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LSU linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson is Bucs first pick in Mel Kiper’s mock draft

The ESPN draft expert believes defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will begin to rebuild the front seven.
LSU linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson walks on the field during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Austin, Texas. [ERIC GAY | AP]

TAMPA ― The Bucs need to continue building their defense and pass rushers always come at a premium.

It’s not a surprise that LSU outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson is the Bucs No. 14 overall pick in the first mock draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper.

The Bucs must begin to rebuild their front seven, particularly since linebackers Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib are unrestricted free agents. So is defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Chaisson would join former LSU teammate Devin White, last year’s fifth-overall pick.

Related: Start your Bucs quarterback speculation as Drew Brees returns to Saints

Kiper reasons that the Bucs would obviously have a big interest in South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, but it’s unlikely he will last until the middle of the first round.

“He’s a dynamic talent who can wreak havoc in the backfield,’’ Kiper said of Kinlaw.

Chaisson, at 6-foot-4, 250-pounds, brings speed off the edge. He recorded 6.5 of his 9.5 career sacks last season and finished with 19 tackles for a loss.

“I mentioned in my Mock Draft 1.0 the Bucs’ possible departures along the defensive line — Ndamukong Suh, Carl Nassib, Jason Pierre-Paul and Beau Allen are all free agents — and Chaisson would be a perfect fit as an outside linebacker in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 defense,’’ Kiper said. “Chaisson had just 9.5 sacks in his college career, but this is a bet on a terrific upside for a twitchy pass-rusher who should test well at the combine later this month. After taking Devin White in the first round last year, Tampa can go back to the LSU well here with Chaisson.’’

A lot may depend on the Bucs’ ability to retain Barrett, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks. Arians has said re-signing Pierre-Paul and Suh also is a priority. As the 49ers have proven, you can never have too many pass rushers.