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Should the Bucs stay put or trade back?

A look at how both scenarios could strengthen the Buccaneers roster.

Alabama v Florida State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NFL draft is just over a week away and the Bucs, after a productive offseason, are in position to further strengthen the team in the draft. But what scenario would be the best way for the Bucs to accomplish that goal? Stay put or Trade back?

While the Bucs were very busy strengthening the offensive and defensive lines in the opening weeks of free agency, that came at a cost. A 3rd round pick went to the Giants in the Jason Pierre-Paul trade. The Bucs currently have three picks (#7, #38, #102) in the first four rounds. A trade back would solve that problem, but would that cost the Bucs missing out on a potential perennial All-Pro/Pro Bowler at #7? That is what Jason Licht will have to decide in the coming days. Let’s have a look at the scenarios and players available when the Bucs will be selecting.


There is a chance that Bradley Chubb or Quenton Nelson fall into the Bucs lap on draft night. In that scenario, Jason Licht should break his phone speed dialing to making that pick. But in all likelihood one (maybe both) and Saquon Barkley, will be off the board by the time Tampa is on the clock. But, let’s say Quenton will be available. That would leave a handful of very good/elite players left for Bucs to draft.

  • Quenton Nelson G
  • Derwin James S
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick S

(All 3 players would add desperately needed talent and greatly improve the secondary/OL. But let’s be honest, if Nelson is there on draft night, Licht is drafting him over Derwin and Minkah. Even if that scenario would make the 2nd and 4th round position selections difficult.)

Jumping to the second round is where things will get interesting. If safety (or G/EDGE/RB) is the pick in the first round, cornerback would be a MUST pick at #38. With no 3rd round pick, the Bucs can’t wait until the 4th to address the cornerback position. It’s a very deep running back class. Guard would also be in play, depending on what Licht did with the first round pick.

List of players that likely will be around at pick 38.

  • Billy Price G/C
  • Mike Hughes CB
  • Sony Michele RB
  • Carlton Davis CB
  • Ronald Jones II RB
  • Ronnie Harrison S
  • Nick Chubb RB
  • Isiah Oliver CB
  • Josh Sweat EDGE
  • Will Hernandez G

(The second round is loaded with good players. Bucs really can’t go wrong with their second pick. Any selection they make will fill a need with a really good player.)

The fourth round selection will be predicated by the first two picks. If safety and cornerback holes have been filled, running back is an absolute must pick. But, if running back and cornerback go 1-2, then safety. Etc. Round 4 is where the selection could become more difficult, based on the remaining needs. These will be the guys likely on the board when it’s time for Tampa to select. (I’m not including any trade ups as Licht is known to do)

  • Duke Ejiofor EDGE
  • Tarvarus McFadden CB
  • DeShon Elliot S
  • Royce Freeman RB
  • Tarvarius Moore S
  • Charvarius Ward CB
  • Chad Thomas EDGE
  • Darius Phillips CB
  • Rasheem Green EDGE
  • Nyheim Hines RB
  • John Kelly RB
  • Josh Adams RB

(Bucs could draft a solid RB to fill that need or simply take an EDGE for depth. Nyheim would be quite a nice pick up in round 4.)

There’s a ton of possibilities that could play out, but the most likely one is the Bucs walk away with a S, CB and RB if they stay put on draft night. Three players, three needs filled. One potential All-Pro/Pro Bowler, one good to great player, and one good player. But, still lacking depth at G and EDGE that the Bucs would try to fill in rounds 5-7. The potential to grab a possible long term elite player, like Nelson or James, No. 7 is not something to dismiss lightly. Passing on those types of players is something good GM’s lose sleep over.


There are a lot of teams the Bucs could partner with for a trade, but for this article, I’m pairing them up with the Buffalo Bills. In this scenario, the Bills ship their 12th, 53rd (2nd) and 65th (3rd) to the Bucs for the 7th overall pick. Bucs add two extra picks inside the top 100 and could greatly overhaul their defense/team in one draft. Guys likely/potentially on the board when the Bucs are on the clock:

  • Derwin James S
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick S
  • Denzel Ward CB
  • Harold Landry EDGE
  • Vita Vea DL
  • Marcus Davenport EDGE

(Three names have been added to the mix of possibilities in the first round. While Vea, Landry and Davenport would be reaches at 7, a selection of them at 12 would be solid. Grabbing Derwin, Minkah or Ward at 12 would be a mini steal.)

Round two would be where the Bucs could make some noise in regards to beefing up their secondary if DL is the pick in the first round. With the additional second round pick Licht could package it to jump back into the first to grab a player high on their board or use it to move down a couple of spots, while getting an extra 4th. Likely players on the board in the second round:

  • Billy Price G/C
  • Mike Hughes CB
  • Sony Michele RB
  • Carlton Davis CB
  • Ronald Jones II RB
  • Ronnie Harrison S
  • Nick Chubb RB
  • Isiah Oliver CB
  • Josh Sweat EDGE
  • Will Hernandez G
  • Nathan Shepherd DL
  • Derrick Nnadi DL
  • Ogbonnia Okoronkwo EDGE
  • Marcus Allen S
  • Kyzir White S
  • Sam Hubbard EDGE
  • M.J. Steward CB
  • Harrison Phillips DL

(Eight extra guys have been added to the potential draft pool. Licht could really go any combination he wanted and would still end up with two really good players. CB/DL, RB/G, CB/G, S/CB S/RB, CB/CB and so on.)

After securing a 3rd round pick again, and after selecting two very good players in round 2, the Bucs can complete their overhaul by filling a last remaining prominent need and then use their 4th to grab BPA or trade back into the 3rd to get five players inside the top 100.

Players that will should be available at the top of Round 3:

  • Rashaad Penny RB
  • Quenton Meeks CB
  • Lorenzo Carter EDGE
  • Duke Dawson CB
  • Tim Settle DL
  • Kerryon Johnson RB
  • Arden Key EDGE
  • Donte Jackson CB
  • Michael Gallup WR
  • James Washington WR
  • Tyrell Crosby OT

(Snagging Penny at the top of the 3rd would be a steal. Bucs could also select an OT as an eventual replacement for Dotson, who’s contract expires after 2019 and is 32 years old.)

Trading down would give the Bucs the draft capital they need to infuse the defense with more talent and playmakers. While they’d potentially lose an elite, elite talent, they’d gain badly needed starters/depth in key positions in a must win year. The draft is a lottery. Having more chances increases your odds of hitting on a winner.

Which would you prefer?


Stay Put or Trade Back?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Stay Put
    (139 votes)
  • 77%
    Trade Back
    (486 votes)
625 votes total Vote Now