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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Draft Grade Roundup: Bucs 2023 Class Proves Popular

The Buccaneers got high marks on their post-draft report card from a number of NFL analysts, some of whom though the team found good value throughout the three-day process

Each year, the NFL Draft caps a year-long cycle of evaluating, prodding, ranking and – finally! – selecting hundreds of new players for the league. And like the end of a school year, it comes with a report card.

Actually, multiple report cards, as handing out draft grades right after it is over is only surpassed in popularity among football analysts by all the mock drafts that come before the real thing. Many of those analysts acknowledge that there is some folly to judging a new group of players months before they even hit an NFL field, but they compile their grades nonetheless and we eagerly read them all.

This year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a report card they won't mind taking home to their parents. There are a lot of draft graders out there, and they don't all agree, but the Bucs' marks have been mostly positive. We've rounded up five of the most complimentary evaluations. (Chad Reuter): A

Reuter also handed out grades for each of the three days of the draft, giving the Bucs A's in all three of those sub-groups, too. He was particularly on Tampa Bay's first two picks, Pittsburgh defensive lineman Calijah Kancey and North Dakota State guard Cody Mauch.

Comments: "Kancey brings versatility, explosiveness and underrated leverage to the Bucs' defensive line. Trading up for Mauch to fill in at guard made sense because he can also slide outside if the team needs him there. Diaby's an athletic work in progress who must reach his potential to justify the mid-third-round selection."

Pro Football Focus (Staff): A-

The PFF evaluators had high grades on Kancey and Mauch as well but also saw third-round edge rusher YaYa Diaby (Louisville) and fifth-round off-ball linebacker SirVocea Dennis (Pitt) as potential impact players.

Comments: "The Buccaneers continue to add to the trenches. Like their first-round pick, Calijah Kancey, Diaby is a tremendous athlete (97th percentile 40-yard dash), but he also adds more size to the edge at 263 pounds. Diaby graded out well against the run at Louisville, finishing in the 75th percentile among qualifying edge defenders since 2020.

"Dennis is on the small end for the position but has the explosiveness to make up for it with a 42-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-5 broad jump that both ranked in at least the 90th percentile at linebacker. Dennis was elite against the run for Pittsburgh in his final seasons, earning a 92.1 run-defense grade and missing fewer than 5% of his tackling opportunities."

The Ringer (Danny Kelly): B+

The Ringer's Kelly was also high on the Diaby selection in the third round and believed fifth-round tight Payne Durham (Purdue) and sixth-round wide receiver Trey Palmer (Nebraska) could work their way into the Bucs' pass-catching rotation.

Comments: "I'm dubious of the value of drafting an undersized, two-down interior pass rusher with the 19th pick, but I am a fan of Pitt's Calijah Kancey, who plays with explosive quickness and powerful hands. North Dakota State offensive lineman Cody Mauch fits the mold as a gritty Buccaneers interior lineman—and if you think Mauch reminds you of Bucs center Ryan Jensen, well you're not the only one. Mauch gives the team a versatile and tough future starter. And I loved the selection of Louisville pass-rusher YaYa Diaby, who has the versatility to line up across the defensive line. Fifth-round tight end Payne Durham (Purdue) and sixth-round receiver Trey Palmer (Nebraska) should see rotational snaps early on, too. All in all, Tampa Bay put together a solid draft class."

Pro Football Network (Ryan Gosling): B+

PFN's Gosling thought the Kancey selection was a worthwhile gamble on an undersized lineman because of the massive presence of Vita Vea on the same line. He also though the Bucs landed some good value picks in the later rounds.

Comments: "Cody Mauch will be a tone-setting starter at tackle or guard. YaYa Diaby and Jose Ramirez provide contrasting flavors to an EDGE rotation that needed depth. And on Day 3, SirVocea Dennis and Trey Palmer were both steals at their selections."

NBC Sports Edge (Kyle Dvorchak): B+

Dvorchak was also high on how the Buccaneers' started their draft in the first two rounds.

Comments: "I try not to inject too much of my personal evaluations of players into draft grades. Picking individual players is hard, and, over time, teams tend to perform similarly in player evaluations. Instead, I've obviously focused on strategic decisions like targeting important positions, trading back to gain value, and getting players at discounts. On the other hand, the Bucs did nab a handful of my favorite players. Calijah Kancey is a wrecking ball on the interior who totaled 14.5 sacks over his final two seasons at Pitt. Mauch is a small-school dominator who graded as Pro Football Focus's top tackle in 2022."

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