Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers.com 2021 Mock Draft 5.0

Quarterbacks continue to rise to the top of the round but the Buccaneers go in a different direction after addressing the defensive front in each of our first four mock drafts

The NFL Scouting Combine usually shakes up all the mock drafts as some players run surprise 4.3 40s and some quarterbacks hands are found to be too small. But we had no Combine this year, and while there have been Pro Days to provide 40 times it really isn't the same thing as having 300 prospects together in one spot along with every coach and scout in the league.

However, we have now hit free agency, and that's an even better (ongoing) event to help clarify the potential draft needs for every team. For instance, the Buccaneers have managed to re-sign Lavonte David and Shaquil Barrett, which would seem to make inside and outside linebacker less pressing needs in April. However, none of the team's three interior defensive linemen who hit free agency have yet signed (as of Tuesday morning), so…well, draw your own conclusions.

The early effects of free agency are what I'm going to be focusing on as I conduct my third mock draft, the fifth one here on Buccaneers.com. Staff Writer Carmen Vitali and I are taking turns mocking it up each week, and it's my turn again. So let's get to it.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Since I had nothing to add here two weeks ago and still don't, I'll use this space to make a movie recommendation: I Care a Lot, starring Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage. Check it out. (Yes, the Jaguars have made a huge splash in free agency, but we'll get to that with their pick later in the round.)

2. New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson, BYU

The Jets made some moves, including the signing of former Titans' first-rounder Corey Davis, so whoever is playing quarterback for the Jets is going to have more weapons in 2021. The Jets also said some nice things about Sam Darnold, but I'm pretty sure you would do that even if you were hoping to trade him and draft his replacement. For instance, here was Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury on Josh Rosen in February of 2019: "Our feelings toward Josh haven't waned or changed. I get that we have the first pick and there are going to be a million scenarios, and over the next three months they are going to come up. But Josh is our guy." (Emphasis added.)

3. **TRADE ALERT** Carolina Panthers (via Miami, via Houston): QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Last time I had the Panthers trading up with Atlanta, but here they are actually worried about the Falcons taking their guy and want to get ahead of them, or any other team also trying to move up. I think the same package they used to move up to #4 works here: #8, #39 and a first and third in 2022. The Panthers have been active in free agency, working on their offensive line and defensive front, but they still need to get Matt Rhule his franchise quarterback.

4. **TRADE ALERT** Denver Broncos (via Atlanta): QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

It's essentially the exact same trade as the one above so I guess I have to charge the same price: This pick for #9, #40 and 2022 first and third-rounders. The Broncos are not sold on Drew Lock and they're not sure if Philly is sold on Jalen Hurts, so they jump ahead of the Eagles.

5. Cincinnati Bengals: T Penei Sewell, Oregon

The Bengals were active early in free agency but it was mostly on defense, headlined by edge rusher Trey Hendrickson and a couple mid-level corners. Then on Friday they picked up Riley Reiff, who had been cut by the Vikings. The thing is, Reiff might best be described as "serviceable," so I don't think the Bengals pass up on Sewell even after that addition. Sewell is more than capable of playing guard – some scouts even believe that would be his best position in the NFL – so he could start there before eventually taking over at tackle in 2022.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

First, you have to convince yourself that they're not shopping for a quarterback and are going to roll with Jalen Hurts…and that's what I've done. Reasonable minds may disagree. After that, it comes down to receiver or tight end, and while the need at receiver is probably deeper – particularly after the cuts of Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson – there is still a robust free agency market at that position they can tap into. With Zach Ertz expected to move on, the Eagles grab a receiver in a tight end's body, pair him with Dallas Goedert and give Hurts a great "12" package to exploit.

7. Detroit Lions: WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU

As expected, Marvin Jones has moved on and Kenny Golladay is fielding multiple offers. The Lions have added Tyrell Williams but still have a thin depth chart at receiver and would love to add the dynamic Chase.

8. **TRADE ALERT** Miami Dolphins (via Carolina): WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

Miami would have to think that Chase is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the elite receiver prospects to say no to this trade, and that's just not the case. DeVonta Smith won the Heisman but it's his Alabama teammate who is rising up draft boards. The Dolphins have signed former Texan Will Fuller V but Fuller is best when complementing a number-one receiver and taking the top off the defense.

9. **TRADE ALERT** Atlanta Falcons (via Denver): CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

The Falcons could have stayed put and grabbed a quarterback, and draft analysts are split on whether or not they will, but I'm betting on them sticking with Matt Ryan for a couple more years. His recent contract restructuring makes it a little harder but not impossible for the Falcons to move on from him in 2022, but $40 million in dead cap is tough to swallow. With a tight cap this year, Atlanta has been almost silent in free agency, so their needs remain the same and cornerback is definitely one of them.

10. Dallas Cowboys: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

Dallas already had a need at corner before Chidobe Awuzie left for the Bengals. This is one of the few picks that has remained the same in all three of my mocks.

11. New York Giants: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

I've previously gone with Pitts and Waddle for the Giants but this time they're both off the board. The Giants did sign John Ross but I don't think a receiver with 51 catches over his first four seasons is the answer.

12. San Francisco 49ers: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

The 49ers were able to re-sign Trent Williams, which is huge, and also picked up Alex Mack. With the O-Line solidified and the 49ers banking on far better injury luck this season, this team expects to contend in 2021, and they'll do it with Jimmy Garoppolo. However, with Jones sitting there and no absolutely glaring needs on the depth chart, the 49ers still take a quarterback in case Garoppolo continues to be injury prone and is determined not to be the long-term answer.

13. Los Angeles Chargers: T Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

The Chargers signed Corey Linsley to play center and hope his former Green Bay teammate Bryan Bulaga will be able to play a full season this fall. Add in Slater and the Chargers' offensive line goes from a problem in 2020 to a strength in 2021 in front of young star quarterback Justin Herbert.

14. Minnesota Vikings: T Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

The Vikings let Reiff go and have not signed any offensive linemen. Darrisaw steps in immediately at left tackle. They could possibly take the first edge rusher here, but they did solidify the middle of their line with former Giant Dalvin Tomlinson and should get Danielle Hunter back on the field this season, presuming they can keep him happy.

15. New England Patriots: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

Who didn't the Patriots sign last week? I think we can safely cross tight end off their needs list, and they also picked up a safety, a couple receivers, a couple edge rushers and a couple defensive tackles. New England has also traded for tackle Trent Brown and are getting linebacker Dont'a Hightower back after he opted out last year. After they broadly spackled over the holes on the depth chart, what do the Patriots still need? Well, Parsons would be a big upgrade over the Patriots' middle linebackers and could have an impact as a blitzer on third downs.

16. **TRADE ALERT** Indianapolis Colts (via Arizona): OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

The Colts want to replace the retired Anthony Castonzo and a mini-run on offensive linemen made them a little antsy, particularly with the Raiders, Dolphins and Bears picking ahead of them. The Colts have been quiet in free agency, but they do have plenty of space remaining and there are a number of tackles still available, especially after Kansas City cut both Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. What I'm saying is that free agency could still change this pick. The Ravens and Bills made almost this exact swap (16 for 22 in their case) two years ago, and Baltimore got a third while giving back a fifth. Unfortunately, Indy doesn't have a third so we'll just go straight fourth-round pick to Arizona.

17. Las Vegas Raiders: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

The Raiders have scattered their offensive line – considered one of the league's best as recently as the middle of last season – to the four corners of the earth, so this has obviously become a huge need. They have started the rebuild with former Texan Nick Martin at center, though, and will probably continue to look for veteran replacements. They could also address the line later in the draft, especially after picking up a few more picks in the trades of Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson. Meanwhile, Las Vegas has made a number of additions to the defensive front but still badly needs a playmaker in the middle. So even with the O-Line rehaul, I still think they go defense here.

18. Miami Dolphins: EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

Miami already needed help on the edge before trading a pass-rushing linebacker (Shaq Lawson) for an inside linebacker (Benardrick McKinney). This is the same player I gave the Dolphins in my last mock, but now Ojulari ranks as the first pass-rusher off the board.

19. Washington Football Team: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

I'm glad this isn't my last mock draft because it still seems to make a ton of sense for Washington to draft a potential long-term answer at quarterback after signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal to start in 2021. In this exercise, though, I have them unable to pull off a deal. Washington made a really nice move in free agency to land cornerback William Jackson (not to mention wide receiver Curtis Samuel, another great addition) and the defensive front is already loaded. But Kevin Pierre-Louis left in free agency and the linebacking corps is underwhelming.

20. Chicago Bears: DL Christian Barmore, Alabama

From what I can tell from Twitter and a couple friends who are Bears fans, Chicago is totally set at quarterback now. All good. I've previously given the Bears a tackle at this spot but I think we're in the second tier for that position now, whereas they can get the first defensive tackle off the board. That's a need now that Roy Robertson-Harris has left for Jacksonville.

21. **TRADE ALERT** Arizona Cardinals (via Indianapolis): CB Greg Newsome, Northwestern

The Cardinals are in a good spot here because they need corners and edge rushers and there are a lot of attractive candidates still on the board. With Patrick Peterson moving on to the Vikings and Dre Kirkpatrick also a free agent, Arizona starts at cornerback and gets the fast-rising Newsome.

22. Tennessee Titans: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

Tennessee addressed its need on the edge with the splash signing of Bud Dupree, and while I think they could still use more help at that spot they have also cut both Malcolm Butler and Adoree' Jackson and seen Desmond King leave in free agency. Corner has moved well up their list of needs. They might also consider a receiver after losing Corey Davis, but the value doesn't seem right here.

23. New York Jets (via Seattle): RB Najee Harris, Alabama

The Jets obviously had a lot of needs after a 2-14 season but they have already been aggressive in free agency, addressing wide receiver (Corey Davis and Keelan Cole), edge rusher (Carl Lawson), inside linebacker (Jarrad Davis), guard (Pat Elflein), safety (Lamarcus Joyner) and cornerback (Justin Hardee). On the other hand, at the top of their running back depth chart: Lamical Perine.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: T Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State

I gave Pittsburgh Harris last time, so maybe they go after Travis Etienne or Javonte Williams here. They could also help the rushing attack by grabbing Jenkins to replace Alejandro Villanueva, who is not expected to return. The Steelers are tight against the cap and have done almost nothing in free agency.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via L.A. Rams): S Trevon Moehrig, TCU

This seems like an extraordinarily weird thing to say, but can the 1-15 Jaguars go "best player available" here? Prior to free agency they had pretty glaring needs at safety, cornerback, defensive tackle and wide receiver, but they hit all of them with starting-caliber additions last week. Sometimes multiple additions at one spot. When all the dust is settled I am going to…stay with the same pick as last time? Yep. Even after signing Rayshawn Jenkins the Jaguars could use another safety and Moehrig has some nice positional versatility.

26. Cleveland Browns: EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami

Cleveland has made some nice moves in free agency, particularly with the signing of former Rams safety John Johnson. However, I would not say the addition of Takk McKinley fills the team's need on the edge. I gave Cleveland Joe Tryon last time but Phillips wasn't available.

27. Baltimore Ravens: EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan

Baltimore has seen Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue depart in free agency, and while they kept Tyus Bowser he had 2.0 sacks in 16 games last year. The Ravens don't seem like the Ravens without a strong collection of pass rushers, and they try to head back in that direction with Paye.

28. New Orleans Saints: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Free agency and the need to trim a ton of cap space have created some new holes on the Saints' depth chart, so they could go in a lot of directions here. An edge rusher makes sense with the departure of Hendrickson but they may hope Marcus Davenport finally steps up in a big way. Similarly, second-year player Zack Baun could help fill the new void at linebacker and dynamic return man Deonte Harris may be able to step up to replace Emmanuel Sanders. But Harris is very small and probably isn't a number-two, so let's get the Saints' new starting quarterback a bigger target to pair with Michael Thomas.

29. Green Bay Packers: DL Levi Onwuzurike, Washington

We should probably stop yelling at Green Bay to take a receiver in the first round. Here I think they could target an offensive lineman with Linsley gone or a corner with Kevin King unlikely to return (or even if he does). However, the value is strong with Onwuzurike and Kenny Clark really needs help up front.

30. Buffalo Bills: CB Asante Samuel, Jr., Florida State

Well, I gave Buffalo a tackle last time while predicting that the Bills would prioritize signing linebacker Matt Milano over tackle Darryl Williams. And then they re-signed them both. Samuel, who moves very well and excels in zone coverage, would fit well in Buffalo's defense and pair with Tre'Davious White to give them a strong duo at a key position.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: T Sam Cosmi, Texas

Like the Raiders, Kansas City is rebuilding its line and has started with the additions of Joe Thuney and the no-longer-retired Kyle Long to play guard. Mike Remmers was also re-signed and could start at right tackle, but the Chiefs are still down at least one at that spot after cutting both Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. The Chiefs don't have a lot of other pressing roster needs so a tackle makes sense here.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Travis Etienne, Clemson

I teased you with the defensive line comment in the intro, and indeed I went that direction in each of my first two mocks. Onwuzurike is off the board this time but I could go back to my original choice of Iowa's Daviyon Nixon. But I like the way free agency is going for the Buccaneers and I'm hopeful that the team will be able to bring back even more of its Super Bowl-winning players in the weeks to come, including some on the D-Line. So, for this draft at least, I'm going to go down the "luxury pick" road that Jason Licht mentioned in February. Etienne is an explosive runner who NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah compared to Alvin Kamara (!) and he is productive in the passing game and great in the open field. Leonard Fournette is definitely one of those players I'm hoping will still return but if he doesn't Etienne could combine with starter Ronald Jones and second-year man Ke'Shawn Vaughn to give the Bucs a deep and varied backfield. If Fournette does remain in Tampa, I would surely look elsewhere in subsequent drafts.

Advertising