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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Another Alabama safety for the Bucs?

Minkah Fitzpatrick is as talented as defensive backs come.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers basically eliminated from the playoffs after yesterday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons, it’s time to turn back to the offseason and the future. And that means mock drafts!

In his latest 2018 NFL mock draft, Dan Kadar has the Bucs picking ninth overall, and taking Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The Buccaneers will probably go into the offseason process needing help on the offensive and defensive lines, and in the secondary. Of those three, Fitzpatrick by far grades out as the best player here.

I’d be surprised if Fitzpatrick falls to number nine, to be honest, so the Bucs should scoop him up instantly if this is the way the draft shakes out. He’d make a terrific strong safety next to Justin Evans, and can play cornerback in the slot or even on the outside, in a pinch.

That kind of talent is rare and would give the Bucs a lot of versatility. It’d also represent a much-needed boost to their pass defense, which got slaughtered by Julio Jones this past weekend.

Fans might be a bit skittish on Fitzpatrick because he kind of resembles Mark Barron, the team’s previous first-round safety who was traded to the Rams and converted to linebacker. But Fitzpatrick is a better athlete than Barron, in particular in his ability to react quickly and his long speed.

The one downside to this pick: it still won’t fix the Bucs’ pass-rush problems. That’s somewhat unavoidable, given who’s likely to be available, though. The Bucs probably won’t find a long-term edge rusher this offseason. Again.