With the NFL Draft a mere three months away, there are plenty of mock drafts out there to help fuel speculation for fans of the 30 teams that aren’t playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Because after all, it’s hard to imagine Chiefs and 49ers fans really caring about April’s draft right now.
Anyway, there’s an intriguing new mock draft out from one of the Tampa media’s own. Whether it’s because of his in-depth Cover 3 columns for Pewter Report, his great work with The Draft Network or his ability to seemingly produce a viral tweet at will, Trevor Sikkema is certainly known and loved by Buccaneers fans.
With that said, his latest mock draft may yield a split reaction within the Tampa Bay fan base. Now, that’s not necessarily because of where he has the Bucs going with the No. 14 pick. Rather, it’s what happens afterward that may be divisive. In his mock draft 5.0, which was released Monday, Sikkema has the following unfolding for Tampa Bay:
No. 14 Overall Pick: IDL, Javon Kinlaw
This has been a popular pick for the Bucs early on in draft season. And why not? South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw would be a fantastic guy for Tampa Bay to pair with Vita Vea on the interior of its defensive line for years to come. Sikkema says as much in his reasoning behind the selection:
There may not have been a more commanding presence at the Senior Bowl than the one from Javon Kinlaw. Right off the bat Kinlaw was impressing NFL teams and the media alike with his interview sessions. Coming from humble beginnings, Kinlaw’s words were inspiring to anyone who heard them. He had your ears hanging on every word. Then, when it came to the practice field, he had your eyes not wanting to miss a single rep. Kinlaw had a dominant performance in Mobile, and is expected to be a top-15 pick because of it. Kinlaw next to Vita Vea in Tampa Bay would be an unmatched combo.
Now, one would assume this pick is likelier to happen if the Bucs don’t re-sign Ndamukong Suh, although it’s possible they’d like to get Vea’s running mate in the building sooner rather than later anyway. In his senior season, Kinlaw was named to the All-SEC First Team by the conference’s coaches in addition to being selected as a First-Team All-American by the Associated Press. In his three seasons with the Gamecocks, he played in 37 games (34 starts), totaling 18 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
With the way the draft board falls in Sikkema’s mock, quarterback options such as Joe Burrow (obviously), Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love are already gone by the 14th pick. With those guys gone, some other notable names that Kinlaw is chosen over are Grant Delpit and A.J. Epenesa, who have both been linked to the Bucs in other mocks.
This is where plenty of one-round 2020 mock drafts end for Tampa Bay. But that’s not the case with Sikkema’s. With the new trade feature that The Draft Network just launched for premium subscribers to use in the Mock Draft Machine, Sikkema has the Bucs trading back into the first round to make a second pick. That selection is...
No. 27 Overall Pick: QB, Jacob Eason
This is where things will get touchy for some Bucs fans. There are plenty of folks out there who are still on board with Jameis Winston as the team’s quarterback of the future (or at least for 2020), so that crowd won’t be happy with this projection. To be fair, Sikkema notes that this is based on the idea that the team will move on from Winston. But if the 2015 No. 1 overall pick gets the franchise tag or a longer-term contract, it’s safe to assume this would change. Here’s what Sikkema had to say about the trade and subsequent selection of Eason:
No risk it, no biscuit, right, Bruce? The Seattle Seahawks are known for trading back, and because of that I have them making a deal with one of the more aggressive head coaches in the league when it comes to acquiring players: Tampa Bay’s Bruce Arians. In this scenario, I have the Buccaneers moving on from Jameis Winston, a prediction I am more and more comfortable in believing will be the case. Since they missed out on Burrow, Tagovailoa and Herbert (not sure they like Love), it’s hard to think they’ll sit still and wait for the second round to grab a QB. Arians will likely be a fan of Jacob Eason’s big arm for his vertical offense.
Eason has been mentioned as a potential “Bruce Arians quarterback” because of his strong arm and size. The 6-foot-6 signal-caller started his college career with Georgia before transferring to Washington in 2018. He sat out that year due to transfer rules before putting up a strong year in 2019. As a junior, he threw for 3,132 yards and 23 touchdowns to eight interceptions while completing 64% of his passes in the Huskies’ 8-5 season.
If the Bucs are indeed in the market for a quarterback come April, Eason would almost definitely be in play. Some may be holding out hope that he will be available in the second round when Tampa Bay is back on the clock. But if he is the guy the team wants, trading back into the first round would be a safe way to make sure he ends up as a Buc.
Opinions may differ among Buccaneer fans about the guy, but there’s no denying the arm talent. Arians has had success with rookie quarterbacks in the past. Maybe he takes Eason under his wing and develops him before riding off into the sunset in a few years. There certainly wouldn’t be any shortage of offensive weapons to help Eason adjust to the NFL.
What do you think, Bucs Nation? Would you be happy with this haul in the first round of April’s draft?