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Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2024 Mock Draft 8.0: All Bucs Take Two

A second stab at a seven-round All Bucs draft nets the team a highly-productive edge rusher in the first round plus Day Two additions at receiver and linebacker

mock draft 8

Last week, my colleague Brianna Dix conducted an "All Bucs" mock draft, in which she made predictions for each of the seven selections the Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently own in the 2024 NFL Draft, from pick number 26 in Round One through pick number 246 in Round Six. My reaction: Why does she get to have all the fun?

So I'm going to be a copycat and do an All Bucs draft, too. Brianna and I will get back to full first-round mocks over the next two weeks but for now I want to try my hand at this seven-round effort. Plus, I have a streak I will make an effort to continue, as in each of the past two years I've made one prediction that hit.

In 2022, I mocked Washington tight end Cade Otton to the Buccaneers in the fourth round; after a trade down in the first round, the Bucs ended up with an extra fourth-rounder, the very first pick of Day Three, and did indeed use it on Otton. Last year, I did a full second-round mock draft and gave the Bucs North Dakota State guard Cody Mauch at number 50; the Bucs did nab Mauch in the second round, but only after trading up two spots to number 48.

In the months since, I have figured out how I was able to hit on those two picks. The answer: Sheer luck. When I got Otton right in 2022 I got seven other picks wrong. My second-round mock last year only included one other correct prediction, that of defensive lineman Keeanu Benton to the Steelers at pick 49. (I did have the Lions taking linebacker Jack Campbell at pick number 55, but that proved impossible when Detroit actually took Campbell at number 18 in the first round.)

Anyway, I'll take a stab at keeping my streak alive, and after the draft we can compare Brianna's All Bucs draft to mine to see if either of us fared better than the other. You can read her All Bucs predictions at the last link below in the list of our previous mock draft efforts this offseason. I am going to make a point of not picking any of the same players she did. To refresh your memory, Brianna went Duke G Graham Barton in Round One, Penn State EDGE Adisa Isaac in the Round Two, Washington WR Jalen McMillan and Iowa State CB T.J. Tampa in Round Three, Kentucky LB Trevin Wallace in Round Four, South Dakota State RB Isaiah Davis in Round Six and Arizona TE Tanner McLachlan in Round Seven.

So here we go. I did not predict any trades, though I wish I could have had Jason Licht giving up the 246th pick to, say, move up five spots in the sixth round so I didn't have to throw that last dart.

Round One, 26th Overall: UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu

I love the idea of the Bucs reinforcing their edge rush rotation with their top pick, but earlier in the offseason I had assumed Latu would be off the board by number 26. However, in recent weeks, I have seen the UCLA star make it into the Bucs' range on a handful of mock drafts, including this one from's Bucky Brooks and this one from Fox Sports' noted draft guru Rob Rang.

Latu was the best college pass rusher in the nation in 2023. He led all players with a 40.7% pass-rush win rate and had 23.5 sacks in 25 games for the Bruins after transferring from Washington. He has a well-developed arsenal of pass-rush moves, something that is not always true of even the highest-drafted edge rushers. He plays with a nonstop intensity, has an explosive first step and has the flexibility and body control to bend around the edge. The Buccaneers don't really have an edge rusher with that profile after the release of Shaquil Barrett.

So why would Latu possibly be available at number 26. Some of it would have to do with his lack of ideal length and athletic measurables compared to some of the other top edge prospects, but the main issue would probably be a medical concern. He suffered a neck injury in 2020 that led to surgery and his temporarily being "medically retired" from football. However, Latu came back from that and hasn't had any issues the past two years, so I'm happy to roll the dice.

Round Two, 57th Overall: South Carolina WR Xavier Legette

After Tampa Bay was able to get a contract done with star wide receiver Mike Evans that could make him a Buccaneer for life, wide receiver seemed like less of a pressing need in the first round. However, this draft is absolutely loaded in receiver depth – Licht mentioned that as one of the deepest positions this year at the Annual Meeting last week – and the Buccaneers take advantage on Day Two. The depth chart still starts with Evans and Godwin, and 2023 sixth-round pick Trey Palmer demonstrated how his speed could help the passing game in an encouraging rookie season. However, the Bucs learned the value of pass-catching depth during their 2020-21 offensive peak and they do not currently have that same type of proven depth.

Legette (6-1, 225) is big and strong and he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the Combine so he's got plenty of speed to be productive in the NFL. He runs routes well and is not easily knocked off course by physical defenders and he's able to high-point the ball and bring in off-target passes. Oh, and one more thing: He's got kick return chops, as well, averaging 26.4 yards on 29 returns during his time at South Carolina. That gives him some added value as teams across the league are starting to look for more skilled returners following the changes to the NFL's kickoff rules.

So why is a player with that blend of size, speed and ancillary skills not going in the first round? Well, maybe he will but he is generally considered a likely Day Two pick. That may be because he was not really on the radar before last season, as his 1,255 receiving yards and seven touchdown catches were more than he had recorded in his first four seasons combined. That could just be because the Gamecocks found a more explosive passer in Spencer Rattler in 2023.

Round Three, 89th Overall: North Carolina LB Cedric Gray

The Buccaneers were able to hang onto another lifer in Lavonte David, and with Devin White departing in free agency there will be a competition for snaps at the other linebacker spot between K.J. Britt and SirVocea Dennis. Still, it makes sense to plan for the future at the position and to throw even more talent into that competition for 2024. The Bucs do that with Gray, who is excellent in pass coverage, which is not an easy trait to find among this year's class of off-ball linebackers.

Gray was a highly productive player for the Tarheels in a number of different ways. Last season, for instance, he had 121 tackles in 12 games, plus 5.0 sacks, one interception, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Given the relative lack of standout linebackers in this class, that might have been enough to give him a little first-round buzz, but he didn't blow the doors off the Combine and was clocked at a 4.64 40-yard dash.

Still, Gray plays fast, and he is smooth moving laterally and quick to fire downhill through a gap. He covers a lot of ground and can hold his own in man-to-man situations in coverage. Gray also played on special teams for UNC and likely would immediately be a core member of that group on the NFL level.

Round Three, 92nd Overall: Wake Forest CB Caelen Carson

The Bucs are right back on the clock minutes after the Gray pick, thanks to the third-rounder they picked up in the trade of Carlton Davis to the Lions. I don't think the Buccaneers specifically intend to use the Davis pick to find his immediate replacement, but the value at the position was good here. Carson has the size and length that Todd Bowles wants in a cornerbackand he's got a competitive streak that will make him willing to throw his body into run support.

Carson particularly excels in press-man coverage, and the Bucs' cornerback room could use more of that profile after the trade of Davis. He's good at knocking receivers off their routes before they can get going and he's got the fluid hips needed to mirror shifty pass-catchers. He's not as fast as Jamel Dean or Zyon McCollum, the Bucs presumptive starting corners in 2024, but he's an instinctive player who has room to improve in zone coverage.

Round Four, 125th Overall: Illinois G Isaiah Adams

I was a little unhappy to come out of Day Three without an interior offensive lineman with a chance to compete for the Bucs' open left guard spot (or possibly center given Robert Hainsey's flexibility), but that's how it fell for me. Hopefully, landing Adams in the fourth round will still give the Bucs another option to compete with the likes of free agent additions Ben Bredeson and Sua Opeta.

Adams played right tackle last season for the Illini out of necessity but was a guard in his first season at Illinois after starting out at a junior college, and that's where he's expected to fit on the NFL level. Adams' strength is in pass protection, which should be at a premium after the Buccaneers made a steep multi-year investment in quarterback Baker Mayfield. He moves well from side to side and has a longer reach than many guards, which helps him reroute interior pass rushers.

Round Six, 220nd Overall: Louisville RB Isaac Guerendo

Barring any trades, the Bucs have a long wait on Day Three after their pick of Adams, as they sent their 2024 fifth-rounder to Philadelphia to get the 2023 sixth-rounder they used on Palmer. After nearly 100 more players come off the board, the Bucs get back in the mix with the former Louisville back who played his first four seasons at Wisconsin but has relatively little wear on his tires.

Guerendo has an intriguing blend of size (6-0, 225) and speed, with a high school track background and a blazing 4.33 40 at the Combine. He got minimal work in his first three seasons with the Badgers, playing in just 11 total games, and even though he saw action in 12 games in 2022 he still only logged 64 carries and 17 receptions. The move to Louisville gave him a bit more of a chance to show what he could do and he averaged 6.1 yards per carry and 10.6 yards per reception while recording 1,044 yards from scrimmage.

The Bucs have a clear lead back in Rachaad White, who is still an ascending runner in his own right, but could definitely use some depth. The team did re-sign veteran Chase Edmonds and could look to see more from 2023 undrafted rookie Sean Tucker, but Guerendo brings a different dimension to that group. He isn't necessarily as explosive or shifty as White, but he runs with decisiveness and has enough moves to make a defender miss near the line of scrimmage. He could be a powerful option on goal line runs and in short-yardage situations. Oh, and like Legette, Guerendo has experience returning kickoffs and could give the Bucs a different sort of option in that role.

Round Seven, 246th Overall: S Tyler Owens, Texas Tech

It is, of course, a fool's errand to try to predict the 246th pick in the draft, but I do know this: If the Bucs are going to use a seventh-round pick on a defensive back they're going to want to know he can contribute on special teams. Owens fits that bill; in fact, he's considered very strong in that phase of the game, which is the thing that could get him drafted. As much as teams will be looking harder for kick returners going forward, they will also want cover guys who will excel in the new format.

Owens played five seasons between Texas and Texas Tech but didn't draw a huge amount of playing time, finishing his career with just one interception and five passes defensed. As such, he's tough to evaluate in terms of his potential on defense, but the Bucs wouldn't need him to step into a significant role in the secondary right away. At 6-2 and 216 pounds and with a physical style of play, he could turn into something of a safety/linebacker hybrid who sees most of his playing time near the line of scrimmage rather than in centerfield.

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