The new of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh re-signing was made official on Monday, meaning that the Buccaneers are returning all 22 of their Super Bowl starters for 2021. They are the first team in the salary cap era to do so and the first team at all since the 1977 Oakland Raiders. Such a flurry of retention in free agency means the focus now shifts to the draft and identifying the Bucs' limited needs. At this point, they're drafting for depth. That allows them a bit more freedom when it comes to the players on the board, with General Manager Jason Licht going so far as to say it's, in fact, a luxury.
"Absolutely, it's a luxury that we could have this year," Licht said last week. "Now of course in a perfect world you'd want to pick players that come in and help and contribute right away but, but we do have the luxury of having guys sit back and learn from and watch and get developed by our coaching staff and these veteran players that all you know we've said it over and over, we have a great locker room, these guys are going to embrace anybody that we take in any position. So, it is a luxury."
When picking 32nd, that's a good luxury to have. There's limited pressure because you don't need a player to come in and be the impact player that perhaps right tackle Tristan Wirfs was this past season. You can take best player available at No. 32, knowing that they will have time to develop within the system. And if that seems wide ranging, it's because it is – just like the draft pundits' picks for the Bucs.
See below for a full list of potential picks from experts around the league.
- Adam Rank, NFL.com (April 1)
- Pick: CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
- Comments: "All right, nostalgia might be getting the best of me here. But I don't think it's a reach to go cornerback at this spot. Especially since there are so few needs on this team. And if I'm being honest, sons of former NFL players have done well in the Bucs' secondary. But that's only if you follow the trends."
- Cynthia Frelund, NFL.com (March 30)
- Pick: EDGE Jayson Oweh, Penn State
- Comments: "Oweh's speed and versatility land him in Tampa, and the growth potential under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles proves this to be an insanely good fit."
- Bucky Brooks, NFL.com (March 23)
- Pick: QB Mac Jones, Alabama
- Comments: "Tom Brady just signed an extension at age 43, but the Bucs could grab a successor to learn from the G.O.A.T. over the next few years."
- Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN (March 23)
- Pick: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama
- Comments: "The Bucs have spent free agency getting the band back together for another season, with wide receiver Chris Godwin, tight end Rob Gronkowski and edge rusher Shaquil Barrett among the players who have been re-signed. Barmore could be a replacement for Ndamukong Suh, who doesn't yet have a free-agent deal. Barmore was a game-wrecker down the stretch for the Crimson Tide, with five sacks in his final five games. He would be an outstanding fit next to nose tackle Vita Vea, who has emerged as one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the NFL."
- 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."
The Draft Network
- Brentley Weissman, The Draft Network (April 5)
- Pick: DL Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
- Comments: "Tampa Bay is returning all 22 starters from their championship team, so this is truly a team with very few holes. In this circumstance, the Buccaneers draft a player who at least will see the field as a part of a rotation, as teams normally rotate defensive linemen to keep them fresh. Onwuzurike is the best interior pass rusher in this class. He has very good first-step quickness and the length to win the edges inside. He would be a great player to develop behind Ndamukong Suh while also playing on passing downs."
- Drae Harris, The Draft Network (April 1)
- Pick: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama
- Comments: "The Super Bowl champs don't have many holes. But with Ndamukong Suh not getting any younger, they select his replacement in Christian Barmore. Barmore gets to learn from Suh for a year before stepping in to replace him."
Pro Football Focus
- Ben Linsey, PFF (April 5)
- Pick: WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
- Comments: "The Buccaneers are arguably the most complete team in the NFL. With a clear Super Bowl window as long as Tom Brady continues to play at a high level, they'll want to add someone with their first-round pick who can contribute right away in a specified role. Moore can certainly do that. If the Buccaneers chose not to bring back Antonio Brown, Moore could step in alongside Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson to help pick up the slack. He's one of the best athletes in the entire draft and one of the best receivers in the class after the catch. Moore averaged 7.5 yards after the catch per reception in his Purdue career. While he didn't run a diverse, downfield route tree in college, that was more of a function of the offense than it was an indictment of Moore's route-running ability."
- Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports (April 5)
- Pick: OL Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
- Comments: "Same as last week because the Bucs don't have many needs. They kept the Super Bowl band together -- but if the plan is to run it back with Tom Brady, they might as well do their best to make sure he's well protected. Mayfield is an unfinished product, but he's flashed first-round traits."
- Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports (March 31)
- Pick: OL Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
- Comments: "Mayfield can play tackle or guard but will give Alex Cappa legit competition at the guard spot immediately."
- Jon Ledyard, Pewter Report (March 24)
- Pick: RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina
- Comments: "Yes, Miami EDGE players Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau are still on the board in this mock draft, and Phillips is unquestionably the best edge rusher in the draft on tape. But Phillips has some off-field concerns in his past, including three concussions that forced him to medically retire for about a year. Will teams be comfortable enough with his past to select him in Round 1? Maybe. It's hard for me to know from the outside looking in. I don't love selecting a running back in Round 1, but it's hard to get comfortable with most of the top defensive prospects in this draft class, especially along the defensive line. I think Tampa Bay is going to see Williams as the three-down back that the team has searched for over the past few years. Even if Leonard Fournette returns on a one-year deal, he and Ronald Jones II will both be free agents next offseason, and I doubt Ke'Shawn Vaughn will be capable of manning a full-time role."
- Steven Cheah, Barstool Sports (March 26)
- Pick: DT Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
- Comments: "The Bucs go to the well for the third year in a row taking an Iowa player in the trenches (2019: Anthony Nelson, 2020: Tristan Wirfs). The defending champs re-signed Ndamukong Suh to a 1-year deal, but need to lay a foundation for after this year. Nixon is a freakshow athlete that can generate some pressure and hold up against the run."