The first round of the NFL draft is over and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to walk away with Pittsburgh defensive star Calijah Kancey. While Kancey is a very good player and should do good things with the Bucs, the team still has a lot of needs they need to address on day two. Particularly offensive tackle which is where many, including myself thought General Manager Jason Licht would look in the first round.
Now the Bucs will have to attempt to fill their remaining needs in rounds two and three of the draft. These needs include offensive tackle, safety, outside linebacker, tight end and running back. Here are some of the players who could fill some of those needs and be an impact player next season.
Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
Duncan is an athletic and talented left tackle. He is extremely light on his feet which allows him to shine as a pass blocker and in getting into space as a run blocker. These are the traits that the Bucs will want to prioritize in their blindside protector.
The one thing that Duncan lacks is consistency. While there are times he looks like a dominating force who can hold up on an island one verse one, there are other times where his technique breaks down and gets beat badly. This is why he will be available on day two of the draft.
To be clear, there is a lot more good than bad here. Despite bigger names like Cody Mauch and Dawand Jones still being on the board, I view Duncan as the best tackle available. He can be a day one starter next season who will only get better with more experience.
Brian Branch, SS, Alabama
Branch falling out of the first round was a bit of a shock to me. While he isn’t an elite athlete and he plays a position that has become a bit devalued in the NFL, Branch is one of the ten best football players in this draft. The Bucs should have him very high on their wish list.
In terms of what the Buccaneers need, Branch is a perfect fit. He is a versatile safety who can play over the top, but really thrives as a nickel defender. On top of that he might be the best, most consistent tackler in the draft regardless of position.
It’s hard to imagine that Branch will slide much further. On the other hand, I would have said the same thing about Antione Winfield Jr a few years ago when he slid to the Bucs in the second round.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Levis sliding out of the first round was one of the surprises of the draft. He was projected by many to go in the top five overall, but fell all the way to day two. As a team who has uncertainty at quarterback, the Bucs should be paying close attention to this situation.
On the field, Levis has a cannon for an arm and is accurate in the short to intermediate areas of the field. He can be used with designed runs and has the tools to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL.
He’s also someone who turns the ball over too often and lacks some awareness in the pocket. And while he is fairly accurate within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage, his deep ball accuracy leaves something to be desired.
If Levis is on the board then I think he would be an excellent fit in the Bucs offense and could be the answer to their quarterback problems.
Derick Hall, OLB, Auburn
Adding to the pass rush will likely be a theme this weekend. While Kancey does that in a big way, outside pass rush will still be a priority. Hall can be a big help with that need.
Hall is a power pass rusher who uses his athleticism and hot motor to make plays in the backfield. He’s also a very high character player who was nominated and was a semifinalist for the Jason Witten Man of the Year award in college football. He is a great blend of player and person in the locker room.
I think it is likely that Hall will be available when the Bucs pick. If that’s the direction the team wants to go then there would be no complaints from me.
BJ Ojulari, OLB, LSU
Much like Hall, Ojulari is a good pass rushing prospect who shows flashes of dominance. He also dawned the number 18 at LSU, which is reserved only for players who have excellent leadership and intangibles.
It seems less likely that Ojulari will be on the board when the Buccaneers pick. However, if he is there then he would be a steal for Tampa Bay.
Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Off-ball linebacker isn’t a priority since the Bucs re-signed Lavonte David. However, with both David and White being on the last year of their deal and White asking for a trade last month there is uncertainty at linebacker going forward. This is why Simpson is worth looking at for the Buccaneers.
Simpson might be the best linebacker in the draft. He is fast, good in coverage and can make plays in the backfield. He is a little undersized, but the Bucs have had success with this mold in the past. Letting Simpson develop behind David and White would allow him to hit the ground running next year.
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Nickel corner is a need for the Bucs after letting Sean Murphy-Bunting walk in free agency. Smith is a guy who can fill that void as a rookie and also has the versatility to play outside as well. He is also someone who I believe was talented enough to be a first round pick, so this would be great value.
At 6’1 and 190 lbs, Smith has the size that Bowles likes in his cornerbacks. He also had excellent athletic testing at the combine. This is the type of player that fills and need and has high upside in the long term.
Sydney Brown, SS, Illinois
Brown is a physical box safety who absolutely loves contact. He flies down hill and also finds himself in position to lay the boom on ball carriers. He can also play the nickel and fill that need the Bucs are looking for.
In coverage, Brown has top end speed for the position and has excellent ball skills. He isn’t an old school thumper, rather he projects as a more athletic Jordan Whitehead type which translates to better coverage ability. He is the well rounded safety that the Buccaneers need opposite Winfield.
Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
Musgrave is a weapon as a pass catcher. He can align in the slot or be attached to the line of scrimmage. His size and athletic ability puts him in the archetype of a Travis Kelce type of player and that’s something that everyone should want.
The Buccaneers are in need of a second tight end behind Cade Otton. Musgrave can be that guy as a great pass catcher. He even has the talent to surpass Otton and be the top tight end for the Bucs down the line.
Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
LaPorta is another excellent pass catcher as a tight end. He constantly works himself open and has great hands to rake in passes and move the chains. In my opinion, he is the second best tight end in the entire draft class.
Although LaPorta isn’t the biggest tight end at 6’3 and 245 lbs, he more than makes up for that with his athletic ability. He tested as an elite athlete at the combine and has a 9.02 relative athletic score. Much like Musgrave, he is the high upside pass catcher that every team wants.