With the Bucs set to sign future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, Tampa Bay is addressing its biggest offseason question: quarterback.
So how does one of the biggest acquisitions in NFL history affect the Bucs’ needs in next month’s draft?
Even before the Brady agreement, offensive tackle was one of the Bucs’ top draft priorities. Adding a less than mobile quarterback who turns 43 in August only reinforces that need; the Bucs need someone new to help keep Brady upright.
Most analysts think the draft, still scheduled for April 23-25, has four elite offensive tackle prospects: Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs and Louisville’s Mekhi Becton. All are among the draft’s top 17 overall prospects, according to NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah.
But how many of them — if any — will be available when the Bucs pick at No. 14? The Giants (fourth pick), Cardinals (eighth) and Browns (10th) could use an offensive tackle, too.
It’s also possible the Bucs could fortify their defensive front in the first round with someone like South Carolina lineman Javon Kinlaw or LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson. In that case, Tampa Bay could still pick up an offensive tackle on Day 2. Names you’ll hear would include Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson and Ben Bartch out of Division III Saint John’s (Minnesota). It wouldn’t be the first time the Bucs plucked a promising offensive lineman from the lower levels of the NCAA.
Brady’s impending addition stresses the Bucs’ need to help him by bolstering a run game that ranked in the league’s bottom six last year in average yards per rush. Given how mid- or late-round running backs have had success in the league, it’s hard to see Tampa Bay drafting one in the first round. Instead, it seems more likely for the Bucs to pick one up on Day 2 or 3.
If that’s the case, keep an eye on Florida State’s Cam Akers. Brady likes to throw to running backs, and Akers is a good receiver out of the backfield. That also describes LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire, if he’s available in the middle of the second round (pick No. 45).
Though the Bucs have their quarterback of the present, they still need a quarterback of the future; Brady won’t be playing into his 50s (we think). It’s possible, then, that Tampa Bay could draft a promising quarterback on Day 2 or 3 to back up and learn from Brady. Potential matches would include Washington’s Jacob Eason and Georgia’s Jake Fromm, who supplanted Eason as the Bulldogs’ starter. Former Oklahoma and Alabama standout Jalen Hurts would be another interesting option, even if his skill set is very different from Brady’s.
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Regardless, Brady’s addition fills one void on the Bucs’ roster and reinforces other needs Tampa Bay should address in the draft.