TAMPA, Fla. — It’s finally arrived − NFL Draft week is here.
Speculation will soon be replaced with grades, criticisms, praise, and hopeful fanbases across the country. For the Buccaneers, it will finally give an answer to the question we’ve asked for months: What do you give to the team that has everything?
Taking a look at the way the 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already set up, they’re a championship-caliber team without this coming weekend even happening. We’ve discussed the idea that it makes sense to trade up and get someone that can impact the team now, but others have made the case to trade back and get more bites of the apple by accumulating more picks.
In the end, it’s all about positional value, right? What are the most important positions on the field and how can the Bucs improve those? They have quarterback covered, that’s for sure. Even with Blaine Gabbert still out there as a free agent, the Bucs don’t need to take a quarterback this year. They can, but they certainly shouldn’t do it at pick 32.
Beyond quarterback, though, what is the most important thing on the field? Quite simply, it’s the guys that protect the quarterback and it’s the guys that try to take the quarterback down.
The Bucs battled through injuries at all those spots in their 2020 campaign. They saw offensive linemen Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith, Alex Cappa, and A.Q. Shipley all suffer injuries and the depth behind those players did well for the most part but there could certainly be some reinforcements brought in.
Defensively, Jason Pierre-Paul had offseason surgery and spoke about having played the whole year at only “75 percent,” while former first-round pick Vita Vea missed most of the regular season before returning for the NFC Championship game and Super Bowl. All credit due to Steve McLendon and Rakeem Nunez-Roches, but more depth is needed along the defensive line. Even though Cam Gill and Anthony Nelson are there as edge rushers, they have 1.5 sacks between the two. More help is needed.
In his latest mock draft for Pro Football Network, A.J. Schulte picks the full seven rounds and he opts to have the Bucs trade out of the first round with the Dallas Cowboys. In the process, they acquire picks 44, 75, 188, and a 2022 third-rounder before the Bucs would go on to draft LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. He combines that with Louisiana Tech defensive lineman Milton Williams at pick 64.
Taking a wide receiver with their first pick does make sense for the Bucs given the fact that Antonio Brown still has not re-signed with the team. What helps is packaging a wide receiver with one of those high-value positions at pick 64. It’s important that the Bucs find depth at pass protection or pass rush with at least one of those first two picks, not only to protect themselves from potential injury in 2021 but because of the number of players that have expiring contracts at those vital groups following the season.
This draft is important to the Bucs’ future successes more so than it is to help for this season. It’s highly likely that most, if not all of their picks are investing in both sides of the trenches as well as faster edge depth.
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