Grading the Buccaneers 2023 Draft Class


Each year teams have an influx of new talent and for a team to compete those rookies must excel. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ group this year has done well and helped them get into the playoffs. In fact this years rookies are already fueling positive speculation about this team’s future. So here is how the drafted rookies faired over their first season.

Calijah Kancey

After being drafted out of the first round, 19th overall, Kancey was set to make an immediate impact. Penciled in as a starter for the Buccaneers from day one Kancey unfortunately would suffer a calf injury that would sideline him until week six. But once he recovered, he started to show why he went in the first round.

In week six against Detroit he showed up. As one of the few bright spots in the loss, Kancey would register his first sack, two quarterback hits, a tackle for loss, and three tackles. Fans immediately noticed.

Once the season got rolling Kancey could be found at defensive tackle and often lined up over an offensive tackle. From there he would log four sacks, 26 tackles, 10 for loss, a pass deflection,  and 12 quarterback hits. Couple that with a missed tackle rate of only 3.7% over the course of only 62% of all defensive snaps for the year and you have a clear cut starter for the future.

Pairing him with Vita Vea on the line is going to make for a formidable defensive line. If he gets better at shedding blocks on run plays his play will elevate.

Kancey’s Grade: B

Cody Mauch

Yet another drafted player penciled in to start for the Buccaneers this season, Mauch found himself thrust into the offensive line. The second round small school pick was praised on draft day as a smart move and gave the fans high hopes and expectations.

With 1,102 snaps at right guard under his belt we now have a strong sense of who Mauch is. He’s a young player who still needs to adjust to the speed of the NFL and learn to use his arms better. Especially given their shorter length.  He also needs to work on his game plan against bull rushes. But, he hasn’t played too badly, although he allowed for seven sacks. With some more work he can still improve to an above average starter but its going to take some work. Unfortunately this entire offensive interior struggled this season.

Mauch’s Grade: C-

Yaya Diaby

Daiby might be my and other fans favorite pick of this draft. The third round pick first started off as a rotational player, but with more experience and growth Diaby found himself starting week twelve. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.

Rolling into the end of the season Diaby finds himself arguably at the top of the discussion for defensive rookie of the year (DROY). Tallying 7.5 sacks, 38 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits, a forced fumble and two recoveries Diaby is electric! He is a building block for the future of this team and possible the biggest steal of the draft.

He’s had a better performance that front runner to win the DROY Jalen Carter and right behind the stats of Will Anderson Jr.

Diaby’s Grade: A+

Trey Palmer

When a team drafts a sixth round pick it’s hard to imagine the player having a huge impact. In the case of Palmer he has had an opportunity to but has fallen short. with 39 catches, 385 yards and three touchdowns he has certainly helped this team. More so than the other sixth round picks have and they aren’t even close.

If Palmer can get his hands on the ball, secure more catches and, not fumble at key times he would be another player we would be calling a steal. Improving his routes and separation next season and we will be talking about Palmer being a true complementary number three wide out. Still, as a sixth rounder his emergence is impressive.

Palmer’s Grade: B+

Notable Players

SirVocea Dennis only saw 101 snaps this year. But in his limited time he played well enough that he will be back next season. If he can improve his tackling he could find himself in the rotation more and make an impact as a depth player. Not bad for a fifth round pick.

Grade: Given draft position C-.

Payne Durham, the other fifth round pick, found himself on the filed for 128 snaps with the offense. In that span he hauled in five receptions for 58 yards on seven targets. Though not a big number, he played well in pass protection and looked like a solid number three tight end. He’ll also improve. Grade: Given drat position, C+. I also want to add I think Durham should see the field more. Something tells me he can have a bigger impact.

Ungraded Players

Josh Hayes and Jose Ramirez have not been seen enough. Hayes has seen some playing time while Ramirez was brought back on the practice squad. If neither finds themselves on this team next season it’s safe to say the picks were a failure.

Final Though

Jason Licht has done another wonderful job and this team has a bright future. Especially once you consider he gets another draft and some cap space next season. For now, lets watch the rookies in their first playoff appearance. Maybe they can propel this team forward.

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