With the 2017 NFL draft barely behind us, we can already start looking at next year’s draft. Even though it’s far too early to know A) who the best players will be, B) where each team will be ranked and C) what their primary needs will be.
But hey, it’s fun, so we can get a vague idea of what people think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will need to do next year. And the message is pretty clear: get an offensive or defensive lineman.
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar has the Bucs picking North Carolina defensive end Bradley Chubb at number 18. While that pick is a bit low it’s based on Super Bowl odds, so don’t blame Kadar too much. A defensive end fits, though: Robert Ayers is getting older, and the Bucs don’t have much depth at the position—especially when it comes to edge rushers.
At 6’4”, 260 lbs and with 10.5 sacks last season, Chubb is a pretty good candidate for a mid first-round selection next year. Good size, good athletic traits and production always go well together.
Both Fox Sports’ and Cleveland.com’s 2018 NFL mock drafts have the Buccaneers taking Florida offensive lineman Martez Ivey. With one difference between the two: Fox Sports has the Bus picking 29th, while Cleveland.com has them picking 17th. I’ll take the former. Meanwhile, Bleacher Report has them taking Clemson tackle Mitch Hyatt.
An offensive lineman would make some sense, mostly to replace Demar Dotson. He’s getting older and had a relatively down season last year. There’s also some uncertainty about J.R. Sweezy’s health and performance. The Bucs do have Kevin Pamphile and Caleb Benenoch waiting to take over, but who knows who they’ll develop?
Of course, many things will happen between now and next year, so this is likely to be entirely wrong. Injuries will happen, some young players will emerge as stars while other veterans will suddenly collapse, and the Bucs will (try to) fill some holes in free agency.