In Mel Kiper's latest "Grade A' mock draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass on all the quarterbacks in the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL draft to add upgrades elsewhere on offense. Kiper isn't really trying to project what the team will do here, as this is his 'Grade A' mock draft: what he thinks the team should do, rather than what the team will do. Still, this feels like a realistic mock, despite the team's intention of adding a quarterback at some point in the draft.
Top needs: RG, WR, OLB, DE
Round 1 (7) WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Round 2 (38) G David Yankey, Stanford
Round 3 (69) DE Kareem Martin, North Carolina
Analysis: Pass rush is no longer a first priority with the addition of Michael Johnson, and there's no way I'd spend a top-10 pick on a guard, so I'm going with a difference-maker in the passing game to help my new starting quarterback. He's also the best player on the board at this spot. Evans can be a major weapon, a constant mismatch and a perfect go-get-it target in the passing game. Yes, Vincent Jackson is here, but he is 31 years old and is no guarantee to be around in 2015 based on his deal. The drop-off from Jackson makes this a position of need. I get Yankey to fill the need at guard in Round 2, and then go with Martin in Round 3. I like his frame as a defensive end in Lovie Smith's system, and he has the athleticism that can make him a potent extra pass-rusher over the course of a long season.
Mel Kiper correctly identifies right guard as the team's top need, but there's no guard worth taking that high in this draft, and the top tackles who could move to guard are also off the board. Because Kiper doesn't see quarterback as a need and Sammy Watkins is off the board, that really only leaves Mike Evans as a viable selection at this point.
Evans is a Vincent Jackson clone who would present an immediate upgrade as the number two receiver, but he doesn't really add that explosive element the Bucs lack on offense. He excels at contested catches down the field, however, and drafting him would give Josh McCown three big targets with a wide catching radius -- exactly what he had last season in Chicago, as well.
The selection of the top guard on the board in the second round is nearly a no-brainer, given the massive need the Bucs have at the position. Left guard Carl Nicks' future is in doubt due to a persistent foot injury, while Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins hardly represent reliable starters at right guard. Some young talent to solidify the offensive line would go a long way towards helping the team get their offense, and especially their running game, back on track.
As for Kareem Martin in the third round -- the Bucs want to build their defense from the defensive line out, and they lack reliable players at those positions. They have added Michael Johnson to play right defensive end, while Gerald McCoy is arguably the best three-technique defensive tackle in the NFL. Beyond those two players, though, the word 'potential' is a lot more common than the word 'production'. Adding some more talent to that group fits what Lovie Smith has done in the past.
Unfortunately, this leaves the Bucs with one problem: how to add another quarterback to the mix, something they have repeatedly noted they want to do. Mel Kiper has them passing on both Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater in the first round, while they could have taken Derek Carr or *shudders* A.J. McCarron in the second round, and Tom Savage and Logan Thomas fall past the Bucs in the third round. There are some other quarterbacks they could pick later in the draft, but they'd be entering almost-certain-career-backup territory at that point, especially given their lack of a fourth-round pick.
Still, if this is how the Bucs end the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL draft, I'd be pretty satisfied. They'd still have a few holes, but none of them pressing, and they would have added some quality talent and given a much-needed boost to last year's anemic offense.