The recent news that quarterback Tom Brady is expected to play at least two more seasons after signing a one-year extension with the Bucs is undoubtedly music to the ears of Tampa Bay fans, but that still hasn’t quieted the chatter about finding the all-time great’s successor. Picking at No. 32 overall, the Bucs have virtually no shot at one of the top five quarterbacks in the class. So their options would likely come down to an unexpected reach for the next best signal caller in the draft at No. 32, or selecting a passer later in the draft.
I’m here to tell you that both of those strategies are almost certainly bound to result in the Bucs wasting a draft pick.
First, let’s look at the options at No. 32. Almost no one expects the Bucs to select a quarterback this early in the draft, but if they did, it would be a passer with a high ceiling in the NFL.
“If the right guy is there that we think is a developmental guy that has the upside that outweighs every other position of those five-six guys that we’re looking at, then yeah,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said. “We wouldn’t be against it. Same thing in the second round and the third round. If we have five guys and one is a quarterback and we think his development’s better than those positions, sure.”
Alabama QB Mac Jones – Photo by: USA Today
With Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones all expected to be selected in the Top 10-15 picks, the Bucs are likely looking at the consensus QB6 in the draft. The options there seem to be between Stanford’s Davis Mills, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond or Florida’s Kyle Trask, none of whom are projected to be drafted in Round 1. Taking any of the three would be a reach at No. 32 for the Bucs, especially considering there are some upside limitations to two of the three passers.
Mills is the traditional pocket-passing quarterback that Arians’ offenses have featured over the years, and his arm is fine, but he makes way too many ill-advised throws for a guy who offers next-to-nothing as a “playmaker” at the position. Mostly a non-factor when plays break down, Mills is at his best throwing in rhythm in the quick-passing game, despite fitting the physical mold of an Arians-type quarterback. Combine that with accuracy and decision-making issues, and Mills seems like a silly risk anytime early in the draft.
Trask is another pocket-passer who is tough and throws with great touch down the field, but he’s the polar-opposite of upside at the quarterback position. There’s very little velocity on Trask’s throws, and he’s one of the worst athletes amongst this quarterback class. The second weakness may not typically matter much in an Arians’ offense, but it’s also important to remember that GM Jason Licht is not necessarily drafting the next quarterback for Arians. He’s drafting the guy that can take the Bucs somewhere special regardless of who the head coach is. Trask is not that type of catalyst.
As for Mond, he definitely has the highest physical and athletic ceiling of the next wave of quarterbacks. But consistency has just never been there for the Aggies’ passer. Mond played well in Mobile as Senior Bowl week went on. His upside is his arm strength and flashes of aggressiveness throwing the ball. However, after starting for over three years, the lack of growth is definitely concerning. Maybe this is just all there is to Mond despite his tangible gifts at the position.
Even if you disagree with my assessments of these passers, there isn’t much belief that the Bucs will select one at No. 32, which leads me to my next point. If you’re drafting to find a future franchise QB, be aggressive in the draft. Take one in the first round or early. Or don’t do it at all. History has shown that drafting a QB outside of the top 40 spots is an exercise in futility.
Most Notable QBs Drafted Outside The Top 40 In The Past 20 Years
*Dak Prescott (2016) Jimmy Garoppolo (2014) Russell Wilson (2012) Nick Foles (2012) *Kirk Cousins (2012) *Ryan Fitzpatrick (2005) Matt Schaub (2004) *Marc Bulger (2000) *Tom Brady (2000)
*Denotes Day 3 pick
Not a bad list, huh? Well, now consider that these nine quarterbacks come from a list of 194 quarterbacks that have been drafted after pick 40 from 2000-2020. That’s a 17.5 percent chance of landing a QB as good as Nick Foles or Marc Bulger after pick 40. Three of these guys have been legitimate franchise quarterbacks – Brady, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott. That’s what the Bucs would be aiming for if they drafted a QB, as they already have a backup they like. Assuming Blaine Gabbert is re-signed. That’s a 5.8 percent chance at landing a franchise guy. Not great!
If the Bucs select a QB on Day 3, it won’t be a death knell to their draft grade. Once you get into Rounds 6-7, the hit rate is so low that it rarely matters. But the Bucs still stand a better chance of hitting on the pick if they draft a non-quarterback. Remember, only one or two quarterbacks play in a season. If a third QB gets out there, your season is over anyway. If you draft any other position with your sixth-rounder, that player has a legit chance to see the field and make an impact as player. Even if it’s just on special teams. Which the Bucs need, by the way, after losing Andrew Adams and Ryan Smith in free agency.
Florida QB Kyle Trask – Photo by: USA Today
Selecting at No. 32 overall, the Bucs just don’t have a path to a franchise quarterback this year. And they shouldn’t draft one just to draft one. There are better odds of the Bucs drafting useful players with their eight picks if they don’t draft a quarterback. If Licht takes the best non-quarterbacks available each time Tampa Bay is on the clock, focusing on fortifying aging positions on the roster and positions where the team is set to lose players in free agency next offseason, the Bucs’ Super Bowl window has a better shot of staying open long after Brady has finally retired.
Drafting late in the first round this year, the Bucs would be wise to use Brady’s (likely) final two offseasons to continue to strengthen one of the league’s best rosters. opening up the window to go all in on a trade or a move up the draft board for a quarterback in the near future. If the Bucs can do that, they’ll eventually have the flexibility to go all out for the quarterback they want via a trade or the draft, but this is not the offseason to worry about that. Instead, the Bucs need to focus on another wave of young talent on the offensive and defensive lines. Tampa Bay should also keep its eyes peeled for quality players slipping down the board as teams reach for need ahead of them.
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
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.