Ethan Hewett | March 11th, 2020
Tampa Bay had a season that most probably expected. It wasn’t great, but it also didn’t send fans running back for refunds every week. They finished 7-9 on the year, mostly thanks to strong run defense and offensive weapons that made their quarterback look alright. However, offensive line play was pretty bad, and the run offense was pedestrian. The Bucs come into the draft having only seven picks this year, and these positions should be big target areas for Tampa Bay to address.
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To help with this draft, I used the Fanspeak Mock Draft Simulator.
Round 1, Pick 14: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Shaquil Barrett is up for free agency this offseason, along with Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, Beau Allen, and Carl Nassib. While the Bucs could get after the quarterback last year, the only player that is nearly guaranteed to come back right now is Barrett. This leaves a big hole that Chaisson could fill very well in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 defensive scheme. The Bucs went after fellow LSU Tiger Devin White last year, and they could dip back into the same program here with Chaisson. Chaisson only had 9.5 sacks in his career, but he was also tasked plenty of times with dropping back into coverage for LSU.
A quarterback could also be a move here for the Bucs, but at this spot, there really isn’t a passer worth taking. Unless this team wants to trade up for a top-tier quarterback, they will most likely have to wait to go after a quarterback or address the position in free agency. Which is something head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Jason Licht need to take into consideration.
Round 2, Pick 45: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Running backs Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber have failed to show me that they can handle the workload of feature backs in this Tampa Bay offense. The Bucs again found themselves in the bottom third of the league in rushing yards and yards per carry. This is why I think the Bucs could go after a top-3 running back in this draft class. I couldn’t pass up on Taylor here in the second round. Taylor put up monster numbers in his three years as a starter at Wisconsin, finishing in the top 10 in Heisman voting all three years.
Taylor wouldn’t just be the thunder to Jones’ lighting; he could be the entire storm. Taylor looks for and embraces contact like any power back, but he also has the long speed, elusiveness, and pass-catching abilities of a number one back. The only concerns for Taylor are the worries of the mileage he already has on his legs, but he was too good to pass up on and would be an excellent weapon for the Bucs offense.
Round 3, Pick 76: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
In what has become a stacked cornerback class, Dantzler might be slipping under some people’s radars and slid to the third round here for the Bucs to pick up. While the position isn’t a massive need with Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis, Dantzler shows a lot of potentials. He is physical at the line of scrimmage forcing receivers off their tracks and is like glue to receivers thanks to his high football IQ in recognizing routes. He has excellent length but will want to bulk up and fill out his frame a little bit to become a truly dominant corner in the NFL.
Round 4, Pick 114: Leki Fotu, DL, Utah
It has been mentioned that the Bucs might lose a lot of their front seven this offseason, specifically on the defensive line. Adding a player like Fotu here would be ideal in that he has incredible size and power and can reset the line of scrimmage in the backfield. His build is what you like to see with a thick and sturdy lower body who is sharp with his hands inside the offensive guard’s frame. Fotu would serve as a solid nose tackle or defensive end alongside Vita Vea.
Round 4, Pick 139: Saahdiq Charles, OT, LSU
The Bucs need to find an answer at the tackle position. There are a few options potentially in free agency now with Trent Williams being allowed to seek out a trade, but adding depth or a potential starter in the draft should be a high priority. They missed out on all of the top tier guys, but Charles would serve as a technically sound option for the Bucs. What he makes up for in technique, he lacks functional strength and size. While he is quick and light on his feet, Charles will want to add on some weight to see success at the NFL level. He is a high ceiling, lower floor prospect.
Round 5, Pick 161: Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii
Some may question why waiting until now to address the quarterback position with Jameis Winston clearly not cutting it, and Arians has already stated that he would be willing to move on to a different guy. However, the value never seemed quite right until now. McDonald is a strong-armed, Arians style of quarterback who isn’t afraid to push the ball down the field and usually does so pretty well. However, he relies a lot on the timing of his throws. So when that timing is off, it’s way off. McDonald needs to improve on this and also not lead his receivers into danger.
Round 6, Pick 194: Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin
Tampa Bay has a solid duo of receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. But adding a third player to really spread out defenses and provide a lot of weapons for whoever might be the quarterback next year, would be a smart move. Cephus is one of the most underrated receivers in this class, and while he had off the field issues in 2018, forcing him to miss the season, he had a strong comeback season in 2019, showing off his toughness with his hands, effective releases, and strong football IQ.
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