The draft is over, which means it’s time to start grading the Buccaneers’ 2021 draft results.
Tampa Bay pretty much followed the blueprint that many thought it would deploy. Primarily, the Bucs found a guy to provide a spark in terms of depth at the EDGE position who is also a potential replacement player down the line and they drafted what appears to Tom Brady’s successor.
And of course, they filled out the rest of the roster with the rest of their picks. It will be exciting to see how everything plays out over the next few months.
Let’s grade the Bucs’ 2021 draft results.
Round 1, Pick No 32: EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington Huskies
This was a no-brainer for the Bucs. Not only was Tryon their top guy on the board, but he immediately provides reliable depth and he’s a potential replacement for Jason Pierre-Paul down the road.
Tampa Bay’s front seven is what drives the defense. It’s what won Super Bowl LV. It only makes sense to keep the edges intact.
Round 2, Pick No. 64: QB Kyle Trask, Florida Gators
This is easily the most polarizing pick when grading the Buccaneers’ 2021 draft results.
Scouting reports are all over the place when it comes to Trask and so is fan perception. You can literally index his game into every category and every measureable. Which means it’s up to your own personal evaluation when determining the value of this pick.
For me, it’s a sensible pick and it’s a warranted one, as well. This is the guy the Bucs wanted. He probably wouldn’t have been there at 95 and the Bucs obviously had other guys on their board at that pick. The Bucs would’ve had to spend extra capital to move up in the third, so would it have been worth trading up as opposed to selecting him with the No. 64 pick in the draft? Either way you’re spending an extra pick. In a certain sense, of course.
Regardless of value, this is the key: Trask represents a viable backup option behind Tom Brady that also represents a possible plan for the future. The Bucs believe in him. So why shouldn’t others?
Round 3, Pick No. 95: OL Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Hainsey was the third Notre Dame offensive linemen taken off the board on Day 2 of the draft. He follows a long, extremely successful list of offensive linemen coming out South Bend.
I mean, just check out the last four offensive linemen drafted out of Notre Dame before 2021: Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchy, Ronnie Stanley, and Zack Martin.
Hainsey played right tackle in college, but is projected to play either guard or center in the NFL. He fits exactly what the Bucs were looking for and what they needed.
Round 4, Pick No. 129: WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas Mean Green
First off, major kudos to our own C.T. Smith, who had the Bucs drafting Darden in the fifth round.
Speaking of which, yes, it does seem like the Bucs did reach here at the end of the day. However, it only cost a sixth-round pick to move up eight spots. And when you add in the fact that Darden is exactly what this offense was missing, everything makes a lot more sense.
The Bucs needed a guy who is electric with the ball in his hands. A guy who can make multiple people miss. Darden is all of that, plus he shows a ton of potential as a kick returner. If he can provide a spark in that department, then it frees up a roster spot for the Bucs to use elsewhere.
Yes, the Bucs probably could’ve drafted Darden later, but this pick fits and the Bucs didn’t overpay to move up. It’s a solid pick.
Round 5, Pick No. 176: LB KJ Britt, Auburn Tigers
Britt is one of the more underrated linebackers in the draft thanks to a thumb injury that hampered his senior season. He is a violent player who will make his presence felt in run defense and on special teams.
His limited athleticism will likely prohibit him from becoming an effective starter, but his potential as a backup will keep him around for a good amount of time.
Round 7, Pick No. 251: CB Chris Wilcox, BYU Cougars
Saturday, Arians specifically said that he wanted to add more speed to the defense on the NFL Network. Well, he did that with Wilcox, who runs a 4.3 40-yard dash.
However, there is very, very limited production on Wilcox’ college resume. He’s very raw, as well. He has the size and speed for Bowles’ defense, but he’s going to have to make his mark on special teams if he wants to stick around long enough for a shot at regular season playing time. A DJ Daniel or a Trill Williams may have been a better pick, here.
Round 7, Pick No. 259: LB Grant Stuard, Houston Cougars
Stuard should be a force on special teams, which is what will be required of him based off his draft position. The Bucs also needed more help at inside linebacker. Jack Cichy has flashed in training camp and practices, but you can’t rely on him to stay healthy at this point.
Stuard is a thumper. If he can make a career out of being a special teams player -which he should- then this pick is a success.
Final Grade: B+
The Bucs took care of their immediate depth needs and also planned for the future with this draft class. They had a plan and they knew what they were looking for, which is a good sign. Bruce Arians and Jason Licht are in a groove right now and 2021 should reflect that.
When it comes to grading the Buccaneers’ 2021 draft, what grade would you give out? Let us know in the comment section below!