Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Can Fresno State QB Jake Haener Become the Face of the Franchise?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Can Fresno State QB Jake Haener Become the Face of the Franchise?

Don’t be fooled by an appearance in the NFL playoffs, the 8-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a team in desperate need of an overhaul between now and the 2023 NFL season. This Buccaneers NFL Mock Draft attempts to fill what could be a large number of holes that appear over the next few months.

In this scenario, simulated trades were active among other teams via the Mock Draft Simulator, but the Buccaneers held steady and did not make any moves.

Latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 NFL Mock Draft

Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State | Round 1, Pick 19

Tom Brady surely won’t see another season in Tampa Bay, will he? His on-off relationship with retirement might become a little more permanent this offseason, and he’s scheduled to be a free agent regardless.

The most significant problem that the Bucs might face is replacing the veteran QB, and it should be considered as a priority position of need in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, picking 19th overall — as they do in this Buccaneers NFL Mock Draft — isn’t going to have Tampa Bay in position to take one of the premier passers in the class. It would be a massive surprise, given the amount of QB-needy teams, to find one of the consensus four best passers still available here.

With multiple players set to depart a secondary that allowed the second-most touchdowns in the NFL this season, we kick off this Buccaneers NFL Mock Draft by addressing the defensive side of the ball. Finding a new starting cornerback is a must, and thankfully for Tampa Bay, it’s a rich class at the position.

Emmanuel Forbes gives them an insanely productive coverage corner who holds the FBS record for interceptions returned for a touchdown. Yet, the Mississippi State CB is more than just sensational statistics. Forbes boasts high-level route recognition, the vertical athleticism to contest the catch point, plus the footwork and physicality to challenge anyone at the NFL level.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State | Round 2, Pick 50

There are offensive problems to address in this Buccaneers NFL Mock Draft, but we continue on the defensive side of the ball in Round 2. Several defensive ends and outside linebackers — including multiple starters — are primed for free agency, and Tampa Bay simply can’t afford to pay them all.

MORE: Top Cornerbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft

If Felix Anudike-Uzomah is still around at pick 50, this is a home-run hit in the 2023 NFL Draft class. The Kansas State pass rusher has the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, is as explosive off the snap as they come, and some top-tier mental attributes are already evident in his game. FAU can be an immediate pass-rush contributor for this Tampa Bay team.

Cody Mauch, OT, North Dakota State | Round 3, Pick 82

North Dakota State regularly produces NFL-caliber offensive linemen, and Cody Mauch is the latest product of that pipeline. Mauch boasts an incredible combination of technique and athletic ability that allows him to be an absolute force in the ground game.

While he’s anchored the Bison offensive line from the left tackle spot, Mauch offers guard versatility at the NFL level. With Tampa Bay needing reinforcements at both spots, Mauch’s selection in this Buccaneers NFL Mock Draft makes perfect sense. The only issue is that come April, he’s likely not available in this spot.

Tavion Thomas, RB, Utah | Round 5, Pick 150

Rachaad White showcased enough in his rookie season to feel comfortable about him heading up your RB room going into the 2023 NFL season. However, with Giovani Bernard and Leonard Fournette unlikely to return next year, the Bucs need to add some reinforcements.

Utah running back Tavion Thomas offers a complementary style to White. He’s a big boy (6’2″, 230+ pounds) who absorbs contact for fun as he barrels north to south through anyone who gets in his way. With his pass-blocking prowess and the ability to play patiently, Thomas should find NFL success with the Bucs.

Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State | Round 6, Pick 167

Although quarterback is a priority for Tampa Bay, it’s going to be difficult to find the guy in this class. If you miss on the first four passers, there’s a significant drop-off, and finding a successful starting QB in the mid-rounds of the draft is difficult to do. Nevertheless, the Bucs’ QB situation demands they at least try.

Injury hampered Jake Haener in his return to Fresno State this college football season, but he has the tools to play in the NFL. His above-average arm talent and creation capacity are weaponized by his ability to process the game at a high level and make anticipatory throws while possessing great field vision.

With the apparent failure of several CFB quarterbacks with elite physical tools to transition to the NFL — this isn’t a shot at Zach Wilson, honest — taking a quarterback who has the cerebral capability to succeed might be a smart move for the Bucs as they consider a post-Brady QB landscape.

Gervarrius Owens, S, Houston | Round 6, Pick 182

There are several potential moving parts in the secondary, including at safety, where both starters could be out of town sooner rather than later.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Prospects

While Gervarrius Owens won’t be the biggest safety in the class (6’0″, 200 pounds), he’s a big-play threat on every snap. He has the speed to line up anywhere in the secondary and flies to the football with outstanding tackling.

Harrison Mevis, K, Missouri | Round 7, Pick 208

Rounding out this Buccaneers NFL Mock Draft in the seventh round, Tampa Bay adds a replacement for the potential departure of Ryan Succop. In his Tampa Bay Buccaneers offseason preview, Pro Football Network NFL Director Adam Beasley calls the veteran kicker a potential cut candidate.

Harrison “The Thiccer Kicker” Mevis has an absolute cannon for a leg and holds multiple high school and Missouri Tigers kicking records. A 56-yard long speaks to Mevis’ ability to boom the ball from downtown, and he’s been remarkably consistent from that range during his career to date.