. It has been able to re-sign nearly all of its top free agents and important depth pieces, as well. This has left the team in a very advantageous position. There are all different kinds of strategies to deploy and it’s especially helpful when you’re picking at No. 32.
But the Bucs still need to draft smart, despite the good position they are in. If you ask me, the order of needs should look something similar to: DL, OLB, OL, CB, S, RB, TE, ILB, QB, WR.
We all know that it only matters what Jason Licht and co. think, though. Regardless, here is my first shot at a seven-round Bucs mock draft.
Round 1, Pick No. 32: EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington
There’s a lot to like about Tryon. He has an excellent combination of size, speed, and athleticism and he’s not just a pass rusher – he can hold up against the run pretty well, too.
But the big thing with him is the Bucs simply have to find an eventual replacement for Jason Pierre-Paul and they don’t have a difference-maker behind JPP and Shaquil Barrett. Anthony Nelson is a solid depth player, but he’s yet to show that he can anchor the outside edge position.
Tryon doesn’t have the size of a let’s say, Gregory Rousseau (who is 6-foot-7, 265-pounds), but he does have a wider array of moves and is more effective against the run.
But the former Huskie could stand to develop more. That’s not an issue for the Bucs, however. JPP played over 88% of defensive snaps in 2020, while Barrett played more than 77%. JPP’s rate was the third-highest at his position (OLB), per Football Outsiders. Therefore, Tryon will have time to work and learn from two of the best in the game. Nelson played a little over 30% of defensive snaps in 2020, which would be a good number for Tryon.
Bruce Arians has made the Buccaneers defense his No. 1 priority over the past two offseasons, so it’s no surprise he reloads for the future with this pick.
Check out our own Real Bucs Talk’s breakdown of Tryon.
Round 2, Pick No. 64: WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
I really, really want the Bucs to trade up from this spot. We’ve seen Licht do it before. Regardless, I don’t want to pull all my cards, just yet. I’ll save the trades for the future mocks to come.
This may feel like a reach, but remember, the Bucs are picking in the back of each round. There may be a time or two where they have to reach on a prospect. Also, Moore isn’t strictly a wide receiver, either.
Rondale Moore, in the last clip I'll highlight from OSU, shows you everything he's good at in one play. Fast. Tough. Excellent vision. He is the YAC receiver the NFL covets. #BoilerUp #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/4rzzt4FNtg
— Josh Engler (@EnglerNFL) May 9, 2020
Moore is a versatile, electric playmaker and his athleticism would serve him well in this offense. His addition would give Bruce Arians, Byron Leftwich, and Tom Brady the gadget player they crave. The kid can also give the team insurance as a return specialist in case something happens with Jaydon Mickens.
Moore plays one of the few positions where rookies will actually see the field. The big knock is his durability issues -he’s played just seven games over the last two seasons- but those risks will be scaled down due to a limited role.
Round 3, Pick No. 95: G Trey Smith, Tennessee
Smith was considered to be a first-round talent before medical issues and the dumpster fire that is the UT football program got in his way. He’s an extremely talented player and could easily develop into an anchor on the interior of an NFL offensive line.
The medicals are unfortunately a concern, but his battle with blood clots also exemplify the type of person and player that Smith is. With his work ethic, there is little doubt that Harold Goodwin and Joe Gilbert can turn him into an effective starter.
Trey Smith with a “same foot, same shoulder” trap block. When you use the proper technique it looks easy sometimes. This is awesome pic.twitter.com/H0ecIR4dfZ
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) November 22, 2020
Some say Trey Smith is somewhere, still blocking this man pic.twitter.com/lDNw3M8t3p
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) January 3, 2020
The unknown futures of Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa come into play here, as well. If Jensen cancels out Cappa or if the Bucs simply can’t afford Cappa, then Smith could serve as a viable transition piece.
Round 4, Pick No. 137: S Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech
Deablo is a physical, downhill-type player who would be a great box safety for the Buccaneers. Jordan Whitehead already fills that role, but he’s in the final year of his contract. Mike Edwards, the No. 1 backup, is a versatile player, but is better suited for coverage. And then there’s Antoine Winfield Jr., who can do everything.
Deablo would be a great fit in the rotation. The Bucs have Javon Hagan as their fourth safety. Deablo would instantly provide competition for that spot. He can cover tight ends and as I mentioned earlier, is an effective box presence. The former Hokie’s style of play could also help on special teams, which only increases his value.
Round 5, Pick No. 176: LB Tony Fields II, West Virginia
It’s painfully clear that Tampa Bay needs depth at linebacker. Kevin Minter is a solid No. 1 option, but Jack Cichy simply can’t stay healthy.
Fields is an excellent run defender and has enough range to make plays in coverage from time-to-time. There is some knock on his size at 6-foot-1, 222-pounds, but Lavonte David is just 6-foot-0, 233-pounds. There’s not much of a difference.
But this is the point where the dart board becomes the size of a thimble. You have no idea how anything is going to work out. Any pick from this point on is a success as long as you’re receiving solid special teams play and the player(s) is staying healthy. Fields has enough traits to where he should serve as both, with the potential to be an effective starter at some point.
Said on Locked On NFL Draft that Tony Fields II (LB #1 WVU) is the most surprising film I've seen this year.
6'1, 222 lbs, quick as a wink. Toughness + flexibility = block beater in space. Move to overhang will benefit him a ton. Needs man coverage work but solid in zone. Motor! pic.twitter.com/MfiWluhB5z
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) March 5, 2021
Round 6, Pick No. 217: IDL Khyiris Tonga, BYU
Check out Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline’s description of Tonga below. Who does it remind you of?
Explosive, wide-bodied defender who takes up a lot of room in the middle of the line. Fires off the snap, plays with excellent pad level, and is rarely off his feet. Very good with his hands, resilient, and flashes athleticism.
Anyway, Tonga would be a good rotational piece and you never know. He could develop into an effective backup at some point, maybe even a starter. Either way, his size (6-foot-4, 324-pounds) and skill set make him an intriguing prospect.
Round 7, Pick No. 251: QB Feleipe Franks, Arkansas
Why not? The Bucs don’t have anyone backing up Tom Brady right now. Franks has the size and the arm talent, he just needs a lot of coaching up. Blaine Gabbert and/or Ryan Griffin will likely return, but until then, someone needs to fill the void.
Round 7, Pick No. 259: CB K.J. Sails, USF
This pick is sure to make Jason Pierre-Paul happy.
The Bucs could lose special teams ace Ryan Smith, who’s yet to re-sign with the team. Sails is a versatile corner who can fit any scheme, but his physical style play should help him land a roster spot as a special-teamer and depth guy. With this pick, the Bucs will not only have two former USF Bulls on their roster, but two Mr. Irrelevants, as well.
What do you think? Who do you want to see Tampa Bay draft? Let us know via the comment section below!