New Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has made it clear that he’s here for a reload, not a rebuild. Tampa Bay has holes on both sides of the trenches, in the secondary and potentially in the backfield. So, how can all of those positions be addressed in one offseason?
First, Sikkema has the Redskins trading up to No. 3 to select quarterback Kyler Murray, which helps play into the trade scenario for Tampa Bay. By the time the No. 5 pick rolls around, the mock has the Jaguars trading up with the Bucs to select Dwayne Haskins. In the trade, the Bucs would get the No. 7 overall pick, the No. 69 pick and a third-rounder in 2020. The Jags would get No. 5 and No. 135. Here’s what Sikkema says about the projected trade:
I do think that some team is going to trade up into the Top 5 for a quarterback, and once that happens I can see the other handful of teams that also need one starting to get very restless as the clock ticks. Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht loves the draft. It’s his favorite game to play. He also loves having the chance to get more picks and select more players. That’s why I think a small move back to No. 7 with Jacksonville could be in the cards. This way the Jags get to jump the Giants to pick their quarterback and the Buccaneers get some extra picks to play with later.
The logic of the move makes a ton of sense. With Murray now officially entering the draft, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see a team trade into the top five to select him. Even if the scenario that Sikkema laid out doesn’t play out exactly and no quarterbacks are off the board in the top four, a quarterback-needy team might want to work with the Bucs to get their pick. That would move them ahead of the Giants (No. 6) and Jaguars (No. 7), meaning they have their choice at whichever top quarterback they want. If Murray or Haskins does go in the top four, that makes a trade between Jacksonville and Tampa Bay even more likely.
With such a trade, the Bucs would still have a top-10 pick and another top-100 selection. It seems like Tampa Bay would have a number of intriguing defensive prospects to choose from at No. 7, but Sikkema has them going with some help on the offensive line in the form of Florida’s Jawaan Taylor. Here’s what he says about the pick:
Honestly, if Quinnen Williams is off the board, the Buccaneers have a lot of room to be flexible. Even with this pick, I am assuming left tackle Donovan Smith is going to be back, at least for 2019. But, the Bucs still need to work on an answer at right tackle with Demar Dotson aging. The Bucs could pick any of Jonah Williams, Jawaan Taylor or Cody Ford here and I think it would be worth it, but the reason I went with Taylor is how good he is in pass protection. With new head coach Bruce Arians, the Bucs are sill going to be a vertical offense. That’s going to require their offensive tackles to be comfortable in long pass sets while blocking for three or four seconds per snap. Taylor projects best for that, and for the right tackle position, if you ask me.
At first glance, the pick seems a bit off to me. I like the idea of trading down, but neglecting the defense in round one would be a tough pill to swallow. BUT WAIT... Licht isn’t done with just the one move in the first round of this mock draft. Sikkema has Tampa Bay trading back in at the end of the first round, getting the No. 26 pick from Indianapolis in exchange for No. 39 and No. 69 (the one acquired from the earlier trade). With that second first-rounder, the Bucs add to the defensive line with Michigan’s Rashan Gary. The reasoning for the pick does come with a caveat:
I told you all that Bucs general manager Jason Licht loves to play the draft game. After trading down with Jacksonville and getting two third round picks, I bet Licht would have no problem using one of those picks (knowing he still has a extra one next year) to move up from the top of the second round to the back of the first round to pick up another trench player, this time on the defensive side. Gary could be an interesting piece with the Bucs already having Vita Vea. Gary could also play 5-tech as a defensive end in Todd Bowles’ defensive system. Will Gary likely be gone before this? Yes. But if he’s not, someone is going to trade up into the first round to get him.
It’s early in the draft process, so we don’t know whether Gary’s stock will rise, fall or just stay the same. But for now, Sikkema has him available at the bottom of the first round. With the two trades, he has the Bucs coming away with an impressive day one haul of Jawaan Taylor and Rashan Gary. How’s that for addressing some major needs?