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Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2024 Mock Draft 10.0

With a run on edge rushers developing before their pick, the Buccaneers flip to the other side of the trenches and land a potential Day One starter for the offensive line


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their third consecutive NFC South title in 2023, then walloped a fading Philadelphia team in the first round of the playoffs and took a tie with the Lions into the fourth quarter of a Divisional Round game in Detroit. It was objectively a good season for a team that wasn't exactly considered a contender in the wake of Tom Brady's retirement.

That Buccaneers team also finished just a game over .500, had a midseason slump that saw six losses in seven games and came out of the season with a long list of key players who could hit free agency. It was objectively a team that needed to do a lot of work to remain a contender in 2024.

A good portion of that work is done, with General Manager Jason Licht and his crew managing to re-sign Mike Evans, Baker Mayfield, Lavonte David and Chase McLaughlin while using the franchise tag on Antoine Winfield Jr. Long-term deals for Winfield and All-Pro tackle Tristan Wirfs are hopefully on the near horizon, but the first half of the job is almost done.

The second half starts on the night of Thursday, April 25. That's when the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft will unfold and the Bucs will begin the process of addressing the depth chart needs that still remain. And there are more than just a few of those, according to Licht himself.

"We have a lot [of needs]," said Licht. "And that's okay, to have a lot of needs. I think it's a good thing, actually. We came very close to going to the NFC Championship Game last year and we still signed our guys back and we still have a lot of needs. I think that shows that if we do this right, pretty soon, the next couple of years – or even this year – [we] could be competing. I always like the trenches, and I think we need help in both trenches."

Spoiler alert: In this, my final solo mock draft of this offseason, the Buccaneers did indeed shore up one of the trenches with their first-round pick. Actually, the picture at the top of this article probably already gave that away, but continue on to see my prediction for all 32 first-round selections.

Here are links to our first nine mock drafts, which began in February:

I was open to predicting trades in this one, but only ended up making two of them. One of them just happens to be the same trade up by Minnesota I made in my last first-round mock, but it still makes a lot of sense to me.

  1. The Vikings trade with the Chargers, moving up six spots from 11 to five. Along with that 11th pick, they send the Chargers the 23rd overall pick, picked up in a trade with Houston last month, and a second-round pick in 2025. According to the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart, picks 11 and 23 are more than enough to warrant the fifth pick, but precedence on trades of this type, especially when there is likely competition from other teams wanting to move up for a quarterback, suggests the Vikings will have to overpay.
  1. After getting the 11th and 23rd picks, the Chargers make a move back up the board, jumping three spots to Atlanta's eighth-overall pick. Los Angeles sends a third-round pick (number 69 overall) to the Falcons in the deal and get back Atlanta's fourth-rounder (number 109 overall). After the deal, Atlanta owns five of the top 79 picks.

1. Chicago Bears (from Carolina): QB Caleb Williams, USC

Two years ago, in a draft lacking quarterback firepower, there was a decent amount of intrigue as to whether the Jaguars would kick things off with Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson or Georgia's Travon Walker. Last year's draft did have highly-coveted quarterbacks, but there was still a small amount of debate as to whether the Panthers would go with Alabama's Bryce Young or Ohio State's C.J. Stroud. It doesn't seem like there's any uncertainty this year as the Bears appear to be locked into Williams, who is considered one of the best all-around QB prospects to emerge in years.

2. Washington Commanders: QB Jayden Daniels, LSU

I held out as long as I could. I personally believe the Commanders should go with Drake Maye and I stayed with that prediction all offseason, fully expecting the winds to shift in his direction at some point. However, with little over a week to go before the real thing, it seems increasingly likely that Daniels is the pick here. So I'm reluctantly making the last-minute shift. Of course, that probably means they've been in Camp Maye all along but have just hidden their tent in the woods really well.

3. New England Patriots: QB Drake Maye, North Carolina

I think the Patriots are thrilled it fell this way. Had the Commanders gone with Maye, I think New England would have been torn between Daniels and a potentially lucrative trade down that would hasten their roster build. However, I don't think they can pass on Maye, and they probably don't expect to be in position to pick this high again very often.

4. Arizona Cardinals: WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

The Cardinals will be open to phone calls and could make a small move down in order to pick up some extra draft capital and still land one of the top three receivers. In my mock, however, it's Minnesota that is trying to move up, and the Cardinals don't want to go all the way down to 11 and risk missing on all three. Instead, they turn the Vikings down and go with the receiver who is clearly at the top of their board, filling an area of intense need and making Kyler Murray's job a lot easier.

5. Minnesota Vikings (from L.A. Chargers): QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Count me among those who saw the Vikings' earlier trade to acquire the 23rd pick as a clear opening salvo towards a move up the board for a quarterback. I'm simply not convinced they're willing to go into next season with a QB depth chart of Sam Darnold, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall. McCarthy would be fortunate to drop into an environment that includes a QB-friendly head coach in Kevin O'Connell and a strong pass-catching trio of Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson.

6. New York Giants: WR Malik Nabers, LSU

If the Giants were hoping to land one of the top four quarterbacks in this draft, then they got aced out by the Vikings. "Oh, shucks," they say, before sprinting to the podium to hand in this name. Nabers has the size and explosiveness that the Giants' pass-catching corps has desperately needed for years, and maybe he'll be able to help Daniel Jones (or Drew Lock) play well enough to make Giants fans forget about J.J. McCarthy.

7. Tennessee Titans: T Joe Alt, Notre Dame

As right as it felt to pair Nabers with the Giants, this seems like an even easier pick. The Titans obvious number-one need is at offensive tackle, just ahead of their second biggest need, which is offensive tackle. That a six-pick run on passers and pass-catchers started this draft means they get the pick of the litter, and this year that's Alt, who will step right into the left tackle spot next to 2023 first-round pick Peter Skoronski.

8. Los Angeles Chargers (from Atlanta): WR Rome Odunze, Washington

Now armed with three of the first 37 picks, the Chargers can afford to spend a little capital to move ahead of the Bears and Jets for the last of the Big Three at wide receiver. After trading Keenan Allen and releasing Mike Williams to get out of a sizeable cap hole, the Chargers have a receiver depth chart topped by underwhelming 2023 first-rounder Quentin Johnson and the serviceable Josh Palmer. This is a group that badly needs the type of playmaking Odunze will bring.

9. Chicago Bears: T Olu Fashanu, Penn State

The Bears of my mock draft were definitely interested in Odunze, even after landing Allen, but the Chargers move to snatch him away allows them to take their medicine with a less sexy but more important addition on the offensive line. Fashanu is agile and light on his feet and will be able to keep speedy edge rushers out of Williams' personal space.

10. New York Jets: T Troy Fautanu, Washington

Same story here with the Jets, who would have jumped at Odunze and thought hard about Brock Bowers or even Brian Thomas here. But the prudent thing to do is make sure that Aaron Rodgers stays upright for more than four plays this season. Yes, the Jets added Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses to man their two tackle spots, but Smith hasn't played a full season since 2015 and Moses is 33 years old. Fautanu could start out as an upgrade over John Simpson at left guard and then be ready to slide over to tackle if anything happens to that veteran duo.

11. Atlanta Falcons (from Minnesota through L.A. Chargers): EDGE Dallas Turner, Alabama

The Falcons had an Open for Business sign on their draft room door because they knew they could move down and still get one of the best available players at either EDGE or cornerback, their two biggest positions of need. In fact, at this point they can have the first one at either spot. I went with EDGE here because I think it will dry up more quickly than cornerback, which the Falcons can address one of their (now) three Day Two picks. Turner is extremely athletic and should give Atlanta it's most exciting player off the edge in years.

12. Denver Broncos: DT Jer'Zhan Newton, Illinois

The Broncos have a lot of needs and only one pick in the top 75. I don't think they can afford to reach for one of the second-tier quarterbacks here. Denver has added Malcolm Roach and Angelo Blackson in the offseason but neither one moves the needle as a pass-rusher in any way. Newton, however, does, and never underestimate how badly teams want to find a player who can pressure the quarterback straight up the middle.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

There's a lot of talent at the cornerback position in this draft, but the early emphasis on quarterbacks, receivers and offensive linemen makes it possible for the Raiders to get the top one on their board all the way down at 13. For comparison's sake, the last time at least one cornerback didn't go in the top 10 was back in 2019. Mitchell has the talent to be a top-10 pick in any other draft, combining impressive athleticism with play-making chops and good length.

14. New Orleans Saints: T Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

The Saints are another team with a lot of depth chart holes and a scarcity of top-100 picks, but they have always demonstrated a willingness to spend top draft capital on their offensive line. That's a great idea in this case, because Trevor Penning doesn't seem to be panning out and stud right tackle Ryan Ramczyk's ailing knee has put his immediate future in doubt. Fuaga is big (6-6, 324) and very strong and should be able to step right in at right tackle.

15. Indianapolis Colts: TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

A top-10 pick on talent alone, Bowers slips to the middle of the round due to positional value but the Colts just can't pass up the chance to add a new dimension to their offense-in-progress under the direction of last year's top pick, Anthony Richardson. The Colts could use another receiver to pair with the re-signed Michael Pittman Jr., but Bowers can run routes like a wideout and is very dangerous with the ball in his hands.

16. Seattle Seahawks: EDGE Jared Verse, Florida State

The Seahawks are getting underrated edge rusher Uchenna Nwosa back from injury, and Boye Mafe had a nice sophomore season, but defensive-minded first-year Head Coach Mike Macdonald wants to soup up his pass rush as much as possible. Verse gets around the edge quickly, pursues his target relentless and can convert his speed into power.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama

The run on cornerbacks continues to develop very slowly, but the Jaguars take advantage to nab Arnold, who will be an immediate upgrade over recent signee Ronald Darby as a starter opposite Tyson Campbell. Arnold has good size and instincts and is fluid in his transitions. He's also scheme versatile and can play inside or outside, so the Jaguars would have a lot of flexibility in how they arrange their secondary.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: WR Brian Thomas, LSU

At first glance, this might seem like a luxury pick for the Bengals, but it really isn't. Tyler Boyd remains an unsigned free agent and Tee Higgins will likely play this season on the franchise tag before possibly departing in 2025. The Bengals may soon need a new running mate for superstar Ja'Marr Chase, and Thomas can really run. He averaged 17.3 yards per catch at LSU last year and caught 17 touchdown passes. Interestingly, he has been compared to Higgins as an NFL comp.

19. Los Angeles Rams: EDGE Chop Robinson, Penn State

Robinson is somewhat of a projection, given that he produced just 11.5 sacks in three seasons at Penn State, but the same was true of Javon Walker two years ago and he has worked out pretty well for the Jaguars. Robinson sneaking into the top 20 is a result of his absurd athleticism, and maybe the quickest first step in this year's class of edge rushers. The Rams hit on a pair of third-rounders last year in Kobie Turner and Byron Young but could still use some edge-rushing juice on a very young defense.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: T JC Latham, Alabama

The Steelers trade for former Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson probably doesn't take them out of the cornerback market, and that's very tempting here, but given that their offense is now being run by Arthur Smith the emphasis will likely be on juicing up the run game, and Latham is a good start. Latham has tons of power in his enormous frame (6-6, 342) and can really move bodies in the run game. The Steelers may want to keep him at his college position on the right side but could probably move 2023 first-rounder Broderick Jones across the line to left tackle.

21. Miami Dolphins: DT Byron Murphy, Texas

I may be falling into the trap of, 'see obvious need, plug in top prospect at that spot,' here for the Dolphins, but this really does seem like a good fit and great value after the departure of Christian Wilkins in free agency. Murphy has the power and agility to play multiple spots along the Dolphins' front.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: EDGE Laiatu Latu, UCLA

Yes, the Eagles signed Bryce Huff after trading Haason Reddick, but the Eagles are never going to put all their eggs into one basket when it comes to their defensive front. Keeping that group loaded across the board has always been a top priority, and the Eagles are more than happy to snap up the ultra-productive Latu. If I was cheating in this mock I would have rearranged things a bit to let Latu fall to the Bucs at number 26 – I'm somewhat infatuated with him – but I'm not, so sigh.

23. Los Angeles Chargers (from Cleveland through Houston and Minnesota): T Amarius Mims, Georgia

The Chargers got aggressive to get the pass-catcher they needed earlier in the night but are still able to land a much-needed right tackle in this spot thanks to the rare O-Line depth in this year's draft. Mims's only deficiency is a lack of experience – he only started eight games at Georgia – but the Chargers will probably be able to plug him in immediately at right tackle opposite Rashawn Slater. Mims is simply gigantic (6-8, 340), bringing enormous power to the run game, but he's still light enough on his feet to excel in pass protection, too.

24. Dallas Cowboys: T Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma

The Cowboys' assumed reaction when Tyron Smith left in free agency was to move Tyler Smith, who they originally drafted as a tackle in 2022, to left tackle. However, The latter Smith has turned into a very good left guard and recently indicated that he feels very comfortable playing in that spot. Maybe the Cowboys will listen and leave him there, instead drafting another Tyler to step in at left tackle. Guyton played more on the right side at Oklahoma but has the feet and athleticism to work out on Dak Prescott's blind side.

25. Green Bay Packers: CB Cooper DeJean, Iowa

The Packers have a good starting duo at outside cornerback in Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes, but DeJean has the versatility to play just about anywhere in the secondary and Green Bay could use some more playmakers after securing just seven interceptions last season. For instance, DeJean could supplant stud kick returner Keisean Nixon in the slot or perhaps Anthony Johnson at safety.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon

I had the Cowboys choosing between Guyton and Powers-Johnson two picks earlier, and if I had gone with the center to Dallas I probably would have pivoted to Graham Barton in this spot. I don't love the value remaining at edge rusher at this point in the draft and I'm not sure how quickly a cornerback would get on the field. To me, the best win-now move was to add an instant starter to a line that is currently without a number-one left guard. In this case, I would probably projfect Powers-Johnson to stay at center, moving Robert Hainsey to left guard. JPJ would give the Bucs a wide body for interior rushers to get around, and his easy lateral movement would make him an asset in combo blocks and pulling plays. Plus, Powers-Johnson plays with a nasty streak that the Bucs enjoyed in their last Pro Bowl center, the now-retired Ryan Jensen.

27. Arizona Cardinals (from Houston): CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

The Cardinals had to grab a stud pass-catcher with the fourth pick, but they also have a significant need at cornerback, even after adding former Buccaneer Sean Murphy-Bunting. McKinstry is a smart and instinctive defender who isn't afraid to mix it up and uses his long arms to great effect.

28. Buffalo Bills: WR Troy Franklin, Oregon

The Bills wide receiver depth chart is a mess after the trade of Stefon Diggs. Dalton Kincaid is an extremely productive tight end, but the team's top returning wideout from 2023 is Khalil Shakir, who had 39 catches last season. Franklin is tall and fast, and he averaged 17.1 yards per catch last season at Oregon while scoring 14 times.

29. Detroit Lions: G Graham Barton, Duke

The Lions signed the 34-year-old Kevin Zeitler, who has 182 games worth of wear on his tires, to play left guard after Johan Jackson left in free agency. If Barton makes it here, though, they may see him as an upgrade over and/or a not-too-distant replacement for Zeitler, who is on a one-year deal. Barton also has the ability to play center and might even be able to fill in at tackle if needed, since that was where he predominantly played at Duke.

30. Baltimore Ravens: CB Nate Wiggins, Clemson

The Ravens have a tendency to stay put in their draft slots and nab the most talented player that falls to them, sometimes not at their most obvious position of need. I think they do that here with Wiggins, who has a slight frame but otherwise has the speed (he ran a 4.28 40), fluidity, instincts and ball skills to be a top-notch NFL cornerback.

31. San Francisco 49ers: T Jordan Morgan, Arizona

The 49ers could use an upgrade at right tackle over Colton McKivitz, and Morgan plays with admirable strength and aggression. Some scouts think he will be a better fit at guard in the NFL, but the 49ers could try him at tackle first and then potentially move him inside, where veteran Jon Feliciano is set to man right guard on a one-year contract.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Ladd McConkey, Georgia

The Chiefs traded for Marquise Brown, getting some much-needed help for Patrick Mahomes and the receiving corps. However, Rashee Rice's availability for some or all of the upcoming season is a question mark given his involvement in a street-racing incident. Kansas City could take a chance on Xavier Worthy's best-in-class speed, but he might be a bit redundant with Brown. McConkey is a more well-rounded receiver prospect who can play inside or outside and is pretty darn fast himself, with a great ability to get open and produce yards after the catch.

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