We are officially in NFL draft week! At this point in the process prospects have been evaluated and most teams have a good idea of who they want to target. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are no exception to this.
General Manager Jason Licht is a prepared as anyone in the NFL. He has done his homework, brought in players for interviews and has a short list of guys that will fit with this team. Now the only question is, who’s on that list.
Based on the trends of Licht, the needs that they have and the player fit, I took my best guess at some of the players they will target at each position. Here is who I believe will be on their offensive short list in the NFL draft.
*My guess at who the team will draft at that position*
Levis is a highly regarded prospect in this draft who many believe will be selected in the top ten picks. However, there are some who forecast a slide come draft day due to inconsistent deep accuracy and struggles navigating the pocket. If he is available at pick 19 then there is reason to believe the Bucs, who don’t have a long term answer at quarterback, would be willing to take a chance on great athletic tools and the ability to be dangerous in short and intermediate passing game.
Thompson-Robinson is a mobile quarterback who can facilitate the ball around like a point guard. He might not have the biggest arm in the world, but he can put touch on his passes and throw with relative velocity. His ceiling is probably a lower to mid tier starting quarterback with it being more likely that he will be a career backup. However, in this new offense I believe he can sling it around enough to manage the game and make occasional splash plays with his feet.
JT’s Pick: Clayton Tune, Houston
Tune is just a very well rounded prospect. He can run some, he has decent arm strength and he is mostly accurate with his ball placement. He isn’t flashy and doesn’t make a ton of “wow” plays, but he just consistently does good things with the ball in his hands. In the type of offense that the Buccaneers are installing, I believe he could turn into a Jared Goff or Derek Carr type of player. If I had to pick one guy, this would be the quarterback I bet the Bucs draft.
There are some many things to love about Gibbs. He’s an excellent pass catcher, he is elusive and has great vision. I see so many elements of Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffery when I watch him play. He seems like a lock to be a top 50 pick, and it would be a great value if were there for the Bucs to take. The team has already met with him at the combine, so we know there is interest. The only question is if they will want to invest that resource in a position that isn’t a high need.
The Bucs have brought in Johnson for a top 30 visit and fits the mold for what they need. He is big and physical and can pass block, which makes him a three down back. He could be the thunder to Rachaad White’s lightning so to speak. Plus we already know he thrives in a backup role after sharing the stage with blue chip prospect Bijan Robinson at Texas.
The Bucs have a direct pipeline to Mount Pleasant Michigan and Central Michigan University. This year’s target could be Nichols who led all of college football in rushing yards two years ago. He is physical, fluid and has good vision. He would be a good fit in the new zone rushing attack and he already has familiarity with last year’s second round pick Luke Goedeke.
JT’s Pick: Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota
Some running backs always seem to fall forward and Ibrahim is definitely one of those types. He has a great feel for finding space and hits the hole hard when he sees daylight. He might lack long speed, but he has good short area burst to hit consistent doubles as opposed to being that home run threat.
Ibrahim would make a nice addition to the Buccaneers backfield as a late round addition. His value in the draft and the role he would fill make him a perfect fit in Tampa Bay.
The Bucs will be looking to add depth and complimentary skills to their already strong wide receiver room. Reed can provide that on day three of the draft. He is a bit on the small side, but quick and fluid. He can create space as a pass catcher and also get some manufactured touches to pick up yards with his fast feet.
JT’s Pick: Jalen Moreno-Cropper, Fresno State
Moreno-Cropper is undersized at about 170 lbs, but he is someone who is a natural at getting open. He’s both fast and quick, so he can push the defense back and snap off routes to create space. He also seems to have a good understanding of space and just knows how to position himself.
The Bucs have met with Moreno-Cropper, so there is at least some interest there. He would be an ideal late round addition who could make a quality depth and special teams player. If I’m picking one receiver for the Bucs this year then it would be this one.
Sam LaPorta, Iowa
This is a great group of tight ends in this draft cycle. There are different types who suit different systems, so everyone should have a few guys that fit their team. In terms of pass catching, LaPorta is one of the best.
LaPorta can play in the line or as a big receiver in the slot. He has the ability to create separation and find space in the defense. He will be an impactful playmaker at the next level and should hear his name called somewhere around where the Bucs pick in the second round.
Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State
If you’re looking for a diamond in the rough then South Dakota State tight end Tucker Kraft is the one you’re looking for. Coming from a division two program he still has a lot to prove against top end competition, but he looks to have all the makings of an NFL tight end.
He tested very well at the NFL combine and proved he has the athleticism to play in the pros. He also looks very fluid for his size and was able to gain separation as a pass catcher as well as position himself as a blocker. He’s a little bit of a project, but the projection is easy to see.
JT’s Pick: Luke Schoonmaker, Michigan
Schoonmaker is an ideal option for the Bucs second tight end. He’s one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft and comes from a run first program at Michigan. He also tested very well at the NFL combine.
This combination of athletic ability and blocking makes him a safe bet as a prospect. At worst he can be a good career backup. However, if he reaches his ceiling then he can be an impact player at the next level. My guess that he is a Buccaneer this time next week.
Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Offensive tackle is the Bucs biggest need coming into the draft. With no clear starter at left tackle I would expect this to be a high priority in the draft. One potential first round target is Wright.
The strength and agility of Wright stands out. He is a brick wall in pass protection and a bully as a run blocker. I expect him to be on the Bucs short with the 19th overall pick.
Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
If for some reason the Bucs don’t select a tackle in the first round then Duncan is the next best option in the second round. He is very agile and surprisingly strong for a lighter lineman. Duncan appears to be a perfect for the Bucs new offense.
The ability to move and find blocks in space is an important aspect in this new zone run scheme. Duncan has the athletic ability and skill that do that in the NFL. He will need a little seasoning, but he is the making of a very good NFL player.
Blake Freeland, BYU
Freeland has great length at 6’8. He also moves extremely well, especially considering his size. In terms of scheme fit, Freeland is a great match for the Buccaneers in terms of what they will likely look for with their new offense.
The big pro here is functional strength as well as technique. Freeland can be pushed around relatively easily. He will need a year or two to develop, but has the upside to be a long term starter in the NFL.
JT’s Pick: Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
Not many offensive tackles can move the way that Harrison does. He is incredibly light on his feet while still maintaining functional strength that is needed for a blindside protector. Physically, Harrison has all the tools.
He still needs a little polishing, which is why he’s projected as a mid to late first round pick as opposed to top ten. However, as a true junior he’s still very young and there’s every reason to believe his best football is ahead of him. This seems like the most likely target for the Bucs in the first round as they target their left tackle of the future.