The Buccaneers won’t address all of their needs in free agency, so our Sound-Smarter-Than-Your-Friends Guide to the offseason concludes with a look at top draft prospects.
What are the Bucs’ options in the first round?
There are four quarterback-needy teams in front of the Bucs (Browns, Giants, Broncos and Jets), which means, at No. 7, they’re in good position to get the top player on their board.
They’re in good position to trade down as well. The Bengals (No. 12), Washington (No. 13) and the Cardinals (No. 15) might be looking for a quarterback. If Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson are still available, will one of those teams want to leapfrog the others? Last year, the Chiefs gave up a third-round pick and a 2018 first-round pick to move up 17 spots and take Patrick Mahomes. The Texans gave up a 2018 first-round pick to move up 13 spots and take Deshaun Watson.
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Chubb is the consensus top-ranked pass rusher. He had the third-most sacks (25) over the past three seasons and most tackles for loss (54.5). … As a redshirt sophomore, Ferrell recorded 9.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He was dominant over the second half of the season. He’s more likely to fall to the bottom half of the first round. … Key has the size scouts drool over (6 feet 6 inches, 265 pounds), but his draft stock could suffer because of off-the-field and health questions. Shoulder and knee injuries limited him to eight games this season.
Brown didn’t allow a pressure in eight games this season and allowed more than one just once. … The Bucs need linemen who can move defenders in the run game. McGlinchey, Nelson and Williams are among the best run blockers in this draft class.
Fitzpatrick is the player Bucs fans should watch in Monday night’s championship game. Quarterbacks earned a 37.8 rating when targeting receivers in his coverage. If every pass a quarterback throws falls incomplete, he earns a 39.6 rating. … Jackson’s seven interceptions led the nation. His 18 passes defensed were third most. … Every draft has one — a player that Florida State message boarders insist the Bucs would be foolish not to take. James is this year’s version. … One of the fastest players in this class, Ward will be tough to beat deep. Quarterbacks earned a 26.8 rating when challenging him 20 or more yards down the field.
Running backs: Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Because the Bucs are in need of run blockers, Barkley feels like a luxury they can’t afford, even at No. 7. If they had a line like the Cowboys’, it’d be easier to justify taking the Penn Stater. He’s the explosive three-down back they need. He gained at least 15 yards on 10 percent of his runs.
Kickers: Just kidding.
Statistics in this report are from Pro Football Focus. Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected]. Follow @tometrics.
Other installments of the Sound-Smarter-Than-Your-Friends Guide to the Buccaneers’ Offseason: