The NFL Draft is just 10 days away. As teams make their final preparations and finalize their draft boards, things get a little clearer – especially for those sitting closer at the top of the draft.
For general manager Jason Licht and his staff, they have the tough task of deciding what would be the best approach come draft night.
Should they draft Florida State’s Derwin James? What about one of the Big 3? Or how about trading down?
NFL.com’s Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein tells Bucs Nation that Licht and the Buccaneers may have several options available to them once the seventh overall pick comes around.
“I think Tampa should be wide-open in terms of who they select or which offers they will listen to in terms of moving back,” Zierlein says. “If there is truly a huge run on quarterbacks, Tampa has a chance to get a big-time blue-chip player with the seventh selection. However, if there is not a run on quarterbacks inside the first five picks, then Tampa will probably receive a good offer at seven if one of the quarterbacks are still on the table.”
Mock drafts have shown Tampa Bay selecting a wide range of players: Derwin James, Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, even Penn State running back Saquon Barkley have been some common names tied to the Bucs. Two of those four are labeled as part of the Big 3 in Nelson, Barkley, and defensive end Bradley Chubb. But, Chubb will almost certainly go ahead of them somewhere.
Hope is not lost, though, as Zierlein feels there’s a chance the Notre Dame product will fall to them.
“I think there is a better than average chance that at least one of those guys will still be on the board for Tampa,” Zierlein said of the Big 3. “If I had to put money on it, I would say that Nelson will be there at seven.”
The question then becomes, will the Bucs pull the trigger?
Drafting Nelson would solidify the middle of the Bucs’ offensive line. Having Nelson, center Ryan Jensen, and guard Ali Marpet in front of quarterback Jameis Winston and the team’s running backs is certainly promising on paper.
As for the running back position, the Bucs may see an opportunity at drafting one on Day 2. There may not be a run on the position in the first round so a top ranked back may slip into he second round.
“I don’t see a run on running backs personally,” said Zierlein. “If there is a run on a position late in the first, I think it is going to be at cornerback.”
That would put Licht in a tough position. With the secondary being in dire need of upgrades, Licht will have to decide if to truly go with Nelson or go with a cornerback like Ward or maybe even a safety like James at seven.
Regardless, there are plenty of avenues Tampa Bay may be able to take come April 26.