Lower than two weeks till the 2022 NFL Draft, and all is quiet on the Bucs entrance. Tight finish Rob Gronkowski and defensive sort out Ndamukong Suh stay unsigned. At this level, there may be little purpose to consider that may change earlier than the draft. The Bucs don’t have many holes, however proper now there are open beginning spots at tight finish, left guard, sturdy security and defensive sort out in base fronts. That’s 4 extra open competitions than the Bucs had in final 12 months’s coaching camp.
At present the Bucs have simply six draft picks to fill roster holes. Two of these picks are late seventh-rounders, with little or no likelihood of creating the ultimate roster. The group may commerce again in some unspecified time in the future within the first three rounds, including picks. However they’ll want a commerce associate who needs to maneuver up. That may very well be tough to seek out on this draft.
Listed here are the Bucs’ wants so as from best to least significance 10 days from the draft.
1. Defensive Deal with
Proper now, the Bucs have Vita Vea, Will Gholston, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Pat O’Connor underneath contract. No person else on their roster tasks to an actual position in 2022. Sure, Ndamukong Suh and Steve McLendon each need to come again. If the Bucs re-sign the aged duo, they’ll return the identical inside defensive position that that they had a 12 months in the past. That’s positive, but it surely received’t assist their middling inside move rush this season.
Tampa Bay actually needs to land a move rusher who can play inside on this 12 months’s draft. However will the chance current itself for them? It’s a skinny class at defensive sort out, particularly for non-run stuffer varieties. Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt and Houston’s Logan Corridor are the 2 probably defensive tackles for the Bucs within the first three rounds.
2. Tight Finish
I nonetheless assume it’s seemingly that Rob Gronkowski re-signs with the Bucs for yet one more 12 months. However Tampa Bay can’t depend on that, which implies they’ll draft a good finish early subsequent week. Even when Gronkowski returns, this can be a main want for the Bucs. No tight finish of the long run exists on their roster. Cam Brate is the one tight finish underneath contract for this season and subsequent. And he’s coming off the worst season of his profession and turns 31 in July. So I totally anticipate to see Trey McBride, Cade Otton, Jeremy Ruckert or Jelani Woods in Tampa Bay by the top of the draft.
Some wouldn’t name this an enormous want, however hear me out. The Bucs have already mentioned Logan Ryan received’t exchange Jordan Whitehead. To me, which means Ryan will seemingly play within the slot and maybe at security in late sport conditions. So the place does Mike Edwards consider? Is he going to be the No. 3 security nonetheless? Edwards doesn’t profile as a powerful security in Todd Bowles’ system in any respect. Does placing all of the chips within the Keanu Neal basket make sense?
I like Neal, however he’s handled accidents prior to now and is taking part in on a one-year deal for reasonable. It is sensible that the Bucs would nonetheless think about the protection place early within the draft, particularly in the event that they really feel a beginning caliber participant is there. Georgia’s Lewis Cine can be an excellent match at No. 27. However later within the draft, Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker may make sense, too.
4. Inside Offensive Line
Technically, the Bucs have a gap of their beginning lineup at left guard. That makes it a necessity, even when we really feel just like the competitors for the job is more likely to come right down to Aaron Stinnie or Robert Hainsey. Between these two, Nick Leverett and Sadarius Hutcherson, the Bucs have 4 gamers they like as choices to switch Ali Marpet.
But when they love a guard on the board at No. 27, it is likely to be arduous for Tampa Bay to say no. If they’ll get their prime guard within the draft, that’s a uncommon (and reasonably priced) likelihood to construct an offensive line with no query marks for a Tremendous Bowl run (and past). The Bucs may really feel like they’ll’t move up on that chance. Tampa Bay may additionally take a guard later within the draft, together with Memphis’ Dylan Parham, Chattanooga’s Cole Unusual or UCLA’s Sean Rhyan.
It appears like most Bucs followers would like to see the group handle cornerback early within the draft. Nonetheless, many of the gamers they’ve met with on the place are extra day 2-3 targets. Technically, the Bucs have higher depth at cornerback already, with Logan Ryan capable of step into the slot. Such a transfer would put Sean Murphy-Bunting as the first backup in any respect three cornerback spots. And Ross Cockrell and Dee Delaney would spherical out the group.
However Jamel Dean, Murphy-Bunting, Ryan, Cockrell and Delaney are all within the closing 12 months of their contracts. The Bucs seemingly received’t let all of them depart in 2023, however they do want extra expertise to develop for future beginning roles. Sadly, I do not know the place the group drafts a cornerback on this class. They may draft one in Spherical 1, or by no means. That is the wild card place coming into the draft.
Whereas I by no means anticipated the Bucs to aggressively pursue a prime linebacker on this 12 months’s class, I’m a bit shocked they’ve proven principally little interest in the whole class. We all know 15 of the Prime 30 pre-draft visits the Bucs have hosted, and none have been with linebackers. Additionally, we don’t know of any formal interviews the group had with linebackers on the NFL Scouting Mix.
If the Bucs like every of those off-ball linebackers in a deep class, they aren’t exhibiting it. In the meantime, GM Jason Licht has praised Okay.J. Britt and Grant Stuard’s growth final season. With veteran Kevin Minter unsigned, may the Bucs actually be able to experience with Britt and Stuard behind Devin White and Lavonte David? The latter is in a contract 12 months, though the getting old course of is extra of a priority than his present deal. David will flip 33 subsequent January. Not many linebackers keep away from decline at that age. When do the Bucs begin enthusiastic about life after David?
7. Outdoors Linebacker
The Bucs outdoors linebacker duo of the current and future is Shaq Barrett and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. In the meantime, Anthony Nelson confirmed wonderful development off the bench, and Cam Gill may very well be blossoming into an excellent situational rusher. Nonetheless, the Bucs might not really feel deep sufficient at this place simply but. However will they need to get youthful via the draft? Or wait to signal a veteran edge rusher earlier than coaching camp?
With so many veterans trying to go ring-chasing, the Bucs may in all probability add a rotational rusher for reasonable in July. Trey Flowers, Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, Jerry Hughes and, in fact, Jason Pierre-Paul, all stay unsigned. Which may be the extra seemingly route for the Bucs to take slightly than bringing in one other rookie move rusher.
8. Extensive Receiver
I believe there are a couple of ‘Greatest Participant Out there’ wideouts the Bucs would think about drafting in Spherical 1. But when the group passes on receiver there, they could depart the place alone completely. In spite of everything, the Bucs have a transparent prime three receivers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage. No person they draft is more likely to play over that trio. Additionally, Breshad Perriman was re-signed. And the group is hopeful Jaelon Darden, final 12 months’s fourth-rounder, can contribute this 12 months.
But when Tampa Bay does draft a wideout, that would spell the top for Tyler Johnson and/or Scotty Miller in crimson and pewter. Early within the draft, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks and Ohio State’s Chris Olave are names to know. Later within the draft, North Dakota State’s Christian Watson, Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce and Southern Methodist’s Danny Grey may very well be targets.
9. Offensive Deal with
The Bucs are 4 deep at offensive sort out with Tristan Wirfs, Donovan Smith, Josh Wells and Fred Johnson. If the Bucs draft a sort out, it will likely be to maneuver the participant inside to protect.
10. Working Again
The Bucs are three deep at working again, and there’s no clear path to taking part in time for anybody they might draft. Leonard Fournette is on a multi-year contract and proved he was an each down again final 12 months. Giovani Bernard was re-signed to be one other long- and late-downs choice within the passing sport. And Ke’Shawn Vaughn appears to be like to step into Ronald Jones’ position from a 12 months in the past.
Regardless of that, the Bucs appear decided to draft one other working again within the first 4 rounds. They’ve met with virtually each again within the draft in some capability. However the Bucs solely have 4 actual picks (not counting these late seventh rounders) within the 2022 draft. It will be good to disregard fourth-string working again so as to add extra necessary depth items elsewhere on the roster.
The Bucs have a full quarterback room. Tampa Bay is extremely unlikely to pick out a quarterback subsequent week.