A Bucket of Buccaneers First Round Targets


Last week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht met with the media to answer questions. He provided a lot of good insight to several interesting questions regarding the upcoming NFL draft. However, one quote stood out to me above the rest.

Licht gave us all a ballpark of how many players he might be targeting. He discussed the players they like and think might still be available with the 26th pick that there were “5-7 guys who might be there”. This was a very specific look as to what the Bucs first round board might be looking like.

Of course, Licht didn’t go as far as to say who those players might be. Not to worry! With our Sherlock esq. detective skills, we are able to fill in some of those blanks. Here are the 5-7 players who I believe the Buccaneers are looking at.

Jackson Powers-Johnson

This has been the name most commonly linked to the Bucs this offseason. The powerful center from Oregon is great at the point of attack, but is also agile enough to get into space and make blocks at the second level. He would be an instant upgrade to the offensive line.

It seems like the national perception of Jackson Powers-Johnson is slipping a little. Many mock drafts from national people have him even going outside the first round. I don’t know if he’ll be the highest rated player on the Bucs draft board, but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t in that bucket.

Graham Barton

This is the other offensive lineman most associated with the Buccaneers. The Duke left tackle has inside/outside versatility and projects to play guard or center in the NFL. Obviously, this lines up with the Bucs biggest needs.

Barton is an excellent athlete and plays with a lot of gusto. He could use some refinement in his hand usage and will certainly go through growing pains at the next level. However, long term, he projects as a high end starter. 

Cooper DeJean

There are only two or three corners who I think the Bucs would be interested in early on and two of them are likely to be the first two corners off the board in Terrion Arnold and Quinyon Mitchell. The only guy who I believe fits with them and would be around is DeJean.

DeJean is a versatile player who has been projected as an outside corner, nickel back and even safety. He’s at his best in zone coverage and is very good at making plays on the ball. Pair him with someone like Todd Bowles and this defense and he could be the most successful cornerback in this draft class.

Laiatu Latu

This is the edge rusher that every fan base wants. Latu has the best hand usage of anyone in the draft and can just pull out pass rush move after pass rush move. He has the power to hold down the point of attack and check offensive tackles to the side.

The only question with him is his health. He was forced to medically retire from the University of Washington and had to transfer to UCLA where he could find a doctor who would clear him. If his long term medicals clear then some team, hopefully the Bucs, will be getting the best edge rusher in the draft in Latu.

Chop Robinson

Who you talk about looking the part, Robinson definitely checks the boxes. His get off the line of scrimmage is as explosive as you will find anywhere. He is a pure speed rusher who can be a menace to quarterbacks.

He didn’t put up any sacks in college, but his presence was felt in several games. I also question how refined he is in his technique. He’s a bit of a project, but the upside is there to be a star.

Johnny Newton

Many have Newton as the second best defensive tackle in the draft and some even project him to fall out of the first round. Both of those thoughts are crazy to me. Frankly, this might be the best defensive player in the entire draft.

Newton is both very skilled with his hands and very athletic. He is a little undersized, but obviously the Bucs don’t mind that after drafting Calijah Kancey last year who is notably smaller. Between his athletic ability, skill and fiery competitive attitude, Newton would be a home run for the Buccaneers.

Braden Fiske

This last name was the hardest to figure out, but Fiske is the player I keep coming back to. Much like Newton, he is a super athlete and has excellent hand usage. Despite being a little short arms, his tape looks very good.

Most would tell you that this pick is a bit of a reach and they may be right. With that said, Fiske absolutely strikes me as a Jason Licht guy. He has a blue collar, going to work mentality and is a self made man after transferring from Florida State from Western Michigan. Talant, plus skill, plus character; that is the Licht formula that has made him one of the best General Managers in the NFL.

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