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Buccaneers Day 2 NFL Draft Targets: Matthew Bergeron,

We’ll explore some possible prospect fits in rounds 2 and 3 for the Bucs.

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The Buccaneers shocked basically everyone by taking Pitt defensive tackle Calijah Kancey in the first round at 19th overall, but his selection makes Day 2 possibilities slightly more clear.

Amongst dozens of published mock drafts, many by prominent national analysts, the NFL Mock Draft Database documented him and the Bucs as a match in only five instances during the last two weeks. That doesn’t hold any serious implications, but it just serves to demonstrate how well some front offices disguise their intentions and conduct their scouting.

This particular NFL Draft adheres to no apparent logic as a whole, so we can throw several preconceived notions out the window. The Detroit Lions gloriously burned any possible form of doctrine when they picked an off-ball linebacker at 18th overall and a third running back at 12th overall.

So, I’ll try my best to go through some position groups here and pick out names that might pique Tampa’s interest at picks 50 and 82 — or elsewhere, depending on trades.

Offensive Tackle

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Many pundits, including myself, assumed left tackle could take priority since the Bucs currently don’t have one. It’s still a glaring issue, but you can’t fault Licht and Co. for sticking to their board and addressing the pass rush, which one could argue was nearly as dire.

In the end, the team may just draft for depth, move Tristan Wirfs to left tackle, and let names like Luke Goedeke and Matt Feiler battle it out for the right side spot. There are few names left that likely earn starter-capable marks, so we’ll see how it shakes out.

  1. Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse: Bergeron received late first-round buzz but that ultimately didn’t materialize. That likely would’ve been rich for him, but he’s a good athlete who already impresses as a run blocker. The pass blocking technique needs to catch up a lot, but he’s worth a Round 2 investment. The chances of him being around at Pick 50 are decent, but a trade-up isn’t out of the question either.
  2. Dawand Jones, Ohio State: A top option remaining is this breathing mountain who shut down quality Power 5 linemen for the Buckeyes. Jones, who is a gargantuan 6-foot-8 and 374 pounds, will exclusively line up at right tackle but overwhelms all manners of opponents with superior strength and length. He might be too big from a weight perspective though, so that’s worth monitoring.
  3. Tyler Steen, Alabama: Steen is a converted defensive tackle who demonstrated an accelerated learning curve to become Alabama’s starting left tackle. It’s clear that the technique remains a work in progress, but he has ideal length for either side of the line and enough athleticism to compete for a job. You could make an argument for him going anywhere between picks 50 and 82.

Tight End

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The top 15 tight end discourse always felt rich to me, but even I didn’t expect Michael Mayer to fall out of the top 31 picks. Plenty of quality prospects remain, and the Bucs will keep their options open when it comes to pairing another young talent with Cade Otton.

  1. Michael Mayer, Notre Dame: This one is painfully obvious. Mayer isn’t an overwhelming athlete, but he’s a good one who dominates contested catches, shows great awareness, and blocks with effort and technique. He won’t last long, so the Bucs would need to trade.
  2. Sam LaPorta, Iowa: LaPorta got late buzz like Bergeron, but he fits much better in the late second or early third. He comes from a program with a strong pedigree of producing good pro tight ends, and all of the tools are there to continue that tradition. He’s an agile, soft-handed move tight end who can imbue more YAC potential than Otton currently provides.
  3. Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State: The Bucs don’t shy away from smaller school prospects, and they’d be justified in seeking out Kraft’s services. With excellent size (6-foot-4, 254 pounds) and athletic traits, Kraft definitely provides a high ceiling that could be realized with continued work on his route running.

Defensive Back

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The Bucs will keep corner and safety in their minds on Day 2, given their thin depth chart and lack of an obvious starting slot defender. The second round might be rich, but there’s a plethora of likely third-round targets.

  1. Quan Martin or Sydney Brown, Illinois: We’ll cheat a little and pair the Illini boys together for this exercise. They’re different players, with Martin profiling more as a nickel with occasional safety deployments and Brown being more of a full-time safety. Either would be a fine addition to the team with Pick 82.
  2. D.J. Turner, Michigan: If there’s one cornerback who will intrigue the brass in the second round, I’d put decent money on it being Turner. The fastest man at the NFL Scouting Combine this year (4.26 40-yard dash), Turner fits the Licht preference as an elite tester with easily projectable traits. He’s got inside-outside versatility thanks to his athletic profile and technique.
  3. Cory Trice Jr., Purdue: This is a very interesting name to watch. Trice is huge and quick with legit zone instincts, all of which Bowles will love, and he’s shown the ability to play safety as well. The run support and overall coverage technique need work, but the team has been very patient with defensive backs in the past.

Running Back

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The hype trains for both Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs to Tampa got quickly derailed when they became the first pair of running backs to go in the top 15 since 2017. Disappointing as that may be for some Bucs fans, the team will still sort through a quality assortment of backs. Early Day 3 feels more likely, but we’ll humor this possibility.

  1. Devon Achane, Texas A&M: If the goal is to inject more speed through the roster, Achane has to be considered. He’s very small, but he’s reminiscent of Darren Sproles in the sense that he doesn’t shy away from contact, outside or between the tackles. Game-breaking speed, opportunistic vision, and a fearless attitude will make noise.
  2. Chase Brown, Illinois: Brown, whose twin brother Sydney earned a prior mention, is probably more of a fourth-round pick but if the team really likes him, a trade-back in the third round shouldn’t be discounted. He’s bigger than Achane but still fast.

Edge Rusher

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The Bucs will still contemplate edge rushers if the right choice presents itself, but it’s less likely they reach or feel pressed to get one because of Kancey’s presence.

  1. YaYa Diaby, Louisville: Diaby in the third round would be a savvy add to this roster. He’s got good size, he’s powerful, and he tested fantastically, but he needs a lot of work on his tool kit and devising a more creative rush plan. He’s true blank slate whose impact will depend on how well a coaching staff can foster his mental development.
  2. B.J. Ojulari, LSU: Ojulari at Pick 50, if he falls there, may be quite tempting. Ojulari is very bendy and launches off the snap with threatening burst. If the goal is to getfaster on defense, Ojulari fits that credo. Wouldn’t consider this one likely, but it’s not impossible.

Any thoughts on any of these names, Bucs Nation? Which position group would you like to see the team address in rounds 2 and 3?