The Buccaneers will be picking last in the first round come end of April thanks to being the No. 1 team in the league following the 2020 season. Between now and then, however, who the Bucs end up retaining from the 2020 roster will definitely impact at which positions the Bucs are most needy and therefore who the pundits will be picking for them. For instance, players like defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and outside linebacker Shaq Barrett are both free agents and those seem to be the most popular positions pundits are picking for the Bucs in the first round.
This will be an ever-evolving process, especially when Free Agency opens middle of next month. For now, nearly everyone, save for Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports and PFF's Austin Gayle have the Bucs picking a defensive player. See below for a full list.
- Pick: LB Nick Bolton, Missouri
- Comments: "There are three good options at linebacker between Bolton, Tulsa's Zaven Collins and LSU's Jabril Cox. If the Bucs lose Lavonte David in free agency, I think Bolton would be a great replacement."
- Pick, Round 1: EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington
- Comments: "Tryon's a big-bodied edge rusher who can also move well in space for his size. The Bucs need youth in the front seven, especially if pending free agent Shaq Barrett finds a new address."
- Pick, Round 2: DT Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
- Pick, Round 3: LB Derrick Barnes, Purdue
- Pick: EDGE Jaelen Phillips, Miami
- Comments: A long-limbed edge rusher with exciting athletic talent and size, Phillips would help bolster a Bucs pass rush that could lose Shaq Barrett and Ndamukong Suh to free agency. Due to a lengthy injury history, his medical reports will garner plenty of attention.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN (February 7)
- Pick: EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington
- Comments: "Like the Saints, Tampa Bay has a few priority free agents on the defensive side of the ball, including Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh and Lavonte David. Unlike the Saints, though, the Bucs have the cap space to bring them back if they want to. After general manager Jason Licht filled holes with his top two picks in last April's draft -- Tristan Wirfs and Antoine Winfield Jr. were instant impact players -- he can do that again with Tryon, who had eight sacks in 2019 but opted out of this past season. With Jason Pierre-Paul now 32, Tampa could use edge rushers. That's 6-5 Tryon. Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon is another option -- he could replace Suh."
Todd McShay, ESPN (February 9)
- Pick: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama
- Comments: "Super Bowl champions don't typically come with flaws, and this Bucs team is indeed a complete roster. Or at least it was. Free-agency concerns loom for most of the dominant defensive front seven that kept the Chiefs' high-octane offense scoreless on Sunday. Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, Ndamukong Suh, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon headline the guys without a deal at the moment, and Tampa Bay won't be able to bring them all back.
- But luckily Barmore is still on the board as Day 1 gets ready to close down shop, and he provides the Buccaneers with versatility along the line, a developing pass-rush skill set and power run-stopping. The champs could also seek a wide receiver to fill the void left by Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown if either or both leave this offseason."
The Draft Network
- Pick: DL Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
- Comments: "Tampa Bay has six significant free agents—one of which is Ndamukong Suh. They obviously cannot re-sign all of them and Suh appears most likely to be the odd man out, so they draft his replacement in Nixon. Nixon can play the 3-tech or the 1 for Todd Bowles."
Brentley Weissman, The Draft Network (February 18)
- Pick: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama
- Comments: "The Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers are a tough team to pick for. Ideally, when you draft a first-round player you'd want them to be able to start and contribute immediately. This roster is so talented that I struggle to see where a rookie could start and have an impact. That's a good problem to have, of course. If there was a position I could see a rookie coming in and contributing it would be at defensive tackle, as the team could be losing Ndamukong Suh to free agency. Still an ascending player, Barmore has tons of upside as an interior penetrator. He would be a great alongside Vita Vea."
Kyle Crabbs – The Draft Network (February 9)
- Pick: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama
- Comments: "The Buccaneers aren't likely to retain Ndamukong Suh amid all of their other free agent departures. They'll still be in a "win-now" window, so any player who can plug holes and keep this roster complete deserves consideration. Christian Barmore's size gives him an edge a slight edge to play inside on this Tampa front over Washington IDL Levi Onwuzurike."
Pro Football Focus
- Pick(s): Round 1 – EDGE Julian Phillips, Miami; Round 2 – DL Marvin Wilson, Florida State
- Comments: Phillips] “If Tampa Bay manages to bring back all of its key impending free agents, as Bruce Arians and Jason Licht have publicly said they would, then there aren’t many holes on the team's roster. But if the Buccaneers have to let anyone walk, [Shaquil Barrett is the most likely. In that case, Phillips would be a quality replacement.
- Phillips was the No. 1-rated recruit of the 2017 class and committed to UCLA. During his true sophomore campaign, a car hit him and he decided to retire after the subsequent injuries and another concussion after the fact. But Phillips opted to come out of retirement, transferring to Miami, where he had one of the biggest breakout years in the country this past season.
- Over the course of his final six games, Phillips looked like that top-rated recruit from years ago with a 90.0 PFF grade and a whopping 30 pressures. His injury history is obviously of some concern, but with a clean bill of health, he's clearly one of the best pass rushers in this class."
Austin Gayle, PFF (February 15)
Pick: OT Sam Cosmi, Texas
- Comments:"While Donovan Smith did turn in the highest single-season PFF grade of his career in 2020 (72.8), he could be a cap casualty considering that Tampa will likely get aggressive with re-signing Lavonte David, Chris Godwin and/or Shaq Barrett this offseason. Releasing Smith would save the Bucs more than $14M in cap space. But even if Smith is retained for the final year of his contract, the Bucs will likely lose a lot of their depth along the offensive line to free agency (Joel Haeg, AQ Shipley, Josh Wells) and would be smart to continue to invest in the position.
- One of the better athletes at his position, the 6-foot-7, 309-pound Cosmi has earned 82.0-plus PFF pass-blocking grades in all three of his years at Texas. He also earned a 90.5 PFF grade in 2020."
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports (February 22)
- Pick: RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
- Comments: "The Bucs have much to sort out in free agency, including what to do with Playoff Lenny Fournette. A defensive tackle or an edge rusher makes sense here, but Travis Etienne is coming off back-to-back strong seasons, has elite contact balance and is a pass-catching threat coming out of the backfield."
- Pick: DE Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma
- Comments: "Perkins is a bendy speed-to-power rusher who'd be a nice low-cost addition to Tampa's defensive front."
- Pick: RB Najee Harris, Alabama
- Comments: "I'm not saying this is what the Bucs SHOULD do, I'm just saying that if the first round falls this way, I could easily see them taking Harris in the first round. He checks every box they care about at the position with rare receiving skills, route-running, catch radius and tackle-breaking ability for a running back. Harris may not have elite speed, but everything else about him screams three-down, feature running back.
Yes, the Bucs need to develop talent on the defensive line, but it's a very weak defensive tackle class and the value isn't there at edge defender in this mock, with most of the top talents already off the board. Most likely the Bucs trade back from this pick, but if they stay put, Harris would fill a huge hole for the low cost the team prefers to have in a feature back. With Leonard Fournette likely gone in free agency and Ronald Jones II heading that direction after next season, drafting Harris makes sense on paper, even if isn't the most high value position to prioritize in Round 1."