The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have everything. They’re Super Bowl champions that somehow retained all of their contributors, except for Antonio Brown, in an offseason where contending teams bled veteran contracts for cap space. Bruce Arians and Tom Brady seem primed for another title run, and a draft class full of immediate contributors could boost their cause.
Many fans believe Brady’s Buccaneers peaked late in the regular season, heading into the playoffs. I’d argue they peaked after the season ended, when general manager Jason Licht executed a masterful offseason plan that brought back multiple All-Pros while still leaving Tampa Bay financial wiggle room. I wonder what the front office will do for an encore.
I used The Draft Network’s mock draft machine and Pro Football Focus’ mock draft simulator to justify each of my selections. At least one website had the chosen players available at their listed picks over several simulations. I didn’t create any trades and included an “ideal pick” after every selection for optimistic fans.
Round 1 (No. 32): Landon Dickerson, IOL Alabama
Dickerson battled injuries throughout his college career. He’s not an elite athlete compared to some of the better movers in this class, but it’s impossible to overlook his profile as a first-round pick. Dickerson spent time at center, guard, and tackle in college and profiles as an interior lineman in the NFL. He’s a monstrous 6-6, and NFL.com lists him at 333 lbs.
Dickerson has the natural build of an interior lineman. He doesn’t have elite agility or length, but Dickerson parts oceans in the running game. He plays every snap like he wants to bury the defenders across from him. Dickerson is also a high-character prospect whose attitude and love for the game are infectious.
The Buccaneers have Ryan Jensen at center. He’s equally as physical and destructive upfront as Dickerson but has a lower ceiling. However, I think Dickerson steps in for Alex Cappa at guard during his rookie season. The stud Alabama product is coming off an ACL tear, and Tampa Bay’s depth along the line means Dickerson won’t rush his recovery.
Ideal pick: Elijah Moore, WR Ole Miss
Round 2 (No. 64): Amari Rodgers, WR Clemson
Injuries and playing behind future NFL stars prevented Rodgers from seeing significant starting time during his first three seasons. Luckily, the 5-9, 212 lb. slot receiver caught a break during his senior year. In 12 appearances, Rodgers made 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished second on the team in yards from scrimmage, only trailing Travis Etienne.
Rodgers doesn’t have elite speed, and it shows on underneath routes. He struggles to create separation in those instances but saw success on vertical routes at Clemson. Rodgers has a running back’s build, which opens the door to creative offensive play calls and broken tackles.
Ideal pick: Dyami Brown, WR North Carolina
Round 3 (No. 95): Benjamin St-Juste, CB Minnesota
The Buccaneers build a reliable secondary by continuously taking shots on defensive backs in the draft. They take another developmental prospect here in St-Juste, who has prototypical length and size for the position. He’s 6-3, weighs 202 lbs., and has over 32-inch arms. St-Juste also ran a 4.51 40-yard dash, 4.00 short shuttle, and 6.83 three-cone at Minnesota’s pro day.
Tampa Bay already has three reliable corners, but it’s hard to overlook St-Juste’s physical potential. His game should translate well in press coverage, and St-he’s is already a good tackler. There are some concerns about St-Juste’s ability to stay fluid in transitions and his lack of sudden burst.
Ideal pick: Tommy Togiai, IDL Ohio St.
Round 4 (No. 137): Osa Odighizuwa, IDL UCLA
Odighizuwa and Ndamukong Suh are two very different types of defensive tackles. At 6-2, 282 lbs., Odighizuwa is an undersized interior lineman that uses his 34-inch arms to compensate for his weight. He might have a better chance of replacing William Gholston at defensive end than Suh at defensive tackle. Gholston’s contract ends after the upcoming season.
Odighizuwa has excellent burst and bend. His motor runs hot, and he’s always looking for openings. With only 10.5 sacks over the past three years, Odighizuwa might be more of a pocket pusher than a pocket collapser. However, Todd Bowles can deploy him from various positions and always expect impact plays throughout a game.
The Buccaneers can use Odighizuwa immediately. Some teams view him as a Day 2 draft pick that’s an instant starter.
Ideal pick: Kyle Trask, QB Florida
Round 5 (No. 176): Malcolm Koonce, EDGE Buffalo
Tampa Bay gave Shaquil Barrett a long-term deal this offseason, but Jason Pierre-Paul’s contract ends after this year. The former Giant is nearing his 33rd birthday, making it unlikely that the Buccaneers bring him back on an expensive deal.
Koonce is undersized for now, but a year serving as a rotational player could fill out his frame. The Buffalo product amassed 17.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in his final 17 collegiate appearances. He has long arms and a surprising amount of twitch. Koonce hasn’t developed many pass rush moves, but he varies the speed of his attacks and bends around the edge.
While Koonce is a project, he can contribute in small doses as a rookie before stepping into a larger role.
Ideal pick: David Moore, IOL Grambling St.
Round 6 (No. 217): Alaric Jackson, OT Iowa
Jackson was a four-year starter at Iowa, but he showed little improvement in recent years. The 321 lb. tackle is explosive along the line and can climb to the second level. However, poor footwork and issues with hand placement keep Jackson from reaching his potential. The former Hawkeye might find himself moved to guard, but I like him as a swing tackle for the Buccaneers.
Ideal pick: Christian Uphoff, S Illinois St.
Round 7 (No. 251): William Bradley-King, EDGE Baylor
After taking offensive linemen to school for three years at Arkansas St., Bradley-King transferred to Baylor last year. He tallied 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in nine games. That marked a significant dip in production.
Bradley-King is 6-3 and weighs 252 lbs. He has adequate length for an edge rusher but lacks desired twitch and closing burst. In college, Bradley-King developed his pass rushing moves better than many members of this year’s class, but he lacks the explosiveness and athleticism to go earlier than Day 3.
Ideal pick: DJ Daniel, CB Georgia
Round 7 (No. 259): Shane Buechele, QB SMU
The Buccaneers are in win-now mode, but it feels careless to go through the entire draft without taking a quarterback. Seventh-round picks rarely hit anyway, so spending one on a backup quarterback isn’t a costly decision.
Buechele transferred from Texas to SMU after Sam Ehlinger took his job. Buechele threw for 7,024 yards, 57 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions during his two years with the Mustangs. He’s not a dual-threat quarterback and struggles with deep throws. Buechele doesn’t have great small-window accuracy but brings a lot of experience to Tampa Bay’s quarterback room.
Ideal pick: Josh Ball, OT Marshall