Where the draft experts' picks were mostly defensive in the first round for the Buccaneers last week, they are now all defensive prospects. A couple of names are starting to become more common – and two of those names are out of the University of Washington. Many are picking defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike at No. 32 for the Bucs. So much so, that I now know how to spell his name without having to look it up. But experts are also speculating interest in his teammate, outside linebacker Joe Tryon, as well. Both could be positions of need as Ndamukong Suh and Shaq Barrett will become free agents on March 17. Who Tampa Bay is able to hold onto, or rather, not hold onto, will likely tip the scales in the coming weeks for which player the Bucs would lean towards.
There are also some rumblings on the board of inside linebacker prospects, due to the fact Lavonte David will also become a free agent on March 17. David has been with the franchise his entire career and is one half of the league's best linebacking duo. IF he were to depart, the Bucs would be in significant need of someone to come in and play alongside Devin White right away.
See below for a full list of potential picks from experts around the league.
- Maurice Jones-Drew, NFL.com (March 9)
- Pick: LB Zavon Collins, Tulsa
- Comments: "The Bucs add an athletic freak to an already loaded defense. Collins' ability to shoot gaps and slice through the O-line is scary, and he has solid coverage skills, too. The Super Bowl champs get better with this pick."
- Cynthia Frelund, NFL.com (March 2)
- Pick: DT Levi Onwuzurike
- Comments: [Draft based on win potential model] "Should free agent Ndamukong Suh no longer be a Buc (which is my assumption), Onwuzurike could add production immediately. He opted out in 2020, but in 2019, his run-stopping ability and ability to quickly move laterally stood out. At the defensive tackle position, he ranked fifth in terms of pushing O-linemen back on rushing downs in 2019 in the FBS."
- Todd McShay, ESPN (March 4)
- Pick: ILB Jamin Davis, Kentucky
- Comments: "Tampa Bay can replenish a front seven that could look a lot different in Week 1 than it did on Super Bowl Sunday. Davis could potentially be considered a reach here, but he's very underrated, and I love his tape. If the Buccaneers can't hang on to Lavonte David, Davis -- who made 102 tackles and picked off three passes last season -- could slide into his role alongside Devin White. Someone like Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore also makes some sense here."
- Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN (February 25)
- Pick: EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
- Comments: "With Tryon off the board to the Packers, Ojulari is the next pass-rusher in my rankings. And with the uncertainty around whether free-agent defensive end Shaq Barrett will return, it makes sense for the Bucs to get younger on the edge. Ojulari had 8.5 sacks last season, including three in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win. He has some versatility to move around the defense, but he's one of the top pure pass-rushers in this class. Wide receiver is a position to watch for Tampa, particularly if it doesn't bring back Chris Godwin, who is a free agent."
The Draft Network
- Jordan Reid, The Draft Network (March 8)
- Pick: EDGE Jaelen Phillips, Miami
- Comments: "When it comes to roster building, Jason Licht has shown that he isn't afraid to take chances on players that involve some risk. Phillips' concussion history and brief retirement due to injuries may bring about some hesitancy with drafting him, but strictly as a pass rusher, the talent is undeniable. A strong argument can be made that he's the best pass rusher in this class. With Shaq Barrett's long-term future still in question, Phillips slots in as the new option opposite Jason Pierre-Paul."
- Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network (March 4)
- Pick: DL Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
- Comments : "The Buccaneers always keep a close eye on what is going on with the Washington Huskies program. I expect them to like what they see in Onwuzurike, a versatile defensive lineman who can be an undersized one-gap 3-tech defensive lineman next to Vita Vea (fellow Husky). Onwuzurike played a variety of spots for the Huskies' defense and can be deployed in a similar fashion with Todd Bowles' multiple front/looks."
- Drae Harris, The Draft Network (February 21)
- 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."
Pro Football Focus
- Seth Galina, PFF (March 8)
- Pick: EDGE Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest
- Comments: "This is a world where the Bucs fail to bring back Shaquil Barrett because they don't have many holes otherwise. They hit on their draft picks last season, and unless they look for the future quarterback, Basham is the best edge available here.
- Key Change: Again, this is not a change, but replacing Shaquil Barrett's 17.2% pass-rush win rate over the last two regular seasons with Basham's 18.5% win rate would be ideal."
- Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports (March 8)
- Pick: LB Nick Bolton, Missouri
- Comments: "It looks like Lavonte David may be elsewhere next season and while Devin White had a breakout year, Bolton's sideline-to-sideline skills could help soften the loss should David not return."
- Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports (March 8)
- Pick: DL Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
- Comments: "Onwuzurike would flourish in Tampa Bay next to Vita Vea."
- Scott Reynolds, PewterReport.com (March 5)
- Round 1 – DT Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
- Round 2 – OLB Joe Tryon, Washington
- Round 3 – RB Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis
- Round 4 – OG/C David Moore, Grambling State
- Round 5 – OT D'Ante Smith, East Carolina
- Round 7 – ILB Grant Stuard, Houston
- Comments: [On Onwuzurike] "The Buccaneers have a recent fondness for Washington defensive linemen, evidenced by the drafting of nose tackle Vita Vea in the first round in 2017 and signing defensive lineman Benning Potoa'e as an undrafted free agent in 2020. Tampa Bay turns back to the Huskies program, which is led by former Bucs defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, for Onwuzurike (pronounced "own-zerr-EE-kay") with the 32nd overall pick in the first round. The Bucs will need to invest in their defensive line, as free agent defensive tackles Steve McLendon and Ndamukong Suh, are 35 and 34, respectively, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches turns 28 in July. Defensive end Will Gholston, who is under contract for 2021, turns 30 in July. The Bucs drafted Khalil Davis in the sixth-round last year, but he barely saw the field as a rookie and can't be counted on as a future starter given his draft status and lack of experience and playing time…"
- Steven Cheah, Barstool Sports (March 8)
- Pick: Trade with Atlanta
- Comments: "The 32nd pick is typically a hot trade spot just so teams can take advantage of the 1st round pick's 5th year option. Bucs GM Jason Licht is on record saying he loves 2nd round picks, so the Bucs move down three spots to #35 and swap 4th rounders (#104 overall ATL => TB, #138 overall TB=>ATL) with the Dirty Birds. Atlanta addresses the Runningback position which is a huge help both Matt Ryan and QB in waiting Trey Lance as they'll be more of a balanced offense under new HC Arthur Smith."