The dawn of a new era is upon the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2023. Tom Brady is retired and the team will be looking very different next season. The Buccaneers were able to keep a lot of their existing talent in free agency and don’t have as many needs as we thought they would. The defense is mostly intact from last year. Jamel Dean and Lavonte David re-signed with the franchise. Shaq Barrett is coming back from injury as well, so this defense should be one of the better units in 2023. With that said, some help along the defensive line, pass rush, and secondary depth is needed.
The offense, on the other hand, needs a bit of work. Of course the retirement of Brady has an impact but they are hoping either Baker or Kyle Trask will take command of the position during the off-season. Other areas of need are on the offensive line (probably their biggest need), as they haven’t replaced Donovan Smith. Running Back and Tight End are other areas they could see an upgrade.
Based on the NFL Draft Board provided by NFL Draft Buzz, here is my 7 round Mock Draft for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Note that this Mock Draft is a slightly optimistic version of what may actually happen. The players I selected could very well be off the board by the time they pick.
Pick 19: Broderick Jones OT Georgia:
The Bucs cut longtime veteran Donovan Smith this offseason and need to replace him. Right now LT is the biggest hole on the team. If Jones falls to them here, and that’s a big if, he’d be the perfect need/fit pick. There’s been talk of Wirfs moving to the left side. However, if they were able to land Jones, Wirfs could stay on the right and let Jones take over on the left side. This seems like a no brainer if he’s on the board.
Pick 50: Mazi Smith DL Michigan:
Tampa struggled last year with injuries along the defensive line. And if Mazi is still on the board at 50, Tampa should gobble him up. Big, strong, athletic big man who would be a great replacement for Akeem Hicks. Smith, a great run defender, would slide in as a starter at DE. He’s also strong enough to spell Vea at the nose when need be. He’s a bit limited as a pass rusher, but I don’t think that would be a big expectation for him.
Pick 82: Andre Carter EDGE Army:
With the injury to Barrett last season and Tryon’s lack of progress, EDGE rusher became a priority in the draft. Carter is a bit of a raw prospect, but would fit right into a rotational role with the Bucs defense. If Barrett is back to form, this becomes a luxury pick for the team. You can never have too many pass rushers in this league.
Pick 153: Chandler Zavala OG NC State:
Getting back to the offensive line, Zavala would add depth at either guard position and could challenge for a starting job. Both guard positions are up for grabs, so the best thing to do is create competition with as many bodies as possible.. Zavala is a stronger run blocker than pass blocker at this time, and struggles at times getting to the 2nd level. Improving on this could land him a starting role.
Pick 175: Jakorian Bennett CB Maryland:
With the re-signing of Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis last year, Tampa is pretty well set at the position for a while. With that said, they could use some support in nickel and dime packages. Bennett has the tools to be a really solid player for this defense. Great athleticism, speed and agility. He would be a solid replacement to Murphy-Bunting on the roster.
Pick 179: Chris Rodriguez Jr. RB Kentucky:
This would be a comparable replacement to Fournette. Not a game breaker, but someone that can be relied on for hard yards between the tackles. I don’t see him as a third down back with his limited pass protection skills, but that’s not necessarily what they need him for.
Pick 181: Josh Whyle TE Cincinnati:
This is a late round flier on a guy that could very easily push the incumbents for a starting position for 2023. Tampa struggled at the Tight End position last year. But the position in the draft is an area of strength, so it wouldn’t be hard to fathom getting a late round steal at the position. Whyle isn’t someone who will be a great blocker out of the gate. But he can provide a big, strong, reliable target for the 2023 starting QB. Why not take a flier on a guy like this?
Pick 196: Aidan O’Connell QB Purdue:
O’Connell was a great Quarterback for the Big Ten the past few years. While he wouldn’t be the leader in the clubhouse to start, the team only has Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask on the roster. Internally I think they want to give Trask the opportunity, but need some competition in house to push him. O’Connell provides that, as well as a backup Quarterback option.
Pick: 252: Braeden Daniels OG Utah:
Just adding more to the depth of the offensive line (see pick 153). Tampa needs to consider adding as much talent to the offensive line to ensure this unit is better and deeper than last year.
As you can see, this Buccaneers Mock Draft focuses on the offensive and defensive lines. If Tampa can work on the line of scrimmage, they could be competitive in 2023.
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