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Buccaneers trade up in latest Sports Illustrated mock

In this post-NFL Combine mock, Tampa Bay addresses its quarterback situation...

The NFL Combine has come and gone, which means there’s a new wave of mock drafts hitting the internet this week. Yes, they all still need to be taken with huge grains of salt because they’re still just mock drafts. But if nothing else, they’re great conversation starters.

One of the latest, which dropped on Tuesday night, is from Kevin Hanson of Sports Illustrated. In his post-NFL Combine mock, he has the Buccaneers making a trade. Now, that’s not too out of the ordinary, as others have the team trading down to collect more picks. But that’s not the case here.

Instead, Hanson has Tampa Bay trading up, sending picks No. 14 and No. 76 to the Jets for pick No. 11. And with that pick, he has the Bucs selecting their quarterback of the future: Utah State’s Jordan Love. Hanson had this to say about his Love-to-the-Bucs projection:

Following his 30-interception season, there’s no guarantee that Jameis Winston will be back in Tampa, although that hasn’t been ruled out either. As for Love, he regressed in his junior season as he threw nearly as many interceptions (17) as touchdowns (20), but part of that can be attributed to a coaching change and lack of offensive talent and experience around him. If Love’s 2018 and ‘19 seasons were reversed, however, he would be more widely-viewed as a potential top-10 pick although that buzz seems to be building. While he’s just outside the top 10 in this mock, his intriguing skill set could entice Bruce Arians and the Bucs to trade in front of the Raiders and Colts for the strong-armed signal-caller.

Hanson does make note of the alarming touchdown-to-interception ratio Love put up in 2019 because, after all, 20 touchdowns to 17 interceptions sounds eerily close to the 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions that Jameis Winston posted last season. But the idea of Love’s draft stock being even higher if his 2018 and 2019 were flipped could have some truth to it. As a sophomore in 2018, he threw for 32 touchdowns and six interceptions. Could you imagine that kind of production with this Bucs roster?

This mock is presumably based on the idea of Jason Licht and Bruce Arians failing or refusing to bring back Winston or sign another free agent quarterback. That is, unless Hanson is going off the idea that the team will sign a veteran and still select his eventual replacement early in the first round.

The 6-foot-4, 224-pound Love has been linked to Tampa Bay at times this offseason, but many have him going to Indianapolis the pick before. Obviously, though, this trade allows the Bucs to jump both the Colts and Raiders to make the pick.

It’s worth noting that this pick would certainly be divisive within the fan base. Although, at this point, what isn’t divisive in this fan base? There will be plenty who love the idea of Love in a Bucs uniform due to his size, arm talent and athleticism, while others will be concerned with the poor field vision that largely led to his turnovers and overall frustrating 2019 season.

The player comparison NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein has in Love’s draft profile will also make folks nervous. Zierlein’s comp for Love is Blake Bortles. That won’t inspire much excitement from Bucs fans (and that’s coming from a fellow UCF guy).

And again, this is just one mock draft of the many out there. But it’s one of the more unique scenarios we’ve seen laid out in the last couple of months. What are your thoughts on trading up for Jordan Love, Bucs fans? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

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