We may be inching closer to the draft. The NFL Combine is mere days away. And the closer we get to the NFL's principal offseason event, the more focused and theoretically accurate mock drafts tend to get. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. is one of the biggest names during draft season and has now released his second mock draft and first since the 2019 season officially concluded.
In mocking every team's first-round pick, Kiper hones in on free agency implications when picking for the Bucs at No. 14, taking LSU edge rusher K'Lavon Chaisson.
"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," writes Kiper. "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."
View Gregg Rosenthal's top 25 NFL free agents and see which two Bucs make the list.
Chaisson left LSU as a redshirt sophomore, electing to declare for the draft early following LSU's National Championship and after being named MVP of the semifinals against Oklahoma after recording two sacks on quarterback Jalen Hurts. Kiper mentions Chaisson had just 9.5 sacks in his collegiate career but Chaisson lost the majority of his sophomore season, tearing his ACL during LSU's first game of 2018 against Miami. As a result, Chaisson's Tiger career ending up spanning 26 games with 17 starts and the bulk of his stats came during his 2019 campaign. Last season, he recorded 6.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and 60 total tackles, bouncing back from injury in a big way.
Though his tape is limited in quantity, his body of work last season certainly isn't lacking in quality. He's a young player thought to have tremendous upside, as Kiper mentions, and would be an economical option for the Bucs, who are tasked with retaining all of the aforementioned free agents plus the league's 2019 sack leader in Shaq Barrett.