It has been as crazy of an offseason as I can remember. However, the NFL draft is slowly approaching as it always does. Despite a whirlwind of moves by the Buccaneers, there are still several important holes that still need to be filled. On top of that, there is a new head coach which also potentially means a new approach to how this team wants to build the roster. As things are right now, here’s what I would do keeping all these factors in mind.
Round 1, Pick 27
Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
HT: 6’0 WT: 192 lbs
Admittedly, safety isn’t the biggest need on this team. However, this is the type of talent that is worth taking regardless of need.
The first thing that some will notice is Daxton Hill’s athletic ability. At 6’0 and 191 lbs he ran a 4.38 40 yard dash at the combine. This is not typical safety speed, it’s more what you would expect from deep threat wide receivers. Hill also tested extremely well in the shuttles, which showed off his quickness.
Hill is a versatile chess piece that can do it all. He plays well in over the top coverage and as a nickel. He’s strong in run support as well as on the blitz. When people think of all that a guy like Tyrann Mathieu can do, Hill brings that type of ability.
Round 2, Pick 60
Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA
HT: 6’5 WT: 320 lbs
There has been a lot of talk about the Bucs drafting a guard in the first round to round out the offensive line. In this scenario they get a first round talent near the end of the second round. In fact, Sean Rhyan might be better than the options the Buccaneers have been linked to with their first round pick.
Currently Rhyan lines up at left tackle for the UCLA Bruins. And while he may be able to play this position at the NFL level, I believe he has the makings of an elite guard prospect. This is something the Bucs are very familiar with as most of their offensive line played left tackle in college, so they are no stranger to this transition.
Rhyan tested extremely well at the combine. His explosiveness and quickness are some of the best you’ll see at his position. Overall his athletic testing is similar to guys like Ali Marpet, Brandon Scherff, and Quenton Nelson. Don’t be surprised to see Rhyan in the Pro Bowl a few years down the line.
Round 3, Pick 91
Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
HT: 6’5 WT: 230 lbs
At this time, Rob Gronkowski hasn’t decided if he wants to retire or play another season in the NFL. Even if he does return to the Buccaneers, tight end is a long term need and a position that takes a few years to truly acclimate to the NFL. Addressing this need in the draft now means they will be able to step in as a starter you can feel confident about in a year or two.
In this draft Trey McBride unexpectedly fell to the Bucs third round pick. Many consider him to be the best tight end in the draft and the Buccaneers met with him at the combine. If he’s available here then he’d be a natural fit for what the team wants and needs.
McBride is a good blocker. He isn’t extremely powerful at the point of attack, but he moves well and can seal defenders off and get to the second level. Where he really makes his impact is as a pass catcher. He brought in 90 receptions last season for 1,121 yards. This combination of blocking and pass catching is more than enough for the Buccaneers to see him as the tight end of the future in Tampa Bay.
Round 4, Pick 133
Brian Robinson, RB, Alabama
HT: 6’1 WT: 225 lbs
Alabama has a track record of producing good running backs for the NFL. Brian Robinson is just the latest of this line. In his first year as the featured back in 2021, Robinson totaled over 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Robinson is a big running back at 6’1 and 230 lbs. He has the size to be a bell cow back, as well as the ability to be a pass catcher. With what is returning to the Buccaneers, he would make sense as the primary backup to Leonard Fournette. Both have a similar skillset and physical profile.
Round 7, Pick 248
Kalil Pimpleton, WR, Central Michigan
HT: 5’9 WT: 175 lbs
Jaelon Darden was drafted last year as someone who could return kicks and create separation with his quickness. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown he can do either at the NFL level to this point. Now the Bucs are still looking for answers as to who will round out the depth of their wide receiver room.
Kalil Pimpleton showed the ability to be an electric return man in college. He averaged 19 yards per punt return and scored two touchdowns last season. Worst case scenario, he’s the competition that Darden needs to push him. Best case scenario, the Buccaneers get a valuable special teams player who can be a depth playmaker.
Round 7, Pick 261
Max Borghi, RB, Washington State
HT: 5’10 WT: 205 lbs
Not long ago the Bucs were looking at only Ke’shawn Vaughn returning to their running back room. Now having re-signed Fournette and Giovani Bernard , and drafting Robinson in this mock draft, the Bucs are looking strong as running back all of a sudden.
Max Borghi will only add to the depth and competition of this group. His ability as a pass catcher will be valued by Tom Brady and this Bucs offense. He can be a good third down back if Bernard happens to get injured again this year.
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