By now you’ve probably heard the Bucs are returning all 22 starters from their 2020 Super Bowl winning roster. That leaves GM Jason Licht and the Buccaneers in a great position to draft the best player available on Thursday.
The Bucs could look to add impactful role players for the upcoming season, or players that could develop and fill future roster holes for 2022 and beyond.
Before jumping into this Buccaneers seven-round mock draft, let’s take a look at the Bucs’ current roster needs:
- Rotational Edge Rusher
- Interior Pass Rush Specialist
- Interior Offensive Line Depth
- Swing Tackle / Jumbo Tight End
- Wide Receiver Depth / Return Specialist
- Safety Depth
- Cornerback Depth
- Backup Quarterback
The depth of these positions will need to be bolstered through the draft in case of injury and to help take some snaps off of the older players on the roster. Simultaneously, these positions can also maintain the future roster health of the Bucs. Even in win-now mode, the Buccaneers have to think about their upcoming free agents for next year and beyond. With that being said, here are my final picks for the Buccaneers in this year’s draft.
Round 1, Pick No. 32: The Bucs Trade Back To Select WR Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU Tigers
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers receive picks No. 45 and No. 65.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars receive picks No. 32 and No. 137.
By the looks of our mock drafts, you’re safe betting the house on a trade between the Bucs and Jaguars.
Our own J.T. Olson recently wrote a piece on potential trade partners the Buccaneers could work with on draft night. Like C.T., I am going to take the hypothetical deal he presented and use pick No. 45 on Marshall.
The Buccaneers do not need more picks in this year’s draft considering roster spots will be tight, even without acquiring more draft capital. That being said, the Bucs probably will not find a first-round talent with the last pick of the first round. The trade gets the Bucs three picks inside the top-65. That’s an intriguing offer I think they would be willing to take. As for roster spots being tight, keep reading. The trades do not stop here.
Back to Marshall, who is seeing his draft stock slip into the second round after issues with his combine medical checks. The Bucs may not feel comfortable taking the chance on Marshall at pick 32 after his medicals, but could pull the trigger at pick 45 with an added early third round pick via the trade with Jacksonville.
Antonio Brown has yet to be re-signed with the draft quickly approaching, so depth is needed to ensure Tom Brady has all the weapons he needs. Marshall has been dynamic at both inside and outside receiver during his time at LSU, and meets the size thresholds the Buccaneers have wanted in their early round receivers (6-foot-3, 205-pounds).
Round 2, Pick No. 64: EDGE Payton Turner, Houston Cougars
The Bucs have a quick turnaround 19 picks later after trading out of the first round. Payton Turner is the pick here, a prospect who has the versatility to be a pass rush chess piece on the inside and outside.
Turner saw his stock rise steadily throughout the draft process since his dominant showing at the senior bowl. At 6-foot-6, 270-pounds, Turner has both the quickness to win on the outside as an edge rusher and the size to kick in on passing downs. This versatility will be especially valuable in what is thought of as a historically bad defensive tackle class.
The competition he faced while at Houston was not elite, but the traits are there and his Senior Bowl performance showed he can play against NFL caliber offensive lineman. Turner has a relentless motor that will make him a quick favorite with teammates and coaches.
Round 3, Pick No. 65: T Jalen Mayfield, Michigan Wolverines
After trading out of the first round with Jacksonville, the Bucs have back-to-back picks to end the second round and begin the third round. The Bucs need depth across all five positions of the offensive line. So, I have them going with the experienced and versatile Jalen Mayfield to kick off the third round.
Mayfield is by no means the finished product, but the Bucs do not need an instant impact starter at offensive line like they did at right tackle entering the 2020 draft. This year, the Bucs need a prospect who can fill in at multiple positions and potentially be a starter in a year or two. Enter Jalen Mayfield, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound lineman who was able to bully Big 10 defensive lineman at times despite entering the draft at age 20.
In 2021 for the Buccaneers, Mayfield would provide depth at both tackle and guard spots. Swing tackle and jumbo tight end are where he can find the most snaps as a rookie, bringing more athleticism and power than the recently departed Joe Haeg.
Round 3, Pick No. 95: CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford Cardinal
After addressing wide receiver, edge rusher, and offensive line with their first three picks, the Buccaneers bolster their cornerback depth with their second pick of the third round. Paulson Adebo is a long, rangy outside corner with plenty of athleticism to match what the Bucs coaching staff likes in their boundary corners.
Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean have the starting outside corner spots locked up, but beyond those two the Bucs could use depth to round out the group. Both Davis and Dean are on their rookie contracts and will want to be paid like premier corners if they continue to ascend like they have the past two years. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Buccaneers are looking to move on from either of them. But paying everyone in this young secondary will be a tough ask. Having another talented young corner develop with them would be beneficial if anyone were to leave in free agency down the line.
Adebo opted out of the 2020 season after two strong years with Stanford as their primary boundary corner. The former Cardinal had first-round hype after his freshman year, however, he seems to have been passed up by some of the other corners in the class. Since Adebo was not eligible for the Senior Bowl, the last significant snaps we were able to see came in 2019. He has the athleticism and instincts to succeed in the NFL, but will need to work on constantly trying to jump routes. His play can be boom-or-bust in that way, either breaking up passes with quick reactions or getting burned on double moves.
Round 5, Pick No. 176: Bucs Trade Up To Select IOL David Moore, Grambling State Tigers
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers receive pick No. 153 overall.
- The Detroit Lions receive picks No. 176, No. 251, and No. 259 overall
The Buccaneers make their second trade of this mock draft. This time, they move up to grab their guy in the early part of the fifth round. As I mentioned earlier, the Bucs don’t need to trade down in order to amass more draft capital. The offer from the Jaguars to secure four picks on Day 2 was too good to pass up. They won’t mind losing two seventh-round picks.
The Lions, on the other hand, have needs everywhere and could use extra picks to fill out their roster. With the Lions only having six picks before the trade, all of which are in the fifth round or earlier, this trade is a win for both parties.
David Moore is the type of small school prospect the Bucs love to draft and develop. Unlike the Division 3 prospects who did not have football in 2020, Moore could have played this past year for Grambling State. However, he opted out in hopes of developing his game. Fortunately, he was able to participate in the Senior Bowl, where he looked good against NFL-caliber competition.
Moore played guard in college and projects to the interior offensive line in the NFL. His play strength was noticeable both in college and during the Senior Bowl. He will have no trouble adapting to the Bucs’ power run scheme, while passing downs are where he needs development. After grabbing Mayfield in the early third round of this mock draft, the Buccaneers continue to solidify depth on their offensive line with developmental players who have the potential to start in future seasons.
Round 6, Pick No. 217: S Darrick Forrest, Cincinnati Bearcats
After multiple trades in this Buccaneers mock draft, their sixth round pick is also their last pick. Day 3 of the draft is all about finding players with developmental traits, or finding players with special teams ability. Cincinnati’s Forrest is both a developmental player and a guy who could instantly excel on special teams.
Forrest’s partner at safety for the Bearcats, James Wiggins, received all of the hype during their time at Cincinnati. But Forrest is a very talented player in his own right. Wiggins was more of the box safety, while Forrest played deeper in coverage. That doesn’t mean that Forrest is exclusively a coverage safety. He shows willingness to tackle and has the frame to be a do-it-all safety. His athletic profile (4.42 40-yard dash, 11’0″ broad jump) will translate immediately to the NFL. That should give him opportunities to play on special teams while he grows into a potential starter.
What do y’all think of this mock draft? Let us know in the comments below!