If you ask most draftniks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select Miami tight end David Njoku. That’s also what Todd McShay and Mel Kiper think, who put out dual two-round mock drafts this week.
Both their reasonings are simple: Njoku is a highly athletic tight end, and those are hard to get. He could be a dynamic deep threat over the middle and a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, whereas Cameron Brate is a more limited—if still very useful—player.
What some Bucs fans won’t like is that they both have the Bucs passing on Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. I have to agree with McShay and Kiper, though: Njoku would represent a better pick than Cook.
Both because running back remains a somewhat fungible position, and because there are many quality running backs to be had later in the draft. Cook is good, but he’s not a truly special talent the way Njoku is — and the gap between Njoku and the next tight end is far bigger than the gap between Cook and the next running back.
More intriguing (read: mystifying) is Kiper’s second-round pick: Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton.
Moton, who played right guard and right tackle for the Broncos the past four years, has nice feet in pass protection and sustains his blocks well. He could be a long-term starter in the right situation.
This one is somewhat hard to understand. The Bucs aren’t about to draft a potential future starter in the second round at a position where they don’t think they really have a need.
Yes yes, I know folks aren’t happy with the Bucs’ offensive line performance last year. Some of that was due to injuries but mostly, the Bucs think these worries are overblown—and I tend to agree. And Moton really does not represent a clear upgrade for any of the Bucs’ potential seven(!) starting linemen.
McShay’s pick makes a lot more sense: Washington’s Budda Baker, who could conceivably step into a starting role at free safety. His range and reaction speed on the back-end are outstanding and would represent a massive upgrade for the Bucs, who have a big need at safety.
This would be a tremendous steal for the Bucs if Baker fell this far; he's my No. 25 overall player right now. Baker might get overlooked in comparison to Malik Hooker's ball production and Obi Melifonwu's freak athleticism, but he has very few weaknesses in his game.
Baker’s big question mark is his height, which might actually be an issue for these Bucs, who tend to like big defenders. But size isn’t everything, and I think they’d overlook that problem with Baker—though they might see him more as a slot defender because of it.
If the Bucs come out of the draft with both Baker and Njoku, though, that would be one massive upgrade and potentially it would mean adding two All-Pros in the long term, if everything goes right.