Even after making some moves in free agency, the Buccaneers have some needs left to address in the 2019 NFL Draft. Draft weekend isn’t far off, which means the mocks are flowing through rapidly these days. In a full seven-round mock for The Athletic, Dane Brugler has Tampa Bay addressing seven different positions with seven picks.
Let’s break down Brugler’s mock pick-by-pick.
Round 1, Pick 5: Devin White, LB, LSU
Of course, the idea of this pick isn’t groundbreaking. There’s been a debate about the Bucs potentially picking Devin White for months. The debate seems to be around the idea that a linebacker shouldn’t go top five because the value isn’t right. Others think Michigan linebacker Devin Bush is just a better prospect and can be drafted later in the first round. Regardless, picking White would address a huge position of need. With Kwon Alexander now in San Francisco and Kendell Beckwith’s future still pretty uncertain, the Bucs could use some linebacker help. Lavonte David is still a stud, and Tampa Bay brought in Shaquil Barrett for help on the outside. But the inside is a question mark. White is a playmaker, one that would be an instant help to Todd Bowles’ defense.
Round 2, Pick 39: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Remember that insane mock draft that had the Bucs selecting Josh Jacobs with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft? Again, remember that ridiculous mock draft that had the Bucs selecting running back Josh Jacobs with the NO. 5 OVERALL PICK IN THE DRAFT? I can’t get over it. Anyway, this is a bit better. I’m still not sure the need for a new running back in Tampa Bay is as dire as everyone seems to believe. Peyton Barber is more than capable of being the No. 1 running back, and there’s still time for Ronald Jones II to bounce back. With depth like Andre Ellington and Shaun Wilson, the Bucs seem set. However, adding Jacobs — a supremely talented back with both size and skill — would give Bruce Arians a ridiculous stable of backs to work with. I just don’t know that the team spends this high of a pick on a running back in 2019.
Round 3, Pick 70: Zach Allen, DL, Boston College
Coming away with Zach Allen in the third round would be sweet for Tampa Bay, especially with the need for young pass-rushers. Allen’s draft profile on NFL.com tabs him as someone with a chance to become an NFL starter, noting his effort, smarts and strength. Plus, under his “weaknesses” section, Lance Zierlein says Allen is “caught somewhere between 4-3 and 3-4 defensive end spots.” That doesn’t sound like much of a bad thing, especially with the Bucs planning to run a variety of looks. A base 3-4 scheme has been talked about, but the coaching staff has repeatedly said there will be a number of unique looks on the defensive side of the ball. Drafting Allen, who appears versatile in that regard, would add to the already-intriguing pass rush that includes Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib and Shaquil Barrett. Throw in an improved Noah Spence and you’ve got yourself a strong group.
Round 4, Pick 107: Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State
Tampa Bay seems content with Carlton Davis and Vernon Hargreaves III as the starting outside corners in 2019, which means the front office could wait a bit in the draft before addressing the cornerback position. Kendall Sheffield could fit what the Bucs are looking for. He has a lot of developing to do, but his ceiling is high. With the outside corner positions pretty much set — plus Ryan Smith as a nice depth guy — the team can afford to take a chance on Sheffield in the fourth round. If the coaching staff could take his quickness and build up the technique to go with it, he could become a key contributor down the line.
Round 5, Pick 145: Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn
Even with the losses of DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay has some depth at receiver. Behind the top two — Mike Evans and Chris Godwin — there’s Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson, Bobo Wilson and Sergio Bailey. Despite that, a late-round pick on a receiver makes sense. Darius Slayton, who put up back-to-back 600-yard, five-touchdown seasons in his final two years with Auburn, wouldn’t be a bad choice. Slayton put those numbers up despite the Tigers’ offense being average in 2018. The 6-foot-1 receiver runs a sub-4.4 40-yard dash, which definitely makes him an appealing prospect. Picks in the fifth round or later are usually gambles anyway, so grabbing Slayton and seeing how he develops and fits with Jameis Winston would be a great idea.
Round 6, Pick 208: Mike Bell, FS, Fresno State
With the safety position already being crowded as it is, the Bucs would be wise to hold off on adding safety help. As mentioned above, the later rounds are for gambles, so selecting Mike Bell fits with that. He was a productive free safety at Fresno State, with size and athleticism being key. However, there are holes in his game. There’s no risk with taking him at this stage of the draft, especially with a pick you got in a trade.
Round 7, Pick 215: Calvin Anderson, OT/G, Texas
This is where I have a bit of a problem. The Bucs waiting until the seventh round to address the offensive line would feel very underwhelming. The center and the left side of the line are set, but the right side is questionable at best. Earl Watford and Alex Cappa are supposed to be fighting for the right guard position, while Demar Dotson is still holding down the right tackle position. Watford and Cappa are relative unknowns. Watford has been more of a depth guy in his career, and Cappa’s first bit of NFL action showed he had some work to do before he could be a professional starter. And Dotson, as good as he has been for the Bucs in the past, is aging. His health certainly guaranteed, and neither is his consistency. So with that many questions on the entire right side of the line, how could Tampa Bay possibly wait until the final round to add another guard or tackle? As for Calvin Anderson, he could turn into a nice talent at the NFL level, but as a seventh-rounder, who really knows?
What do you think of this mock, Bucs fans? Did Brugler get it right? As we inch closer and closer to draft weekend, sound off in the comments below.