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Post-Draft Evaluation: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Image: Jacob Reiner/NDSU Athletics

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the books. After months of “who’s going where”, we finally have our answers. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted 8 players and addressed a lot of needs in this draft. 

Let’s take a look back and analyze this draft for the team. 

Round 1, Pick 19: DL Calijah Kancey

Steelers Draft Calijah Kancey

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With OT Anton Harrison still on the board, the Bucs chose to upgrade the defensive line. They must either be comfortable with who they have on the offensive line or Kancey was too good of value for them to pass up.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a need for the team. The defensive line was aging last year and often injured. Kancey is a physical freak. He has elite level speed and quickness to get to the quarterback and disrupt the run game. At 280 lbs., he is stronger than you would think but could struggle against double teams. 

Overall I think this is a solid fit for Tampa. Kancey has double digit sack potential and is a 3-down lineman. With guys like Vea, Barrett, etc. still on the team, Kancey should see a lot of one-on-one’s. Good pick.

Graded Pick: B+

Round 2, Pick 48: OG Cody Mauch North Dakota State


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Tampa traded up a couple spots to secure the offensive lineman they wanted. Mauch was listed as a guard when he was drafted so it appears that’s where they see him at this time. With that said, he played tackle in college and could step in at RT if he proves he is the best on the field at the position. 

This should be an interesting offseason for the Buccaneers, as they decide who is going to play where on the offensive line. They have a lot of guys who are capable of playing many positions. The only spots that appear to be set in stone are Tristen Wirfs at LT and Ryan Jensen at Center. 

Graded Pick: C+

Round 3 (Pick 82) OLB YaYa Diaby Louisville

image provided by USA Today / Jaguars’ Wire

Buccaneers go pass rusher with this pick. Diaby feels like a bit of a project. He was very productive at Louisville and had a strong motor. Many of his sacks and tackles are a result of the play breaking down and kicking into another gear. Diaby has experience lining up at DE and DT and would be an asset in alternative defensive packages for the team (i.e. 4-down linemen). The Buccaneers need to develop his pass rushing skills if they want to get anything out of him as an EDGE rusher. If that’s not in the cards, then he may need to put on a bit more weight and transition to 3-4 defensive end. 

Graded Pick: C

Round 5 (Pick 153) ILB SirVocea Dennis Pittsburgh

SirVocea Dennis

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A really solid pick here. Interesting that 3 of the first 4 picks are on the defensive side of the ball. Dennis doesn’t seem to be the biggest linebacker, but he is fast and shoots the gap extremely well. Can be pushed back on the block a bit but makes up for it with great play recognition. 

I can see this being a pick for the future. Lavonte David is at the end of his career and Devin White’s contract status is still unknown. Dennis can develop years one and two, get stronger, then be ready to take over for David or White.

Grade: A

Round 5 (Pick 171) TE Payne Durham Purdue

Sep 17, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Purdue Boilermakers tight end Payne Durham (87) makes a heart sign to acknowledge a group of Boilermaker fans after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Syracuse Orange at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

image provided by Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Another solid draft pick here. A huge area of need for the Buccaneers. Durham is a bigger tight end, different than what Tampa has now. He’s a dual threat for the team, as a blocker and as a pass catcher. Very difficult to bring down and has a nose for the end zone. They can throw 50/50 balls to him and he’ll come down with a lot of them. Excellent value with this pick.

Grade: A+

Round 6 (Pick 181) DB Josh Hayes Kansas State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Missouri at Kansas State

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The nephew of the late Gerald Hayes (former Buccaneer). Hayes has the opportunity to start immediately in the slot of Tampa’s nickel and/or dime packages. He has experience playing safety, but may not be big enough at this time to fill that role. I expect Hayes to contribute on special teams as he continues to develop his overall game. Solid pick here for a position of need, and good value in the 6th round. 

Graded Pick: A-

Round 6 (Pick 191) WR Trey Palmer Nebraska

Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Trey Palmer #3 FB vs Iowa

image courtesy of Scott Bruhn / Nebraska Communications

A bit of luxury pick here, Palmer is extremely raw and needs time to hone his craft in the league. The Buccaneers have a strong receiving corps, so I don’t think this is the worst situation for him. With that said, running back and quarterback still have not been addressed in this draft. This just felt like an unnecessary reach at this point when there are other options on the board.

Graded Pick: D+

Round 6 (Pick 196) OLB Jose Ramirez Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan defensive lineman Jose Ramirez

image courtesy of AP Photo / Al Goldis

The Buccaneers close out their draft with another project at EDGE rusher. Unlike Diaby, Ramirez would project as a pass rushing specialist in Tampa’s defense. However, given the presence of Shaq Barrett, Joe Tryon, YaYa Diaby, and Anthony Nelson, Ramirez is going to have to earn every second of playing time. Again, the Buccaneers pass up on adding a quarterback and running back here.

Graded Pick: C

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