The State of the Buccaneers:
It’s been a rollercoaster offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so far the last few months. Since losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs, the Bucs have seen Tom Brady retire, only to announce that he would be returning for his 23rd season 40 days later. Then, Bruce Arians shockingly retired and the Bucs promoted their defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, to be their next head coach.
The Bucs front office has brought back some core veterans on their roster to keep contending for a Super Bowl, but they still have some holes to fill with the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Rob Gronkowski, and others’ futures with the team still up in the air.
Even with the changes in the coaching staff the Bucs philosophy and play style should still remain the same, so let’s take a look at some prospects they could target in the first few rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Johnson is a plug-and-play left guard at the next level with the anchor and hand usage to pass protect at a high level and the scheme versatility to excel in the run game.
With Ali Marpet retiring and Alex Cappa departing in free agency, the Bucs were tasked with replacing both guards this offseason. Zion Johnson can immediately be a Day 1 starter for the Bucs.
Wyatt is an athletic interior lineman who will be a solid three-down contributor in the NFL with a quick get-off, active hands, and a high motor, but he needs to improve his overall power to take his game to the next level.
Wyatt can fill a major hole along the interior of the defensive front for the Bucs. He is a high-energy player who can rush the passer and defend the run at a high level.
Leal is an athletic and agile defensive lineman at his size, who offers great versatility as a pass rusher but needs to work on his interior run defense to keep that flexibility on all three downs.
Leal has the pass rush upside and athleticism to be a valuable interior defensive lineman, and he can fill a need for the Bucs as a 5-tech with positional versatility.
Hall is a long, quick 3-technique who wins at the snap with a devastating swim move and plus strength, though he needs refinement as a pass rusher in order to be a three-down player.
The Bucs love long and powerful interior defenders like William Golston and Ndamukong Suh. Hall’s physical and athletic makeup fit the profile that Tampa desires making this an ideal fit.
Ruckert isn’t a dynamic weapon, but he has a well-balanced game in all phases with the blocking temperament and receiving upside to become a solid tight end.
With the departure of O.J. Howard in free agency, and the future of Rob Gronkowski still in question, the Bucs have a big need to fill in their tight end room. Ruckert projects as a Y-TE which fits perfectly in the Bucs offensive scheme.
Otton is more steady than flashy and won’t draw much attention from defenses, but he offers reliable hands and tough, competitive blocking as a traditional, in-line tight end.
Otton has been flying under the radar throughout the draft process recovering from a foot injury. His skill set as an effective blocker and reliable catching skills make him a potential fit as a late Day 2 prospect.
Thomas is a heat-seeking edge with the power and techniques to be a starter at the next level, but needs some development in play recognition and working leverages to hit his higher ceiling.
Thomas’ physical and athletic profile fits in the Bucs defensive front. He also has the versatility to rush from the interior on passing downs as well.
Mays is a tough, powerful run blocker with good awareness and hands in pass pro who has the potential to be a solid starter in the NFL if he can improve his footwork and become a better blocker in space.
Mays is an experienced player who has played multiple positions in college, but projects best as an interior lineman. He also fits into the Bucs power run game, and can be a Day 2 target if they can’t fill this need earlier in the draft.
To learn more about the Buccaneers and their needs, visit their team page on our NFL Draft website here.