The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the 14th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. As such, the field for potential first-round draft picks is wide open and despite it being January, draft pundits from around the country continue to weigh in.
The Bucs' needs and draft focus will be largely affected by what they are able to do (or not do) in free agency. With that in mind, let's see who the analysts have as front-runners to land in Tampa Bay come end of April – especially now that the NFL Scouting Combine is in the books.
Pick(s): 1st round – EDGE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa; 2nd round – RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State; 3rd round – OT Ben Bartch, St. John's
Comments: "Even if Shaq Barrett returns, as is expected, the Bucs could use another big body like Epenesa on the defensive line."
Pick: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Comments: "I believe the QB question will be solved before the draft, either by retaining Jameis Winston or bringing in another veteran signal-caller in free agency. Regardless of who ends up under center, the Bucs need help at right tackle."
Pick: DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Comments: "Kinlaw is a man among boys. This will be a value pick for the Bucs, and they can't pass on this type of talent -- keep in mind that Ndamukong Suh is a pending free agent."
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN (Feb. 18)
Pick: EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Comments: "I mentioned in my Mock Draft 1.0 the Bucs' possible departures along the defensive line -- Ndamukong Suh, Carl Nassib, Jason Pierre-Paul and Beau Allen are all free agents -- and Chaisson would be a perfect fit as an outside linebacker in Todd Bowles' 3-4 defense. Chaisson had just 9.5 sacks in his college career, but this is a bet on a terrific upside for a twitchy pass-rusher who should test well at the combine later this month. After taking Devin White in the first round last year, Tampa can go back to the LSU well here with Chaisson."
Todd McShay, ESPN (Feb. 3)
Pick: DE K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Comments: "Pass rushing was a strength for the Bucs in 2019, but they are now faced with free agency for Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, Carl Nassib and Beau Allen -- and expect Barrett to get paid after his incredible season. No matter how it shakes out, Tampa Bay will likely now need help getting after the QB off the edge, and a strong late-season push from Chaisson (4.5 sacks in his final four games) has him in play in this range. He'd bring a lot of speed to the front. But don't rule out a quarterback if GM Jason Licht decides Jameis Winston isn't in the team's 2020 plans. If Herbert is already off the board, Utah State's Jordan Love, who is rising after the Senior Bowl, could be another option."
The Draft Network
Pick(s): Round 1 – OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia; Round 2 – RB D'Andre Swift, Georgia; Round 3 – DT Jordan Elliot, Mizzou
Comments: "With their quarterback position still up in the air, it seems like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are honing in on capitalizing on this talented offensive tackle class with their first pick.
During his podium session, head coach Bruce Arians spoke highly of the offensive tackle class saying, "That's one of the positions I've looked at a lot coming here. It looks like a really deep class.''
If one of the "Big Four" is still around at No. 14, I think that's the choice."
Pro Football Focus
Pick: DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Comments: "Kinlaw didn't test at the Combine, but he did check in at a massive 6-foot-5, 324 pounds with 34 ⅞-inch arms and 10 ½-inch hands. Those are big boy numbers for PFF's second-ranked defensive tackle. Pairing Kinlaw with Vita Vea would give the Bucs easily the most physically imposing defensive interior in the NFL."
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports (March 1)
Pick: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Comments: "Thomas is the fourth offensive linemen off the board, and he's the fourth offensive linemen to help himself with a strong combine performance. In Tampa Bay, he solidifies an offensive line that ranked in the bottom third in both pass protection and run blocking, according to Football Outsiders."
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report (March 2)
Pick: EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Comments: "Star pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett is set to become a free agent alongside starting quarterback Jameis Winston, with the Buccaneers only able to use the franchise tag on one of them. Statements made by head coach Bruce Arians throughout the offseason hint at a possible Winston departure. But whether Barrett, Winston or both are back next season, Tampa needs to head into the draft thinking about adding to each position.
LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson is a truly special athlete and player at the outside linebacker position. The Tigers asked Chaisson to rush the quarterback but he was also tasked often with dropping into coverage or stacking up against the run. In that way, he's more like 2019 draft pick Josh Allen from Kentucky than he is a pure pass-rusher.
A quarterback could definitely be the selection here, but in my rankings, there isn't a passer worthy of the No. 14 overall selection, which is something Arians and general manager Jason Licht must consider when deciding how to fill the quarterback depth chart this offseason."
Pick(s): OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama (Round 1)
Comments: "This should be a dream-come-true scenario for Tampa Bay, as Wills is my favorite offensive lineman in the class by a comfortable margin. I just think that his lack of length will bump him down the board a bit for some teams, especially if some view him as a guard after the NFL Scouting Combine. I think he's a tackle all the way, and he'll plug-and-play for the Bucs on the right side opposite Donovan Smith.
Wills is a heart-and-soul, no-nonsense hustler on the field, who will bring a physicality and edge to the unit that the Bucs currently lack. I think his impact will be Quenton Nelson-like in the way that teammates respond and rally around his play demeanor. Depending on what other needs the Bucs have by the time the draft rolls around, I'd consider jumping up a few spots for him if he's sliding. He's a Top 5 player in the class for my money."