Buccaneers still rule NFC South’s new era after final first-round mock draft

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and NFL fans as a whole, we finally made it. The 2022 NFL Draft is finally upon us, and at long last, the speculation can come to an end, and we can finally enjoy a meaningful NFL event. With that said, we can take a gander at one last final mock draft in preparation for the big event (from us anyway we can’t tell you what to do). Nobody knows what will happen, but what we do know is that regardless of what does happen, the Buccaneers will still be among the cream of the crop in the NFL, and certainly in the NFC South, even as the division turns to a new chapter in their respective history books.

Now let’s get down to business before we get back to the business of getting down.

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 52. EDGE. Georgia. Travon Walker. 1. player

There are all sorts of speculation over what the Jacksonville Jaguars will do with the number one overall pick. Absolutely nothing is off the table, including a trade. However, they already have their quarterback now it’s time to build from the inside out. Travon Walker fits what the Jaguars’ front office is looking for, and Doug Pederson continues to draft in the trenches.

player. 50. aogfjaogjeaowowng. EDGE. Michigan. Aidan Hutchinson. 2. Scouting Report

There’s an excellent chance that between Walker and Aidan Hutchinson, whichever one doesn’t go number one will almost certainly be taken at the deuce. This almost works out TOO well. Hutchinson is a Michigan man going to Detroit and is literally what head coach Dan Campbell would draw on a board for his prototype player. Surely they won’t overthink this and mess it up right? RIGHT?!

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 3. 54. Cornerback. Cincinatti. Sauce Gardner. player


We have our first draft-day trade, and it comes courtesy of Philadelphia Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman, who has quite the reputation for wheeling and dealing, especially during the NFL Draft. With two first-round picks to play with, plus two in 2023, Roseman is ready to swing for the fences, continuing the tradition of doing so a la DeVonta Smith a year ago. Here, they throw the Houston Texans number 15 in 2022 and the New Orleans Saints pick in 2023, which is likely to be a high one in order to land arguably the best player in the draft. The Eagles’ receiving woes get all the attention, but Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner fills a gaping hole at cornerback with the departure of Steven Nelson that should be priority number one for the team. Mission accomplished.

Cornerback. LSU. Derek Stingley Jr.. 4. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 30

Much like what happened to the team that shares a stadium with them a year ago, the Eagles leapfrog the New York Jets to take their guy. Having missed out on Sauce Gardner, the Jets take the next best thing in cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., who arguably has a higher ceiling than Gardner should his health concerns be subsided. Jets fans really can’t complain about this one too much.

player. Pick Analysis. Tackle. Mississippi State. 31. Scouting Report. Charles Cross. 5

Now for the other team in New York (New Jersey). The New York Giants desperately need offensive line help, among many other things. Daniel Jones is skating on thin ice, and summer is coming. In order for the new regime to give the former sixth-overall pick of 2019 a fair shake, they opt to take arguably the best pass-blocking tackle available in Charles Cross.

North Carolina State. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Tackle. Ickey Ekwonu. 6. 13


Once again, we have another blockbuster trade, and once again, it won’t be for a quarterback. The Carolina Panthers are reportedly interested in moving down, and they shouldn’t wait long for a dance partner. Feeling probably relatively stunned that Ickey Ekwonu is still on the board, the Los Angeles Chargers do everything they can to pounce. Possessing one of the most solid rosters in all of football, the Bolts now lock up one of the most promising young quarterbacks in all of football for years to come.

EDGE. Oregon. 7. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Kayvon Thibodeaux. 31

Back with the big blue wrecking crew, the New York football Giants fill another glaring need at pass-rusher by staying put, despite reportedly looking to trade down, to scoop up Kayvon Thibodeaux. At one time considered a candidate for being the first overall pick, Giants fans, and Giants brass, are thrilled with their day one draft haul to improve the trenches.

44. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Malik Willis. Quarterback. Liberty. 8. player

At long last, we have a quarterback coming off of the board. Compared to last year, it feels like an eternity. The Atlanta Falcons finally moved on from Matt Ryan, which means the Buccaneers won’t (most likely) have to deal with him anymore. Instead, they’ll be dealing with Marcus Mariota, who the Falcons brought in as a bridge, for their projected quarterback of the future in Malik Willis. Bucs fans will potentially have a new quarterback that they love to hate for the next decade with Willis heading to Hotlanta.

9. Scouting Report. EDGE. 36. Pick Analysis. Florida State. Jermaine Johnson II. player

This pick may be surprising to some, as the Seattle Seahawks are in an obvious rebuild post-Russell Wilson with an obvious need at quarterback. Here’s the thing you’ve got to remember though. When it comes to the first round, the Seahawks in the Pete Carroll era will almost make a decision that leaves many scratching their heads. Jermaine Johnson II is a solid pass rusher, with a high ceiling, it’s just that nine maybe a little early. Vintage Seahawks.

Alabama. Jameson Williams. 10. player. 30. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Wide Receiver

Having missed out on a dynamic cornerback, the J.E.T.S. are the first ones to take a wide receiver in this very deep class, and arguably the most dynamic one of the bunch. Jameson Williams is coming off of a torn ACL, which is absolutely a concern, but if his health checks out, Zach Wilson suddenly has a new toy to play with, and coupled with an offensive line that improved leaps and bounds by the end of the 2021 season, have the Jets looking like they may make a little noise. They may have missed out on Tyreek Hill, so they’ll settle for what they hope is the next best thing in Williams.

Pick Analysis. 11. player. 15. Scouting Report. Tackle. Alabama. Evan Neal


The Panthers and Falcons can’t be the only ones making power moves to try and overthrow the Buccaneers, can they? The New Orleans Saints, the Bucs biggest rival, already made a trade with Philadelphia for an extra first-round pick and surely it was for a purpose. With the mountain of a man that is Evan Neal in freefall, potentially due to health concerns, the Big Easy jumps at the chance to bring in a new blocker for Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, or whoever their quarterback is by sending their aforementioned two first-rounders to the nation’s capital. While the Saints remain the Buccaneers’ biggest rival and still give them trouble in the regular season for some reason, this move shouldn’t move the needle for the Bucs in the short term, even if Neal should be a stud.

12. 60. Scouting Report. Washington. Trent McDuffie. Pick Analysis. Cornerback. player

The offense of the Minnesota Vikings is solid. The defense can use some work, particularly at cornerback. With Gardner and Stingley both off the board, the Vikings take Trent McDuffie, whose stock is deservedly on the rise as he has the potential to be just as good if not better as the other two corners (projected) to go before him.

Safety. Notre Dame. Kyle Hamilton. player. Pick Analysis. 13. 10. Scouting Report

The Houston Texans have holes everywhere on the roster that need filling, like literally. If you were to write down what their biggest team need would be it would simply say “everything”. That said, the more draft picks they have the merrier. Fortunately, they got a haul for DeShaun Watson. They also added more picks with the projected trade with the Eagles, and take the best player available in Kyle Hamilton with their own pick, who looks to be this year’s perceived stud prospect who falls in the draft for no explicable reason.

Purdue. 14. 26. Pick Analysis. EDGE. player. Scouting Report. George Karlaftis

The Baltimore Ravens were ransacked with injury a year ago and are probably the reason they’re picking where they are. However, that doesn’t change the fact that they could use some help getting to the quarterback, especially in their division. They are more than happy to take George Karlaftis, as the now-former Boilermaker fell right into their laps.

Wide Receiver. Pick Analysis. USC. Drake London. 15. player. 124. Scouting Report


Now comes the fireworks, and the Texans are involved yet again. With so many holes, why not snag an extra first-round pick to help fill them? In the case of the Kansas City Chiefs, they recently traded away Tyreek Hill, in case you didn’t hear. While Drake London, who is coming off of an injury, doesn’t possess the speed of Hill (as if anyone does) he makes up for it with size and should compliment JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman splendidly. With so many wide receivers, but also so many teams in need, Andy Reid and company make the moves to give Patrick Mahomes another weapon to go with his bazooka.

Pick Analysis. Wide Receiver. Garrett Wilson. Scouting Report. Ohio State. 16. player. 58


With the former Ohio State Buckeye Terry McLaurin reportedly seeking a trade, the newly-minted Washington Commanders opt to pair (or possibly replace) one Buckeye with another in the form of Garrett Wilson with the pick they acquired in the projected trade with the Saints.

Pick Analysis. Center. Tyler Linderbaum. 87. Scouting Report. 17. player. Iowa


Back to the NFC South. While there’s a lot of speculation on what the Panthers are going to do with their quarterback situation, and like the draft itself, nobody has any idea. That doesn’t mean we can’t speculate though. After their projected trade with the Chargers, the Panthers choose to bolster their offensive line. While they could have done that earlier, they need help all over the line, so might as well grab an extra first-rounder in the future and grab Tyler Linderbaum who can play multiple positions along the line. His wars with Vita Vea can make Buccaneers-Panthers games more must-watch television than Tom Brady ever has, depending on who you ask of course.

Scouting Report. 54. Jordan Davis. 18. player. Pick Analysis. Defensive Tackle. Georgia

In our projected trade between the Eagles and Jet that resulted in Sauce Gardner, the Eagles held onto number 18. With it, they choose to take the anchor of the Georgia Bulldogs defense in Jordan Davis, who is essentially superhuman. Sure there is more of a need at linebacker, but drafting linebackers early has never been the Eagles’ style. With Fletcher Cox on borrowed time and Javon Hargrave potentially out the door soon, Davis can learn from an all-time great while easing into the starting lineup and bolstering the Eagles’ defense. Jalen Hurts may need help, but there are plenty of other rounds for that. Besides, defense wins championships.

player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Linebacker. Devin Lloyd. 19. 58. Utah


With their second of two first-round picks as a result of the projected Saints trade, the Commanders choose to reload their already strong (on paper) defense by snatching up Devin Lloyd, arguably the best pure linebacker in this class. He should improve a defense that had no business being as bad as it was a year ago.

Quarterback. Pittsburgh. Kenny Pickett. 20. 55. Pick Analysis. player. Scouting Report

Like Hutchinson to the Lions, this is just too perfect. Sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers could always trade up for a quarterback, but that’s never really been their MO. The way the board has been falling, the yinzers get to cheer on one of their own as Kenny Pickett replaces Ben Roethlisberger and inherits a solid roster, while Mitch Trubisky serves as the bridge for a city in which there are many. There are far worse plans. Such is life in Pittsburgh, and Mr. Flickit doesn’t have to move far.

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Linebacker. Nakobe Dean. 47. Georgia. 21. player

While there’s always a need for wide receiver help, Bill Belichick can’t help himself in drafting what he does best: defense. While he may not show it, internally he’s doing backflips that the board fell right to him, as did one of, if not the best, linebackers in this class. Nakobe Dean is a perfect fit.

22. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Ohio State. Chris Olave. Wide Receiver. player. 49

While the Chiefs took initiative and traded up for their guy to help Mahomes. The Green Bay Packers chose to sit, wait, and make Aaron Rodgers sweat it out. Much like they did on draft day 2005. It pays off though, as the reigning MVP gets a new wide receiver in Chris Olave to replace Davante Adams. Whether or not this culminates in another MVP over Tom Brady to the chagrin of Bucs fans remains to be seen.

Florida. Kaiir Elam. Pick Analysis. 23. player. 32. Scouting Report. Cornerback

Assuming the Arizona Cardinals have this Kyler Murray ballyhoo under control, they choose to help the back-end of their defense to try and counteract the strong offenses they will be facing twice every season. Kaiir Elam can bring some relevance back to the desert’s secondary not seen since the days of Patrick Peterson and Tyran Mathieu. He’s a big, strong corner who could be a perfect foil for the talented receiver corps of the NFC West.

Pick Analysis. player. 123. Devonte Wyatt. 24. Scouting Report. Defensive Tackle. Georgia

It seems like the story is always the same for the Dallas Cowboys. They have a solid roster, but can always use help on the defensive front. With that said, they choose to go with the best player available. Devonte Wyatt should slide in and fit nicely with the freak of nature that is Micah Parsons, as he and Trevon Diggs, along with Wyatt look to keep the young foundation of this defense strong.

Defensive Tackle. 25. 16. Scouting Report. Travis Jones. player. Pick Analysis. Connecticut

Similarly, the Buffalo Bills don’t have many holes to fill but could use some assistance when it comes to getting pressure. Travis Jones is a load, and very athletic, which should help him be able to create gridlock at the line of scrimmage and strengthen last year’s number one defense.

Guard. Texas A&M. 26. player. 35. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Kenyon Green

When your offense is built like the Tennesse Titans, of course meaning having Ryan Tannehill at quarterback with Derrick Henry at running back coming off of an injury, strong offensive line play is key. Kenyon Green should strengthen the interior and help the Titans do what they do best.

Zion Johnson. player. 48. Pick Analysis. Guard. Boston College. 27. Scouting Report

This offseason for the Buccaneers has been crafted and designed to make Tom Brady happy. That’s pretty safe to say based on the moves, and there doesn’t have to be some grand conspiracy regarding Brady and the Bucs staff involved. With that said, there is still another guard spot vacant even with the arrival of Shaq Mason, and Zion Johnson would fill that role with great aplomb. He’ll ensure that Brady stays upright, which became a bit of an issue come playoff time.

For more on the possibility of Zion Johnson being drafted by the Buccaneers, click here.

Scouting Report. 28. Trevor Penning. player. Pick Analysis. Tackle. Northern Iowa. 49

Patience is a virtue. The Packers once again sat and waited, and after getting Rodgers a new weapon, they also got him a hog molly in Trevor Penning to help protect him. This would be an absolute home run first day of the draft for Green Bay, who could use it. This could be trouble for the Buccaneers as the Packers may suddenly become as big of a threat to them as the Los Angeles Rams. Fortunately, the Buccaneers still have the Packers’ number.

Arkansas. Treylon Burks. 29. player. Scouting Report. 10. Pick Analysis. Wide Receiver


In the first of two selections the Texans would receive from the Chiefs, they choose to give Davis Mills as much help as they can, that way they can get a proper read and evaluation of him. Treylon Burks is the best wide receiver left on the board and an intriguing prospect that should mesh well with Brandin Cooks.

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. player. Bernhard Raimann. 30. 10. Tackle. Central Michigan


Going off of that same theme, the Texans choose to protect Mills after helping arm him with ammunition. Should he stay healthy, Bernhard Raimann could form a pretty good tackle tandem with Laremy Tunsil (for however long that lasts), and suddenly dawn is approaching within the darkness thanks to this impressive day one haul and more to come in the future.

Scouting Report. Quarterback. Matt Corral. 31. player. Pick Analysis. Ole Miss. 87


We are back to the quarterbacks. With not nearly as many fireworks for the most important position as anticipated. The Buccaneers’ division rivals do end up taking a quarterback in the first round in Matt Corral, trading back in thanks to the extra draft capital they acquired by trading back. Suddenly, the NFC South looks to have two new starting quarterbacks for the Bucs to face, with potentially more depending on how the Saints’ season goes.

player. Quarterback. Desmond Ridder. 32. 50. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Cincinatti

Finally, after what is being perceived already as a “weak” class for signal-callers, the Lions grab their guy with the final pick of the first round. Desmond Ridder may be seen as more of a project, but that leaves a perfect opportunity to sit and wait while learning under Jared Goff. Whether that means until the team deems Ridder ready or the Motor City no longer owes Goff money remains to be seen.

At the end of the day, nobody has a clue what’s going to happen, but the same can be said for March Madness, and that’s still fun to try and predict. We just work with what we have. What we can absolutely surmise though, is that regardless of how the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft ends up, the Buccaneers won’t have much to worry about until the playoffs. As far as this mock goes, it should be fun to revisit and laugh after the festivities.

Next. Now for the full Bucs-only mock draft. dark