The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' season came to end in the Wild Card round versus the Dallas Cowboys, but their biggest loss was the eventual retirement of quarterback Tom Brady. While the Bucs still have several cornerstone pieces throughout their roster, the loss of Brady means the front office would be wise to re-tool in this next era for the franchise.
Enter the NFL Draft, where Tampa Bay can surround the newly added Baker Mayfield with the resources to make this transition as smooth as possible.
Brady and Mayfield weren’t the only significant changes for the franchise. Let’s recap some of the noteworthy additions and departures for Tampa Bay:
Significant free agency additions
- QB Baker Mayfield
- RB Chase Edmonds
- DT Greg Gaines
- CB Jamel Dean
Significant free agency losses
- QB Tom Brady
- OG Shaq Mason
- S Mike Edwards
- DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches
Buccaneers 7-round mock draft
19. RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
50. DT Mazi Smith, Michigan
82. DT Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
153. CB Mekhi Garner, LSU
175. EDGE Byron Young, Tennessee
179. DT Jaxon Player, Baylor
181. EDGE Habakkuk Baldonado, Pittsburgh
196. RB Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State
252. TE Camren McDonald, Florida State
The Buccaneers ranked dead-last in the run game last season (75.6 YPG) so we started the draft night off with a splash by drafting Bijan Robinson out of Texas. As arguably the best tailback in the draft, his addition should not only give an immediate boost to the league’s worst run game last season but also should give new signal-caller Baker Mayfield a trustworthy weapon in the backfield.
The departure of Nunez-Roches only heightens the need for an interior pass rush in Tampa Bay, so we drafted Mazi Smith out of Michigan and Keeanu Benton out of Wisconsin with back-to-back picks. Vita Vea was the only standout performer last season for the Bucs’ interior defensive line, so Smith and Benton should give them some much-needed reinforcements.
We also selected two edge rushers in Byron Young out of Tennessee and Habakkuk Baldonado out of Pittsburgh. In what is increasingly becoming perhaps the second-most important position to an NFL roster, the Bucs are in desperate need of some juice off the edge. After Shaquil Barrett suffered a torn Achilles in Week 8 of last season, Tampa Bay is glaringly thin at the position.
While Vea had to shoulder an extra load of the pass rush work in 2022, Young and Baldonado should make his job a bit easier in 2023.