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Bucs trade their first-round pick to the Jaguars

Tampa Bay now owns the first pick of the second, fourth and sixth rounds.
Turns out Day 1 of the draft was pretty uneventful for the Bucs. But thanks to a trade, they now own the Jaguars’ first pick in the second (33), fourth (106) and sixth rounds (180).
Turns out Day 1 of the draft was pretty uneventful for the Bucs. But thanks to a trade, they now own the Jaguars’ first pick in the second (33), fourth (106) and sixth rounds (180). [ STEVE LUCIANO | AP ]
Published Apr. 29|Updated Apr. 29

TAMPA — As draft parties go, it was all pomp and no circumstance.

The Bucs held a gathering at Raymond James Stadium, then sent fans home unfulfilled Thursday night after trading their first-round pick, 27th overall, to Jacksonville for the Jaguars’ first pick in the second (33), fourth (106) and sixth rounds (180).

The Jaguars used the Bucs’ selection to take Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht had hinted that there might not be 30 players with a first-round grade. Turns out, he didn’t think 27 reached that standard.

“There may not be 30 guys that you think are legit first-round picks,” Licht said in his pre-draft news conference last week. “But there’s going to be a lot of good players in the middle rounds.”

Apparently, the Bucs preferred to collect more draft capital. They have the luxury of sleeping on the decision overnight and fielding more offers from other teams. Tampa Bay now has picks Nos. 33, 60, 91, 106, 133, 180, 248 and 261.

Among the highest-rated remaining players for the Bucs at No. 33 include Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth and Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean.

But only one quarterback was taken in the first round, when Pitt’s Kenny Pickett was selected by the Steelers. With Liberty quarterback Malik Willis and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder still available, the Bucs’ first pick of the second round could produce several overnight offers.

The Bucs argued that the value of the draft was its quantity, not necessarily its overall quality of players worthy of a first-round pick.

Both of the top offensive guards were gone long before the Bucs were slated to choose. Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green went 15th to the Texans. Boston College’s Zion Johnson went two picks later to the Chargers.

Three picks away, the Bucs had Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson, Georgia defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt, Lloyd and safeties Daxton Hill of Michigan and Georgia’s Lewis Cine still available.

Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum went to the Ravens at No. 25. But the Jets traded with the Titans and took Johnson one pick ahead of the Bucs. It was the Jets’ third selection in the first round.

The Bucs have a clear need at defensive tackle, having yet to re-sign 35-year-old Ndamukong Suh. That still could happen, but he has averaged $9 million per season each of the past three years.

Instead, Wyatt went No. 28 to the Packers.

Rounding out the first round, the Patriots took Tennessee-Chattanooga guard Cole Strange at No. 29, Iowa defensive end George Karlaftis went to the Chiefs at 30 and Hill went to the AFC champion Bengals at 31 before the Vikings wrapped up the first night of the draft round by selecting Cine.

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With his background as defensive coordinator, it figures coach Todd Bowles might still address that side of the football in his first draft as Bucs head coach.

But the Bucs need to buttress the tight end position, whether Rob Gronkowski decides to play in 2022 or not. While preparing for his draft beach party in Las Vegas, Gronkowski on Thursday told NFL insider Jordan Schultz he was undecided about playing.

“As of (Thursday), I haven’t made a decision yet on my football future,” Gronkowski said. “Just focused on my footwork skills for Gronk Beach LV. (Las Vegas)”

Only two tight ends remain on the Bucs’ roster: Cameron Brate and Codey McElroy, who has one NFL career catch.

Colorado State tight end Trey McBride, considered the best player at his position in the draft, did not hear his name called Thursday.

If the Bucs want to fortify the receiver position, former Plant and North Dakota State star Christian Watson still is available.

Running backs also are likely to go in the second round, beginning with Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker. The Bucs re-signed running back Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard but have room for more.

It was an unfulfilled first day of the draft for the Bucs, for sure. But they had plenty of choices to consider before they went to sleep.

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