The Bucs fell wanting one other Tremendous Bowl, dropping to the Rams within the NFC Divisional playoffs, 30-27. Now it’s time for Tampa Bay to reload with new personnel on either side of the ball.
The Bucs have 24 unrestricted free brokers this yr, together with 10 starters. What occurs in free company will dictate numerous what occurs with Tampa Bay’s draft plans – along with what occurs with beginning quarterback Tom Brady. There have been stories Brady is retiring after 22 years within the NFL, and Pewter Report believes that may occur this offseason.
Nonetheless, it’s time for Pewter Report’s first of 5 2022 Bucs 7-Spherical Mock Drafts. Tampa Bay can have the twenty seventh total choose within the 2022 NFL Draft because of the crew’s 13-4 end.
With the East-West Shrine Bowl and the Senior Bowl on deck, Tampa Bay normal supervisor Jason Licht, head coach Bruce Arians, director of school scouting Mike Biehl and vp of participant personnel John Spytek are arduous at work on the Bucs’ 2022 draft prep. The Bucs are armed with picks in each spherical besides the sixth because of a earlier commerce with the Eagles.
Let’s check out Tampa Bay’s personnel wants following the season, and who the Bucs choose in Pewter Report’s first 2022 Bucs 7-Spherical Mock Draft of the yr – offered by Edmonson Electrical • AC • Safety.
BUCS PERSONNEL NEEDS
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE
Tampa Bay solely has two skilled defensive linemen below contract in 2022 – Vita Vea and Rakeem Nunez-Roches. Observe squaders Benning Potoa’e, Willington Previlon and Kobe Smith had been re-signed and can go to camp, however will not be locks to make the crew. Will 35-year outdated Ndamukong Suh and 36-year outdated Steve McLendon retire? Will 30-year outdated Will Gholston be re-signed? This yr’s defensive position draft class actually lacks high quality and amount. There is probably not a defensive deal with taken till the second spherical this yr. So the Bucs could be higher off addressing the defensive position in free company. Getting Gholston again appears doubtless, and re-signing Suh for yet one more season can be a significant coup.
The Bucs had three offensive linemen make the Professional Bowl this yr. A type of Professional Bowlers, heart Ryan Jensen, will likely be a free agent in 2022 together with proper guard Alex Cappa. Tampa Bay doubtless can’t afford to deliver each again. Re-signing Jensen makes essentially the most sense, as he’s the chief up entrance and the higher participant. If the Bucs hope to get Tom Brady to stay round for one more season, having his beginning heart again is smart. Robert Hainsey, the crew’s fourth-round choose in 2021, is the eventual starter, however he won’t be prepared but. Changing a guard like Cappa can be simpler. The Bucs might re-sign Aaron Stinnie as a less expensive possibility. The crew has in-house choices in Nick Leverett, Sadarius Hutcherson and John Molchon. This yr’s draft is filled with high quality guards and tackles that may very well be transformed to guards.
Chris Godwin is a free agent coming off a torn ACL. It’s a secure guess to imagine he’ll re-sign in Tampa Bay, because the Bucs offense is vast receiver-driven. With Antonio Brown gone, there’s a clear gap on the No. 3 receiver spot. Breshad Perriman is a free agent, and is mostly a No. 4 receiver at finest. The identical may very well be stated of Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller, who’re each below contract in 2022. Cyril Grayson, Jr. can even be again within the combine. This season, Jaelon Darden didn’t do a lot to impress as a rookie receiver. Discovering one other versatile play-making receiver with beginning potential for three-receiver units is a precedence this offseason. It is a good yr to discover a receiver, because it’s stuffed with high quality and amount.
The Bucs will both re-sign Carlton Davis III or use the franchise tag on him. Davis will return together with Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting – each of whom are coming into contract years. Tampa Bay doesn’t want to pick out a cornerback this yr, however it might clever to draft and develop one. The Bucs received’t doubtless have the trio of Davis, Dean and Murphy-Bunting again in 2023. Murphy-Bunting or Dean (or each) might depart. Given the variety of accidents the crew suffered on the cornerback place, drafting one this yr can be clever to have him able to presumably begin in 2023. The cornerback crop appears relatively deep this yr.
Whereas Tampa Bay spent a first-round choose on edge rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka final yr, the Bucs would possibly want one other younger cross rusher that may get to the quarterback. Jason Pierre-Paul is oft-injured, simply turned 33 and can have offseason shoulder surgical procedure. He’s a free agent and his return will not be sure. Shaquil Barrett turns 30 within the fall, and Anthony Nelson is within the closing yr of his contract. The Bucs needed to play a number of video games with out JPP and Barrett on the finish of the season and the Bucs’ cross rush suffered. Drafting Barrett’s eventual substitute early and creating him to pair with JTS down the highway looks like a clever transfer. If the Bucs are going to get one, it must be early. This isn’t a very deep class of edge rushers.
The Bucs solely have Ke’Shawn Vaughn and seldom-used Kenjon Barner below contract in 2022. Regardless of Bruce Arians’ assertion that he generally is a “lead again” Vaughn’s mediocre statistics counsel in any other case. Will Leonard Fournette be re-signed? What about Giovani Bernard? The departure of Ronald Jones II appears inevitable. This yr’s draft class lacks star energy on the place, however there are a few intriguing pass-catching backs on this yr’s class that match Tampa Bay’s system.
Solely Cameron Brate and Codey McElroy, who was on the apply squad, are below contract in 2022, and Brate is about to earn a $6.5 million base wage. Brate will doubtless should take a pay lower if the crew needs him again. Rob Gronkowski’s attainable return is probably going tied as to if Tom Brady sticks round for one more season. O.J. Howard, the Bucs’ first-round choose in 2017, hasn’t been the identical since tearing his Achilles final yr. It appears doubtless that he’ll get a recent begin elsewhere. This yr’s tight finish class appears to be deeper than normal with expertise.
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2022 BUCS 7-ROUND MOCK DRAFT
ROUND 1 – Penn State OLB Arnold Ebiketie
6-3, 256 • Senior
This draft has just a few high quality cross rushers, however not a lot amount. With the true chance that oft-injured 33-year outdated Jason Pierre-Paul might not return in 2022, Tampa Bay might use one other cross rusher within the combine. Shaq Barrett turns 30 within the fall and Anthony Nelson will likely be coming into his contract yr.
Drafting an athletic playmaker like Ebiketie makes loads of sense. And it provides Tampa Bay a future pair of bookend cross rushers in Ebiketie and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, who was the crew’s first-round choose final yr.
Ebiketie, a local of Cameroon, started his profession at Temple the place he recorded six sacks, three compelled fumbles, a fumble restoration and a defensive landing. Then he transferred to Penn State the place he starred for the Nittany Lions. Changing Odafe Oweh and Shaka Toney, who left for the NFL, Ebiketie had a breakout season with 62 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and a pair of compelled fumbles.
Ebiketie is a particularly arduous employee, who performs the run and cross equally nicely. Though he’s nearer in dimension to Barrett, he has the lengthy wingspan of a 6-foot-5 edge rusher. He’s a bodily cross rusher with loads of velocity and juice to get to the quarterback. Ebiketie is on the Senior Bowl making an attempt to enhance his draft standing as a fringe first-to-second-round choose.
EBIKETIE’S TEMPLE CAREER DEFENSIVE STATS
2018: 4 tackles
2019: 12 tackles, 2 TFLs, 2 sacks
2020: 42 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 4 sacks, 3 FFs, FR, TD
EBIKETIE’S PENN STATE CAREER DEFENSIVE STATS
2021: 62 tackles, 18 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, PD, 2 FFs
Ebiketie started his Penn State profession with a bang in a season-opening win at Wisconsin. He had seven tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a blocked kick. Ebiketie additionally got here up massive towards Michigan with seven tackles, two sacks and a compelled fumble.
He completed his faculty profession with 120 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, 5 compelled fumbles, and a fumble restoration for a landing. Ebiketie additionally blocked two kicks at Penn State and may also help on particular groups in Tampa Bay as a rookie identical to Tryon-Shoyinka did.
ROUND 2 – Cincinnati CB Coby Bryant
6-1, 198 • Senior
Jason Licht has drafted 4 cornerbacks within the second spherical since taking on as normal supervisor in 2014. That’s greater than some other place. And after all the accidents at cornerback this yr, Licht is aware of the Bucs can by no means have sufficient expertise on the place. The truth that Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean are coming into a contract yr makes it much more essential to draft and develop a future starter.
Whereas Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner acquired almost all of the headlines at Cincinnati, Bryant was simply pretty much as good. In actual fact, he received the Jim Thorpe Award for the nation’s high defensive again. Bryant notched three interceptions, together with a pick-six, along with breaking apart 11 passes and forcing three fumbles.
At 6-foot-1, 198 kilos, Bryant has the scale and talent to play press-man protection that the Bucs need. He’s a extremely aggressive playmaker that would slot in properly in Tampa Bay’s secondary.
BRYANT’S CINCINNATI CAREER DEFENSIVE STATS
2017: 4 tackles
2018: 33 tackles, 2 INTs, 9 PBUs, FF
2019: 54 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, INT, 8 PBUs
2020: 35 tackles, TFL, 4 INTs, 7 PBUs, FF
2021: 44 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 3 INTs, 11 PBUs, 3 FFs, TD
Bryant has improved in every of his 4 seasons as a starter. Whereas he’s given up three touchdowns in every of the final three seasons, he’s a cross breakup machine with 35 in his profession together with 10 interceptions.
Bryant would doubtless spend his first season taking part in particular groups and studying behind the likes of Dean, Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis III. However he might problem for taking part in time as a rookie given his expertise and playmaking capability.
ROUND 3 – Nevada WR Romeo Doubs
6-2, 215 • Senior
After a pair of defensive picks to begin their 2022 draft, the Bucs flip to the offensive aspect of the ball. With Antonio Brown’s departure and Chris Godwin coming off a torn ACL, the Bucs need assistance on the receiver place. Former draft picks Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller and Jaelon Darden simply haven’t developed to the purpose the place they could be a dependable No. 3 receiver over the course of the season.
Drafting a receiver with dimension that may play each inside and outdoors would assist Tampa Bay immensely. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Doubs has the velocity to make performs downfield from the slot and outdoors the hashes. He’s a bodily receiver that may slip some tackles and has the scale to dam inside to assist Tampa Bay’s floor recreation. Doubs is a clean route runner who could make cuts at full velocity to create separation downfield.
DOUBS’ NEVADA CAREER RECEIVING STATS
2018: 43 rec. for 562 yards (13.1 avg.), 2 TDs
2019: 44 rec. for 649 yards (14.8 avg.), 4 TDs
2020: 58 rec. for 1,002 yards (17.3 avg.), 9 TDs
2021: 80 rec. for 1,109 yards (13.9 avg.), 11 TDs
Doubs has been a gradual producer at Nevada for QB Carson Sturdy with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He’s proven enchancment each season and has sturdy arms to pluck the ball in visitors. Along with his dimension and lengthy arms, Doubs is a pleasant crimson zone weapon.
Doubs also can assist Tampa Bay on particular groups. He averaged 12.5 yards per punt return and scored one landing for the Wolfpack. With the flexibility to stretch groups vertically, play inside and outdoors and assistance on particular groups, Doubs can be fairly a discover within the third spherical for the Bucs.
ROUND 4 – Auburn DB Smoke Monday
6-3, 199 • Senior
Licht loves drafting defensive backs on Day 2. He’s achieved so seven occasions since 2014, together with cornerbacks and safeties. Three of these defensive backs got here from Auburn, so it’s no shock that the Bucs can be considering Monday firstly of Day 3.
The 6-foot-3, 199-pound Monday is a very versatile defender that may play within the slot along with taking part in within the field and taking part in deep. He’s like a taller, lankier model of Antoine Winfield, Jr. and Mike Edwards. Each of these Bucs defensive backs have related versatility.
With Jordan Whitehead slated without spending a dime company and Edwards coming into his contract yr, the Bucs might use extra expertise and high quality depth on the security place. Monday’s versatility helps Tampa Bay’s secondary in quite a few methods.
MONDAY’S AUBURN CAREER DEFENSIVE STATS
2018: 15 tackles, 2 TFLs, 2 sacks, INT
2019: 20 tackles, 2 TFLs, sack, INT, TD
2020: 73 tackles, 4 TFLs, sack, 2 INTs, TD, 3 PBUs, FF
2021: 63 tackles, 9 TFLs, 2 sacks, INT, TD 5 PBUs
Monday has been a big-play machine for the Auburn protection, amassing 171 tackles, eight cross breakups and 5 interceptions in his profession. He additionally has three defensive touchdowns for the Tigers, together with a key pick-six in Auburn’s 48-45 Iron Bowl win over Alabama in 2019. His 100-yard pick-six towards Tennessee was additionally an enormous play in that 30-17 win.
What additionally appeals to Tampa Bay is how nicely Monday performs on the line of scrimmage. Auburn blitzed Monday out of the slot the place he recorded six sacks and a compelled fumble in his profession. He additionally had 17 tackles for loss in his profession, which is a formidable quantity for a defensive again.
ROUND 5 – Arizona State RB Rachaad White
6-2, 210 • Senior
The Bucs are on the lookout for an all-around operating again that may run and catch the ball, and White suits the invoice. At 6-foot-2, 210 kilos, White has an analogous operating type to Leonard Fournette – though not as massive – and Le’Veon Bell. He’s a affected person runner with stable imaginative and prescient and good, however not nice velocity. Nonetheless, White is quick sufficient to speed up by the holes and switch the nook on the subsequent stage when he hits the gasoline.
White confirmed promise within the 4 video games he performed in throughout his first season at Arizona State in a COVID-shortened 2020 marketing campaign. He averaged 10 yards per carry earlier than turning into the workhorse again for the Solar Devils as a senior. In 2021, White ran for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. But he was much more spectacular as a receiver, catching 43 passes for 456 yards and a wholesome 10.6 common.
Previous to transferring to Arizona State, White had a profitable profession at Mt. San Antonio School in 2018-10. He rushed for 1,264 yards as a sophomore, averaging 6.4 yards a carry and scoring 10 touchdowns.
WHITE’S ARIZONA STATE CAREER RUSHING STATS
2020: 42 carries for 420 yards (10 avg.), 5 TDs
2021: 182 carries for 1,000 yards (5.5 avg.), 15 TDs
WHITE’S ARIZONA STATE CAREER RECEIVING STATS
2020: 8 rec. for 158 yards (18.9 avg.), TD
2021: 43 rec. for 456 yards (10.6 avg.), TD
White had 4 100-yard dashing video games at Arizona State, together with back-to-back video games of 202 yards and 184 yards in wins towards USC and Washington, respectively. He totaled 5 dashing TDs in these two video games. White additionally had three video games final yr wherein he ran for 90-plus yards, however didn’t hit 100 yards.
The Bucs want one other operating again that may be an element within the passing recreation, and that’s one among White’s greatest strengths. Whereas he has restricted kick and punt return expertise in faculty, White may also help present competitors in that space on particular groups as a rookie.
ROUND 7 – Virginia TE Jelani Woods
6-7, 275 • Senior
Solely Cameron Brate is below contract for 2022, and he’s not a lock to remain given his wage. There’s a superb likelihood that Rob Gronkowski returns if Brady is again for one more yr in Tampa Bay. However both manner, the Bucs want extra expertise and depth on the tight finish place. It appears doubtless that O.J. Howard departs in free company given his stalled growth and lack of taking part in time.
Woods was an enormous vast receiver at Oklahoma State, who grew into a good finish over time. Now at 6-foot-7, 265 kilos, Woods has the scale to play in-line and in addition to being cut up out vast or lined up within the slot.
WOODS’ OKLAHOMA STATE CAREER RECEIVING STATS
2018: 7 catches for 120 yards (17.1 avg.), 2 TDs
2019: 16 catches for 112 yards (7.0 avg.), TD
2020: 8 catches for 129 yards (16.1 avg.), TD
WOODS’ VIRGINIA CAREER RECEIVING STATS
2021: 44 catches 598 yards (13.6 avg.), 8 TDs
Woods totaled simply 31 catches for 361 yards and 4 touchdowns for the Cowboys earlier than transferring to Virginia. He caught 44 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns. Woods is an enormous goal, who also can use his dimension and physicality to assist Tampa Bay on particular groups.