Three Darkhorse Picks For The Buccaneers In The First Round


We are now just under a month away from the NFL draft. At this point in the process rosters are basically set and we have a firm grasp on team needs. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers these are highlighted by edge rusher and interior offensive lineman.

However, that isn’t to say there are more needs on this roster. Frankly, the Bucs could use more youth and talent at every position group. Over the course of the draft, I would expect them to target wide receiver, running back, tight end, linebacker corner, and safety along with the previously listed primary needs.

While it is widely believed that the Buccaneers will target someone like Graham Barton or Chop Robinson with their first round pick, there is always the chance that they go in a different direction. If the board breaks in a certain way, the Bucs could draft one of their secondary needs early on. Here are three dark horse candidates the Buccaneers could target in the first round.

3) Braden Fiske, DL, Florida State

The Bucs have made it very clear that they want to improve their pass rush with the front four. Looking at the roster, that is assumed to be an edge rusher (which I’d agree with). However, there is the possibility that the Bucs target a hand in the dirt defensive lineman.

The Logan Hall experiment hasn’t gone to plan this far. And while drafting Calijah Kancey last year made up for some of that, Kancey is really more of an inside player. This still leaves a need at defensive end in the Bucs 3-4 scheme.

Fiske tested extremely well at the NFL combine and looks every bit the part of an elite athlete. He also uses his hands very well and can shed blocks with relative ease. This is the same combination that drew the Bucs to Kancey in the first round of last year’s draft.

This would give the Buccaneers a starting front of Kancey, Fiske, Vita Vea and Yaya Diaby. This might be one of the most athletic and disruptive fronts in the league. It might not be the edge rusher that people are expecting, but filling the role of a 5 technique defensive end does the same thing in a lot of ways.

2) Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa

Cornerback might seem like an obvious need to those not familiar with the Bucs, but in reality it really isn’t. There is every indication that the team is very high on third year cornerback Zyon McCollum after he showed a lot of growth and development last season. Really if the Buccaneers went into the year with the secondary they have on the roster right now then they’d be largely fine.

With that said, The Bucs might be in need of a starting nickel with higher upside in coverage than what Chris Izien provided last year. This person would ideally have inside/outside versatility and could potentially even play some as a deep safety. This is basically the exact description of DeJean.

The chess piece defensive back from Iowa can do everything the Bucs are looking for at a high level. He thrives in zone coverage, which the Bucs are clearly moving towards from a scheme perspective. He also has plus playmaking ability, which has been a point of emphasis as one of the reasons the Bucs were ready to move on from Carlton Davis.

This combination of versatility and scheme fit make DeJean a great option for the Buccaneers. In a vacuum, cornerback might not be extremely high on the priority list, but when you add up all that he can do then you can look at him as really more of a defensive weapon in the secondary.

1) AD Mitchell, WR, Texas

Basically everyone has taken wide receiver off the list of needs since the team re-signed future Hall of Famer Mike Evans. Pair with Chris Godwin, the Bucs are returning one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL along with Trey Palmer who showed flashes as a rookie last year. There’s no doubt that the Buccaneers are in good shape at pass catcher for the 2024 season.

This type of pick takes more of a big picture approach. Keep in mind that Godwin is entering the last year of his contract and Mike Evans is only signed for two years and he’s already in his early thirties. The pewter pirates need to start thinking about their long term future at wide receiver.

Mitchell could be the answer to those concerns. He is big and extremely athletic. However, he is far more than just an athlete. His route runner and body control are both very good as well. He’s someone who can come in and give Baker Mayfield another playmaker to work with as a rookie and potentially develop into the number one option in a year or two.

Giving Mitchell a mentor like Mike Evans could make all the difference in the world. They have a similar skill set in some ways and Evans could teach him how to be a professional and handle the grind of the NFL. With a receiving room of Evans, Michell, Godwin and Palmer; the Bucs would have perhaps the deepest and most talented group of playmakers in the NFL.

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