This might catch you by surprise, but even after re-signing their entire starting lineup and all key players from their 2020 Super Bowl team, the Bucs STILL get a full NFL Draft to get even better. It seems unfair, but I checked with the league office, and the Bucs are currently green lit to add more talent to their roster with eight picks this weekend. Amazing.
With Antonio Brown officially re-signed on a one-year deal, wide receiver is unlikely to be a consideration of the Bucs on the first two days of the draft. Armed with this knowledge, I decided to narrow the Bucs potential first round picks to five players that are likely to be on the board at or around No. 32 overall. Here are the 5 players I believe are most likely to be selected by the Bucs if they stay put and use the 32nd overall pick:
The Washington 21 year-old has all the physical and athletic traits the Bucs gravitate toward, and he plays the game with a hot motor. I’m concerned about his lack of polish, pass rush plan and the fact that he doesn’t always play to his athleticism, instead opting for a more out-of-control style of play. Still, the upside with Tryon is clear and he would at least be a useful part-time player for the first year of his career. Most final mock drafts seem to be connecting the dots from Tryon to the Bucs, as he’s become their consensus Round 1 pick.
2. Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey
Going with Humphrey over Landon Dickerson for this prediction, largely due to Dickerson’s injury history. Dickerson is the better player on my board, but I’m not sure what his injury-riddled past will mean for his draft weekend projection. On the other hand, Humphrey has been very durable, with 36 straight starts at Oklahoma, all at center. He’s ultra physical and competitive, testing far better than most anticipated at his pro day.
The thing I like the most about Humphrey is his wrestling background, a history that is apparent as he grapples for position to seal off blockers. He’d be a good fit schematically in Tampa Bay, but he’s gotta clean up his posture and improve his core strength in pass protection. I think Humphrey can become a better pass protector in the NFL, but it’s still one area where Dickerson is clearly better than him right now. I’d love for Dickerson to be the pick over Humphrey, I’m just not convinced Tampa Bay will be comfortable enough with the Alabama center’s health to draft him this high.
3. Georgia CB Tyson Campbell
I’m a big Tyson Campbell fan, and I think GM Jason Licht might be too. Blessed with exceptional length, size, quickness and long speed, Campbell is one of the best man coverage options in this year’s class. Before the ball is thrown Campbell is on par with any cornerback in the draft, he just needs to do a much better job of winning at the catch point. Sound familiar? Many of the same criticisms were once levied against Carlton Davis too, and Campbell is an even better athlete.
The Bucs don’t have an obvious need at cornerback, but there is clearly some uncertainty in their current room. Davis will be a free agent next offseason, and Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean have been rollercoasters in their career thus far. If there is one position outside of quarterback that you don’t want to be scrambling for options come playoff time, it’s cornerback. The Bucs would be wise to give themselves plenty of talent to choose from in case one of their young starters doesn’t play to potential in 2021.
4. UNC RB Javonte Williams
I really don’t think the Bucs are going to draft a running back in Round 1, but the way I see the first round unfolding, they might not have a million options. It’s hard for me to believe that Javonte Williams won’t be one of the top players on their board Thursday night, especially if the team is simply looking to draft the best player available. Williams hard-nosed running style constantly left ACC tacklers in his wake at UNC, and he’s blossoming quickly as a pass protector and receiver.
The Bucs would have a crowded backfield that could result in a trade of one of their current backs, probably Ronald Jones. At the very least, Williams would be in line to take over as the feature back next year, when Jones, Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard are all free agents. Running back isn’t a position you have to plan into the future for, but the Bucs might be in position to do it anyway.
5. Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh
I’m not saying I would applaud this pick, but I think it’s a possibility for Tampa Bay. Oweh is going to enter the NFL as one of the best athletes in the league, and his 2020 tape shows that he’s capable of mental and technical growth as a player. Oweh’s pass rush plan needs plenty of work, but the redshirt sophomore went from being a questionable run defender in 2019 to being one of the better run defenders in the class in 2020. It’s a lot harder to make that leap as a pass rusher however, so the Bucs coaching staff will need to have a plan in place for his development.
The good news is that Oweh will obviously not need to start right away, and as a No. 3 rusher he’s instantly an upgrade over Anthony Nelson. His presence would allow the Bucs to get creative with their edge defender deployments, putting three on the field at once and kicking Jason Pierre-Paul inside. Like Tryon, it’s hard to say if Oweh will disappoint or not by the time he becomes a full-time starter in Tampa Bay, but as a rookie he could be a very useful depth piece.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft