It’s finally draft day, so what better way to kick it off with a 2021 NFL Draft Preview?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently have eight selections over the next three days of the 2021 NFL Draft, which we will go over in this preview. After bringing back all 22 starters from the prior season, as well as key backups, the team is in a position where they are a true wild card in the draft.
Geared to take any position or the best player available to them, they are also in a situation where they can move around the board. The Bucs can go in any direction in order to select the prospects that can help them now and/or in the future.
Here is everything you need to know as a Buccaneers fan about the draft over the next three days.
Where will Tampa Bay pick during the draft?
1st round, No. 32 overall
2nd round, No. 64 overall
3rd round, No. 95 overall
4th round, No. 137 overall
5th round, No. 176 overall
6th round, No. 217 overall (compensatory)
7th round, No. 251 overall (from PIT)
7th round, No. 259 overall
What are Tampa Bay’s needs?
There is a case to be made that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not have any needs going into this draft. However, there are future needs, role and depth players that could be added to bolster a team preparing for another Super Bowl run.
There is little to be excited about behind starters Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul. The 32 year-old JPP is also in the last year of his contract and coming of knee surgery. Drafting an early round prospect to protect against his impending free agency, while learning behind Barrett and JPP and contributing in a rotational role, could be a smart choice for the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers have two starters in the last year of their contracts in Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa. While the first round isn’t flush with interior line prospects, players like Landon Dickerson or Creed Humphrey could be in play in preparing for a life without either player in 2022.
Tackle Donovan Smith recently re-upped on a new deal extending into 2023, but we saw first hand what a lack a quality depth on the line can do to a team with the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. A tackle in a perfect world wouldn’t see the field in the immediate future besides coming in as a jumbo tight end but would guard against injury.
With GM Jason Lichts recent comments on drafting prospects more for two years down the line than immediate impact, a tackle could be the move at 32.
GM Jason Licht loves to draft secondary players. While the starting group looks set, Carlton Davis and Jordan Whitehead are in a contract years. Followed by the group of Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards in 2022. Investing resources into the secondary is always a solid move where it is one of the toughest positions to draft. With the NFL turning into more a passing league you can never have enough of them.
The Buccaneers are bringing back their entire unit from the 2020 season but six of the nine players are on one year deals. In what is considered many to be a weak defensive tackle class the Bucs best bet is to potentially draft one in the earlier rounds.
The Bucs are set at the starter spot with the re-signing of Lavonte David. The pairing of LVD and Devin White is one of the best tandems in the league but could stand to add depth behind them. Kevin Minter, voted special teams captain in 2020, is back on a one-year deal but the need for a fourth LB and developmental rotational player is a need the Buccaneers could address early on in the draft.
Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, Giovani Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Could you really call running back a need? Well all but Vaughn are on one year deals. With the ability to draft for luxury and best player available, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities the Bucs could draft a running back and potentially take one early.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin is currently set to play on the franchise tag and Antonio Brown is on a one-year deal. If the Bucs feel like they will not be able to sign Godwin to an extension this is an area they could draft early on. If they don’t go wide out early, in a deep wide receiver class, they could still look to add a prospect who can contribute as a returner on special teams. Which would bump a player like Justin Watson off the roster.
Both Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard are in contract years and Cam Brate has an option year in 2022 and 2023. While not necessarily a position they could target early investing a resource into the position isn’t out of the question.
The most disputed “need” the Buccaneers have. Is it too early to invest a resource into a a developmental quarterback? Last season’s top back up Blaine Gabbert remains unsigned and with names like Kyle Trask, Davis Mills and Kellen Mond swirling around the Bucs they could address the position on day 2 of the draft.
2021 NFL Draft Preview: Who are some potential picks for the Bucs in the first round?
EDGE Jaelen Phillips, Miami
EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington
DE/EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
DE/EDGE Kwitty Paye, Notre Dame
RB Najee Harris, Alabama
RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
OL Landon Dickerson, Alabama
OL Creed Humphrey Oklahoma
OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
OT Samuel Cosmi, Texas
DL Christian Barmore, Alabama
DL Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
LB Jamin Davis, Kentucky
LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
DB Greg Newsome, II Northwestern
CB Eric Stokes, Georgia
CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
S Trevon Moehrig, TCU
Where To Watch
Coverage starts Thursday night at 8PM EST with a variety of options for your viewing pleasure. Below are the dates and times of each day of the draft.
Dates: Thursday, April 29 (Round 1) / Friday, April 30 (Rounds 2-3) / Saturday, May 1 (Rounds 4-7)
Start times: 8 p.m. ET (Thursday) / 7 p.m. ET (Friday) / Noon ET (Saturday)
Channels: ABC / ESPN / NFL Network / ESPN Deportes