The Bucs are in the midst of a rebuild and nailing the NFL Draft will be crucial to the team’s future.
With the NFL Draft just under three months away, a rebuilding franchise like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might consider it to be the most important part of the offseason. There’s no question that Tampa’s top priority this offseason is going to be bringing a handful of defensive players in to improve what was a disappointing unit in 2018.
However, there are also needs on the offensive side of the ball at running back, offensive tackle, and a second wide receiver should DeSean Jackson leave.
The Bucs don’t have too much cap space heading into 2019. In fact, they have the fourth-least to spend in the NFL this summer. Consequently, the draft is likely how the Bucs will be continuing their rebuild this offseason.
Here’s a full seven-round mock draft for the Bucs where they can find fits for many of their biggest needs.
Round 1: CB Greedy Williams, LSU
The Bucs biggest weakness heading into 2019 is the secondary. The Bucs finished 26th in the NFL in passing yards allowed in 2018. Heading into 2019 the Bucs don’t have much of any secondary depth and could be looking at a worse pass defense if they don’t get secondary help.
Drafting the best corner in the draft makes all the sense in the world. Greedy Williams out of LSU is extremely long at 6’3 and is a ball hawk. In his two college seasons, Williams defended 20 passes and made eight interceptions.
The Bucs need to add a dynamic corner that receivers will fear. Williams can be that guy.
Round 2: OT David Edwards, Wisconsin
The Bucs offensive line is in decent shape but, they need to add a reliable offensive tackle to improve their pass protection.
The 6’7 315 pound David Edwards out of Wisconsin is a perfect fit for the Bucs. By waiting to take Edwards in the second round, the Bucs can lock up Greddy Williams and improve their defense while still getting a solid pass protector and run blocker to sure up the offensive line in the second round.
Williams would bring size and strength to an already solid offensive line.
Round 3: S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
The position with perhaps the least depth on the Bucs roster is safety. The Bucs have almost no experience on their current roster, and the one experienced player they had at the position in Chris Conte will be a free agent.
With the Bucs likely to add one safety in free agency they can wait until a little later in the draft to select one. When they do Chauncey Gardner-Johnson out of Florida would be a wise selection.
Johnson would get the chance to stay in the sunshine state while bringing his four interceptions and 71 total tackles from 2018 to the NFL and the Bucs in 2019. He has excellent size at 6’0 and would provide Tampa with some depth at a position they need to fill desperately.
Round 4: OLB/DE Ben Banogu, TCU
The Bucs have Jason Pierre-Paul who’s coming off an excellent season to fill one of their pass rushing spots; however, they need to add another who can rush the passer with either a hand in the ground.
Ben Banogu out of TCU fits the bill. The 6-foot-4 pass rusher got to the quarterback for 8.5 sacks in 2018. He also proved himself as a game wrecker as in his three college seasons he forced seven fumbles.
Banogu brings more balance to a Bucs defense that is looking to load up on talent this off-season.
Round 5: QB Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
A big reason why Bruce Arians was hired to be the head coach of the Buccaneers was due him believing he could turn Jameis Winston around.
Winston’s going to be the Bucs starter in 2018 but, with Ryan Fitzpatrick set to hit the free agent market drafting a quarterback in the later rounds makes sense for the Bucs.
Jarrett Stidham out of Auburn is a low-risk high reward selection. Stidham has a cannon for an arm which is perfect in the Bucs offense loaded with talented receivers who can catch any pass thrown close to them. Stidham would provide the Bucs with depth and a possible future franchise quarterback if Winston fails and Stidham can seize an opportunity.
Round 6: RB Dexter Williams, Notre Dame
The Bucs final pick of the 2019 NFL Draft should be spent to improve their running game.
Peyton Barber did not prove to be a three-down running back in 2018, and Ronald Jones II struggled in his rookie season. By drafting Dexter Williams out of Notre Dame, the Bucs would improve the depth at the position significantly.
In 2018 Williams was a major contributor to a perfect regular season for the Fighting Irish averaging over six yards-per-carry and finishing the season with 995 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. In addition, Williams added 133 receiving yards. Williams brings an all-around talented back who can develop into a future starter one day.