The NFL draft remains one of sports’ favorite play-along games.
Everybody likes to cast their guesses about what teams need, what players will succeed and what picks will fail.
Of course, we’re no different. The Bucs find themselves pondering a number of possibilities, which may be bad for them but good for those looking to delve into the speculative nature of the talent acquisition. Who is ideal for Tampa Bay and who will they end up with? We convene the Roundtable for answers.
Elite defensive lineman or Devin White
Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer @NFLStroud: The Bucs are moving on from Gerald McCoy. He’s not playing in Tampa Bay because they won’t pay him the $13-million they once promised. So a six-time Pro Bowl player is gone and Vita Vea is left. Vea can play all three DL positions in this defense. But he will need help. The dream pick for the Bucs is Quinnen Williams. Penetrating three technique like McCoy. Disruptive. Motor isn’t always charged on every play but maybe the best player in the draft. For that reason he won’t be there at No. 5. After that, Nick Bosa and Josh Allen have to be the highest value picks. Bosa has some injury concerns. Allen could burst into the scene as a rookie. You don’t get 17 sacks in the SEC easily. Perfect 3-4 rush end who could drop in coverage if needed. So it’s down to this. Would the Bucs take Houston’s Ed Oliver over Devin White? Oliver could go to the Jets at No. 3 if Williams is gone. He’s a three trechnique like McCoy. He dominated but didn’t play in a Power 5 conference. However, White may be the best leader in the draft. Tremendous player. Everyone I’ve talked to in the NFL believes he’s a legit top five player. Only four off the ball inside LBs have gone in the top 10 since 2010. He will be better than Kwon Alexander in a lot of ways. Think Patrick Willis. So it’s one of the elite defensive linemen or White. I don’t know that the Bucs would take Oliver or Montez Sweat over White but if Allen slips to No. 5, he’s their pick. I’m going to say that Allen isn’t there and the Bucs get White.
Can’t lose at No. 5
Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs/pro sports enterprise writer, @EddieintheYard: The Bucs need defensive help, and there are two real defensive gems in this draft, Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, but it’s unlikely either of those players will be there at No. 5. Kentucky’s Josh Allen put up an incredible resume, I’m not sure he will be available there either. But given leadership intangibles that would anoint him the Bucs’ defensive leader of the future, LSU’s Devin White would make a nice consolation prize. Tampa Bay should be excited about landing an all-around talent like White.
Licht sets sight on White’s might
Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter, @tometrics: The ideal pick for the Bucs would be Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. He’s the most dominant player in this draft. His 24 combined sacks and quarterback hits last season was tied for the most in the nation among interior defensive linemen. If he were to fall to Tampa Bay, it would make the imminent departure of Gerald McCoy easier to stomach. I doubt that happens, though, and my hunch is that the Bucs take LSU linebacker Devin White. No. 5 is early for an inside linebacker, but defensive coordinator Todd Bowles could use a playmaker who can not only cover from sideline to sideline but also shoot through gaps on blitzes. Here’s another scenario: Say Kyler Murray’s still on the board when it’s Tampa Bay’s turn to pick. You’d figure general manager Jason Licht’s phone would be ringing off the hook with teams looking to trade up.
Edge rusher or bust
Martin Fennelly, columnist @mjfennelly: Josh Allen would be ideal as an edge-rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. If he is not there, trade back. The difference between picking No. 5 and No. 15 isn’t that great with this wealth of D linemen. If Allen is gone, likewise Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams, make a deal and pick up an extra second-round pick. Allen or trade back as far as I’m concerned. And this just in: None of it matters if Jameis Winston is a bust.
Ernest Hooper, columnist/assistant sports editor, @hoop4you: Devin White is the ideal pick for the Bucs and the player everyone thinks Tampa Bay will choose. However, I suspect he’ll go in the top 4. That’ll likely leave the Bucs going defensive line and the choice should be Kentucky’s Josh Allen over Houston’s Ed Oliver and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat. Of course, if White is off the board, there’s every chance the Bucs will trade back. I have this funny feeling they’ll pick Sweat and sweat out his potential heart problems.
Someone who can stand the heat
Mike Sherman, sports editor, @mikesherman: Quinnen Williams is the ideal Gerald McCoy replacement. I actually love the fact that he only started one season at Alabama -- less wear and tear -- and he’ll play this season as a 21 year old. The most likely pick, however, is LSU’s Devin White, who looks like a playmaker and leader. Added bonus: Neither of these guys will wilt in the Tampa Bay heat.