Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-round mock draft

Round 1, Pick 14: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

With Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh both entering free agency this year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to supplement their defensive line with young talent. There exists a void on the edge across from Shaquil Barrett, who figures to get a payday from the Buccaneers after his career year, and on the interior line, where Vita Vea is the only player of utility set to reprise his role in 2020.

Given these circumstances, the defensive line was the priority at this pick over other needs. Initially, I thought about picking Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa; at 6-foot-6, 280, Epenesa has the size to potentially fulfill a hybrid role on the front four, not unlike Detroit Lions stalwart Trey Flowers. But watching Epenesa’s tape at edge, he lacked the athletic twitch sought after in an even-front end, and his power didn’t appear consistent enough to compensate.

The sought after twitch was eventually found, however, on the tape of LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson.

Chaisson isn’t as sturdy as Epenesa, but he offers considerably more athletic upside, and with a number of similar plus physical traits. Chaisson is 6-foot-4, 250, with great length, which he can use to establish separation against offensive linemen. Chaisson has a torrid first step on pass-rushing snaps, and his ability to shrink his surface area and bend around the edge is visibly present. Epenesa is far more technically refined than Chaisson, but Chaisson’s play speed and athletic profile screams limitless potential, something a team like Tampa Bay, a team in the long-term game, can’t pass up.

Other picks considered: WR Henry Ruggs III, EDGE AJ Epenesa, OT Mekhi Becton, CB CJ Henderson

Round 2, Pick 45: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

Offensive weaponry isn’t a massive issue for the Buccaneers, who have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Justin Watson at wide receiver, as well as O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate at tight end. That said, the Buccaneers could use more reliability out of their backfield, where Ronald Jones II, a slightly-framed back, is the only legitimate long-term option available. They could re-sign Peyton Barber, but overpaying for a replaceable back doesn’t seem like a cost-effective choice.

Jones showed tangible growth as the season went on, and he provides value with his burst and explosive potential. But the Buccaneers would do well to preserve his best traits by getting a back who can function as a workhorse to compliment Jones. The thunder to Jones’ lightning, if you will.

It just so happens that Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor doesn’t just bring the thunder. He brings the storm itself.

That sounds dramatic, of course, but it’s an excellent way to contextualize the complete nature of Taylor’s game. Taylor’s collegiate production causes many to assume that he’s a standard power back, but that assumption sections off major portions of his game. Taylor has the strength, durability, and hunger for contact of a power back, but he has the long speed, receiving ability, and elusiveness through contact of a feature player. While there are some concerns about his longevity, given the tread already on his tires, he’d be another exciting versatile weapon for a well-stocked Buccaneers offense.

Other picks considered: QB Jake Fromm, DL Ross Blacklock, WR KJ Hamler, CB AJ Terrell

Round 3, Pick 76: Lucas Niang, OT, TCU

We’ve hit Round 3, and the Buccaneers still need a starting right tackle. Don’t panic. There are plenty of options left on the draft board, and none more compelling than TCU offensive tackle Lucas Niang.┬áThere’s a chance Niang doesn’t make it this far, but his hip surgery in October could cause teams to devalue his initial utility. It’s a good turn of events for the Buccaneers, who need a starting right tackle and have found him with this pick.

Niang is huge, to put it simply. He stands at over 6-foot-6 and almost 330 pounds, and yet, he moves like he’s sixty pounds lighter. Niang has excellent functional mobility for his size, with both the lateral explosiveness to mirror edge rushers on the outside, and the acceleration and cruising speed to be a force blocking down the field.

Niang has some cleaning up to do, in terms of both footwork and hand technique, but he has the raw traits as a tackle, with the mobility to match NFL athletes, and the strength to put them in their place. Niang is an excellent value pick for the Buccaneers at 76, and provided that his hip surgery doesn’t keep him off the field, he should be able to see action and start at some point in 2020.

Other picks considered: CB Jaylon Johnson, OT Matt Peart, S Kyle Dugger, EDGE Jason Strowbridge