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First Mock: Early NFL Draft projections for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s that time of the year. Both of them.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Third place in the NFC South got the Tampa Bay Buccaneers match-ups with the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams in 2020. It also got them the 14th pick in April’s NFL Draft.

So, why wait? Lets get the first mock draft out of the way. Now, it’s important to note that while we’ve been analyzing and covering the Bucs this season, we haven't gotten nearly as deep as we will into the upcoming draft class.

Because of this, we’ll lean on the guys doing just that all year long. And use a tool most of you are fond of and familiar with. The Draft Network NFL Mock Draft Simulator.

Hold on tight, here we go.


The three most important things in today’s NFL are having a passer, pass protection and a pass rush.

Tampa Bay found a pass rush in 2019, and are hoping to keep it intact moving forward. Even if they do, depth is always going to be an issue, especially with Jason Pierre-Paul getting one year older.

Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa are both off the board going to the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts respectively.

Alabama’s Jedrick Wills was the first tackle selected going to the Miami Dolphins while Andrew Thomas landed in Arizona and Tristan Wirfs moved from Iowa to the New York Jets.

My personal favorite at this point, Grant Delpit, was taken by the Cleveland Browns with the 10th pick. Leaving me in a position with really very little back-and-forth to consider.

A.J. Epenesa from Iowa is the best EDGE remaining and taking the fourth-best tackle at pick fourteen just isn’t something I can get on board with at the moment.

Quarterback is an interesting area to target, but I feel like we’ll come back to that later.


NCAA Football: Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports


So the defense gets even better, but what about the offense?

Our gamble with the quarterbacks bit us a little bit as Jacob Eason and Jordan Love were both drafted before we got back up to the podium. Leaving Jake Fromm as the best available passer on the board. But we’re not forcing the pick, just to pick one.

The best offensive tackle on the board is Mekhi Becton from Louisville, and while he projects as a left tackle, it’s not unheard of for guys to move from one side to the other.

A lot of people watching the team over the years have speculated about Donovan Smith moving to the right if a suitable left tackle replacement was brought in.

Fortunately, I don’t have to decide who plays on which side. I just get to make the pick.


NCAA Football: Syracuse at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports


Alright. We’ve got a pass protector, and hopefully an upgrade in run blocking. We’ve got a nice pass rush for 2020 and beyond.

So, what’s next. This pick almost feels like a luxury pick we can make to upgrade an already solid position, or just go with a guy we’re really high on regardless of need.

For those waiting on a quarterback to get selected here, Anthony Gordon from Washington State is the best available and comes in ranked 194th overall by The Draft Network folks. I’ve heard of over drafting for passers, but yikes.

One of the areas I think this team could improve in is at the free-safety position. Finding at least a consistent starter would be nice as both Andrew Adams and Mike Edwards took snaps at the position with neither fully dominating it.

This sounds like a knock, but it’s less of a knock and more a statement about the need to keep finding talent at the position while figuring out who the weekly starter will be.

Cal safety Ashtyn Davis is the best available at pick 76, and one of his listed strengths is versatility to play as a corner or safety, especially in single-high coverage.

With the improvement made by the Buccaneers secondary this year, adding another versatile player to the bunch can only benefit the group. Especially if Justin Evans doesn’t in fact come back from yet another injury and more surgery.


NCAA Football: Colorado at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports


The rest of this mock, and every mock for a while now is going to be very fluid. For one, this is where your depth is usually found, and it’s all going to be impacted by the awarding of compensatory picks, which the Buccaneers themselves are expected to receive.

Moving forward in the current order however, here’s what we ended up with.

Screen Shot from The Draft Network

Your turn. Hate it, love it, tell me what you think. Of course, if you have your own, feel free to share in the comments!