Mock drafts are fun whether your team is selecting first overall or if they have the last pick of the first-round like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do.
I think about this every year, to be honest. Outside of quarterback, is it better to be drafted early in the first round, or late? After all, if you’re a non-quarterback selected in the first round, you’re likely coming in for a chance to start, no matter where you go.
Let’s take EDGE rushers for example. In this year’s class, Kwity Paye (Michigan) is one of the names considered at the top of the group. So, would you rather go for the money and play for - I don’t know - the Detroit Lions? Or would it be a better situation to wait for pick thirty-two, make a little less in the beginning, but get a shot at the playoffs and a Super Bowl in your first season?
I’m just saying, not everyone can have Devin White’s fortune of being a Top-5 pick one year and a Super Bowl Champion the next.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Mock Drafts. They’re everywhere. Not all are created equal however, and when I see one drop from the folks working inside the building, I pay attention a little bit more.
Enter, Scott Smith and Carmen Vitali of Buccaneers.com.
Now the tweet says Scott and Carmen were in on this one, but I believe it’s just Vitali who did up this mock draft. Either way, it’s interesting to see what the people who cover the team and their decision makers up close, have to say.
Starting this mock, Vitali shocks everyone by sending Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first overall selection.
Oh - you saw that coming?
Ok, well, Zach Wilson from BYU is the next quarterback taken and he’s off the board at No. 2 to the New York Jets. There is some debate over Wilson or Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields being the second guy in this year’s class, so that may come as more a surprise than Lawrence did.
Personally, I don’t think either of them should be taken this high, but we know how NFL teams love scrambling up for some passers.
My favorite description of a pick might belong to the sixth-overall selection, where Vitali writes,
“It’s no secret that common sense often evades Philly in the draft. So yeah, they could go quarterback, but with the almost-certain departure of long-time playmaker Zach Ertz, they figure they need a ready-to-go replacement for Jalen Hurts to throw to. And let’s face it – the Eagles aren’t taking a wide receiver.”
With this pick, she has the Eagles selecting Florida tight end, Kyle Pitts. Makes sense not to reach for the fourth-best quarterback here, and keeps their two tight-end stable intact with Ertz and Richard Rodgers likely out the door. Plus, Bucs Nation writer James Yarcho is happy to see someone NOT mocking the tight end to Cincinnati the pick before this one, so added bonus there.
Moving on, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones goes twelfth to the San Francisco 49ers, and while I think this would be another over-drafting situation I do like the fit. Plus, signaling the end of the Jimmy Garoppolo experiment is good news for fans of that franchise.
Popular picks amongst Bucs fans, Najee Harris (Running back, Alabama) heads to the New York Jets at pick twenty-three. So fans in Tampa will have to wait three years or so for Harris to demand a trade before he might become a Buccaneers back.
EDGE rusher Jaelen Phillips (Miami (FL)) is a name I’ve seen connected to Tampa Bay recently. Here, Vitali has him going to the Cleveland Browns to potentially team up with Lavonte David - Hey, I’m just the messenger.
If Lavonte David does leave the Bucs, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com once projected Missouri off-ball linebacker to be his replacement. Not possible in this projection though, as he gets taken off the board four picks ahead of Tampa Bay.
Finally, we get to the Bucs. Think this was a long wait, wait until draft night.
“With that hefty contract for J.J. Watt, players all along the defensive front across the league are now likely adjusting their expectations on salary when it comes to free agency. Among them is likely Shaq Barrett. If he departs, the Bucs will need an edge presence opposite Jason Pierre-Paul more than ever.”
Check out the full mock draft for yourself, here. Then drop your grade in the poll, and comments in the - well - comments.
How do you grade the selection of Washington EDGE, Joe Tryon?
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