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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2022 Mock Draft 9.0: Changeup Edition

This particular mock draft has an unusual set of rules: Each team is barred from drafting any player that it has taken in any of our previous mock efforts, which led to a shakeup in the top 10 and some talented prospects falling down the board

Bucs Mock Draft

I have been posting mock drafts on a weekly basis since mid-February because I support the mock draft mass industrial complex. To throw in some variety and allow time for draft-changing developments to happen, I've alternated week-to-week between traditional first-round mocks and some different approaches. You can see what I mean through the links below.

I did a straight first-round mock last week, so this is a Wild Card Week, and my idea this time around is a bit of a combination of the two approaches. Specifically, this is going to be a normal first-round mock draft except I have to give each team a player I have never mocked to them before.

This is more than just an idle gimmick. When you do a lot of mock drafts you tend to fall into some repetitive lines of thinking. Or at least I do. For instance, I have been absolutely married to the idea of the Baltimore Ravens taking center Tyler Linderbaum at pick number 14. Each time I get to that pick, I think it's a great idea and I stick with it. The reality, though, is no mock drafter should feel particularly confident about any pick outside the top five or six. In this case, all it would take for it not to happen, to cite just a couple possibilities, is for Baltimore to think Linderbaum isn't a good scheme fit for them or that the 14th pick is simply too high to take a center.

So, by forcing myself to go in a different direction not just for the Ravens but for every team in the first round, I might open up some new lines of thinking in the long run. Or it could end up just being a gimmick after all. We'll see.

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

Mock Draft 2.0 (My first attempt, without trades.)

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

Mock Draft 4.0 (My second straight mock, still without trades.)

Mock Draft 5.0 (In which I am required to make at least six trades.)

Mock Draft 6.0 (Another straight first round, but with trades allowed.)

Mock Draft 7.0 (Predicting the second round based on the first round from 6.0.)

Mock Draft 8.0 (Traditional first-round mock shaken up by one real trade and one imagined one)

Since there have been a couple trades that changed the draft order or put teams in or out of the first round, plus some fake trades I made up along the way, I'm not going to be concerned with matching previous picks to actual draft spots. Simply put, if I have mocked a player to a team at any point since February, I'm putting them on that team's "do not draft" list for this exercise. Here we go:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia

Previous Picks: T Evan Neal, T Ikem Ekwonu, EDGE Aidan Hutchinson

Walker's rise up the mock draft ranks over the last two months has been nothing short of remarkable, particularly for a non-quarterback. It helps to measure out as, roughly speaking, "insanely athletic," but this prospect was considered a borderline first-rounder as recently as February. Let me take you on a journey through on analyst's mock drafts, that of CBS Sports' Josh Edwards, who I've chosen for this because he's a respected draft writer and, more importantly, he's been doing about one a week for a while. Here's where he's had Walker week by week – Feb. 10: N/A; Feb. 17: 30th; Feb. 24: 19th; March 3: 14th; March 8: 14th; March 17th: 2nd; March 24th: 5th; March 31st: 2nd; April 7: 4th. From out of the round to as high as second. You can be a little leery about Walker due to his relative lack of production at Georgia, though that may just be a function of how he was used. In any case, if the Jaguars can't have Hutchinson, they can shoot for the stars with Walker.

2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Previous Picks: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, CB Derek Stingley Jr., EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, CB Ahmad Gardner

The cornerback picks here were when the Lions traded down. I don't think they go for Gardner or Stingley at two and they are also barred from Hutchinson, so I'll get over my worries about the culture fit between Thibodeaux and Dan Campbell and let the ultra-confident Oregon defender prove himself in Detroit.

3. Houston Texans: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Previous Picks: S Kyle Hamilton, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, T Ikem Ekwonu, WR Treylon Burks, EDGE Travon Walker, WR Garrett Wilson

The Texans are the clear winners here in the gimmick-induced Hutchinson slide. I continue to believe that Houston is more likely to go defense than offensive tackle and they can't take Kyle Hamilton so Hutchinson is the obvious choice.

4. New York Jets: T Evan Neal, Alabama

Previous Picks: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, CB Derek Stingley Jr., S Kyle Hamilton, T Charles Cross, T Ikem Ekwonu, EDGE Travon Walker, T Trevor Penning

As much as the Jets would like to add an edge rusher, too, the run at the top of the draft is fine with them, too, because they could definitely use a tackle upgrade and now they can choose the best one on their board. (Well, they can unless Ekwonu is the best one on their board, since he's on their no-draft list.) Neal can take over from George Fant at right tackle and pair with 2020 first-rounder Mekhi Becton to give the Jets absolutely massive bookends to their line in front of Zach Wilson.

5. New York Giants: T Charles Cross, Mississippi State

Previous Picks: T Ikem Ekwonu, EDGE George Karlaftis, T Evan Neal, EDGE Travon Walker, EDGE Jermaine Johnson, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux

The Giants have two of the next three picks and want to come away from it with one tackle and one edge rusher. With Neal gone and Ekwonu not available to them, they go offensive first because they tackle-needy Panthers are sitting there in between their two picks. Like the neighboring Jets, the Giants spent a first-rounder in 2020 on their current left tackle, Andrew Thomas, who showed a lot of improvement in his second season. Cross would replace departed veteran Nate Solder.

6. Carolina Panthers: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Previous Picks: QB Malik Willis, T Charles Cross, T Ikem Ekwonu

This was a tough one. The run on tackles erased the Panthers' best option here, unless you want to force Trevor Penning this high. Kyle Hamilton is intriguing but they're moving Jeremy Chinn back to safety and just made a mid-level three-year investment in Xavier Woods. I am of the mind that they would "take a shot" at quarterback, as General Manager Scott Fitterer recently said they need to do at some point, if Malik Willis was here. He is, but he can't go to Carolina. Do they like Pickett as much? Well, you can connect some dots with Head Coach Matt Rhule's previous recruitment of Pickett at Pitt and Owner David Tepper's ties to the school. Maybe that's enough.

7. New York Giants (from Chicago): CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

Previous Picks: T Ikem Ekwonu, EDGE George Karlaftis, T Evan Neal, EDGE Travon Walker, EDGE Jermaine Johnson, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux

My whole idea of the Giants going OT-EDGE is killed by the fact that the top three are gone and Jermaine Johnson and George Karlaftis are both on their no-draft list. Instead of forcing it the Giants get the first cornerback off the board, and really, that's a pretty enormous area of need for them as well. This would also give them a little more flexibility if they try to find some way to get James Bradberry's contract off the books.

8. Atlanta Falcons: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Previous Picks: QB Kenny Pickett, CB Ahmad Gardner, WR Garrett Wilson, QB Malik Willis

Atlanta is forbidden from taking Malik Willis so they hit an area of intense need with the dynamic Burks. The 6-3, 225-pound pass-catcher didn't match the top speed receivers in the 40-yard dash at the Combine but he plays plenty fast and could emerge as a Deebo Samuel type with the ability to line up all over the formation, including in the backfield.

9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): T Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State

Previous Picks: QB Malik Willis, CB Ahmad Gardner, T Charles Cross

This particular draft conceit wasn't very kind to Ekwonu, who is likely a top-five pick in the real thing. The problem is, he's so good and he's such a good fit for so many teams in the early going that he's already been barred from most of them. The only teams that could have had Ekwonu and passed were Detroit and Atlanta. It works out awfully nicely for the Seahawks, though. Seattle's current roster features just three offensive tackles, all of whom were sixth-round picks or undrafted free agents last year. The team's 2021 starters, Duane Brown and Brandon Shell, are still on the open market. Even if Seattle brings back one of those two, they still have a pressing need at the position.

10. N.Y. Jets (from Seattle): WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Previous Picks: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, CB Derek Stingley Jr., S Kyle Hamilton, T Charles Cross, T Ikem Ekwonu, EDGE Travon Walker, T Trevor Penning

The Jets would have jumped on Kyle Hamilton here if they were allowed to do so, but alas they cannot. Yes, they drafted Elijah Moore just last year, but the fact that they were one of the two finalists to trade for former Chief Tyreek Hill suggests they are still in the market for a top-flight receiver. Wilson isn't exactly like Hill – who is? – but he's got good speed and is a very polished all-around wideout prospect. A new tackle and a new playmaking receiver? Zach Wilson is enjoying this draft so far.

11. Washington Commanders: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

Previous Picks: WR Treylon Burks, QB Kenny Pickett, WR Drake London

Former seventh-round pick Camren Kurl has worked out nicely for the Commanders but they could still use another safety and they are very fortunate that Hamilton fell this far. Some consider the Notre Dame safety to be the best overall prospect in the draft this year, even though he didn't run as fast as anticipated at either the Combine or his Pro Day. Otherwise, he's pretty much got it all – size, speed, length, instincts and positional versatility.

12. Minnesota Vikings: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

Previous Picks: CB Ahmad Gardner, CB Derek Stingley Jr., DE George Karlaftis

I would put cornerback and edge rusher on virtually the same level of need for the Vikings, but I can't give them Stingley and I think they'd be more likely to grab Johnson here than stretch for one of the other cornerbacks. There is some good depth at the latter position and they can try to hit it in the second round. It's much harder to find an impact edge rusher after the first round. Johnson probably would have gone in the top 10 if I didn't have these self-imposed restraints on some teams' options.

13. Houston Texans (from Cleveland): CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Previous Picks: S Kyle Hamilton, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, T Ikem Ekwonu, WR Treylon Burks, EDGE Travon Walker, WR Garrett Wilson

The Texans have a lot of needs and, after they already got an edge rusher at pick number three, I'd put cornerback right at the top of the list. That matches up perfectly with Stingley still being available at this spot; without restrictions I don't think he would make it past the Falcons, Seahawks, Jets and Vikings. Stingley is a bit of a divisive figure in the mock draft universe because he has played very little football in the past two years. But in the end I think talent wins out and the Texans can't pass on a potential shutdown corner.

14. Baltimore Ravens: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

Previous Picks: C Tyler Linderbaum

As you can see, I wasn't kidding at the top about my obsession with shipping Linderbaum to the Ravens. Of course, that means I'm left with more options for Baltimore than any other team, and in this case I think they switch to the other side of the trenches. Karlaftis has good power and long arms for a bullrush but also has a decent set of counter moves. He can slot in on the strong side across from 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami): CB Andrew Booth, Clemson

Previous Picks: EDGE Travon Walker, CB Trent McDuffie, LB Nakobe Dean, WR Garrett Wilson, EDGE Jermaine Johnson, WR Chris Olave, LB Devin Lloyd, WR Jameson Williams, WR Treylon Burks

The Eagles started mock draft season with three first-round picks and still have two of them after their trade with the Saints, so they have had a lot of players mocked to them at one spot or another. I've mostly cleared the board of receiver prospects for them, plus both Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean at linebacker, so the options are dwindling. They'd love to grab McDuffie here, but we've done that before. That moves them on to the next corner on their list, which is Booth, a six-foot corner with smooth feet and a competitive attitude. The Eagles might be able to trade down a bit and still get their target if they so desire.

16. New Orleans Saints (from Indianapolis through Philadelphia): QB Malik Willis, Liberty

Previous Picks: QB Desmond Ridder, WR Treylon Burks, WR Drake London, T Charles Cross, QB Kenny Pickett, WR Chris Olave

It's fortunate that real NFL general managers won't have the no-draft lists I'm working around here, because Willis falling to the Saints here would be infuriating. It wasn't until the Saints picked up this extra first-round pick that I was willing to believe they were going to draft a quarterback this year. I'm still not sold on it, but in this particular case with Willis falling all the way to them at the midpoint of the round I think they would have a hard time saying no.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: T Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

Previous Picks: DL Jordan Davis, DL Devonte Wyatt

As you can see, I've been very adamant about the Chargers getting one of Georgia's big interior defensive linemen, but that's not an option here. The Chargers would also consider Trent McDuffie here, even after signing J.C. Jackson for one cornerback spot. But this is more help for the franchise's most important asset, quarterback Justin Herbert. L.A. hit a home run with Rashawn Slater last year so left tackle is set but they could definitely use an upgrade over Storm Norton on the other side.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans Saints): WR Drake London, USC

Previous Picks: EDGE Travon Walker, CB Trent McDuffie, LB Nakobe Dean, WR Garrett Wilson, EDGE Jermaine Johnson, WR Chris Olave, LB Devin Lloyd, WR Jameson Williams, WR Treylon Burks

A ha! The Eagles have never landed London in any of our previous mocks, so he's still an option and he's surprisingly still available here. London would be a good complement, too, the more slight Devonta Smith, bringing size, physicality and contested-catch ability to the Eagles' receiving corps. This worked out better for Philly than I thought it could.

19. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia): WR Jameson Williams, Alabama

Previous Picks: QB Desmond Ridder, WR Treylon Burks, WR Drake London, T Charles Cross, QB Kenny Pickett, WR Chris Olave

The Saints also had one more blue-chip receiver on their dance card and are fortunate the Eagles couldn't take Williams. Again, it's a nice complement to the team's top receiver, in this case Michael Thomas, as Thomas is the master of quick, sharp routes and Williams can take the top off any defense. As soon as he's fully recovered from his knee injury, Williams would jump right ahead of Marquez Callaway, Tre'Quan Smith and Deonte Harty as the Saints' number-two receiver.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

Previous Picks: DL DeMarvin Leal, QB Matt Corral, QB Kenny Pickett, EDGE Jermaine Johnson

Yes, the Steelers signed Mason Cole and he could start at center, but it wasn't a big deal and it's heavily backloaded so the investment isn't big enough to keep them from jumping on Linderbaum when he falls this far. They would have to like Desmond Ridder or Sam Howell an awful lot to stick with quarterback here after Pickett and Willis are gone and Corral is unavailable to them.

21. New England Patriots: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Previous Picks: WR Drake London, CB Trent McDuffie, G Zion Johnson, CB Andrew Booth

The Patriots are looking longingly through the store window at cornerback Trent McDuffie, who is unfortunately on their forbidden list. But they really do need at least one guard after the Shaq Mason trade and they also cannot take Zion Johnson. There's some disagreement about whether Johnson or Green should go first anyway, so this is a pretty easy pick for the Patriots.

22. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas): G Zion Johnson, Boston College

Previous Picks: T Charles Cross, T Trevor Penning, WR George Pickens, WR Chris Olave, WR Jameson Williams, G Kenyon Green

This particular draft setup isn't working out well for the Packers, who will shock the world in the real draft if they don't take a receiver with one of their two first-round picks. Chris Olave is still available, but not to the Packers. As I noted previously, however, the presence of Elgton Jenkins gives the Packers a lot of options as to where they go with a first-round lineman. In this scenario, they kick Jenkins out to right tackle and get a plug-and-play starter at guard. The value isn't here at receiver so hopefully we can get them one a little bit later.

23. Arizona Cardinals: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

Previous Picks: WR Chris Olave, EDGE George Karlaftis, EDGE David Ojabo

Some teams have been hamstrung by the constraints of this particular mock draft approach, but a couple have really reaped the benefits, and the Cardinals fall into the latter category. They aren't able to land the pass rusher they covet to replace Chandler Jones but their need at cornerback is arguably even more significant, particularly if you don't think Jeff Gladney is the answer. McDuffie makes it this far primarily because the Eagles and Patriots couldn't take him and the Vikings passed at number 12 to land a pass rusher instead.

24. Dallas Cowboys: LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia

Previous Picks: LB Devin Lloyd, T Trevor Penning, S Daxton Hill

The Cowboys can't take Lloyd but land a similar talent in Dean, who is a rangy playmaker with great football instincts. Dean was one of the many Georgia defenders that took the Combine by storm, as he showed off the speed and processing ability that often makes him the first player to the ball. By drafting another off-ball linebacker here the Cowboys free themselves up to play 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons as an edge rusher more often.

25. Buffalo Bills: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

Previous Picks: CB Andrew Booth, WR Jameson Williams, DL Devonte Wyatt, CB Kaiir Elam

I'm torn here between Kyler Gordon and Olave, and I've paired the Bills up with a cornerback on multiple occasions in past mock drafts. But this time, with Olave lasting longer than usual due to this draft's rules, I think they find the polished Ohio State receiver to tempting to pass up. With the emergence last year of Gabriel Davis and the newly-extended Stefon Diggs already in place, Olave would give Josh Allen a potentially lethal three-wide attack. Olave has plenty of speed but he's also an all-around receiver who does pretty much everything well.

26. Tennessee Titans: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida

Previous Picks: TE Trey McBride, WR Drake London, LB Devin Lloyd, LB Nakobe Dean

The Titans sadly watch Devin Lloyd stroll by before pivoting to the next level of defense with this Gator corner whose stock has been on the rise since he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the Combine and also looked smooth in on-field drills. His size, speed and length compare well with that of Ahmad Gardner, who is way up near the top of this draft. Tennessee could also go with receivers Jahan Dotson or George Pickens here.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DL Jordan Davis, Georgia

Previous Picks: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, WR Chris Olave, G Zion Johnson, CB Andrew Booth, DL Devonte Wyatt

I'll admit, this worked out a little too neatly for the Buccaneers. The only reason Davis isn't on their no-draft list is that in most mock drafts he never makes it this far. He certainly hasn't been available in the late 20s in any of my previous efforts. But I followed the rules of this draft and it delivered an incredibly athletic big man whose already an elite run-stuffer to Tampa. Pairing Davis with Vita Vea seems unfair, particularly if Davis can unlock some of the pass-rushing potential that his athleticism would suggest is there. I certainly wouldn't get my hopes up about this, but for at least one week we can dream.

28. Green Bay Packers: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State

Previous Picks: T Charles Cross, T Trevor Penning, WR George Pickens, WR Chris Olave, WR Jameson Williams, G Kenyon Green

The Packers stave off a fan revolt here by using a first-round pick on a wide receiver for the first time in exactly two decades. The last one was Javon Walker in 2002, which worked out well. Green Bay hasn't even used a second-round pick on a wideout since 2014, when they landed Davante Adams. That also went well but the relationship ended last month when Adams was traded to the Raiders for a draft-pick haul. Dotson would be hard-pressed to replace everything that Adams did for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay's offense, but it's a start.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (from San Francisco via Miami): EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota

Previous Picks: CB Kyler Gordon, S Daxton Hill, EDGE David Ojabo, WR George Pickens

Frank Clark finished with just 4.5 sacks in 14 games last year and his numbers have been on a steady decline for four years. The projected starter on the other end is Mike Danna, who had 3.0 sacks in 17 games in 2021. That was essentially it for the edge rush production for the Chiefs, who even tried Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones out there for half the season before realizing they were wasting his true talents. Mafe ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at the Combine and has shown elite explosiveness off the edge, though his overall game may need some development.

30. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Roger McCreary, Auburn

Previous Picks: CB Kyler Gordon, S Daxton Hill, EDGE David Ojabo, WR George Pickens

The Chiefs really need a cornerback but can't draft Gordon so they go down the list a bit for McCreary. The Auburn defender plays aggressively and with strength but he's lacking a bit in size and length. If they can find a partner – maybe somebody looking to move up into the bottom of the first to take a quarterback and lock in that fifth-year contract option – Kansas City might be better served moving down a bit from this pick.

31. Cincinnati Bengals: DL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia

Previous Picks: G Kenyon Green, T Bernhard Raimann, G Zion Johnson, DL Travis Jones

The value here is really good for the Bengals, who went for an interior defensive lineman in my last mock draft, too. Larry Ogunjobi probably isn't coming back so the Bengals, who used free agency to thoroughly address their offensive line issues, so the Bengals get another big man for their rotation here. Wyatt has some significant pass-rushing potential at the next level.

32. Detroit Lions (from L.A. Rams): LB Devin Lloyd, Utah

Previous Picks: QB Matt Corral, QB Desmond Ridder, EDGE Boye Mafe

The Lions already got their edge rush help at the top of the round, and while it wouldn't be ridiculous to take another pass rusher – say, Penn State's Arnold Ebiketie – but I think they address the middle of the defense here. I don't think the return of Jarrad Davis, whose first four years in Detroit were underwhelming, moves the needle much, and Alex Anzalone isn't the answer, either. Lloyd is physically gifted but I think Dan Campbell will like him even more for the way he aggressively seeks out contact.

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