The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are gearing up for another Super Bowl run. After returning every single starter from last year’s championship team, it’s obvious that they don’t have a ton of needs. However, that’s not to say that this isn’t a critical draft for the franchise. This Bucs mock draft highlights how low risk and high reward players will be the ideal fit for this team.
The Bucs are still in need of key role players and depth. This team also has to keep one eye on the future as some key players enter the last year of their deal or inch closer to retirement. The goal of this draft is to get players who can be long term building blocks and well as contribute right away. With that and this regime’s draft history in mind, here are some likely names they could look at in the draft.
Round 1, Pick No. 32: EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas Longhorns
Ossai is so much of what the Bucs value on defense. He’s an above average athlete who brings value as a pass rusher and a running defender. And while he could learn to use his hands better to get off blocks, he’s a relatively safe prospect.
This is in large part due to his motor. Ossai plays with maximum effort on every play. There is a question on if he’ll ever be an elite player, but with his physical tools and competitive fire he’ll be a quality starter in the league for a long time.
Round 2, Pick No. 64: DL Levi Onwuzurike, Washington Huskies
Onwuzurike is a little smaller than what the Bucs have drafted in the past for defensive tackle. However, he plays much bigger than his 6-foot-3, 290-pound frame allows. After playing primarily at nose tackle, I have no doubt that Onwuzurike is strong enough to hold the point of attack. He also shows a quickness and relentlessness that makes me believe he will be a quality pass rusher.
Sitting behind Ndamukong Suh for a year would do him well as he develops his technique. Too often Onwuzurike rushes like a wild man. Time to learn how to set up blockers and use his hands better is the next step in his development. If he can do that then you could be looking at the best defensive tackle in this draft long term.
Round 3, Pick No. 95: IOL Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks
Is there a more Bucs pick than a day two interior offensive lineman from a relatively unheard of school? Considering that is the discrimination of all three of their starting interior offensive lineman, I’d say no.
Meinerz was the big winner from this year’s Senior Bowl. A fierce competitor with the athletic ability you want for the next level. He will need time to adjust to a bigger faster game, so a year backing up Pro Bowl-caliber linemen who come from a similar situation is ideal for everyone involved. Expect him to start at center or guard in a year or two if the team parts ways with Alex Cappa or Ryan Jensen.
Round 4, Pick No. 137: WR Marquez Stevenson, Houston Cougars
Stevenson is explosive and elusive. This is the type of playmaking in space that the Bucs just don’t currently have. Stevenson has the talent to fill Antonio Brown’s shoes if he isn’t re-signed. He also has experience returning kicks, so there is special teams value here if nothing else. It’s hard to imagine this not being a valuable draft pick in both the short term and long run.
Round Five, Pick No. 176: OT Tommy Doyle, Miami-Ohio RedHawks
The Bucs have found key contributors from the Mid American Conference. Doyle has a chance to be the next Scotty Miller or Sean Murphy-Bunting for this team. At 6-foot-8 and 320-pounds, Doyle has all the size you could want for the position. On top of that, he tested as one of the most athletic offensive tackles in recent memory. He even tested with better agility that last year’s first round pick Tristan Wirfs. Doyle is one of the biggest sleepers in this draft class.
Round 6, Pick No. 217: RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
It feels like the Bucs keep throwing darts at this position, but haven’t found their guy yet. Mitchell could finally be that pass catching back that sticks with the team. It’s worth pointing out that the Bucs have spoken with Mitchell in this draft process. On top of that they drafted his teammate last year in Raymond Calias. There are definitely connections here and the fit makes perfect sense.
Round 7, Pick No. 251: S Paris Ford, Pittsburgh Panthers
Ford is a willing hitter and sound tackler. He projects as a depth safety and special teams player. He tested very poorly and there are questions if he’s a good enough athlete to play in the NFL. However, a year in the weight room and shadowing fellow Pittsburgh alumni Jordan Whitehead could make Ford a steal in the draft.
Round 7, Pick No. 259: LB Antjuan Simmons, Michigan State Spartans
Simmons is an undersized linebacker, but he plays fearless. Fast and physical, Simmons loves to be where the action is. He’s also very good in coverage, having played nickel fairly often in college. This would be a great depth and special teams signing with a chance to be a future starter if he proves he can hold up at 220-pounds.
Despite not getting a year one starter, it would be great to see this Bucs mock draft become a reality. This provides two or three rotational players in year one and quality depth should there be an injury. All of the first five picks project as potential future starters. Four of the five day three picks can provide immediate special teams value.
When you pick late in the draft, you aren’t likely to get elite players. At this point it’s more about finding quality players who fit your needs. Each of these guys fits into that category. If the Bucs can develop those top picks in this draft then they have the potential to be great. A relatively low risk for a relatively high reward. That’s the Bucs sweet spot in this draft.
Check out the rest of the mock drafts from Bucs Report: