The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter the 2020 NFL league year coming off of three straight losing seasons, but the 2020 season feels different. Expectations are sky-high for this team after future NFL Hall of Famer, Tom Brady, signed a two-year, $50 million deal with Tampa Bay. However, the long-term future of this team is uncertain, and Tampa Bay could use the 2021 NFL Draft to find a future replacement for the former NFL MVP at the quarterback position.
Back in March, I discussed some potential long-term replacements for Brady in the 2020 NFL Draft. The team opted to forgo the quarterback position in the draft and instead boosted their squad for a playoff run this season. There is a very talented group of passers available for the 2021 cycle.
I have discussed similar possibilities for the Falcons, Saints, and Panthers, as each NFC South team looks towards the future. Below, I will highlight some of the better fits available for the Buccaneers in the 2021 NFL Draft and who coach Bruce Arians could select to steer this ship into the future, at arguably the most critical position.
Three long-term Tom Brady replacements for Tampa Bay
Trevor Lawrence – Clemson
The golden boy with the golden hair and the golden arm is the prized jewel of the 2021 NFL Draft class and projected number one overall pick. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence will be among the first players off the board and would be a perfect fit for Arians and this Buccaneers offense moving forward.
The only drawback here is that the team figures to compete for the NFC playoffs this season and could be far out of range to acquire the talented passer. Brady should keep the Buccaneers competitive during his two-year stint fighting for the Lombardi trophy.
However, the Buccaneers have enough talent around Brady, especially on offense. Therefore, they have the flexibility to trade multiple assets to secure a top pick while also making a play for the future of this franchise after Brady’s retirement. If a team such as the Bengals or Chargers secure the top pick with a young quarterback already in hand, they may be amenable to a king’s ransom from the Buccaneers.
As for Lawrence and his fit with the Buccaneers, the big quarterback is precisely the type of prototype pocket passer that Arians loves to build his offenses and teams around. With the added mobility of Lawrence, Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich could open up their game plan.
It is scary to think about the type of success that Lawrence could have sitting behind Brady before being positioned in a lineup that features Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard. This pair is an NFL Draft match made in heaven and a great option here for Tampa Bay as a replacement for Brady and the long-term success of their franchise.
Tanner Morgan – Minnesota
Another gifted thrower that could be available in the 2021 NFL Draft is Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan. While Morgan may not be the prototype for the position at 6’2″, he is an excellent distributor of the football and will be available on the second day. As a redshirt-sophomore in 2019, Morgan broke a host of single-season school passing records, including passing yards (3,253), passing touchdowns (30) and completion percentage (66%).
That passing efficiency is why Morgan could be such an attractive target for Arians and this Buccaneers team. He has underrated mobility and can squeeze throws into tight windows with extreme accuracy and zip. Take a look at this sensational play and throw below to star receiver Rashod Bateman.
This is one of my favorite throws from #Gophers QB Tanner Morgan last year. He felt the pocket, extended the play and made a tight window throw on the move.
Morgan was one of the nation's most efficient passers last year. I'm excited to see his growth in 2020. pic.twitter.com/s9O1z2SKAQ
— Daniel House (@DanielHouseNFL) May 14, 2020
Morgan had a stacked deck last season in terms of receiving options with Tyler Johnson, Bateman, and Chris Autman-Bell. Therefore, he has experience with big talent and prominent personalities and being able to distribute the ball effectively to keep everyone happy. He will have a similar situation in Tampa with their elite offensive weapons.
The Golden Gopher trigger man also does a great job on play-action and keeping his eyes downfield. He delivered some big-time passes downfield in crunch time last season. He’s also a gamer that appears to play his best football against the highest level of competition. That competitive edge helped Minnesota to big wins over Penn State and Auburn last season.
Despite his lack of ideal size, Morgan’s accuracy and downfield passing ability would be a great fit in this vertical attack as an eventual replacement for Brady in Tampa Bay.
Dylan McCaffrey – Michigan
The third option on this list is a bit of an unknown, but Dylan McCaffrey is another late-round Michigan quarterback prospect (sound familiar?) with intriguing upside. McCaffrey spent most of last season backing up former starter Shea Patterson but should be in the catbird seat for 2020. He is a former top recruit with a live arm with great zip and some very underrated running ability.
He is also the son of former Broncos’ great Ed McCaffrey and brother to current Carolina Panthers’ star running back Christian McCaffrey. His bloodlines give him an edge athletically as well as the mental aspect of making adjustments on the field.
McCaffrey is a quick decision-maker that showed some decent RPO capabilities last season during his limited time in the lineup and could be used in that way frequently to open the 2020 season. Take a look below as McCaffrey keeps the football and easily scores for the Wolverines.
Dylan McCaffrey keeps it for the score!
— WC (@WolverineCorner) September 1, 2019
McCaffrey has plenty of arm strength to make throws over the middle and can put some heat on those as well. He is mostly untested as a passer in this offense and will have much to prove with the Wolverines this college season. However, McCaffrey is a big kid with immense potential and the perfect size for the quarterback role.
If McCaffrey decides to declare following his junior season, he could be available for Tampa Bay as a late-round option to sit and groom behind fellow Wolverine Brady and take over as his eventual replacement down the line.
Scott Gorman is a writer for PFN covering the 2021 NFL Draft. You can follow him @sgormanPFN on Twitter.