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2016 NFL Mock Draft: Which position should the Buccaneers address?

Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 NFL draft is in the past by a decent margin, which means we're going to see more and more 2016 mock drafts popping up. Including this one from Bleeding Green Nation, where Ben Natan has the Buccaneers landing the fourth pick in the draft, which would probably mean everyone's going to be fired and a new regime will get to make that pick.

Natan has the Buccaneers selecting Laremy Tunsil out of Ole Miss to fill their needs on the offensive line.

After selecting their franchise quarterback in the 2015 class, the Buccaneers should look to address their offensive line moving forward. While there is some intrigue in the group with rookie Ali Marpet and veteran Demar Dotson, the depth chart looks bleak from there. Tunsil is a tremendously talented lineman with every tool in the book. He does not have the polish that Ronnie Stanley has, but his athletic ability lends itself to him having a higher ceiling. He has all the potential in the world to be a franchise left tackle.

Okay, so, hey that sounds good. A good offensive tackle is always useful. Presumably this means Demar Dotson is cut, or Donovan Smith moved to guard or otherwise failed. The Bucs need to find a long-term replacement for Dotson over the next three years or so, and Logan Mankins probably doesn't have all that much left in the tank either.

But there are other positions the Bucs should target next year, and offensive tackle is pretty far down the list.

Defensive end

The Buccaneers are counting on Jacquies Smith and George Johnson to have a breakout season, but history tells us not to be too optimistic about the odds of these players succeeding. The Bucs are likely to be looking for a new starting defensive end next year, or the year after that. And adding talent along the defensive line is a constant task for anyone running a Tampa 2-style defense. The Bucs have neglected to add young edge rushers through the draft for two years, and they can't do that for a third consecutive year without risking the long-term health of this defense.


The Bucs have a lot of serviceable players at safety, but no one who can make a difference. That's a problem given the importance of that position in the Tampa 2. Chris Conte and Major Wright can execute their assignments, but they won't be difference makers -- and they might just be liabilities when push comes to shove. Finding an elite safety in the draft is very difficult, but not as difficult as finding him outside of it.

Offensive guard

The Bucs drafted Ali Marpet this year, but he remains an uncertain project and not a reliable starter. Mostly, though, I'm concerned with Logan Mankins' long-term viability as a starter. He's 33 already and won't be around forever. Evidence of his imminent decline was prominent over the past two years and that's not likely to get better. They need to find a long-term replacement within the next couple of years.

Running back

Doug Martin and Charles Sims are going to be fighting for the majority of the carries this year, but I wouldn't bet on either player turning into a true feature back. But that's exactly what Lovie Smith is looking for. The best place to find that remains the draft, even if investing high picks in running backs has mostly been folly over the past decade or so. Finding a way to get the running game going should be a priority for Tampa Bay, and next year's draft is as good an opportunity as any.