Now, the team will continue to look for top talent and value at positions of need balancing 2021’s outlook with what the franchise will need to build a consistently successful roster for the future as well.
Who doesn’t love lists? So here are my Top-3 remaining positions to address for the Buccaneers, and three guys who could fit the bill for Jason Licht on Friday.
NO. 3 - QUARTERBACK
The Bucs are set at quarterback for this year and it appears for 2022 as well. Barring something that I’m not going to be blamed for typing into existence, the greatest quarterback of all time will be leading the men in pewter for the next two years.
Behind Tom Brady there isn’t much. Ryan Griffin is back, and Blaine Gabbert is still out there in case the team doesn’t see a fit in this year’s draft to select a young understudy to add to the mix. This doesn’t mean they won’t, or shouldn’t be on the lookout though, and if the right guy is there at the right pick in the second or third rounds we could certainly see Licht pull the trigger on a young signal-caller.
TOP-3 REMAINING QUARTERBACKS
- Davis Mills, Stanford
- Kyle Trask, Florida
- Jamie Newman, Georgia / Wake Forest
Lists are subjective, and some will certainly have Kellen Mond in their top-three remaining prospects here. For me though, Davis Mills has proven to be a high upside prospect who could benefit greatly from two years studying behind Brady.
When the time is right, if the belief is there, the Bucs could secure Mills on a modest starting value contract for three-years or so, and have money to spare for building a new contender around their younger - but somewhat experienced - passer.
If he isn’t available when the Bucs feel motivated to take a passer, then Jamie Newman presents a more risky, and potentially more valuable option later who might also make it to day three depending on how the board falls.
Kyle Trask lives in the middle here. A prospect who isn’t as exciting as some others, but could certainly lead a team with big-time playmakers on a roster which doesn’t need Trask to be the hero.
NO. 2 - OFFENSIVE LINE
I can’t imagine Tom Brady being too keen on the idea of breaking in a whole new center in 2022, in perhaps his last season in the NFL. So even though Ryan Jensen is in a contract year without an extension on the books at the time of this writing, I can’t imagine he won’t be in pewter for at least 2022.
Beyond Jensen, the rest of the unit is pretty well set moving into the future. Even with depth, Aaron Stinnie stepped in admirably when Alex Cappa went down to injury during the playoffs.
Depth in the trenches is always important, and taking nothing for granted I’d put interior linemen (with some center experience) above tackles, but depth across the front five would be a smart addition to the roster.
TOP-3 REMAINING OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
- DILLON RADUNZ, NORTH DAKOTA STATE
- LANDON DICKERSON, ALABAMA
- QUINN MEINERZ, WISCONSIN-WHITEWATER
Dillon Radunz quickly became one of my favorite guys to watch at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. Playing left tackle and left guard at times, he won just about every rep I witnessed, and often times it wasn’t close.
The versatility and willingness to fight and win inside or out makes him a target for any team, and his small school stature makes him a perfect fit for the Buccaneers.
Landon Dickerson is the bigger name from the bigger school, but his injury history is concerning and makes his NFL future less predictable. Most NFL GM’s don’t like to draft scared, but it’s hard to imagine Dickerson wouldn’t have been a day one guy without the injury.
Quinn Meinerz might be my favorite underdog of the NFL Draft and he’s another Senior Bowl standout. Selecting him would be more of an arrow pointing towards Jensen’s potential departure, but getting Meinerz in at year three to pair with a young quarterback would make a lot of sense if Jensen were to cash in on his experience and accomplishments.
NO. 1 - DEFENSIVE LINE
The expiring contract and age of Jason Pierre-Paul certainly made edge a position worth addressing for the Bucs. The same can be said of Ndamukong Suh and his spot on the defensive line. Adding in William Gholston’s expiring contract as well only adds to the stakes.
Even if Suh doesn’t retire, he may not come back to Tampa. The possibility simply exists. Gholston I think is more likely to want to return, and less likely to be a huge name on the open market because he tends to get left off the list when people talk about Buccaneers defenders.
Still, with a Super Bowl and presumably another playoff run under his belt, teams will pay for the experience he brings alone. Since we can’t guarantee either of them will be back, and with depth always important, this is the spot I’m looking for Tampa Bay to address in round two.
TOP-3 REMAINING DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
- LEVI ONWUZURIKE, WASHINGTON
- PATRICK JONES II, PITTSBURGH
- ALIM MCNEILL, NC STATE
Levi Onwuzurike was someone talked about as being a potential target at pick thirty-two. As it stands, he and Alabama’s Christian Barmore both make it to day two, so you could see either of them being on top of Tampa Bay’s board entering Friday night.
I think Barmore goes higher than the Bucs would be willing to trade up, so Onwuzurike could be the top guy feasibly likely to land with the team. Although, I still believe a trade-up would be required.
Adding two Huskies to this roster would make a lot of Pacific Northwesterners Buccaneers fans overnight, and I’m all for it.
Patrick Jones II certainly needs a year or two to grow into starting responsibilities. Something this team just so happens to have available. This isn’t to diminish his abilities currently but is meant to highlight his physical potential which should be elevated quickly with appropriate coaching.
Alim McNeill wouldn’t get people as excited, but as consolation prizes go, you could do a lot worse. Could he become a starter? Certainly. Even if he doesn’t, he should at least rise to the level of a consistent depth option. Every team can use those.
There are my top three positions of need for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entering day two of the 2021 NFL Draft, and my top three players I’d like to see land with the team in those groups.
If you have your own, drop them in the comments, and get ready to watch it all unfold as the defending Super Bowl champions continue to reload for another run in 2022.