Mock draft season is in full swing as the 2021 NFL Draft approaches. Analysts are putting out their final predictions for each team’s first round pick based on their insider knowledge or personal grading of players and potential fits. The back half of any draft is hard to predict because it depends on who is available. This is especially true for the Buccaneers at pick No. 32 because they do not have a glaring need at any position.
This piece will go over the various prospects that have been mocked to the Buccaneers in the first round. I will not be diving into what I believe is the best pick or if I believe the pick is likely to happen. Instead, I will give out letter grades for both fit and value.
Fit is determined based on the player’s traits gelling in the Buccaneers’ system, what their path to the field looks like in 2021 and over the course of their rookie contract. Value will be determined by a mixture of consensus rankings and my personal rankings, as well as what options the Bucs may have in later rounds of the draft.
Daniel Jeremiah’s Mock Draft v3.0
Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
Jeremiah is one of the few analysts mocking a wide receiver to the Bucs in the first round. He notes that this is a luxury pick for the Buccaneers and they could use a playmaker if the team does not re-sign Antonio Brown.
This pick surprised me at first (in fact, I hated the pick) because Moore is known as more of a slot receiver. Chris Godwin can play both inside and outside, but spends most of his time in the slot. This is partly because head coach Bruce Arians likes having a bigger slot receiver who can block. Elijah Moore is neither a big receiver, nor an imposing blocker. Either way, the more I watch of Moore’s college tape, the more I am convinced he can play both inside and outside in the NFL.
This potential pick would give the Buccaneers a dynamic yards-after-catch option they don’t currently have on the roster. Moore would also cover for injuries and has the potential for return ability. I do think the Buccaneers could solve these issues after the first round. So, if I were in the war room on draft night, I would rather go for a player in the trenches in Round 1 and a playmaker on Day 2.
Mel Kiper’s ESPN Mock Draft
Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
Kiper notes in his mock draft that the Buccaneers could look to get younger at defensive tackle. It would make a lot of sense to have a ready-made replacement for Ndamukong Suh, who is 34-years-old and on a one-year contract.
I agree with Kiper, here. The Bucs need to find a successor for Suh and will need interior pass rush depth for the 2021 season. Steve McClendon and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are back with the team, but neither provide much juice in this department.
Barmore is seen as the best of a historically bad defensive tackle class. At pick 32, I like the value for Tampa Bay. The redshirt sophomore still needs to find consistency with his technique and effort, but the natural talent is clear. Barmore wouldn’t be asked to come in and be an impact starter as a rookie. He’d instead learn to refine his technique while rotating in to spell Suh on game days. I think Barmore’s tape shows more of a Round 2 developmental defensive tackle than the top-15 player he is being projected at by some. But a draft class devoid of premier defensive tackles will probably see Barmore go in the first round.
Todd McShay’s ESPN Mock Draft
Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
Todd McShay and Mel Kiper alternated picks in their latest ESPN Mock Draft. McShay picked for Tampa Bay at 32. He reasons that Mayfield can begin his career as a Buc at swing tackle and eventually become a starter on the left side opposite Tristan Wirfs.
The value of this pick really lies with Mayfield’s ability to play across all five positions of the offensive line. The Buccaneers offense struggled to properly replace Ali Marpet midseason when he went down with an injury. And obvioulsy, an injury at offensive tackle could be much worse. Last year’s swing tackle, Joe Haeg, was not effective as a replacement guard or a jumbo tight end. The Buccaneers would be smart to add a young offensive lineman who can fill those roles.
The overall talent of Mayfield is where I would look to go another direction with this pick. Mayfield is more of a Round 2 or 3 prospect in my eyes. The Buccaneers could take advantage of a deep offensive line class with their Day 2 picks. As far as fit goes, Mayfield would work nicely in the Arians scheme. He has the tools to be a potential starter in a few years and has plenty of experience despite being just 20-years-old.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Donovan Smith is still under contract for the next three years, but the Bucs can cut him after 2021 and still come out on the right side of things money-wise. Regardless, Mayfield would be an intriguing pick.
Maurice Jones-Drew’s NFL.com Mock Draft v2.0
Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, S, TCU
Jones-Drew believes drafting depth at defensive back is the best move for the Buccaneers in Round 1. “Moehrig adds secondary depth and could become a starter by midseason,” he added to his pick comments.
Moehrig is the consensus top safety in this year’s draft and would be an excellent value for GM Jason Licht, if available. Tampa Bay has their starters locked in for 2021 in Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead. However, I tend to agree that Moehrig-Woodard could be in contention for lots of snaps this upcoming season based on talent. At the very least, Moehrig-Woodard would give DC Todd Bowles more depth and flexibility with his secondary alignments.
The former TCU safety has more range than Whitehead. But he still has the ability to play down closer to the line of scrimmage. With Whitehead going into a contract year, the Buccaneers would be smart to plan ahead with this luxury pick. Winfield Jr. and Moehrig-Woodard have the potential to be one of the more dynamic and exciting safety tandems in the NFL.
Peter Schrager NFL.com Mock Draft v2.0
Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, S, TCU
Hmmmm, it looks like Schrager copied off his fellow co-worker’s homework in his latest mock. All jokes aside, it’s a great pick, and I’m glad he learned his lesson after taking Stanford’s quarterback Davis Mills in his first mock draft.