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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What Positions Might the Bucs Target on Day Two of the Draft?

The Bucs have three picks to spend on Friday night during the 2024 NFL Draft, and there are several positions that could match up quite nicely between team needs and available talent


The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft is just over two weeks away, which means another fortnight of analysts rearranging the order in which the top four quarterbacks will be taken. All of that is almost sure to be determined long before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers go on the clock at pick number 26.

The variables compound with every pick made, making it very difficult to predict the exact player a team selecting in the back end of the first round will land on. That said, the collective mock draft intelligentsia seems to agree that the Buccaneers have a type this year. Your author has reviewed and charted 227 reputable mock drafts since February 1st, and of the most recent 100, 94 have paired Tampa Bay with an edge rusher, a cornerback or an offensive lineman (usually an interior blocker). The very few dissenters went with either a receiver or an off-ball linebacker.

All of which makes perfect sense. The Buccaneers released their top edge rusher of the last five years, Shaquil Barrett, in March in a cap-related move, and also traded cornerback Carlton Davis to the Lions. In addition, the two players who logged starts at left guard for the Bucs last season, Aaron Stinnie and Matt Feiler, have both moved on. Just because connecting the dots here is rather easy, that doesn't mean it is wrong. Just this week, Team Writer/Reporter Brianna Dix settled on UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu as her pick for the Bucs in her latest mock draft. ESPN's timeless draft guru Mel Kiper released his latest mock on the same day and went with the same position, though a different player in Penn State's Chop Robinson.

So for the sake of this exercise, let's say the Buccaneers do end up with an edge rusher in the first round, whether at 26 or elsewhere after a trade. That will take care of business on Thursday night, but the draft will still have a long way to go. On Friday night, barring trades, Jason Licht and company will make three more picks, at number 57 in the second round at the 89th and 92nd slots in the third round. The second of those two third-round picks is what the Buccaneers got from the Lions in exchange for Davis.

What positions might the Bucs target on the second night of the draft, after hypothetically landing a Latu or a Robinson or some other quarterback hunter? Let's take a look at a couple possibilities.

Interior Offensive Line.

As noted, the Buccaneers split their 2023 starts at left guard between Feiler and Stinnie, neither of whom is on the 2024 roster. Stinnie signed with the New York Giants as an unrestricted free agent last month, while Feiler had his contract expire and has not yet signed with another team. That means that there will be at least one new starter on the Bucs' offensive line this season; given the flexibility of fourth-year man Robert Hainsey, that presumably could be at either guard or center.

The Buccaneers have shown a willingness to use Day Two picks on interior offensive linemen during Licht's tenure as general manager, and the results have been good. Licht has gone that way five times since 2014, in each case selecting a prospect who primarily played tackle in college but was considered a better fit at guard in the NFL.

The first was Ali Marpet, a second-rounder in 2015 who started all 101 games in which he played and saw action at all three interior line spots before riding into an earlier retirement in 2022. The next was 2018 third-round selection Alex Cappa, who moved into a starting role at right guard in his second season and started in Super Bowl LV before leaving for Cincinnati in free agency. Then came Hainsey in the third round in 2021; he has started the past two seasons at center with the injury and eventual retirement of Pro Bowler Ryan Jensen. More recently, the Bucs used second-round picks on Luke Goedeke and Cody Mauch in the last two drafts, and both are in the current starting lineup. Mauch handled right guard as a rookie while Goedeke has actually moved back to his college position of right tackle.

So if Licht does decide to go back to that well and use one of his three Day Two picks on a guard or center, you have to feel good about his chances to land a starting-caliber player. Assuming the two players most commonly mocked to the Buccaneers in the first round, Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson and Duke interior lineman Graham Barton, are already off the board, some guard options for the Buccaneers could include Connecticut's Christian Haynes, Kansas' Dominick Puni and Illinois' Isaiah Adams. Haynes is a big man (6-3, 317) with the mobility to be a force on pulling plays, and he performs with intensity and grit. Puni (6-5, 313) has started at both guard and tackle and his heavy hands and quick first step allow him to move defenders with regularity. Adams (6-4, 315) has the same sort of nasty in-game demeanor that the Bucs have prized in Jensen and Goedeke and is a stout run-blocker.

If Barton and Powers-Johnson are off the board, the best remaining center for teams searching for one in Round Two may be West Virginia's Zach Frazier. Frazier (6-3, 315) is solidly built but very quick out of his stance, and he has the upper body strength to compete with hefty defenders in the trenches.

Wide Receiver.

While the Buccaneers have repeatedly used Day Two draft assets to land offensive linemen, the opposite is true at wide receiver. Licht hit a home run in the third round with Chris Godwin in 2017 but otherwise has not used another second or third-rounder on a receiver in his other nine drafts. (Licht's very first draft pick, of course, was a grand slam at wide receiver, as Mike Evans came off the board seventh overall in 2014.)

This could be a good year to reverse that trend. The 2024 receiver class is extremely top-heavy, with Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze all likely coming off the board in the top 10, but there is plenty of depth beyond that. LSU's Brian Thomas is also widely regarded as a first-round pick, and others that could slip into the back end on Thursday night include Georgia's Ladd McConkey, Florida State's Keon Coleman and the Texas duo of Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy.

Even if all those pass-catchers are selected well out of the Bucs' range, the cupboard will be far from bare for their picks between numbers 57 and 92. And it may be time to take a shot at reloading the receiver room. The team happily got another deal done with future Hall of Famer Mike Evans in March to potentially make him a Buccaneer for life. Evans and Godwin make up one of the better starting receiver duos in the NFL, but it's worth noting that the former is going into his 11th season and the latter currently is only under contract for one more year. Even if those two stay together in Tampa beyond 2024, the NFL is increasingly a pass-happy team and talented depth at the position is essential. In fact, that was one of the best qualities of the Buccaneers teams that won a Super Bowl in 2020 and tied for the NFL's best record in 2021.

Beyond the names mentioned above, other potential Day Two picks who could get into the Bucs' range include South Carolina's Xavier Legette, Florida's Ricky Pearsall, Oregon's Troy Franklin, Washington's Ja'Lynn Polk, Michigan's Roman Wilson and Western Kentucky's Malachi Corley.

Legette only had one year of big production at South Carolina, but it was very big production (71-1,255-7) and he's the biggest and most physical prospect of this group. His style of play has been compared to that of the 49ers' Deebo Samuel. Pearsall is adept at creating separation, can make defenders miss after the catch and is stronger than his size would suggest. Franklin is intriguing due to his speed; he's got a somewhat slight frame but is tall and fast with a quick acceleration and a long stride, allowing him to get by defenders in a hurry.

Polk is more than willing to work in the middle of the field and get his hands dirty in the blocking game, a profile that sounds a lot like Godwin. Wilson is the smallest of this group and likely headed for a slot receiver role in the NFL, but he's got the speed, lateral agility and sticky hands to excel in that role. Corley racked up 253 catches over the past three years at WKU and he both breaks tackles and eludes them with his open-field moves.


We're talking off-ball linebacker here, not an edge rusher, and the reasons to include this position as a possible Day Two target are obvious. Lavonte David – another potential Buccaneer for life after his new deal in March – is going into his 13th season and the Bucs other starter of the past five years, Devin White, left for the Eagles in free agency. The Buccaneers have some other potential long-term options for the position in 2021 fifth-round pick K.J. Britt and 2023 fifth-round pick SirVocea Dennis, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to add competition to that group.

The Bucs have had some Day Two success at this spot, too. Kendell Beckwith, taken in the third round in 2017, was an immediate starter, though his career was cut short due to an offseason car accident the following spring. While the pick predates Licht and his crew, the second-rounder spent on David in 2012 has to be considered one of the best values in Buccaneers draft history.

This is a position that is likely to be quite on Day One and very busy on Day Two. Most mock drafts have skipped the position altogether in the first round, though North Carolina State's Payton Wilson and Texas A&M's Edgerrin Cooper have made occasional first-night cameos in those predictions.

In addition to Wilson and Cooper, who still could be available at the 57th pick, other potential Day Two linebackers include Michigan's Junior Colson, Kentucky's Trevin Wallace and Clemson's Jeremiah Trotter Jr. Wilson is probably the best pass defender of the bunch and he was a unanimous All-American in 2023 after combining 138 tackles with 6.0 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions. Cooper has outstanding speed and range and a great understanding of pursuit angles.

Colson is big (6-3, 238) and he displays both power and speed in his game, with good lateral range and impressive toughness. Wallace is athletic, smooth and fast and has shown good blitzing ability, though his overall game may need some polish for him to excel in the NFL. Trotter has the obvious NFL lineage – his father's 11 seasons in the NFL included one with the Buccaneers in 2007 – and the well-honed instincts for the position that come with it, and he has a reputation as a hard-hitter.

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