The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs.

This week’s topic: If Bucs Had To Trade Up In Round 1 For One Prospect, Who Would It Be?

Here are the ground rules for this week’s PR Roundtable. First, the Pewter Reporters aren’t allowed to trade up from No. 32 into the Top 10 to take one of the draft’s elite prospects. Second, the PR staff is not allowed to trade up for a quarterback – not even Alabama’s Mac Jones.

Scott Reynolds: Etienne Is The Perfect Weapon For Tampa Bay

With all 22 of the Bucs’ Super Bowl starters back thanks to general manager Jason Licht, director of football administration Mike Greenberg and director of football research Jackie Davidson, whoever Tampa Bay drafts will likely be a backup as a rookie, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it would still be nice to have that first-rounder see the field in 2021 just for value’s sake. That could happen if the Bucs draft a running back early – and they should, as both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II will be free agents in 2022. As much as I love North Carolina’s Javonte Williams, who was in PewterReport.com’s initial 2021 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft and more recently headed to Tampa Bay in Jon Ledyard’s NFL Mock Draft 2.0, the reason why Williams is the pick at No. 32 is because Clemson’s Travis Etienne and Alabama’s Najee Harris are already off the board.

Clemson RB Travis Etienne

Clemson RB Travis Etienne – Photo by: USA Today

But in this trade-up scenario, I would have the Bucs move up for Etienne because he would be a perfect fit in Bruce Arians’ offense. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound Etienne is considered to be the top back in the 2021 NFL Draft due to his 4.4 speed and instant acceleration. Etienne racked up 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns while averaging an insane 7.2 yards per carry at Clemson. After back-to-back 1,600-yard seasons in which he averaged 22 TDs each year, Etienne only rushed for 914 yards and 14 scores, but played in three fewer games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. More importantly, Etienne improved as a receiver as a senior, catching 48 passes for 588 yards (12.3 avg.) and two TDs. That pushed his career total to 102 receptions for 1,155 yards (11.3 avg.) and eight touchdowns.

The Bucs have a huge need for a pass-catching running back that can play on all three downs, and nobody can fill that role better than Etienne, who had 20 100-yard games for the Tigers, including three 200-yard games. While he isn’t as big as David Johnson, Etienne has the receiving and rushing ability that resembles the former Arizona star that thrived in Arians offense when he was the Cardinals coach years ago. Factor in Etienne’s ability to return kicks and punts, and he can help out Tampa Bay’s return game as a rookie while he develops as a runner-receiver on offense as a part-time player alongside Fournette and Jones. Etienne then could take over as the Bucs’ feature back in 2022 and would be destined for stardom shortly thereafter.

Mark Cook: If Bucs Trade Up For Najee Harris, I’ll Cry Real Tears

Yes I know, you don’t draft a running back in the first round. Yes, I know you can find them in later rounds (Alvin Kamara), sometimes even as undrafted free agents (James Robinson) or other team’s cast-offs (Leonard Fournette). And in normal years not only would I be completely opposed to drafting one, I’d be even more adamant you cannot trade up for one. But Alabama running back Najee Harris is special and worth going against conventional draft thinking.

Najee Harris First Round Alabama RB

RB Najee Harris – Photo by: USA Today

The Buccaneers are returning their 2020 Super Bowl starting winning team, which of course is great news. But with the shiny new ring, comes their opponents gunning for them like never before. Even if the team gets the exact same production from all 22 starts, will it be enough to repeat? Don’t forget the other 31 teams are working to improve their roster. The Bucs can’t stand pat and just think they are good enough to repeat just because they won it all in 2020. Tampa Bay must improve over last season and Harris makes them a better football team in 2021.

As I wrote in The Hook on Thursday, there are a number of reasons why you go against the grain and take – and possibly even trade up for – the draft’s best and most complete back. The Bucs offense was seventh best in the NFL in total yards last year and should be even better in 2021 – if they can get more steady production on third down. Adding a running back like Harris solves your third-down woes, as both Ronald Jones and Fournette just weren’t good as receivers. Quarterback Tom Brady needs that reliable outlet and Harris has shown the ability at Alabama to be a complete three-down back.And let’s not forget both Jones and Fournette are only under contract for one more season. I wouldn’t give up the farm for Harris, but if he’s on the board at No. 20 or later, I would be on the hone with the teams in front of me.

Jon Ledyard: If You Make Me Trade Up, I’m Fortifying OL For The Bucs

Let me preface my answer by saying that, unless an elite prospect (there aren’t many of them in this draft) miraculously falls into the 20s, there is zero chance that I am trading up in this draft. There are few players you could convince me to trade up for in the first round of even a normal draft, and in this class there’s no way I would take the risk at No. 32. Most of the top offensive players will be gone in the top 15 of the draft, and most of the top defensive players come with major question marks, on and off the field.

But if you’re going to make me trade up for a non-quarterback, Oklahoma State right tackle Teven Jenkins is probably the guy I would target. I would only think about making a move if he lasted into the deep 20s, and it obviously wouldn’t be to play him at right tackle. Instead, Jenkins would be the long-term solution at right guard, preparing during the 2021 season to become the starter in 2022.

Jenkins is the type of physical people-mover the Bucs need up front, and he and Tristan Wirfs could form a dominant right side of the offensive line for foreseeable future. Jenkins is elite in the run game and has evolved wonderfully as a pass protector despite his lack of elite length. That physical limitation will be less noticeable on the inside, where Jenkins power and deadly strikes will stonewall many bull rushes. With the Bucs starting five returning for the 2021 season, Jenkins would be excellent depth this year before stepping in for Alex Cappa in 2022, allowing the fourth-year guard to get a big-money deal elsewhere in the free agent market.

Matt Matera: Trading Up For Jaelan Phillips Solidifies Bucs’ Future Starting Pass Rusher

With the Bucs almost unthinkable accomplishment of bringing back every free agent starter from last season’s Super Bowl winning team, they are in an enviable position for the 2021 NFL Draft. While other teams are drafting for need, the Bucs are strictly drafting for depth starting at the number 32 pick. If you were to take a glance over to the 2022 season, though, three positions that should be addressed quickly are running back, outside linebacker and interior defensive lineman. In this scenario, the Bucs take care of the edge right away by trading up for Jaelan Phillips out of Miami.

Current outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul has one year left remaining on his deal, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll be back again. This would be the perfect situation for Phillips to gain a ton of knowledge from Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett as he sharpens up his game while waiting in the wings to take over a starting role in the future. Due to his versatile talent, Phillips could slide right into the third spot on the depth chart ahead of Anthony Nelson, giving him opportunities to get some NFL experience while not putting too much tread on the tires for a guy that has an injury history. 

Phillips has the size, speed, and power that you want in an edge rusher and he put it all together in his last season at Miami with 45 tackles, eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. The Bucs have shown in the past that they’re not afraid to do what it takes in order to get their guy, and they should do the same here. Remember last year when the Bucs traded up one spot to make sure they could draft Tristan Wirfs? Well, that sure worked out. Even as one of the top pass rushers on the board, it doesn’t look like the Bucs would have to go up more than 10 or 12 picks in the draft to assure that he’s in Tampa.

Taylor Jenkins: Jaelen Phillips Could Step In And Be An Impact Player Early At A Key Position

Most of the trade conversations when sitting at No. 32 in the draft are focused on trading out of the first, not necessarily up in it. That seems to be even more prevalent as the Bucs don’t necessarily have any glaring needs, but that also allows you a bit more freedom in picking your player of choice over addressing said needs. This player of choice could be edge defender Jaelen Phillips

Despite likely having the talent to warrant a selection in the top half of the first round when the 2021 NFL Draft rolls around this April, Phillips has question marks that may see him slide, as noted by Jon Ledyard. And while some of my cohorts have the Bucs trading up for running backs like Travis Etienne or Najee Harris, I just don’t see Tampa Bay trading up if running back is what they’re after, not in the first round at least.

But Phillips on the other hand is the caliber of player at a premier position that could persuade the Bucs to move up, should he fall far enough to make a trade to get him a reasonable value. Despite an injury history that at one time saw him step away from the game before his ultimate return and resurgence at the University of Miami, Phillips’ physical ability and pass-rushing prowess would make him an immediate factor on the Bucs’ defensive line. With Jason Pierre-Paul entering a contract year on the wrong side of 30, and no significant depth at edge rusher, Phillips would have room to develop his play alongside an already stacked front seven and step right in should an injury occur at the position.

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thewbacca
4 months ago

This may sound petty, but Phillips’ Wikipedia page is only current to 2019. I don’t think this guy has a camp around him that is invested in his success. Normally, that’s a more minor consideration, but look at his past. It signals indecisiveness and poor judgment. That happens at that age, but who is going to step into his life when the money shows up? I just don’t see it being a good fit. I know Tampa will do a good amount of due diligence so we shall see.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  thewbacca
4 months ago

I’m not sure I’d call it petty, but his Wikipedia page not having been updated recently and concluding that that reflects a lack of support around him is certainly one of the stranger scouting methods I’ve ever heard of.

Last edited 4 months ago by toofamiliar17
Michael76
4 months ago

I’m not sure that the Bucs were interested in trading up for RB after picking up Lenny. And Philips carries risk of career ending injuries (they’d have a pretty good inside LB, a decent safety under different circumstances).
Even the OL is stable for a couple years
I think this class has large risks without a normal evaluation…
I’d rather them let the draft fall to them…

Spitfire
4 months ago

I sincerely hope the Front Office isn’t satisfied with the RB position just because Fournette is back. All Fournette really provides is a less dynamic but still switch out with RoJo for running and only a slight upgrade for pass catching. We still 1,000% need a solid pass catching and pass blocking RB. I really hope they find the answer in the first 3 rounds. Someone like Etienne, Harris or Williams would be great but doesn’t have to be, it could be the guy out of UCLA, but we need it bad. It will completely change our game on 3rd… Read more »

aredsoxfan1
Reply to  Spitfire
4 months ago

Picking a RB in round one would be a huge mistake. On top of that their lack of blocking experience is a huge question mark. A huge part of being a good third down back is blitz pickup, regardless of how well you catch the ball. Save the first round pick for someone else and pick up Dion Lewis for a third down back.

Dave
Reply to  aredsoxfan1
4 months ago

No no no. Don’t be silly. We don’t need to draft anyone, or pick up a 3rd down back. We’re all set. We resigned LF. That solves all of 3rd down/pass catching back issues.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Spitfire
4 months ago

My ranking of the RBs in this draft for us, with the round grades I’d feel comfortable taking them: 1) Harris (late 1st) 2) Javonte (late 1st) 3) Etienne (2nd-3rd) 4) Kenneth Gainwell (3rd) 5) Michael Carter (3rd) 6) Demetric Felton (4th-5th) I recognize that it’s fairly likely that we take a RB in the first two rounds. I don’t love ANY of these guys in the first. I think taking any of them would be suboptimal. But I could at least live with my top 2 there. I think Etienne that early would be a notable mistake. Everyone sees… Read more »

Dave
Reply to  Spitfire
4 months ago

You didn’t know? We’re good now.
We resigned LF. Repeating is just a formality at this point

Naplesfan
Reply to  Spitfire
4 months ago

“Slight upgrade” by the player who led the entire league in the playoffs in combined receiving and running yards? Over who, RoJo? LOLOLOLOL!!!
You guys just slay me.

DT25
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 months ago

He had a great playoff run but also spent 14 weeks as a change of pace back (and was eventually benched) for a reason. RoJo’s the better runner, Lenny’s the better receiver. Idk what that means for the draft…there’s a very real possibility neither is on the Bucs in 2022, so I wouldn’t doubt if we throw a 1st or 2nd round pick at the position to work into the rotation next season, then compete with Vaughn once Lenny and RoJo go elsewhere.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 months ago

He did play very well in the playoffs. That was also a clear anomaly when looking at his career as a whole. And don’t forget, he STILL dropped multiple passes in those playoffs, including 3 against GB, if I remember correctly. He’s a marginally more reliable pass catcher who does little after he catches the ball. But Jones is a better runner than him by a mile. It’s not even close. Jones averaged 5.1 YPC behind the same line behind which Leonard pulled 3.,8 for the season. Jones led the entire NFL in yards after contact per carry with 3.0… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  toofamiliar17
4 months ago

Dude – Fournette CAUGHT and successfully completed 18 of 21 passes targeted at him in the entire playoffs. The highest catch to targets ratio of any player in the goddamnned NFL playoffs. You’re full of shit.
What part of factual reality don’t you get?

SMH cubed!!!

Last edited 4 months ago by Naplesfan
NaplesFan2.0
Reply to  toofamiliar17
4 months ago

That is precisely what I’ve been trying to tell this guy for a while, but his “Playoff Lenny ” pom poms have been waving for some time now. Its not just one person saying this Naples, so the “factual reality” you claim, doesn’t make Lenny a better back.

Dave
Reply to  NaplesFan2.0
4 months ago

Oh the guy is delusional. It’ll never sink in lol. So don’t even waste your time. BucRy is another one that seems to think we’re insane, because we even dare try to insinuate that LF isn’t a great RB lol. And that, we’re insane to even consider the Bucs resigning LF as a move that could have done without. Apparently the other 95% of his games In his career don’t matter. So long as he has a good playoff game here and there, who gives a shit about the other 9/10 games. His stats and advanced stats that all suggest… Read more »

Dave
Reply to  toofamiliar17
4 months ago

Dude, 100% perfectly said. This dude can’t get past the 2 “good” games he had in the playoffs. Yet ignores the other 95% of his games, where he sucked. According to the stats, and advanced stats, LF has been a below average runner, receiver, and blocker his entire career so far. Rojo at least has been an above average/bordering elite runner. Rojo also had 2 good playoff games. The only thing that made LF’s playoff games look better, were that he was given a few more carries, the goal line work, and pass catching duties. But as far as efficiency… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Dave
FLBoy84
4 months ago

Was getting ready to congratulate you guys for at least picking all different players until….

Last edited 4 months ago by FLBoy84
ScottC543
4 months ago

I’m with John. Pass on the first round trade up unless (and only unless) there’s a best in draft OL or DL player that you know 100% will be a foundational player for the Bucs the next five years.

lambeau
4 months ago

Jon, are you losing it–a replacent for Cappa, but not JPP or Suh?

toofamiliar17
Reply to  lambeau
4 months ago

The consensus seems to pretty well be that there may not be a DL player in this draft worth taking in the first round, much less trading up for. I would love either Phillips or Ojulari, but I get Jon’s point – high ceilings and ample risk with both of those guys, for different reasons. I think Jenkins is about as close to “can’t miss” as you can get in the late first round this year, so I get his mindset here. Trading up is virtually always bad business, but it’s REALLY always a bad idea if you are targeting… Read more »

fredster
4 months ago

I know this is a “what if” thread but really don’t see them moving up. I guess in this fantasy I’d take either RB. Pass on Phillips and concussion issues.

Buc76
4 months ago

They should not trade up for any reason except for a quarterback but all of the 1st round grade quarterbacks will be gone probably by the 15th pick. Trade back into the second round and then you have the 64th pick that’s teams 2nd and probably that teams 3rd round pick. There should be about 5 picks we can get in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of this years draft. Add depth at key positions. This is going to be at least 20 to 21 games if we go all the way. We need depth

BucLife
4 months ago

If we had to draft up, I would still not do it for a RB. I would rather wait for Williams than trade up for Harris or Etienne if that is the way the Bucs want to go.
If we had to draft up, drafting Jenkins or Phillips would be fine with me as I love both players as prospects. I would think these two would be the only ones that could be had in the 20s range that would be worth a trade up.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  BucLife
4 months ago

I don’t want to trade up for anyone, but relatively speaking, those are the only two players in this list that make ANY sense to me at all.

Captain Sly
4 months ago

The real Question being asked is which prospect makes the Bucs competitive Right Now? So when you examine the part of the question of giving up future assets to move up in the draft for a RB it seems even more ridiculous since the Bucs have one of the better RB rooms in the league. Putting emotions aside and focusing on question, the prospect or position that makes us more competitive would fall in this order: Edge Rusher, OT, DB, DT, LB. Either one of those positions would provide much needed depth behind an already loaded roster with the hope… Read more »

BDOG
4 months ago

How do Bucs perform with loss of either OT for 2021 year? Is Wells answer? How does Brady do without Smith or Wirfs???? Jon is dead on for need with versatile OL, OT or OG, and Jenkins protects Bucs OT needs if injury?! Everyone forgetting about KC not competitive bc lost both starting OTs! They took RB too, how’d that work out?
My choice to go up is for Zaven Collins, OLB or ILB, future LVD replacement with Devin, and can play OLB to help Barrett and JPP, Dude is a player!

toofamiliar17
4 months ago

Trading up for anyone in this draft would be brutal. But given the inherent assumption of the question, the only guys who make any sense to me here are Jenkins and Phillips. Throw in Ojulari, too, if you prefer him over Phillips. RBs aside, Jenkins is the only guy in this draft who might be available with our pick who would project to step in on day one and threaten to win a starting spot, provide an actual upgrade on a snap to snap basis. I like Alex Cappa, but he’s still a limited player. The worst case scenario with… Read more »

BucLife
Reply to  toofamiliar17
4 months ago

Agreeing with everything you are saying here Toofamiliar17.
I am quite curious about Cam Gill too tbh. Liked his signing last year and he started getting on the field late in the year, so I hope he has some potential we can dig into.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  BucLife
4 months ago

For sure, I’m excited about him, 100%. But I don’t like the idea of relying on him. He’s a guy we should be aiming to develop, and if he does, then awesome. But we can’t go in to a season expecting him to contribute at a high level if asked to right now. That’s a bad plan. Not quite as bad as hoping Anthony Nelson magically changes into a new player, but still.

scubog
4 months ago

It’s going to be a bit strange for us Bucs fans having to wait the entire first day of the Draft, until somewhere around midnight, before the second-guessing and “woulda, coulda, shoulda” moaning begins. At least for the time being, Jason Licht and staff have a little more credibility with the usual naysayers as we approach April 29th. Might the Bucs trade up in an effort to focus on quality over quantity by giving up some draft capital for a specific target? Doubtful, since those premier players would likely be out of reach unless Licht really wanted to pull off… Read more »

Naplesfan
4 months ago

It’s dumb to discuss trading up in the first round at all. The Bucs either need to stand pat at #32, or better yet, trade #32 to a draft needy team, and pick up an extra pick in the 2nd or 3rd round. The Bucs are the best team in the league – we proved it in the 2021 playoffs, and we are the first team since the 1977 Raiders to resign 100% of our starters on both offense and defense, plus we also retained our starting specialty players at kicker, punter, and long snapper, as well as retaining our… Read more »

NaplesFan2.0
4 months ago

What a way to ignite the fanbase on Sunday! Trade up for a rb, that you’ll want to let go in 4 or 5 years anyway? While we’re at it, let’s see if Michael Johnson, Albert Haynesworth, Anthony Collins, and Roberto Aguayo are available in free agency, and trade up in the first for the kicker we’ve already had a meeting with. SOUND REASONING. lol

jrwilson85
4 months ago

I see no need to trade up at all. If the Bucs are smart, they’ll let the draft come to them. There is plenty of talent. The opt outs have supposedly dropped in value. We’ll see. I agree with Ledyard alternate between O-line or D-line in first 3 rounds.

Erik Jager
3 months ago

How about back to the mid second round getting a DE to replace Gholston? Getting a 2022 second pick as compensation. Maybe acquiring more draft capital for next year since there isn’t a glancing need this year. Or trading back to get two second rounders and two three rounders. Trading up for a third second rounder. Second rounders RB,DE, G or C