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Buccaneers NFL Draft Grades: Rounds 4-7

The draft is all wrapped up. How did the Bucs fare?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 15 Nebraska at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Just like that, the 2023 NFL draft is in the books and the Buccaneers have made their selections. They now have a brand-new group of rookies that they are hoping will help them in the present and the future.

We already have graded the Bucs first two days of picks and you can view them here. Now let’s take a look at the remaining picks and give out some more grades for Tampa Bay.

Round 5, 153rd Overall: Pittsburgh LB, SirVocea Dennis

The Buccaneers went back to the Pittsburgh well and grabbed linebacker SirVocea Dennis with their first selection of the day. Dennis was a captain for the Panthers this past season and that is clearly something Tampa Bay values. He is an explosive linebacker who had seven sacks last season. Early on, he could be a key special teams contributor and then eventually could transition into being a high level backup or even a starter if all goes well.

This was about the range that Dennis was projected to go in so while there were other linebackers available at this spot, it wasn’t necessarily a huge reach. SirVocea can do a lot of things for the Bucs and that is always a plus when a player can contribute in multiple areas of the game.

Grade: B

Round 5, 171st Overall: Purdue TE, Payne Durham

Tampa Bay check off the tight end need by moving up with Los Angeles in the fifth round to select Payne Durham. Durham is a pure red zone threat who had 21 career touchdown receptions in four seasons at Purdue including eight this past season. He is not the greatest athlete in the world, but he is sure handed and is a dominant force in the red zone, which is something the Bucs missed last dearly last season.

Durham comes in to add depth to a reworked tight end room that includes Cade Otton and Ko Kieft. This was a solid pick that also filled a need. Durham has what it takes to become a solid pro that is in the league for a good amount of time. He and Cade Otton could be the future at tight end for years to come and that is a positive thing for the Bucs.

Grade: B+

Round 6, 181st Overall, Kansas State DB, Josh Hayes

Hayes, the nephew of late and former Bucs linebacker Geno Hayes was the selection for the Bucs early in the sixth round and I have to say, this pick felt like a reach. Hayes did not receive a lot of hype during the draft process as Kansas State had a couple of higher profile defenders in this draft, but one thing that does stand out is his versatility. He actually used to play corner at North Dakota State where he was teammates with fellow Bucs draft pick Cody Mauch and he transferred to Kansas State where he played safety.

He has a chance to come in and compete for the nickel spot on the defense, but it just felt like there were better options available to the team but hey, if they like the guy, go get the guy. Hayes was clearly someone they thought highly enough of to use an early sixth round pick on, I’m just not sure it was the best use of resources. Even though, he could prove to be a valuable piece if he is able to hold down the nickel spot.

Grade: D+

Round 6, 191st Overall: Nebraska WR, Trey Palmer

Might be my favorite pick of the entire class for Tampa Bay. I expected Palmer long gone by the time the sixth rolled around, so I was okay with giving up a 2024 fifth round pick to secure this pick and the player, even if it does seem a tad steep. Palmer brings speed to the Buccaneers offense, running a 4.33 40 yard dash at the combine. At 6’0, 180 pounds, he brings a good size and speed combination. He is not a finished product by any means and there was a reason he was available at this spot, but it feels like the Bucs have the potential to have a real steal on their hands here.

Before today, Tampa Bay’s fourth receiver was projected to be Deven Thompkins. While he is a nice player who flashed at times during the season, I think it was smart for the Bucs to add another guy to the mix, especially one with a big play ability which is another thing the Bucs offense lacked in 2022. Palmer has a legit chance to be the team’s fourth receiver and make an impact in a new re-imagined offense. Well done, Mr. Licht.

Grade: A

Round 6, 196th Overall: Eastern Michigan EDGE, Jose Ramirez

The Bucs ended their draft by selecting a player with a very intriguing skill set. In Ramirez’s three seasons at Eastern Michigan, he recorded 20.5 sacks including 12 this past season. He is a late bloomer of sorts but he brings an interesting speed to power combo that could allow him to carve out a solid NFL career.

This is exactly the type of player a team that needs pass rush help like Tampa Bay should be taking. They put an emphasis on getting to the quarterback more consistently and hopefully Ramirez can help with that. Solid way to end a solid draft.

Grade: B+

The Bucs had a really nice day three and a nice draft overall that allowed them to fill their needs with players that have upside for the future but also will have the opportunity to contribute immediately. While it wasn’t perfect (no draft is), this was a good job by Jason Licht to identify the needs and try his best to fill them.