[Editor’s Note: Version 1.0 below was originally published on February 11]
We’re now in the second decade to come since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first and last Super Bowl title. Jason Licht has compiled a record of 34-62 in his six seasons with the team, with just one winning season to boast. Change was promised with the hire of head coach Bruce Arians, and while the Buccaneers showed growth in 2019, they’re far from a finished product. It’s up to Licht to compound that growth with a solid offseason and put the Buccaneers back in NFC South contention. This Buccaneers 7-round mock draft would be a good start.
Before we get into the pick selections, however, let’s take a look at the top team needs for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A lot depends on free agency, where the Buccaneers will be able to use their league-pacing cap allocations to infuse their roster with established talent. But the Buccaneers have a lot of ground to cover in their improvements, and in the 2020 NFL Draft, they’ll be able to get the young, budding talent they might not be able to get in March.
One year into the Bruce Arians era, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still in the process of rebuilding, but all things considered, they aren’t too far from contention, at least if they make the right moves this offseason. Bruce Arians’ offense has a good talent base, and the defense has a solid core of young players at each of the three levels. That said, there are a lot of holes to fill in-between, which we’ll layout below.
Primary Needs: Offensive Tackle, Defensive Line, Edge Rusher, Quarterback
The Buccaneers, first and foremost, need to supplement the trenches on both sides of the ball. On offense, veteran tackle Demar Dotson will likely leave in free agency, creating a hole at right tackle, and the entire line overall could stand to have more depth. On defense, tenured players like Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul will also see their contracts expire, and with both well over 30 years old, Arians would be wise to reset in 2020.
Additionally, there exists a need at quarterback, but the need for a quarterback itself isn’t as dire for clarity at the quarterback position. There’s still a chance Jameis Winston could return for the Buccaneers in 2020, and there’s always a chance he could iron out his turnover issues. But Pro Football Network insider Benjamin Allbright reported in January that indications pointed toward veteran signal-caller Philip Rivers joining the Buccaneers in the bay, along with a potential early-round quarterback, like Jacob Eason.
Were Winston to return in 2020, he’d have some qualities of a starting quarterback. But the Buccaneers don’t appear to keen on settling, so look for them to treat the quarterback position as a primary need in the 2020 offseason, whether through the NFL Draft or in free agency.
Secondary Needs: Running Back, Cornerback, Safety, Linebacker, Wide Receiver, OL Depth
Past the primary needs, there are several positions at which the Buccaneers can expand their talent base. On offense, despite the team’s promising core, there’s still room to round out the weapon lineup, with room for added versatility and dynamic ability at running back and wide receiver. The offensive line could also use an added layer of depth, with primary interior depth piece Alex Cappa presumably taking on an increased role as a starter.
On defense, the Buccaneers can afford to fill out the second and third levels behind the substantial changes set to be made on the defensive line. At linebacker, Devin White is an exciting centerpiece with blue-chip potential. However, they could feasibly add to that position group, as well as safety, where there’s still much to prove from incumbent starters such as Jordan Whitehead and Justin Evans.
Cornerback is a wild card position for the Buccaneers. It’s still a need, in terms of depth, but in any Buccaneers 7-round mock draft, I wouldn’t address it until later on. Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean are two young cornerbacks with exciting athletic potential, and Carlton Davis’ ball production uptick in 2019 was representative of his growth as a starter. The Buccaneers have a lot of upside in that department, but they’d do well to add someone who can rotate into the slot and allow the cornerbacks with length and athleticism to thrive on the boundary.
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