A look at the Bucs’ draft by positions

by Gary Shelton on March 24, 2022

in general

Suh, Bucs reportedly closer./ © JOE MESTAS

Thursday, 4 a.m.

If there is anything we know about the NFL draft, it is this: We don't know anything about the NFL draft.

Also, we know this. Unlike most of their history, the Bucs don't need this draft. They don't need to walk away from it crowing about how stunned they were that the guy they picked was still available. They don't need to put his face on the season-ticket drive. They don't need for him to be the best player on the roster.

A little help would be nice, of course. A nice, complimentary player who can work his way into being a starter. A guy who can impress quarterback Tom Brady with his potential. A guy who looks good in the team picture.

But, no, the Bucs are not desperate for a hole-filler.

The more free agents the Bucs sign, and the more pieces of the band that they put back together, the less Tampa Bay will rely on this draft. It was that way last year. too, when Joe Tryon-Shoyinka joined the Bucs just in time to be another guy in the huddle.

In other words, Jason Licht keeps throwing knuckleballs at the "experts" of the NFL mock draft, the guessers who keep copying Mel Kiper's homework. One day, the experts identify a Bucs need -- a running back, no a cornerback, make that an offensive guard -- and the next, Licht fills it. So it's on to another perceived shortcoming and another prospective solution.

Recently, I wrote about the areas that the Bucs needed to address in the off-season. Let's do that again.

Running back -- No, the draft pick likely will not be Iowa State's Breece Hall. Sure, the Bucs could use another back (second round?) since it looks like Ronald Jones is departing. But running backs aren't so scarce that the Bucs have to draft one. The second round wouldn't be bad, especially if the Bucs can find one who can do things that Jones couldn't (block, catch, run on short yardage).

Quarterback -- If the Bucs take one in the draft, or even sign one, it probably means they aren't sold on Kyle Trask as a backup. Bucs' coach Bruce Arians keeps touting Blaine Gabbert, but no one seems to believe him when he does. My guess is that Gabbert signs, but the Bucs throw open the competition for the backup.

Wide receiver -- The Bucs won't draft one unless he can be what Jaelen Darden was supposed to be as a returner.

Tight end -- With Rob Gronkowski unsigned, the Bucs could take one. But do any tight ends have first-round grades?

Guard -- It wouldn't surprise me, because the Bucs lost two in the off-season, and the grades are pretty good for Zion Johnson of Boston College. But guard isn't a premium position. Licht found Pro Bowlers in the second (retired Ali Marpet) and the third rounds (departed Alex Cappa). Odds are against it.

Defensive end -- The Bucs haven't made a lot of noise about bringing Jason Pierre-Paul back. He's recovered from two devastating injuries, so maybe they bet him again. If not, the Bucs might hope a defensive end would fall to them.

Defensive tackle -- Reports say the team is close to re-signing Ndamukong Suh, which would be nice. That said, it's still my favorite position for the Bucs' No. 1, and some athletes (such as Devonte Wyatt) are projected to go in that area.

Inside linebacker -- No.

Cornerback -- It's always a possibility, especially with Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean in the last year of their contracts. But the Bucs main problem with their corners is staying healthy.

Safety -- The Bucs like Logan Ryan. They might take a flier on a kid later in the draft.

Best guesses -- Round 1 -- Defensive tackle. Round 2 -- Running back. Round 3 -- guard; Round 4 -- Tight end. Round 7 -- Defensive end. Round 7 (suplemental)-- Punter. The Bucs don't have draft picks in round five or six, but Licht might pick them up in a trade.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow, Licht might reshuffle things again.

Previous post:

Next post: