The Bucs are coming into the draft with an incredibly strong roster. Jason Licht and Mike Greenberg have done a fantastic job bringing back every starter from the Super Bowl roster, but there are a few depth pieces in need of filling.
Specifically, the Bucs could use more depth at OL, DL, CB, S, RB, and the team is free to take the best player available at No. 32 and beyond. But without further ado, lets get into the mock draft.
Round 1, Pick No. 32: RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina Tarheels
Javonte Williams has shot up draft boards this off season, and for good reason. Standing at 5-foot-10, 220-pounds, Williams can be a true workhorse in the NFL. We all know how the Bucs running back room struggled with catching the ball last year, and while Williams wasn’t asked to do it a ton at North Carolina, the skill set is clearly there.
He reminds me of Kareem Hunt, with the ability to run the ball with power, coupled with finesse in the passing game. Also, Williams has improved drastically in pass protection over his three years at North Carolina, a skillset that Bruce Arians values in a major way.
Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette will be free agents next season, so being a year ahead at the position might not be a bad idea. I usually despise first-round running backs, but pick 32 is a luxury pick. If Williams is the best player available, I wouldn’t hesitate to snag him.
Round 2, Pick No. 64: EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas Longhorns
Another big name, Joseph Ossai might fall to the bottom of the second round, and if he does, it would be wise to turn in that draft card as quick as possible.
Ossai will likely be the replacement for Jason Pierre-Paul in the next few years and should provide some valuable depth across the defensive line. As a first team All-American last year, Ossai recorded 16 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, a small step down from 2019, but still a productive season.
Todd Bowles will be drooling as he draws up defensive schemes for Ossai. As a former inside linebacker, the Texas product provides versatility in the linebacker room, but can thrive as a 3-4 edge rusher.
It might be a pipe dream to see Ossai fall to 64, but if he’s there, it’s a no-brainer pick.
Round 3, Pick No. 95: IOL Trey Smith, Tennessee Volunteers
Trey Smith is an absolute beast in the correct scheme. At Tennessee, he thrived in a power run offense that took advantage of his massive, 6-foot-6 frame. It allowed him to bully defensive tackles at the point of attack, as well as find success in pass pro.
However, you might be asking why Smith would fall to the third round. In 2018, Smith developed block clots in his lungs, but would receive First-team All-SEC honors in the following season.
Smith would be a valuable backup in 2021, and could be the eventual replacement of Alex Cappa; should he hit the jackpot in free agency. Similar to the rest of these picks, the Buccaneers aren’t looking for immediate starters, rather depth pieces who can make an impact after some development.
Round 4, Pick No. 137: EDGE Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt Commodores
I’m a huge proponent of drafting in the trenches as it solidifies both sides of the ball at the most important positions. Similar to Jason Licht’s approach with the corner back position in years prior, we’re flooding edge rusher to provide depth and hopefully find Pierre-Paul’s replacement.
Dayo Odeyingbo reminds a bit of Montez Sweat, but with less polish. In his senior year, Odeyingbo recorded five and half sacks to earn himself second team all-conference. But a torn Achilles a few days before the Senior Bowl plummeted his stock.
While he might not be ready week one, Odeyingbo can develop into a lethal pass rusher given his natural size and instincts. Tampa Bay doesn’t need an immediate contributor, so learning behind Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett could help polish his technique
Round 5, Pick No. 176: S Jamien Sherwood, Auburn Tigers
In the fifth round, it’s difficult to find impact players on either side of the ball. While Jamien Sherwood has the skills to succeed at safety, he will likely be a contributor on special teams before earning a role on the defense.
Sherwood has the size and athleticism to cover most tight ends in the league. He doesn’t match up well to burner receivers given his lack of speed, but his versatility can be used creatively in Bowles’ defense.
I would envision him playing a hybrid linebacker/safety role, as he has exceptional tackling ability and the intelligence to play multiple positions. He wouldn’t excel as a blitzer, but more of a rover archetype.
The safety position is fairly locked down with Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead, but as we saw last season, both have a tendency to get banged up down the stretch. Sherwood is a smart player who could fit right into a strong safety role for a game or two.
Round 6, No. 217: Bucs Trade Up To Select WR Ihmar Smith-Marsette, Iowa Hawkeyes
The Bucs nab some receiver depth after trading their sixth-rounder (No. 217) and their two seventh-rounders (Nos. 251 & 259) to the Chicago Bears for the No. 208 pick in the draft.
While the Bucs have drafted well at most positions in recent drafts, there is one specific role continues to elude them.
The Buccaneers special teams has been downright horrendous in this regard ever since Michael Spurlock. Ihmar Smith-Marsette has the speed and skillset to provide a real threat at both kick and punt returns. His background in track and field makes him a prime candidate to win the job, and in the sixth round, he’s a steal given his ceiling.
His production at Iowa might not seem impressive, but neither was the quarterback play. He was often open in routes that would be met with a misfire, and his route running ability is underrated, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, Smith-Marsette has had his fair of on- and off-the-field issues. He was arrested for operating a vehicle while under the influence in November 2020. Shortly thereafter, Smith-Marsette front flipped in the end zone to celebrate a touchdown, but hurt his ankle, ending his season.
While he may come with some risk, the Buccaneers have the locker room to groom a player with off field issues. Still if he doesn’t work out, you don’t have much draft capital invested, anyway.
So, would you be happy if this mock draft turned into reality? Let us know in the comments, and which draft prospect are you most excited about in 2021?