2021 NFL Draft: How far can the Buccaneers trade up?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2021 NFL Draft (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2021 NFL Draft (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers have every incentive to trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft.

As the 2021 NFL Draft approaches, many people see the Buccaneers as a viable candidate to trade out of the first round to acquire more overall picks. While this is par for the course for reigning champs, the Bucs are in a unique position where this actually does not help.

Looking ahead to the final roster decisions, the Bucs may only be able to afford to roster three to four rookies on their active roster by the start of the season. While more picks look good on paper, the Buccaneers would be better off trading in the other direction.

If space for rookies is limited (Tampa only kept five last year, and that was before winning the Super Bowl and bringing everyone back), the smartest decision is to trade up and guarantee players that will actually make the team. Extra four or fifth-round picks help very little during a Super Bowl run if they’re just going to sit on the bench all season.

The Buccaneers don’t need a wealth of picks in the 2021 NFL Draft

The best way for the Buccaneers to protect themselves from drafting players that won’t make the team while also keeping the Super Bowl window as wide open as possible is through trading up early and often.

Let’s say the Bucs do actually want a running back. While we will die on the hill that this is never the right decision, this is at least easier to stomach by taking the best player at the position. Najee Harris is the best by a mile at running back, and trading up to take him rather than settling for someone else is the best decision.

Trading up from 32 to the mid-twenties wouldn’t cost much, but it would ensure that the Buccaneers can secure their favorite player.

Last year, the Bucs’ third-round pick only rushed the ball 26 times. They didn’t have a fourth-round pick. Let’s not pretend that these picks are off-limits to secure better players in the first two rounds.

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If Jason Licht and company really wanted to go crazy and the chips fell the right way on draft night, Tampa Bay could even give up the majority of their 2021 picks and some 2022 ones to snag one of the quarterbacks at the top of the class. This seems to counter the team’s thinking, but if a player like Justin Fields slips just a little bit, the Buccaneers would get far more from a Ricky Williams-like trade than taking pieces that won’t see the field on this iteration of the team.

If the Buccaneers have more than four or five picks this year, they did something wrong.

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