Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers.com 2022 Mock Draft 4.0: Post-Combine Edition

With the Bucs' need along the offensive line growing more acute, a Combine standout is there to help at pick number 27

Mock Draft

After a one-year hiatus, the NFL Scouting Combine returned in all its glory last week. More than 300 prospects who will likely comprise 95% of the 2022 draft class came through Indianapolis on overlapping four-day carousels of interviews, measurements, medical examinations and onfield drills. Personnel evaluators took notes and perhaps adjusted their respective team draft boards a bit.

The 2022 Combine also produced plenty of new evidence to be fed into the ever-churning Mock Draft machine. Some players appeared to improve their draft stock with impressive workouts while others made good impressions in private meetings. Some 40-yard dash times lifted eyebrows, in good and bad ways. Some really big guys moved in ways really big guys aren't supposed to be able to move. And Kenny Pickett has small hands.

What does it all mean? We're still almost two months away from knowing for sure. But we can guess. With the help of some new information from Indianapolis, we present our Mock Draft 4.0. If you care to review what we've said in previous weeks and how things have changed, here are our previous efforts:

Mock Draft 1.0 (Carmen Vitali's final contribution.)

Mock Draft 2.0 (My first attempt.)

Mock Draft 3.0 (A mock dedicated solely to the Bucs' 2022 draft picks)

One last note: Once again I am not going to predict any trades in this mock draft. That is specifically because next week the gimmick is going to be all about trades. So off we go…

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: T Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State

I was sorely tempted to put Ekwonu here in version 2.0 but I stuck with the consensus on Evan Neal. Well, now that Ekwonu has put on a show at the Combine, I'm going to take the opportunity to move this elite blocker to the top. He ran a 4.93-second 40-yard dash and then an excellent 4.73-second 20-yard shuttle while also impressing in O-Line drills with his quick but smooth movements.

2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

I could see Kayvon Thibodeaux overtaking Hutchinson at some point but for now I'm sticking with the same order as last time. Hutchinson didn't match Thibodeaux's 40-yard dash, clocking in at 4.74, but he ran a 6.73-second three-cone drill, which is kind of incredible for a 6-foot-7 individual. The former Wolverine met with the Lions in Indy, of course, and I'm betting his demeanor impressed Dan Campbell.

3. Houston Texans: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Thibodeaux made sure to stress at the Combine that he loves the game of football and is a student of the game, though his decision not to do defensive line or linebacker drills at the end will keep the talk about his competitiveness on the front burner. No one really needed any more information about his athletic talents but he still impressed with a 4.58-second 40 and 27 bench press reps, most among EDGE prospects this year. Houston needs help almost everywhere on the depth chart and simply takes the best player on the board.

4. New York Jets: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

The Jets are certainly attempted to take a player for the trenches here, but they do have another pick coming up shortly and should still have some great OL or DL options to choose from there. Instead they hit another position of need with the player some consider the top overall prospect in the draft. Jets fans like to boo their teams picks and may do so again hear due to a lingering Jamal Adams aftertaste, but Hamilton is a more well-rounded prospect that can be moved all over the defense.

5. New York Giants: T Evan Neal, Alabama

It may be a stretch to have Neal fall out of the top four, but if he does the Giants will be sitting pretty. Veteran right tackle Nate Solder had a rough 2021 season and probably won't be back, but the Giants can pear Neal with 2020 first-rounder Andrew Thomas, who was markedly improved last year, and have and have an awfully good start up front.

6. Carolina Panthers: QB Malik Willis, Liberty

The Panthers have been trying to swing big at quarterback for a while now, but the veteran free agency/trade market doesn't seem to be developing as some expected it would. Willis is pretty clearly the QB prospect with the highest upside in this year's underwhelming class, and he helped himself in Indy by showing good touch on deep passes. There is no doubt he will be a threat in the ground game and he has a strong arm, so if he can prove to be an accurate passer he could quickly turn into a star.

7. New York Giants (from Chicago): DL Travon Walker, Georgia

You'll see a lot of mock drafters predicting that the Giants grab one player each for their offensive and defensive fronts here in the top seven, but specifically this represents a big rise for Walker. That incredible Georgia defense is going to be well-represented in the first round, but Walker could be the first Bulldog off the board after shining at the Combine. The versatile 6-5, 272-pound pass-rusher paired a 4.51 40-yard dash with a fantastic 4.32 20-yard shuttle. The Giants could use him anywhere from the edge to the three-technique spot.

8. Atlanta Falcons: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

The Falcons generated a league-low 18 sacks in 2020 and so would obviously be tempted to grab an EDGE rusher like David Ojabo or maybe a wrecker in the middle like Jordan Davis to pair with Grady Jarrett. But Atlanta also badly needs another cornerback to go with rising star A.J. Terrell and Gardner has begun to separate himself from the ranks. The 6-3, 190-pound defender has great length, is extremely competitive and was able to rip off a 4.41-second 40-yard dash in Indy.

9. Denver Broncos: EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan

Ojabo did what he needed to do at the Combine, posting a 4.55-second 40 time. He is explosive and has some advanced pass-rush moves that helped him rack up 11 sacks and five forced fumbles last season for the Wolverines. Von Miller is gone and Bradley Chubb has had injury issues. It's time for the Broncos to reload on the edge.

10. New York Jets (from Seattle): T Charles Cross, Mississippi State

The Jets waited on offensive line and still landed a tackle that many expect to crack the top 10. Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson needs more time to throw after being sacked on 10.3% of his dropbacks last year (Wilson was sacked 44 times, Jets QBs 53 times overall). Cross is strong and athletic and is already a polished pass blocker.

11. Washington Commanders: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

The Commanders made it clear at the Combine that they are turning over every stone in search of more quarterback talent. The problem is, fewer of those stones are hiding any real options than Washington may have expected. In 2.0 I suggested that the Commanders would address their top concern with a veteran, but now I'm not so sure. There are conflicting schools of thought on how much Pickett's 8.5-inch hands will matter, but Washington can certainly put on plenty of tape showing how productive the Pitt passer can be.

12. Minnesota Vikings: CB Derek Stingley, Jr., LSU

Stingley couldn't work out at the Combine and only played sparingly last season due to a foot injury but there's only so far that NFL teams will let a potential star cornerback fall. The Vikings have a big need at the position and this could like a steal within a year or so.

13. Cleveland Browns: DT Jordan Davis, Georgia

Every Combine has its single biggest winner, and this year that was Davis, yet another Georgia superstar. First, please be aware that Davis is a 6-foot-6, 341-pound man. As such, he probably shouldn't be out there running 4.78-second 40-yard dashes or recording a 1.68 10-yard split or elevating for a 32-inch vertical leap. Davis did all of those things last week. Cleveland, which needs interior-line help, sprints to the podium. This may end up being as low as Davis possibly falls.

14. Baltimore Ravens: C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

This is the same pick I gave Baltimore two weeks ago. Since then, Linderbaum has skipped Combine workouts due to a foot injury and had his arms measured at a concerning 31 and 1/8 inches. So should he fall a little farther this time around. Well, another thing that happened at the Combine was Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta comparing Linderbaum to Marshal Yanda. If DeCosta thinks Linderbaum can even come close to being as good as Yanda he won't hesitate to take the Iowa star.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami): LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia

Hey, look! Another Bulldog defender. Off-ball linebacker is the weak link in Philadelphia's defense and here they get the first one off the board. Dean didn't participate in any drills at the Combine and he might be a wee bit undersized at 5-11, 229, but his tape says it all. The Eagles need a rangy playmaker in the middle of their defense.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (from Indianapolis): WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

It doesn't feel quite right projecting a team to pick a receiver in the first round for the third year in a row, but given that the Eagles will be on the clock three times in a five-pick span here, I think they can afford the luxury. And Philly can't let a mistake in the past (Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson) dictate their actions now. They're apparently committed to Jalen Hurts under center, so give him another weapon to go with DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. And Philly gets their pick of the entire wide receiver crop, eventually choosing Wilson after he ran a 4.38 40 at the Combine. Of the receivers that are commonly projected to go in the first round, that was the best 40 time (though just barely as you'll see below).

17. Los Angeles Chargers: DL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia

The Chargers might have actually been unhappy that Jordan Davis went supernova at the Combine. Barring a trade by the Chargers, Davis (my pick for them two weeks ago) probably just priced himself out of their neighborhood. Fortunately, Davis's Georgia teammate, Wyatt, is a pretty nice consolation prize. Wyatt also had an impressive combine, clocking a 4.77-second 40 after weighing in at 304 pounds.

18. New Orleans Saints: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

I'm guessing the Saints run it back with Jameis Winston for one more year and hope that plus a still-strong defense keeps them in contention for the NFC South. If that doesn't work out, they can dive into the QB draft pool next year. Instead, they give Winston (or Taysom Hill or whoever is taking the snaps) a much needed pass-catcher. Burks didn't exactly help his cause with a 4.55 40-yard dash at the Combine but, you know what? That's still pretty good for a physical, 6-foot-2, 220-pound receiver.

19. Philadelphia Eagles: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

In retrospect, I probably should have nabbed Johnson at pick 15 with both Dean and Devin Lloyd still on the board. But it worked out and the Eagles get a potential replacement for Derek Barnett after sneakily finishing second-to-last in sacks last year. I had Johnson going to the Bucs at number 27 two weeks ago but he's on the rise after following a strong Senior Bowl performance with a scoring 4.58-second 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. Johnson's stock may continue to rise in the coming weeks.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss

Corral didn't do any drills a the Combine but, weirdly, might have helped his draft stock a bit anyway. And all he had to do was just stand there. There were some concerns headed into the week about Corral's size but scouts seemed pretty please to see him measure in at 6-1.5 and 212 pounds and display 9 and 5/8-inch hands. Corral visited with the Steelers while in Indy, which doesn't necessarily prove anything, but Pittsburgh probably doesn't really want to roll into 2022 with Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins under center.

21. New England Patriots: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

If Sauce Gardner has moved to the top of the cornerback board and the injured Derek Stingley is just too talented to pass up in the top half of the round, who is drawing the most buzz as the third cornerback in the rankings. Could be McDuffie, who ran a 4.44-second 40 at the Combine and looked fluid and fast in footwork drills. With J.C. Jackson looking for top dollar, the Patriots may need to find reinforcements at the position.

22. Las Vegas Raiders: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

There were a lot of fast receivers at this year's Combine, but Olave pairs his speed with some of the best route-running anyone in this group can muster. Olave was just behind teammate Garrett Wilson with a 4.39-second 40, and then he put on a clinic when his group of receivers started running routes and catching passes. Olave is simply smooth.

23. Arizona Cardinals: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

Karlaftis didn't run the 40 at the Combine and otherwise failed to stand out in drills, but that could work to Arizona's favor, as the Purdue pass-rusher might be sliding down some boards a bit. I still think he's a first-rounder given his collegiate production, his power rushing game and his nonstop motor.

24. Dallas Cowboys: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah

Without purposefully doing so, this is another pick I repeated from my last first-round mock two weeks ago. The reasoning hasn't changed. Keanu Neal and Leighton Vander Esch are both pending unrestricted free agents. The Cowboys hit a grand slam with linebacker Micah Parsons in the first round last year but still need help in that area, especially if they want to keep making frequent use of Parsons as an edge rusher.

25. Buffalo Bills: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama

I think the Buffalo's would be very tempted by a cornerback here, and if they have a first-round grade on someone like Andrew Booth, Roger McCreary or Martin Emerson, maybe that's the pick. But Williams is awfully tempting right here. It does not appear as if Cole Beasley will be sticking around, and Williams' quickness would certainly work in the slot. Williams is a big-play machine who would be a nightmare for opposing defenses when Josh Allen breaks containment and starts looking downfield. This may be a luxury pick for the Bills, but a trio of Williams, Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis would be pretty exciting for Bills fans.

26. Tennessee Titans: WR Drake London, USC

We're definitely in the middle of a run on receivers here, and London may have found the perfect landing spot because the Titans love big, physical players at every spot on the depth chart. They already have A.J. Brown but they could really bully opposing secondaries if they paired him with London, a contested-catch expert.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: G Zion Johnson, Boston College

I went with a pass-rusher two weeks ago and now I'm switching to the other side of the line. What happened? I think you know. In a sudden and unexpected move (at least unexpected for most of us), Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet elected to retire from football on February 27. Combine that with the pending free agency status of Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa and Aaron Stinnie, and the Buccaneers suddenly have a lot of work to do between the offensive tackles. While I do think Jason Licht and company could find guard or center help on Day Two, Johnson sticks out on the board here after a very good Combine showing. The 6-2, 314-pound blocker won this year's "Gold Medal" in the bench press, turning in 32 reps and also finished fourth among offensive linemen with a 32-inch vertical leap. Just like Marpet was seven years ago, Johnson could be a Day One plug-and-play starter.

28. Green Bay Packers: T Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

David Bakhtiari presumably won't have to wait until January to get back on the field in 2022, like he did in 2021, which means the Packers will once again have one of the best left tackles in the business. However, the ultra-versatile Elgton Jenkins may not be ready for the start of the season with his own injury and might be most helpful at left guard anyway. The Packers could use a right-side upgrade over Billy Turner.

29. Miami Dolphins (from San Francisco): G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Green didn't have the best Combine, putting up just 20 reps on the bench press and clocking in at 5.24 seconds in the 40. That could push him down the board a little but, but there happen to be a couple of O-Line-needy teams here at the bottom of the first round. That's definitely true of the Dolphins, who have thrown a lot of resources at the position without much success in recent years. They'll try again.

30. Kansas City Chiefs: S Daxton Hill, Michigan

Tyrann Mathieu could be headed out of Kansas City, but either way the Chiefs could use some help in the secondary. Daniel Sorenson is a free agent and was phased out of the defense during the 2021 season anyway. Juan Thornhill hasn't quite regained his 2019 rookie form as he has returned from a knee injury. Hill ran a 4.43-second 40 at the Combine and was also good in the 20-yard shuttle and the three-cone drill.

31. Cincinnati Bengals: T Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan

Raimann is fairly new to football, and in particular to the offensive tackle position, but his stock is on the rise. When he first picked up the game in Austria he played receiver, then got to play for a Michigan high school team as an exchange student. That led him to Central Michigan, where he played tight end for two seasons before the coaching staff had him bulk up and moved him to the line. That worked to the tune of him being named the MAC's Offensive Player of the Year in 2021. He showed off quite a bit of athleticism at the Combine, stands 6-6 and 303 pounds and fills a huge need for the Super Bowl runners-up.

32. Detroit Lions (from L.A. Rams): QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

I'm still feeling quarterback for the Lions here. They can draft one this year and still roll with Jared Goff for on more season as the Dan Campbell rebuild continues. And by taking the quarterback here with the final pick of the first round, they set up the potential off that fifth year of team control. Ridder and North Carolina's Sam Howell are both still on the board at this point, and it could be a toss-up, but Ridder was the most athletic quarterback in onfield drills last week (with Malik Willis sitting out). He ran the 40 in 4.52 seconds and showed off plenty of arm strength in passing drills.

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