The ride is over for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady has officially come out and announced his retirement from the NFL. This was widely speculated, but there was still hope to see him throwing passes for the Bucs next season.
Sadly, that won’t be the case. However, someone will be throwing those passes. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out who that next quarterback will be.
There is a reasonable chance that the Buccaneers bring in a veteran to help utilize an experienced roster and compete for the playoffs next year. There is also the possibility that it will be a rookie under center next season in Tampa Bay. If that’s the case then there are a lot of possibilities on who the Buccaneers could draft as the future of the franchise.
In this article I’ll take a look at some of the noteworthy rookies the Bucs may look at in the upcoming NFL draft.
Top Shelf Options
The big names in the draft are Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson. All four are expected to be drafted in the first round and potentially all four could hear their names called in the top ten. However, there’s always a chance one of them slides.
A guy like Richardson is supremely talented, but also inconsistent and needs development. Stroud comes in with a stigma of never winning the big games and folding under pressure. Levis struggles with deep accuracy and can be careless with the ball. Each has their flaws as a player and that could cause one to slip.
If any of these guys start to slip out of the top ten or fifteen picks then the Buccaneers should consider moving up to get him. All three have a legitimate pathway to being a franchise quarterback and a guy like Stroud could even start as a rookie and play at a high level. Even if it’s Richardson who falls, then he’s worth drafting and being patient with as the team tries to develop him for the future.
This seems like an unlikely option, but it would be a great option for the Bucs. Moving up is always a risk, but the reward could be passing the torch to a young franchise quarterback. Despite their flaws, these are all risks worth taking for the Buccaneers.
Best of the Rest
There aren’t a lot of highly intriguing options after the top four quarterbacks. Hendon Hooker is the best of the rest and should be drafted in round two. However, there’s a reason he won’t be drafted before this.
Hooker is coming off a torn ACL in his final year of college. This is to say that it’s unclear when he’ll be ready to play next season, if he’ll be ready as a rookie at all. On top of that, Hooker is already 25 years old, so he might not be 100% healthy until he’s 26. That makes for a very old first time NFL starter.
Jaren Hall is another name worth keeping an eye on. The BYU quarterback has great physical gifts in terms of his arm and ability to run. Much like Richardson, Hall is not ready to come in and start as a rookie, so it might be a year or two before he’s ready to step in and play.
Sleepers to Watch
There are several lower tier quarterbacks who might be able to help a team in the middle and late rounds of the draft. Tanner McKee is a two year starter at Stanford who brings good size and decent physical tools. His stats haven’t been particularly impressive, but he’s someone who could stick around in the NFL for a while.
Jake Haener is a two year starter for Fresno State. He throws a lot more touchdowns than interceptions and is a high IQ player. His physical gifts are modest, but he can manage a game and make a few plays off script.
Clayton Tune brings solid athletic tools and high end production. He threw for 70 touchdowns and 20 interceptions over the last two years and is a five year player at Houston. His combination of traits and production might be worth betting on late in the draft.
Tyson Bagent is the ultimate sleeper in this class. He was extremely productive at Shepherd with over 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns last year with just 8 interceptions. He earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl and will try to prove that he belongs with the big boys.
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