Skip to main content
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 Mock Draft 4.0 

In our fourth edition of the Mock Draft frenzy, with trades now included, the Buccaneers once again bolster the secondary

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

The NFL Scouting Combine was in full swing for the past week as the calendar turned to March. The draft countdown begins, ushering in endless speculation. Combine measurement results will certainly shake up draft boards around the league, as will off-the-field headlines. Blockbuster trades are sure to shake up the first round as is tradition and with trades now in play, I chose to incorporate some early on. There are multiple teams around the league who are desperate enough to make a dramatic move in order to require a top-prospect, notably at quarterback. Several quarterback-needy teams will opt to deal the cards in order to create a fresh slate with a cap-friendly rookie under center. As things begin to transpire in free agency and trades occur, we will start to envision a clearer picture of certain team needs and how the NFL landscape will unfold in April. Before I get into the picks in the fourth installment of predicting how the first round will play out, here is a look at the trades included:

  • The Indianapolis Colts trade up three spots to snag a quarterback, while the Chicago Bears move into the No. 4 slot.
  • Next up, the Carolina Panthers move up to the No. 6 spot in a trade with the Detroit Lions to acquire a quarterback. Subsequently, the Lions then drop to selecting a cornerback with the ninth overall pick.

1) Indianapolis Colts (From CHI): QB Bryce Young, Alabama

The Colts trade up to snag Bryce Young, the most heralded and gifted quarterback of the 2023 class with the fewest question marks. Young possesses great awareness in the pocket and produced at a high level in arguably the best program in college football. Young checks every box and is the most pro-ready quarterback despite size concerns on long-term durability. He has the instincts and accuracy required to succeed in the NFL. Following the retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts targeted short-term solutions at the position in veterans such as Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, and most recently Matt Ryan. This time, they will go with a talented rookie in Young to become the franchise quarterback of the foreseeable future.

2) Houston Texans: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

Per multiple reports, the Texans met with Ohio State Buckeyes signal-caller C.J. Stroud on Thursday at the Scouting Combine. Stroud upped his draft stock by putting the game of his life on tape against Georgia, similar to Justin Herbert's performance at the Rose Bowl. In that game, Stroud completed 23 of 34 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns against a formidable Bulldogs defense. Stroud unleashed his ability to extend plays outside of the pocket when protection broke down, showing improved improvisation skills. His best trait is layering the football with command, leading receivers with precise placement to targets on all areas of the field. Stroud showcased that ability at the Combine, producing one of the best throwing sessions to date. The Texans are in a rebuild mode with a critical offseason ahead that will determine the team's future. Stroud is the most accurate passer of the bunch with a large upside to help bolster Houston's offense.

3) Arizona Cardinals: EDGE Will Anderson Jr.

With the retirement of J.J. Watt – a perennial Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer – the Cardinals will need to solidify their defensive line. Will Anderson Jr., the first player in Alabama history named a unanimous All-American twice, has an explosive first-step and can attack blockers from a variety of angles. In addition to his pass rush prowess, Anderson is equally as effective versus the run. With eye-popping production at Alabama, Anderson has since become a consensus headliner in mock drafts with a tantalizing skillset. Anderson possesses the closing speed to hunt down quarterbacks when the play extends and sets a firm edge.

4) Chicago Bears (From IND): DT Jalen Carter, Georgia

Jalen Carter was charged with misdemeanor reckless driving and racing in relation to a Jan. 15 car crash that resulted in the death of Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and team recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy. With further information on the situation to come at a later date, I am not going to speculate and will take a wait-and-see approach. Carter is the full package on paper in terms of skill. He has a rare combination of quickness and power. Carter consistently out-leverages blockers and would elevate the Bears' defensive line with interior penetration. The disruptive three-technique has first-step quickness and violent hands/leverage that disorients. Carter excels on the gridiron, but his maturity will have to be vetted.

5) Seattle Seahawks (From DEN): EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

This is the bonus pick the Seahawks got from the blockbuster Russell Wilson trade and with the talented group of edge rushers in this year's class, taking Tyree Wilson would add an infusion of talent to the trenches. Wilson has the coveted combination of length, speed and power. He has the elite foundational traits to be a scheme-versatile defender. Wilson comes with a vast array of moves in his arsenal, including a swipe and rip. He is a menace as a bull rusher, knocking back offensive linemen. Additionally, he wrecks plays as a back-side run game catalyst.

6) Carolina Panthers (From LAR via DET): QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

Carolina has not been able to solve the quarterback conundrum amidst a perpetual carousal, and Florida's Anthony Richardson presents a talent worth investment. Richardson has become one of the most polarizing players in this year's draft class and upped his stock with a historical performance at the 2023 Combine. He set a Combine record of 40.5 inches in the vertical leap and ran a blazing 4.43 (first among quarterbacks) in the 40-yard dash. With a small sample size as a full-time starter at Florida and concerns regarding inconsistency, inaccuracy and footwork, Richardson's ability to attack with the deep ball and gash teams using his legs makes him an intriguing developmental prospect. Richardson possesses the ability to make plays when he breaks contain that not many can, running for touchdowns of 45, 60, 73, 80 and 81 yards over the previous two seasons.

7) Las Vegas Raiders: QB Will Levis, Kentucky

Derek Carr is gone after nine seasons with the Raiders and Josh McDaniels will certainly have plenty of choices. Kentucky's Will Levis is a player that has been linked to the Raiders, along with several others. A graduate transfer from Penn State to Kentucky, Levis led the Wildcats to 10 wins in 2021 for just the fourth time in school history. In his 2022 campaign, he was plagued with injuries to his foot, finger and shoulder. Levis fits the mold of size/build for an NFL quarterback and has experience taking snaps under center. He possesses a high football IQ, superb arm talent and athleticism when working off-platform. Levis has experience operating in a pro-style passing attack and can hit off-structure throws with an effortless release. With tightened mechanics, his ceiling is limitless. With inconsistent play, the concerning question is can he develop instincts and pocket awareness at the pro level?

8) Atlanta Falcons: Edge Myles Murphy, Clemson

The Falcons are once again in desperate need of a game-wrecker who can get after the quarterback. Atlanta has recorded a total of 68 sacks over the last three seasons combined. Myles Murphy profiles as an immediate starter with a lethal blend of size and speed. Murphy is disruptive when leveraging his power as a rusher and has dynamic hands that allow him to slip by blockers. He had consistent production at Clemson and is a naturally gifted player. With a developed repertoire of counters, Murphy could reinvigorate the Falcons' front.

9) Detroit Lions (From CAR): CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

The Lions traded down with a quarterback-desperate team and come away with one of the best non-quarterbacks in the draft. The Lions solidify the secondary with long and athletic cornerback Christian Gonzalez. He has immediate-starter potential and impressed decision-makers at the Combine, with a 4.38 40-yard dash, a 41 1/2 -inch vertical and an 11-foot-1 broad jump. Gonzalez showcased smooth movement during position drills that garnered attention. He hauled in passes from the air and backpedaled effortlessly. As an outside cornerback, Gonzalez plays with fluid hips and rare speed. Gonzalez is effective at getting his hands on receivers right off the snap, disrupting the timing/tempo of releases and can mirror-and-match receivers from press-man coverage with effective footwork. He showed improved ball skills in 2022 and has the makings of an explosive outside corner at the pro level, shadowing top-tier receivers.

10) Philadelphia Eagles (From NO): CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

To help offset the potential secondary losses of James Bradberry and C.J. Gardner-Johnson in free agency, the Eagles bolster the secondary with one of the top cornerbacks in the 2023 class, Joey Porter Jr. Football runs in his veins as the son of longtime NFL sack artist, Joey Porter. Porter Jr. is a physical competitor, suffocating receivers at the line of scrimmage with a well-timed punch, rerouting releases. He dominates at the line of scrimmage and is comfortable playing the ball at the catch point. Porter Jr. stays on top of routes, making it a challenge for receivers to succeed on quick underneath routes. He is difficult to box out because of his frame/reach and has CB1 potential in the NFL.

11) Tennessee Titans: OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

New General Manager Ran Carthon and Head Coach Mike Vrabel must rebuild the offensive line after a lackluster 2022 season. With Taylor Lewan's time in Tennessee over and Nate Davis set to become a free agent, the Titans need a reboot up front. Derrick Henry was routinely met in the backfield in 2022 with little room to operate and Northwestern's Peter Skoronski would provide an imposing presence up front. Skoronski is a technician in the trenches, with elite processing, textbook footwork and strength in a detail-oriented approach. He is adept at understanding leverage and angles at the point of attack and possesses a run-blocking upside to become a starter. Despite being a blindside tackle in college, his ceiling is likely at guard in the NFL.

12) Houston Texans (From CLE): WR Jordan Addison, USC

With a young quarterback for the second overall pick, the Texans will lock him up some star power just 10 picks later with USC's Jordan Addison to empower the offense. Addison possesses suddenness and play speed to generate run-after-catch opportunities. His savvy release package and acceleration through stems makes him a threat. Addison's athleticism allows him to work at all three levels of the field. Due to his size, there are concerns regarding his ability to win vs. press but Addison comes with an impressive set of traits.

13) New York Jets: OT Paris Johnson Jr.

Once the Jets resolve the quarterback issue, they can focus on who is snapping the ball and who will protect his blind side. The Jets started 11 different offensive linemen combinations during an injury-plagued 2022 and have multiple holes to fill as they prepare for free agency and the draft. Paris Johnson Jr. has the athletic tools and position versatility to boost the line. He is quick out of his stance in pass sets and has the agility to mirror pass rushers.

14) New England Patriots: S Brian Branch, Alabama

The Patriots could lose safety Devin McCourty and/or cornerback Jonathan Jones in free agency, so they need an influx of talent to shore up the secondary. Alabama's Brian Branch is an instinctual defender with versatile traits that defensive coordinators covet in the modern era with an increase in nickel packages. He is sticky in man coverage and is productive in run support. Branch has experience playing at deep safety, aligning at strong safety in the box, nickel corner, linebacker and blitzing off the edge at the line of scrimmage. With elite play recognition and athleticism, Branch has the attributes to make an immediate impact in the Patriots' defensive backfield.

15) Green Bay Packers: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

It is a great year for the Packers to need a tight end as the 2023 draft class features both high-end talent and quality depth options. Green Bay has reportedly met with the consensus top four tight ends in this class at the Combine: Dalton Kincaid, Michael Mayer, Darnell Washington, and Luke Musgrave. Michael Mayer is the most well-rounded true Y tight end, who can win over the middle as a pass-catching threat and inline as a blocker. He is effective in contested catch situations and can find soft spots in zone, presenting his number to the quarterback by boxing out defenders. Mayer needs refinement as a route runner but is an attractive prospect with a versatile skillset.

16) Washington Commanders: OT Broderick Jones, Georgia

Both Trai Turner and Wes Schweitzer are set to become free agents in March. Following a tumultuous year by the Commanders' offensive line in 2022, it is time for a rebuild. Broderick Jones, known for his movement skills, is a consensus top-tier tackle in the 2023 class. Jones is adept at second-level blocking in space to ignite the running game. With quick feet, a lethal strike and recognition of twists/stunts, Jones possesses the undeniable talent to make an impact at the NFL level.

17) Pittsburgh Steelers: EDGE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa

The Steelers will be looking for defensive line help during the offseason, adding to the outside with T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Iowa's Lukas Van Ness has been a talking point for Steelers' pundits despite his small sample size in 2022. Van Ness did not start any contests for the Hawkeyes this past season, but still garnered second-team All-Big Ten accolades after leading Iowa with 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks among his 38 tackles in 13 games played. The power-based prospect earned the nickname "Hercules" by teammates for his explosion. Van Ness is a splash player, firing out of his stance. He will need development to diversify his arsenal of rushes outside of a bull rush, but he has the traits that should materialize into ascension in the pros.

18) Detroit Lions: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas

With the way Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell value the run game, they opt to snag Bijan Robinson with the 18th overall pick. Robinson has a rare blend of vision, power and elusiveness to force missed tackles. He checks all boxes as a runner and receiver, with an opportunity to become one of the NFL's most productive runners at a rapid pace. He is talented in all phases, making him an unpredictable nightmare for defenders to contend with. Robinson is sudden off jump-cuts, possesses rare contact balance and is a handful on wheel routes. It may not be the rule of thumb to draft a running back in the first round given the wear and tear of the position, however; with Robinson's skillset, he is going to be an exception.

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

The Buccaneers could lose a multitude of players in the secondary during free agency. Fifth-year players Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Mike Edwards are all pending free agents, as are veteran safeties Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal, garnering tough decisions ahead with salary-cap restrictions entering 2023. With Devon Witherspoon still on the board at No. 19, the Bucs add reinforcements to a likely-depleted unit. Witherspoon plays with tenacity and displays sensational competitiveness when the ball is in the air – a trait the Bucs prioritize. As cliché as it sounds, Witherspoon plays bigger than his 180-pound frame. The Florida native allowed a completion rate of just 34.9% in 2022 per PFF and totaled 14 pass breakups last season. He shows impressive route recognition and is a premium ball-tracker, probing from off coverages. Witherspoon is aggressive as a tackler both in run support and preventing yards after the catch. His playmaking prowess would help solidify the Bucs' secondary.

20) Seattle Seahawks: DL Bryan Bresee, Clemson

Seattle came into this draft needing help all over its defensive front and after locking up Tyree Wilson at No. 5; the Seahawks take Bryan Bresee at No. 20. Bresee's last two seasons at Clemson were hindered by injuries (ACL, kidney infection). Despite the medical concerns, Bresee is an explosive force as both a pocket pusher and run defender. He possesses an anchor to withstand double teams, processes blocking schemes well and effectively maintains his run fits. If he remains healthy, Bresee should continue to ascend in the NFL.

NA. Miami Dolphins: Forfeited

The Dolphins will not pick in the first round as punishment for their offseason tampering violations.

21) Los Angeles Chargers: WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

The Chargers need speed in their receiving corps and select Tennessee's Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt is the player who can keep safeties honest with field-stretching speed and tracking skills. He exploits cushions when defenders do not challenge at the line of scrimmage and blows past off-man coverage. Hyatt's explosion will force defensive coordinators away from stacking the box versus the run. He runs vertical routes with precision and accelerates at the route stem, generating separation. Hyatt would help weaponize the Chargers' receiver cast.

22) Baltimore Ravens: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU

Baltimore will have a new offensive coordinator in 2022 after parting ways with Greg Roman, prompting a possible increased emphasis on the passing game. The Ravens need to bolster the receiving corps, as Head Coach John Harbaugh cited the club will add "a lot of pieces" to the receiver room. After trading former first-round draft pick Marquise "Hollywood" Brown to the Arizona Cardinals for a first-round pick during the 2022 NFL Draft, the Ravens came into the year with a thin depth chart at the position. Enter Quentin Johnston. Johnston forces missed tackles with finesse and has arguably the most upside of any receiver in the 2023 class. Johnston served as the X-factor for a high-powered TCU offense that led the program to its first national championship appearance in decades. He ran a near flawless gauntlet drill at the 2023 Combine, entrenching his first-round status in April. When Johnston faces off coverage, he possesses an explosive first step and has the agility to snap off a breaking route or push a route vertically.

23) Minnesota Vikings: Edge Nolan Smith, Georgia

The Vikings need players who can step in and contribute to an aging defense. Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith are getting older, and no clear succession plan exists. The Vikings look towards the future and select Nolan Smith, Georgia's flexible and explosive edge rusher/outside linebacker. Smith drew attention at the Combine, becoming the first player since 2003 to weigh 238-plus pounds and post a sub-4.40 40-yard dash and a vertical leap of at least 40 inches. There has been much made on his sack production at Georgia -12.5 sacks over four years - however, the Bulldogs move players around and Smith was not simply asked to get after the quarterback. Due to his impact as a run defender, Smith projects as a three-down player. As a pass rusher, Smith has an explosive first step that threatens the outside shoulder of tackles and has the athleticism to drop into coverage when asked, defending hooks and curls. Acquiring a player that can get to the quarterback, stuff the run and drop into coverage effectively cannot be overlooked.

24) Jacksonville Jaguars: TE Luke Musgrave, Oregon State

Doug Pederson heavily utilized two tight end sets in Philadelphia featuring Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, that became a nuisance for the NFC East. In his first year with the Jaguars as their new head coach in 2022, Pederson once again thrived using multiple personnel groupings to complement Evan Engram, who signed a one-year deal. Engram has received the franchise tag from the Jaguars but adding depth at tight end would help diversify the offense in Jacksonville. Luke Musgrave is a well-rounded athlete with fluidity as both a pass-catcher and a blocker. He is able to avoid contact with smooth transitions of tempo, creating separation in and out of breaks. As a blocker, Musgrave is willing to sustain at the point of attack to open opportunities for teammates.

25) New York Giants: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland

Injuries and performances left the Giants' secondary unit in flux going into the offseason and now, they have a chance to elevate it. Maryland's Deonte Banks has the physicality and ball skills to smother receivers at the pro level. Banks upped his stock at the 2023 Combine, running a 4.35 40-yard dash with a 42-inch vertical and an 11-foot-4 broad jump. His eye-popping numbers drew attention and displayed his combination of size, strength and athleticism. Banks can disrupt releases from press coverage and plays with fluid hips to glide around the field. He can tweak his game with improved route recognition but possesses impressive traits to develop into an impactful CB2.

26) Dallas Cowboys: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

The Cowboys met with many players at the 2023 Combine, including Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Dallas has a glaring need at wide receiver and much of the team's offseason will likely be spent retooling the position group that does boast CeeDee Lamb but is in dire need of additional targets for quarterback Dak Prescott. The Texas native missed nearly the entire 2022 season with injury but has the talent to remain in the first-round hunt. With precision on routes and elite ball skills, Smith-Njigba can become a producer as a possession slot receiver in the pros. He is a zone-beater, making catches in congestion and leverages himself with quickness in and out of breaks on intermediate routes. Smith-Njigba has a knack for creating space and would boost the Cowboys' receiver room.

27) Buffalo Bills: RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

Devin Singletary is a pending free agent and James Cook is primarily a change-of-pace runner and not an every-down back. The Bills add to an impressive offensive cast with Alabama's Jahmyr Gibbs. What Gibbs may lack in terms of size and power, he makes up for as a pass-catching threat and his prowess in pass protection. Gibbs has a feel for blocking schemes and can exploit personnel groupings by creating mismatches in space with a slash-run style. He can elude tacklers in space and runs with quick acceleration. With his route running, Gibbs is hard to cover man-to-man. He is projected to make an exciting NFL weapon.

28) Cincinnati Bengals: TE Darnell Washington, Georgia

Hayden Hurst could hit the market and even if he returns, the Bengals could use a more dynamic weapon. Darnell Washington caught an insane one-handed grab at the Combine, solidifying his place as a first-round talent. Washington is a weapon as a blocker, creating a mismatch with linebackers at the point of attack. He can make catches in traffic, offering untapped potential as a pass-catcher. Washington utilizes his size and power to displace defenders and creates an advantage in goal-line situations.

29) New Orleans (From SF via MIA and DEN): IOL O'Cyrus Torrence

New Orleans opts to address their needs in the trenches with one of this year's top interior prospects, O'Cyrus Torrence. Torrence followed his Louisiana head coach, Billy Napier, to Florida for the 2022 season, where he garnered first-team Associated Press All-American honors as well as first-team All-SEC notice for his play in 11 starts at right guard vs. SEC competition. Torrence uses his large frame to generate movement as a blocker, neutralizing the man in front of him. Torrence is adept at reading twists and thrives in a downhill attack.

30) Philadelphia Eagles: DT Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh

The Eagles have six players in their defensive front who could be free agents in March, depleting their unit. Reloading in the trenches would benefit the NFC Champions, notably with Calijah Kancey. With burst off the ball and explosive hands, Kancey possesses stout qualities that will undoubtedly translate to the NFL level. He is undersized but is a nightmare as a pass rusher, fitting the profile of a penetrating one-gapper. Kancey's relentless motor and understanding of leverage often overwhelms guards in a one-on-one scenario. He finds angles to exploit and terrorizes the pocket.

31) Kansas City Chiefs: Edge B.J. Ojulari, LSU

The Chiefs need to find a young counterpart for George Karlaftis to revitalize their defensive front. B.J. Ojulari has an arsenal of rushes, including his signature ghost move, and possesses a blend of speed and bend from anywhere along the line. As a pass rusher, Ojulari showcases the ability to dip and rip under offensive linemen, achieving superb balance. As a run defender, he is most effective when he can use his athleticism and closing speed to make tackles in backside pursuit. Ojulari would add firepower up front for the Super Bowl Champions.

Related Content

win monthly prizes, download the app and turn on push alerts to score

Download the Buccaneers app and turn on push alerts for your chance to win

Latest Headlines