We have reached the bye week for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And while everyone is (and should be) focused on the Bucs defending their Super Bowl crown, the NFL draft is ever looming. And while the exact needs are entirely clear yet, we can look at this roster and project where the Bucs might be looking with their first round pick. Here are five NFL draft prospects that stand out to me as logical fits for the Bucs with (hopefully) the 32nd overall pick in the coming draft.
Sean Rhyan, Offensive Line, UCLA
This is my ideal pick for the Buccaneers come draft day. Rhyan is a powerful and fluid lineman. He excels at generating push at the point of attack as well as peeling off and making blocks in space at the second level. He brings the nasty mentality that he uses to put his opponent on the ground.
The biggest thing he may get knocked for in the draft process is his lack of length. At a listed 6’4 and 320 lbs he may be viewed as a bit too short to play offensive tackle at the next level. Whether that lack of length is a legitimate concern, I haven’t decided yet. However, even if it is, I believe that Rhyan projects as an elite guard prospect.
This could legitimately be the next Brandon Scherff or Ali Marpet. While he may be viewed as undersized as a tackle, he has fantastic length to play on the interior. If Rhyan can play on the outside, then that’s great additional versatility.
Carson Strong, Quarterback, Nevada
It’s unlikely that a team can find a franchise quarterback without a high first round pick. Sure there are the stories of Tom Brady or Russell Wilson out there, but more often than not you’re getting a Mike Glennon if you take a quarterback after the first round.
Strong could be that next late round quarterback to actually prove to be the franchise signal caller that teams are looking for. While his physical tools aren’t elite, he is accurate and smart. His ball placement is very good and he has the ability to throw his receivers open.
Will Strong turn into the next Aaron Rodgers (drafted 24th overall) or Lamar Jackson (drafted 32nd overall) and win an MVP as a late first round quarterback? No, probably not. However, he could certainly be the next Derek Carr.
Sauce Gardner, Cornerback, Cincinnati
Length, agility and ball skills. These are some of the traits that stand out when watching Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. The Bearcats star defensive back is extremely fluid and light on his feet. These traits are even more impressive when you consider the fact that he’s one of the biggest corners in the draft at 6’2.
In some ways, Gardner is exactly the type of corner that the Buccaneers will want. His length and ball skills in particular will intrigue defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. However, he does lack the physicality that Tampa Bay has valued in corners in recent years.
Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver, Boston College
It’s a sad reality that the Buccaneers might not be able to resign Chris Godwin this offseason. There are just too many players who need to get paid and likely not enough money to go around. On top of that, it’s unclear what the future will hold with Antonio Brown.
The Bucs will need to replenish their wide receiver talent if either of those two don’t return next season. Zay Flowers may be just the man to fill that void. He is fast and elusive. His ability to make defenders miss in space and take the top off the defense would be an excellent compliment to Buccaneers Mike Evans.
Jordan Davis, Defensive Tackle, Georgia
This pick is admittedly a bit of a pipe dream. Jordan Davis is an intimidating presence in the middle of the Georgia Bulldogs defensive line. His raw power is excellent and he plays with the demeanor you want from a defensive tackle. Frankly, he’s the best nose tackle prospect I’ve seen since Vita Vea.
With that said, he is still a nose tackle. Because of this it’s possible he may fall on draft day despite being one of the best 15 players on my board. This could be an opportunity to take advantage of talent sliding in the draft.
Despite being nose tackles, both Davis and Vea have good mobility. The two of them together could dominate the line of scrimmage for the Buccaneers, and allow the defense to give more exotic blitz looks while deploying two down linemen. This would be a unique pairing of defensive tackles that could overwhelm opponents with their raw power and athleticism.
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