The New England Patriots secured yet another Super Bowl yesterday, and the ensuing collective groan of the NFL world was heard loud and clear. However, with the official end to the 2018 season comes #MockDraftSZN because we all can't bear to be without football for more than 24 hours (myself very much included in that).
The real start to the Mock Draft season coincided more with the Senior Bowl held on Jan. 26, with most national pundits producing their preliminary projections (how's that for alliteration). The Bucs have a top-five pick this year and have myriad needs on both sides of the ball. The 2019 draft class is thought to be deeper defensively, with defensive line and safety prospects sticking out especially. Still, with the fifth overall pick, a -brst-player-available scenario may play out, with the Bucs grabbing top-tier talent regardless of need. It's paid off the last two years in drafting both defensive tackle Vita Vea, who came into his own down the stretch of last season, and tight end O.J. Howard, who has been as productive a player as any the last two seasons before each were cut short due to injury.
Take a look below to see who each draft analyst has the Bucs taking at No. 5 in this year's NFL Draft.
Lance Zierlein (January 29) – DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama
"With all the help Todd Bowles needs on defense, the Bucs will be able to go "best available" on that side of the ball here. Tampa adds an interior rusher to go along with Vita Vea and Gerald McCoy rather than reaching for an edge rusher."
Bucky Brooks (January 25) – LB Devin White, LSU
"White's speed, athleticism and playmaking ability would add a dimension to a Bucs defense that struggled to defend the run and pass over the middle."
Daniel Jeremiah (January 23) – Josh Jacobs, RB
"The Bucs didn't see any return on their investment in Ronald Jones, a second-round pick last year. Jacobs is a dynamic player with ideal toughness."
Chris Trapasso (February 3) – DT Ed Oliver, Houston
Trapasso: "There's some talk in league circles that Oliver's going to weigh in under 280 pounds at the combine. Could that drop him out of the top five? Maybe. But the Buccaneers could pick a defensive tackle in back-to-back drafts with Gerald McCoy rumored to have already played his last down in Tampa."
R.J. White (February 3) – EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
White: "In most drafts, Ferrell would be getting more attention as maybe the top edge rusher of his class. He has 36.5 tackles for loss and 21 sacks over his last two seasons, but he's also an excellent run defender and would give Tampa Bay a three-down talent on the edge."
Dan Kadar (February 4) - DE Reshan Gary, Michigan
Kadar: "The Buccaneers are in a tough spot this offseason. They're likely going to cut veteran star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. They could also move on from end Vinny Curry. If those moves happen, Tampa Bay could turn to the draft to replenish the defensive line. Gary is a big end who sets the edge well, and he can move inside in certain situations."
Scott Reynolds (February 1) - LB Devin White, LSU
Reynolds: "Tampa Bay's defense needs more talented playmakers for new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and White is one of the most athletic and physical defenders in this year's draft. With the likes of Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and Kentucky pass-rushing linebacker Josh Allen already gone, the Bucs opt for LSU inside linebacker Devin White for the second straight mock draft on PewterReport.com."