Another year, another draft by Bucs general manager Jason Licht that isn’t sexy, but is going to be better than people think. Last year, Licht didn’t have much choice. The Bucs picked at No. 32, No. 64 and No. 95 in a draft billed more for its high end talent than its depth. That’s the price of being world champs, I guess.
Still, I thought Licht made the most of his picks last year. The flashes from Joe Tryon-Shoyinka last year, after a full year off the field due to being a COVID opt-out, were encouraging. If Tryon-Shoyinka hits in year two/three, the rest of the draft becomes less important.
Kyle Trask wasn’t a pick I would have made, but I understood why Licht made it. And Trask would likely be starting if Tom Brady hadn’t returned from retirement. Do you think Licht wanted to dip into this train wreck 2022 QB class for a potential starter?
On last year’s roster, there were very few available roster spots. That tied Licht’s hands too, forcing him to draft at only certain positions rather than take the best available player. There was no such restriction this year. The Bucs’ depth underwhelmed at certain spots last year, making Licht more aggressive to load up at key positions.
Here’s my assessment of the Bucs 2022 NFL Draft class. It’s not all what I would have done, but there is clearly a good process behind almost every pick.
Round 2, Pick 33 – Houston DT Logan Hall
Table of Contents
Where Hall Was Ranked: Hall was No. 40 on my board, so this value is about right. He was No. 48 on the consensus big board, compiled by the averages of boards from over 70 draft analysts. So the majority did see him as about a half-round reach.
How He Fits: In my opinion, Hall was the best Bucs fit at defensive tackle on the board. In fact, Devonte Wyatt was the only potentially better fit in the entire draft. But Wyatt’s age (24), character concerns and lack of pass rush production in college gave the Bucs some understandable pause.
Hall will immediately start at 3-technique in base defense, and will rotate heavily in nickel fronts too. He’ll be one of the team’s top three defensive tackles in snap counts this season, along with Vita Vea and Will Gholston. Rakeem Nunez-Roches will be the No. 4 guy, but he provides nothing as a pass rusher. Hall will be on the field for most long-and-late downs this season. But expect the Bucs to sign another defensive tackle at some point before training camp.
Houston DL Logan Hall – Photo courtesy of Houston
What I Would Have Done: Licht’s draft was a major show of faith in Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting. It also showed considerable faith in Mike Edwards and Keanu Neal to handle the safety duties with Jordan Whitehead gone. The Bucs were tempted to take Lewis Cine at No. 27, but wisely accepted the trade down instead. Cine was selected at No. 32, so we’ll never know if the Bucs would have taken he or Hall with their next pick.
I probably would have addressed the secondary at No. 33, drafting Washington CB Kyler Gordon. He was the highest ranked player on my board, and I’m all about depth at cornerback. I could easily have seen Gordon beating out Dean and Murphy-Bunting in camp. But the Bucs have serious holes at defensive tackle right now. And Ndamukong Suh may not be walking through that door to fill them anytime soon.
Final Assessment: I really like Hall, and I love his fit in Tampa Bay’s defense. Defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers is one of the more underrated defensive line coaches in the NFL. He’ll develop Hall nicely, perhaps after the defensive tackle has added 10 pounds of muscle this offseason. I think Hall can make an impact as early as 2022, especially on passing downs. The question is how effective he can be over a large sample size as a full-time player. An answer might not come until further down the road.
But the best part of this pick was the trade down. It showed excellent process by Licht to understand that more bites at the apple is better than just taking the top option amidst a tier of similarly clustered players on the board. Licht played the odds, figuring one of his five similarly graded players would be available six picks later.
He was right. The Bucs landed Hall, one of the best 3-techniques in the draft, and added tight end Cade Otton later in the draft. They were also able to move up for guard Luke Goedeke because Licht added the extra sixth-rounder in the trade down to No. 33. Masterful moves and understanding of pick value.
Final Grade: B+
Round 2, Pick 57 – Central Michigan OG Luke Goedeke
Where Goedeke Was Ranked: Goedeke was No. 71 on my board, although further tape study has increased his value in my eyes. The consensus board didn’t share my opinion, ranking Goedeke as the 100th best player in the class. They saw this as a significant reach for the Bucs.
How He Fits: After studying Goedeke’s tape, I’ve gone from believing he was underrated to believing he will be the Bucs’ best pick in this draft. Goedeke was a monster against LSU and impressed against Missouri, showing what he’s capable of against a bevy of big school edge rushers. Goedeke played right tackle at Central Michigan, despite having sub-33 inch arms. That was tough to overcome, but he did it with masterful hand usage and technique.
Goedeke is pro-ready in many ways. The only question will be how long it takes him to transition from right tackle to left guard in the NFL. He’s clearly more talented than Aaron Stinnie, and stronger than Robert Hainsey. The training camp battle should be fun, but I’ll bet on Goedeke to win the job. My All-22 breakdown of his skill set was one of my favorite articles I’ve done for Pewter Report.
Central Michigan G Luke Goedeke – Photo courtesy of CMU
What I Would Have Done: After watching more tape of Goedeke, I believe he was the best offensive lineman on the board when the Bucs made their selection. Of course, I didn’t love trading up for him, but Tampa Bay surrendered just a sixth-rounder. That’s not meaningful enough to faze me.
Again, as a believer that the offensive line would be fine with Stinnie or Hainsey, I probably would have drafted a DB. Cincinnati safety Bryan Cook was one of my favorite potential fits for Tampa Bay at No. 60. But I also have no problem with taking a very good prospect at a position of uncertainty on the offensive line.
Final Assessment: It’s clear that Licht is obsessed with maintaining an elite offensive line. Given the results of the past two years, it’s hard to disagree with him. In my opinion, Goedeke will be better than peak Alex Cappa by year two or three at the latest. Shaq Mason and Ali Marpet are similarly tiered guards, and the other three starters return from last year. Is it possible the Bucs offensive line could be even better in 2022?
Final Grade: A-
Round 3, Pick 91 – Arizona State RB Rachaad White
Where White Was Ranked: White was outside my top 100. He was No. 118 on the consensus big board, so common thought would call this another reach for the Bucs.
How He Fits: White is the rare developmental rusher in college football. He’s one of the best athletes in the class at his position, but is still developing his vision and decision-making. But White is already an accomplished college receiver, with 51 catches for 607 yards over the past two seasons. He can immediately help out on passing downs, although he needs work in pass protection.
In camp, White will compete with Giovani Bernard, and to a less extent, Ke’Shawn Vaughn for snaps. Right now, Leonard Fournette is the clear feature back. But it’s not out of the question to think White could become a true No. 2 back with a great preseason. But it’s more likely that Vaughn steps into Ronald Jones’ role from last year, and White battles Bernard for third down/2-minute duties.
Arizona State RB Rachaad White – Photo by: USA Today
What I Would Have Done: I still don’t know why the Bucs felt like they needed a running back in the draft, especially this early. You already have two quality veterans, and a third-year back your organization has praised up and down. Aren’t tight end and safety more pressing needs? Isn’t the depth of this cornerback class worth another pick here? Or maybe doubling up at defensive tackler?
Instead, the Bucs reached for a third down back who I struggle to see becoming a feature ball carrier. White is talented and will make plays in space with the ball in his hands. As a part of Tampa Bay’s offense, he could have a fun role in 2022. But how much will he play? How many touches will he deserve on an offense this talented? Splash plays will be there, but will the down-to-down consistency?
I’d have drafted Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert or Maryland safety Nick Cross at No. 91. Both came off the board in the next 10 picks. But even if the Bucs were determined to draft a running back, I would much rather have had Isaiah Spiller or Dameon Pierce with the No. 91 pick.
Final Assessment: Tampa Bay’s running back room is now full. Let’s hope they can develop White into a feature back. Otherwise, this will be a wasted pick. Third down space backs are available every offseason (including right now) for less than the cost of a third-round pick.
Final Grade: D
Round 4, Pick 106 – Washington TE Cade Otton
Where Otton Was Ranked: Otton was ranked No. 89 on my final big board. He was my top available tight end fit for the Bucs. On the consensus board, Otton slotted in at No. 104, almost exactly where he was drafted.
Washington TE Cade Otton – Photo courtesy of Washington
How He Fits: Otton is your typical low ceiling, decently high floor No. 2 tight end. I don’t think he’ll ever be a desirable No. 1 tight end, but he’ll be quality depth who can wear a lot of hats as a No. 2. Otton is a good blocker who can operate in a variety of schemes. He’s also an outstanding pass protector, holding his own on reps against Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo on tape.
As a receiver, Otton will function primarily in the red zone and in short-yardage off play action. He was never much of a downfield threat at Washington, averaging just over 11 yards per catch in his career. In fact, Otton didn’t even hit nine yards per catch in 2021. But he’s sure-handed and savvy after the catch. His football intelligence will be critical at a detailed position in the Bucs’ offense.
What I Would Have Done: Given the fact that the Bucs had not yet addressed the tight end position, I would have selected Otton as well. I had Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar a little higher on my board, but not for the Bucs. Kolar’s inability to contribute as a blocker would have made him a bad fit in Tampa Bay. Otton can play a role right away, which is what the Bucs need.
Final Assessment: Licht chose to wait on selecting a tight end until Round 4. Given that choice, this is probably the best case scenario that could have worked out for the Bucs. Otton will contribute right away, but the ceiling isn’t going to be very high.
Final Grade: B+
Round 4, Pick 133 – Georgia P Jake Camarda
Where Camarda Was Ranked: Two punters were ranked in the 300 players on the consensus big board, but Camarda was not one of them. He was Dane Brugler’s No. 3 ranked punter in the class.
How He Fits: Camarda is now the Bucs’ starting punter. He’ll compete with Sterling Hofrichter in training camp for the job, but it would be shocking if Camarda doesn’t win it. This move also allows the Bucs to cut punter Bradley Pinion, saving $2.9 million.
Georgia P Jake Camarda – Photo courtesy of Georgia
What I Would Have Done: I can’t comment on Camarda’s skill set because I don’t scout punters. But I would never, ever select a punter before the fifth round. And even then, I probably just wouldn’t do it. They don’t move the needle and aren’t consistent enough to contribute to winning weekly.
Just about any other player would have been preferable to me. I probably would have tabbed defensive tackle Matthew Butler, linebacker Damone Clark or edge rusher Kingsley Enagbare over Camarda. But I will say that saving cap space that can go toward a Rob Gronkowski re-signing is a helpful move.
Final Assessment: There’s no evidence I’ve seen that taking a punter in Round 4 is a good idea. The cap savings help a little bit, but the Bucs could have replaced Pinion without needing to use a fourth-round pick.
Final Grade: D
Round 5, Pick 157 – Sam Houston State CB Zyon McCollum
Where McCollum Was Ranked: McCollum was 98th on my board. On the consensus board, McCollum was at 108. He’s the first Bucs pick that would be considering a steal based on his placement on the consensus board.
How He Fits: I’m sure the Bucs would prefer that McCollum barely play on defense this season. Despite being a five-year starter at Sam Houston State, McCollum never fully dominated the FCS level. That’s the most concerning thing about his scouting report as he enters the NFL. But McCollum has one of the greatest athletic profiles to ever grace the league. The Bucs want a chance to develop that before they throw him into the fire.
So McCollum will be a lock to make the final roster, but unlikely to be the first cornerback off the bench. McCollum should be active on game days, provided he can prove himself as a gunner. Given his speed and physicality, McCollum projects well to that role.
Sam Houston State CB Zyon McCollum – Photo courtesy of Sam Houston State
What I Would Have Done: I love adding McCollum at this point in the draft. Granted, he’s probably a long shot to become a good starter in the NFL. Rarely do fifth round picks reach that lofty ceiling. But if you’re going to roll some dice, McCollum has the traits you want to take a chance on.
But I would not have wanted to give up a future fourth-round pick for a project cornerback. Granted, the Bucs have time to recoup that selection via a trade. Also, Tampa Bay is expected to be awarded two compensatory picks next year. But that doesn’t make the process of giving away a future fourth for a project cornerback a good idea. That’s the only part of this move I don’t like.
Final Assessment: If McCollum hits, and Hall and Goedeke are at least solid starters, Licht’s 2022 draft is a success. But that’s a big ‘if.’ McCollum didn’t look close to ready at the Senior Bowl. However, somewhere in there are excellent ball skills, as evidenced by 54 pass breakups and 13 career interceptions. It will be fascinating to see if Tampa Bay mold him into an NFL starter over time.
Final Grade: B-
Round 6, Pick 218 – Minnesota TE Ko Kieft
Where Kieft Was Ranked: The only place I found Kieft ranked was on Dane Brugler’s draft guide. Kieft was the analyst’s 60th-ranked tight end, with an undrafted free agent grade.
Minnesota TE Ko Kieft – Photo by: USA Today
How He Fits: The Bucs double-dipped at tight end, because they needed to. Entering Day 3 of the draft, the Bucs’ only rosterable tight end was Cam Brate. So, after drafting Otton with the first pick of the fourth round, Licht went back to the well in Round 6. To do it, the Bucs G.M. packaged two of his three seventh round selections to jump into the end of the sixth round.
Kieft will step in as the Bucs No. 3 tight end right away. Even if Rob Gronkowski returns, Kieft has a chance to be active on game days. The Bucs have often activated four tight ends, and Kieft has a clearly defined path to playing time in 13 personnel as a dominant blocker.
What I Would Have Done: I’m totally fine with this move. Having three seventh-round picks is useless. Licht being able to find a trade partner to grab an actual contributor is an excellent move. Kieft’s ceiling is the floor, but he can fill the role they need him to if called upon.
Final Assessment: Kieft is a finishing menace in the trenches, capable of planting defensive ends and burying linebackers in space. The Bucs have added a lost of nastiness up front this offseason. When they do run the football, they’ll be capable of doing it at an even higher level than they’ve done it in the past. And pieces like Kieft will help.
Final Grade: B+
Round 7, Pick 248 – LSU OLB Andre Anthony
Where Anthony Was Ranked: Brugler had Anthony as the 44th-ranked edge defender in the class.
LSU DE Andre Anthony – Photo by: USA Today
How He Fits: Anthony will compete with Cam Gill for the No. 4 outside linebacker spot right now. It’s likely that the Bucs will add another veteran option before training camp.
What I Would Have Done: I’m not criticizing seventh-round picks. Anthony went down with a torn ACL near the end of September. Ironically, Goedeke was blocking him when it happened. Anthony has had flashes of athleticism and production during his six years at LSU. But he needs to get stronger and better with his hands. He’s a likely practice squad project moving forward.
Final Assessment: I wasn’t expecting the Bucs to add a meaningful edge defender in the draft. But I expect them to eventually sign a veteran in free agency. Several capable pass rush specialists are still out there.
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
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