Somehow the NFL Combine is next week and we are fully entrenched in the 2022 draft season in the blink of an eye. The Buccaneers, though they did not accomplish their Super Bowl repeat hopes, had an extremely successful season, recording a franchise-record 13 wins. As a result, they will again be picking in the latter part of the first round at pick No. 27.
They also have quite a few free agency question marks, leaving an even bigger question mark on which direction they go in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. They could have a variety of needs, they could have some very specific needs or they could scrap whatever those needs are in favor of the best player to fall on the board.
Draft experts around the country don't seem to have an inkling of what they'll do, either. The predictions in the first iteration of our annual Mock Draft Roundup series has quite a few possibilities listed for the Bucs.
And without further ado, here they are:
- Pick, Round 1: C Zion Johnson, Boston College
- Comments: "The Bucs could lose erstwhile veteran center Ryan Jensen in free agency. Johnson proved at the Senior Bowl that he could make the move to the pivot without an issue, showing his pure strength and intelligence. His experience at left tackle and guard will help him become a leader on the line in no time."
- Pick, Round 2: DT Logan Hall, Houston
- Pick, Round 3: RB Zamir White, Georgia
- Pick: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
- Comments: "From a size and playing style perspective, Corral doesn't fit the profile of QBs Bruce Arians has grown accustomed to coaching. However, that shouldn't stop GM Jason Licht from making the pick if he believes the former Ole Miss star can be Tampa Bay's long-term answer in the wake of Tom Brady's retirement."
- Pick: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
- Comments: " This Florida product allowed only 18 catches on 33 targets for 165 yards this season, per PFF, which, in the SEC, is saying a lot. And his size (he should measure around 6-2) should be in the ideal range. PFF has another really cool note here: Elam allowed just eight catches on 210 Cover-1 coverage snaps in his career."
The Draft Network
- Pick: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
- Comments: "Tom Brady is not walking through those doors as of right now. Chris Godwin is a free agent rehabbing a torn ACL and Antonio Brown is….Antonio Brown. Inserting Garrett Wilson into this offense alongside Mike Evans will cushion the loss of Godwin to free agency.
- Wilson is a savvy route-runner with innate body control and tracking ability while the ball is in flight. He can play on the boundary or in the slot. Either way, the Buccaneers will need better talent at receiver in 2022.
- Pick: DT DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
- Comments: "Where does Tampa go post-GOAT? Honestly, I have no idea. They are set to lose a ton of good players in free agency and have zero answers at quarterback. Do they blow it up? Do they try to patch things up and make another run? Again, no idea. I do know that whatever path they choose they'll need to draft a talented player that could contribute in year one and also develop into a pillar for this team.
- Hello, DeMarvin Leal. Once considered to be a top-10 pick, Leal falls a bit here as his play doesn't consistently reflect his physical talent. That being said, Leal is a freak athlete with quickness, power, and versatility to win inside or outside. Leal could turn into a game-wrecker rushing inside for the Buccaneers.
Pro Football Focus
- Round 1 Pick: DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
- Comments: "While Jordan Davis drew the national spotlight, Wyatt quietly put together an equally (if not more) impressive season with Georgia last season. An uber-explosive athlete for his size (6-foot-3, 315), Wyatt won as a pass-rusher and run defender because of his get-off and finesse. He ranked inside the 90th percentile at his position in PFF pass-rushing grade and run-stop percentage in 2021."
- Round 2 Pick: WR Justyn Ross, Clemson
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports (February 21)
- Pick: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
- Comments: "The Bucs could be looking to upgrade the QB position here, but they may be willing to re-sign Blaine Gabbert or see what Kyle Trask has. Whomever ends up under center, he'll need some weapons. Chris Godwin could hit free agency and currently only Mike Evans, Jaelon Dardon, Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson and Cyril Grayson are under contract -- not to mention that Rob Gronkowski could follow Tom Brady out the door. Burks, meanwhile, is a special talent who plays with the physicality of Anquan Boldin but has the wheels to outrun anyone down the field."