The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a number of needs to address in the draft, but one expert’s latest NFL Mock Draft has the team bolstering the backfield.
For all of the chatter about what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will do at quarterback this offseason, there are a number of other loose ends that need to be tied up as well.
Notably, the NFL Draft is just a few months away and the Bucs need to decide what direction to go with when they’re on the clock at No. 19 overall.
There’s a chance the team trades up — especially if it trades Chris Godwin for another first round pick it can package into a deal — but that’s looking less likely than it did in the immediate aftermath of Tom Brady’s retirement.
It seems like the Bucs are content with rolling into next season with Kyle Trask as the starter, which means Tampa Bay will be eying every other position on the depth chart in the first round other than quarterback.
NFL Network’s draft expert Daniel Jeremiah thinks that direction could still be on offense, but the position behind Trask rather than the one he plays. Jeremiah has the Bucs taking Texas Longhorns star running back Bijan Robinson at No. 19.
“The Bucs need to figure out what they’re going to do at quarterback in the wake of Tom Brady’s retirement, but Robinson will take pressure off whoever is under center,” Jeremiah said.
There are a few adjectives that come to mind when thinking about the Buccaneers drafting a running back in the first round, the most obvious of which is risky. This isn’t exclusive to the Bucs, as it seems the value of running backs tends to be all over the board come draft season. It’s one of the sexiest skill positions, so fans are always wanting their teams to consider the latest college star but front offices are weary of what the true value of a running back is and where to best exploit that value.
NFL Mock Draft: Should Buccaneers select a first round running back?
Back in 2014, the question was begged as to whether the era of spending a first round pick on a running back was a thing of the past. The very next year two running backs were selected in the Top 15, and
But Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, and Tony Pollard were all picked outside of the first round, with the most extreme case being Isiah Pacheco being drafted in the seventh round. Henry is the best back in football, Kamara is the prototype teams try to replicate, Pollard is considered better than Zeke Elliott (a first round pick), and Pacheco scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl this year while taking over the RB1 role in Patrick Mahomes’ offense.
That’s extremely reductive, but also an abridged argument for why it’s almost better to use a first round pick on another position and not miss out on value later in the draft.
Robinson is the best running back in this year’s class, but if the Bucs are going to go that route then there are other positions they can take The Best Guy. Notably, the stock of Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer is rising and some mocks have him going to Tampa Bay at No. 19.
Tight end isn’t a top position of need for the Bucs, but using the pick on Mayer makes more sense than using it on Robinson. If Tampa Bay rolls with Kyle Trask as the starter, whoever his tight end is will quickly become his best friend and Mayer is being talked about as the best player in the most talented tight end class in recent memory.
That right there is higher upside than using the pick on Robinson, who would could turn out to be fantastic but could also become Melvin Gordon. There’s also risk in taking Mayer, but his immediate impact on another key position of need for the Bucs — quarterback — is greater than what Robinson can provide.
Robinson is a nice thought exercise for these early mock drafts but as draft chatter becomes more serious, so too will the players being mocked to Tampa Bay.