Witty's Semi-Serious Bucs 2023 Mock Draft That Deserves Some Comment, Thank You

DAMMIT RAYS YOU HAD ONE J... oh, ahem, sorry, got caught up in the OTHER sport this week.


Ahem, back to the NFL rookie draft.

I am not going by a mock draft generator this time, going instead by the CBS Draft Prospects board to get an idea of which names are available near to where the Bucs are scheduled to pick this year.

I am trying to go by my rules of:

1) Draft for best-available at High Need (not BPA overall)

2) When in doubt, draft Offensive Line

3) When in doubt and OL is good, draft Defensive Line

4) It's okay this year to draft a Kicker but ONLY after the Fifth Round Dammit

With those rules in place, this is what I am projecting as the likeliest Tampa Bay Bucs draft results for 2023

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 mock draft

First Round 19 (Needs OT, S, LB)

A number of professional mock drafts bounce all over the place for Tampa Bay, as the Bucs have serious gaps at starter positions for Safety and Offensive Tackle, but also facing big needs at Quarterback, Outside LB/Edge, and maybe even Inside LB if Devin White's demands for a trade or big contract extension comes into play.

But rule of thumb about First Rounders is that certain positions - QB, Edge, and OT - carry more weight than all the others. Since the Bucs are okay with veteran Baker Mayfield as the penciled-in starter, QB is not a high need. Safety is a glaring need, and there's a possibility the top-rated S Brian Branch could be at this spot: However, starter-quality Safeties could well be drafted into the Fifth Round if need be. Edge COULD go here - and there is a chance top-tier guys like Lukas Van Ness or Nolan Smith could be here at 19th - but at day's end you NEED a solid Offensive Tackle to help your whole O-Line. While Tristan Wirfs is one of the top five ROTs in the whole league, he's likely flipping to Left side opening up a rookie talent with Right side experience to fill that spot. If the likes of Peter Skoronski or Broderick Jones (or Paris Johnson, except he's the likely first OT taken) is sitting here at 19th, it's a no-brainer, those are highly-touted talents and we get whomever's sitting there.

Odds are we're looking at drafting the next-level talents who are still First Round caliber, meaning Darnell Wright or Anton Harrison. The scouting on Wright is way better.

Bucs select: OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee

Second Round 50 (Needs Anything not taken in the First)

This is where my desire to draft for need hits a snag, as our need at this point is SAFETY due to the roster gap. Sadly, if we go by the draft board, there's no reasonable Safety choice within 10 picks of here (unless JL Skinner slides down the board).

There ARE a number of interesting candidates for Edge, and good odds that the likes of Will McDonald IV (or Felix Anudike-Uzomah or Jalen Redmond) would be at this spot. While we have starters at OLB where our Edge guys are, Shaq Barrett is coming back from a serious injury and Joe Tyron-Shoyika is inconsistent a pass-rush threat. Getting some depth help and perhaps finding a surprise talent who fits into the blitzing scheme right away could improve the defense a little more than reaching for a Safety at this point.

The only wild card in this is whatever's happening with Devin White: If White has been traded by this point, we're looking at getting ANY kind of Linebacker talent here to fill both needs. But until then, adding to our pass rush is the smart play.

Bucs select: Edge Will McDonald IV, Iowa St.

Third Round 82 (Needs Safety, LB, TE)

No matter what, Bucs HAVE to draft a defensive back at this point because we're lacking a Fourth Round pick to guarantee getting anybody decent to start Week One, and the talent gap at Safety cannot be ignored. We may need to draft additional Safety talent in the later rounds just to have honest depth. By this point of the draft board, there's still good Safeties on the list worth looking at like Jordan Battle and maybe even a few that have slid down the boards like Daniel Scott or Antonio Johnson. I'm keen on getting relatively tall guys at this position so any DB under 5-11 is not on my wish list here.

Bucs select: Safety Jordan Battle, Alabama

Fourth Round DAMMIT

Fifth Round 153 (Needs LB, TE, WR, DB)

Given GM Licht's habits of trading up and down the board, it's likely most of these picks won't be here or have been traded downward, but for now let's go with what we got and take care of whatever depth needs still on our roster.

Regardless of Devin White's situation, our LB depth is relatively okay but haven't developed into reliable starter-level talent. The same can't be said for our Tight End situation with Cade Otton and Ko Kieft, which have shown flashes of talent as starters and could well improve their second year on the team BUT there's almost no reliable depth behind them. So getting a Tight End while there's starter-level talent like Will Mallory or Josh Whyle on the board makes more sense. We still need to look at depth for both Safety and CB as well as Wide Receiver now that Scotty Miller departed via Free Agency.

Bucs select: TE Will Mallory, Miami

175 (Needs LB, WR, DB, K)

At this point, again, anything can happen especially the likelihood Licht will indulge in his special teams itch and scratch off a top-rated Field Goal Kicker at this spot of the draft. I'm still going by higher needs, and that's either finding a solid Inside Linebacker at this pick or taking care of backfield depth - even Cornerback although Safety is a bit higher - for the rest of the draft. It helps that the Bucs have a series of close draft picks here to where a lot of depth need gets fixed.

Bucs select: S Ronnie Hickman, Ohio St

Sixth Round 179 (Needs LB, WR, K)

We're arguably not getting any starters at this point, but taking care of depth and special teams needs, and can be a decent spot to get linebacker help. I spotted a name I've seen higher on the draft boards, I'm not sure if it's a good thing this draft board has him down here in the lower rounds but it might not hurt to get another War Eagle LB here.

Bucs select: LB Owen Pappoe, Auburn

181 (WR, K, OL)

Part of me knows we did good earlier drafting a starter-caliber OT in Wright, but I also know our OL depth overall needs more bodies to it, and getting someone with experience as a Center could help at this point. A small college guy like Andrews tends to impress here in Tampa Bay and he's got the Center work on his resume, so getting him here would be low-risk long-term deal.

Bucs select: OL Jake Andrews, Troy

196 (WR, K)

Again, more OL help wouldn't hurt, although drafting a Kicker here would be a smart move as well.

Bucs select: OL Antonio Mafi, UCLA

Seventh Round 252 (Needs WR, K)

Historically, 7th Rounders do not last long with the Bucs, but this where any special teams help gets selected and getting someone to be depth for our receiver corps should cover all needs for this season. This could arguably be the Kicker's spot, but I'm not entirely sure which Kicker on the draft board deserves the pick, and I'm okay praying for the UFA rookie sign-ups post-draft to take care of that.

Bucs select: WR Jalen Wayne, South Alabama


By my measure, we take care of depth needs at OL, TE, and Safety big time and even get starter-caliber guys like Wright, McDonald, Battle, and Mallory. Andrews could be a reasonably good fit for Center in the long term to backup/replace Jensen.

I did not draft for QB, any DL, RB or CB positions, which could hurt the team down the road. I mostly avoided drafting DE or DT because I'm not sure how good our depth is right now but I'm under the impression we've done okay in free agency (so far). Also, I'm hoping the free-agent signing of a rookie Kicker takes care of that need.


Content provided by a member of Bucs Nation and does not necessarily reflect the view or opinions of Bucs Nation.