Two weeks ago, I wrote a post asking if the Bucs should trade into the top-10 of the 2020 NFL Draft in order to assure that they would be able to select one of the “Big Four”.
Well, as it just so happens, Sports Illustrated has the Bucs doing enacting that scenario in their latest mock draft. In this one, the Bucs select Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas with the ninth overall pick after trading away their 14th overall pick, 76th overall pick, and a 2021 third-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Overall, it’s a move that would make total sense, but there are a couple of items of interest that stick out in this scenario. One is the fact that Mekhi Becton is still available when the Bucs take Thomas at nine. Out of the four elite offensive line prospects, Becton is widely considered to have the highest ceiling. He could end up becoming a better player than Thomas, but Thomas may actually be a better fit for the Bucs than Becton.
The former Louisville Cardinal is projected to be a left tackle in the NFL and the Bucs already have Donovan Smith, whom they are paying close to $29 million over the next two seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith had his best year as a pro in 2019, so unless he regresses or gets Tom Brady severely injured, there’s little chance he’s going anywhere. Some have brought up the idea that Harold Goodwin could move Smith to right tackle if they were to draft Becton. That’s certainly plausible, but you need to ask yourself this question: How comfortable would you be with a promising-but-still-developing rookie protecting Brady’s blindside while simultaneously paying your right tackle over $14 million per season?
(Side note: the Bucs are already on the hook for all of Smith’s salary in 2020, but there is room to maneuver in 2021 if the Bucs decide they want to move things around)
The other item of interest is the price tag for this trade. I’m not sure if it’s realistic. It cost the Buffalo Bills the 12th overall pick and two 2018 second-round picks to swap spots with the Bucs, who held the seventh-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Don’t get me wrong, if it does in fact cost the Bucs just one extra pick to move into the top-10 of the 2020 draft, then I’d pull the trigger on this all day long. Unfortunately, I think it will cost more than that, so it will be a heavier situation to weigh out.
Regardless, don’t be surprised if the Bucs make a big move in the draft. This team has its eyes set on a Super Bowl over the next two years, so it would be logical for Bruce Arians and co. to go after who they think can get them over the hump.