The Buccaneers will put a cap on preparations for their new era this weekend.
Its Super Bowl window has seemingly closed for now, but the franchise still maintains a healthy foundation of talent and could quickly course-correct with the right investments. It’s been hard to peg exactly what avenues the Bucs may explore, but that does make the whole experience more exciting.
Let’s explore one more scenario ahead of 8 p.m. tonight.
Round 1, Pick 19 - Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
I heavily debated a small trade-down here, but ultimately the Bucs land their left tackle of the future by staying firm at 19.
A prospect who the team has met with several times, Harrison is the last true left tackle remaining in the draft before projections start getting messy in that position group – it’s not very deep at all. He comes from a unique scheme that will require some significant adaptation, but he showcases several of the traits you want in a quality blind-side protector. Unlike Donovan Smith, Harrison has excellent foot quickness and body control, which allows him to mirror speed much better.
Anton Harrison, Oklahoma (LT #71)— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) April 26, 2023
-Looks the part
-Wins run blocking position/leverage w/ time to peek at RB
-Strong outside hand leverage & torque
-Smooth, balanced kick slides
-Calculates angles well in pass pro
-Plays on the in soles of his feet
He’s not as strong, but he’s no weakling either. He’s also young (only 21) with a projectable frame so it’s reasonable to expect further improvement there. Is this a little earlier than Harrison would go in other drafts? Maybe, but to call it a reach when he has a starter tool kit and fills a huge need is probably premature.
This move also allows Tristan Wirfs to remain at right tackle, where you know the production will be All-Pro level. Bucs fans shouldn’t voice many qualms about this pick if the board falls this way.
Round 2, Pick 42 (trade with New York Jets) - Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State
The Bucs flip to the defensive side in round 2 to address their lacking pass rush, and Jason Licht ensures that he gets his guy. Shaq Barrett’s age and injury recovery are well-noted at this point, as is Joe Tryon-Shoyinka’s need for a third-year leap, so acquiring a third rusher/potential starter in a deep class is paramount.
Anudike-Uzomah, like Harrison, is young (21 years old) but has started a lot of games at the Power 5 level and notched loads of production (20.5 sacks, 26.5 tackles for loss in 33 games). He’s not a premier athlete, which teams may ding him for in favor of higher-upside projects like B.J. Ojulari or Will McDonald IV, but he maintains a powerful upper body with smooth body control. Anudike-Uzomah is also a heady player who clearly thinks about his matchups on a week-to-week basis.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah (@fanudike) uses the long arm to power his blocker back & get to the QB for the sack! #passrush #kstate #nfldraft pic.twitter.com/DJZIlWfOPn— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) April 22, 2023
Anudike-Uzomah will be one of the first edge rushers off the board on Day 2, so the team may have to move up if they really like him; he’s another prospect who the team met with multiple times. By trading their best fifth-rounder (pick 153) and a sixth (196), they may pry away Pick 42 from the Jets, who currently have only four picks outside of round 1.
Round 3, Pick 82 - Jartavius Martin, DB, Illinois
This safety class has been derided a bit, but it has some gems if you mine carefully. Licht and Todd Bowles may have unearthed a shiny one with Jartavius “Quan” Martin.
The Bucs have sleuthed around the Illini backfield quite a bit, using both a formal Combine interview and a top 30 visit for Martin. The interest is understandable given Martin’s excellent athleticism and positional versatility. He ran a 4.46 40-yard dash with 1.44 10-yard split, and he jumped massive marks of 44” in the vertical and 11’1” in the broad.
Great eye discipline by Illinois Safety/Nickel Jartavius Martin. “If there’s space you must chase”— CROCKPOT (@Eric_Crocker) April 23, 2023
Was beat but didn’t panic. Worked to the receiver AND THEN got his head around. Capitalized on underthrown ball but put himself in position to make a play on the ball regardless. pic.twitter.com/KV6C5Aycdl
He rotated a lot between single-high safety and nickel at Illinois, which is exactly what the Buccaneers could use given the recent exodus their secondary has experienced. His intelligence is exceptionally well-regarded on and off the field.
Martin, who is a little undersized, occasionally struggles with ball tracking and would probably benefit from taking more snaps at just one position to start his career (most likely nickel), but the ceiling of a dependable starter is clear.
Round 4, Pick 132 (trade with Carolina) - Chase Brown, RB, Illinois
Tampa double-dips from Illinois by re-entering the fourth round and getting another running back to pair with Rachaad White. They find another pick-starved team — their rival Carolina in this case — and tempt them with picks 175 and 181.
Brown, whose twin brother Sydney is another Bucs option at safety, could profile more as the lightning to White’s thunder. The redshirt senior runs a quick 4.43 40, and it frequently shows up on film. He ranked second in all of FBS last year with 48 runs of 10+ yards. He trusts his vision and delivers decisive cuts to shake would-be tacklers.
Even back at Western Michigan, RB Chase Brown was a load and difficult to bring down. Impressive abilities at pushing the pile to create extra yardage. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/S5mUFVo4ID— WBG84 (@WBG84) April 26, 2023
New OC Dave Canales may be reminded of Seahawks running back Travis Homer, with whom he spent four seasons in Seattle. Brown may never be a bell cow but offers the speed element currently missing from the offense.
Round 5, Pick 179 - Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati
This may be lower than the team likes in addressing the tight end spot, but Whyle is a worthwhile addition at this stage. It’s pronounced “why-lee”, so I avoided some cringey wordplay there!
Anyways, he’s got an NFL-capable frame at 6-foot-6, 248 pounds, and he shows a baseline understanding of how to separate despite sporadic production with the Bearcats. He’s a smooth, above-average athlete who can win downfield or find zones underneath.
Josh Whyle is a huge athlete with excellent movement skills and acceleration + great contact balance and ball skills— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) March 17, 2023
He’s also got strong hands to latch on and take over blocks pic.twitter.com/PzaMH76K9m
He needs more seasoning with routes and catch focus, and the blocking isn’t all that great, but Whyle touts the potential to enter camp as a competitor for the team’s TE2 spot.
Round 7, Pick 252 - Dante Stills, DL, West Virginia
Sacrificing the team’s glut of Day 3 picks in favor of better positions in the top 150 results in Tampa waiting 73 spots for their final selection, and something tells me the brass would be perfectly okay with that.
At this point, it’s all about finding intriguing special teamers and/or practice squad residents. Anything else is gravy.
Stills isn’t particularly lengthy or strong, but he is quick and flexible for his size. He was a four-year starter for West Virginia and garnered high marks as a leader in the locker room, and he earned first-team All-Big 12 in back-to-back years. He also comes from an NFL pedigree thanks to his father, who played in the NFL for 10 years as a linebacker.
Overall, Stills doesn’t jump off the page in most areas but could offer snaps as a rotational three-technique and special teamer.
Well, I’m ready for your takes and/or abuse, Bucs Nation. How would you all feel about this mock draft? Are there any players or positions you would’ve preferred to see instead? Vote in the poll and discuss in the comments below!
How would you grade this hypothetical Buccaneers draft class?
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