NFL Mock Draft SZN is officially here, and The Ringer’s Danny Kelly zigs while lots of folks are zagging when it comes to the No. 19 overall pick.
With NFL Free Agency settling down, attention now turns toward the crop of young players who will be entering the league next month at the NFL Draft.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers own the No. 19 pick, and their plans for that selection have seemingly shifted since the offseason began. It was long thought that a defensive back might be the pick for Tampa Bay, as the need to replace Jamel Dean loomed large along with some other needs across the roster.
Dean ended up re-signing with the Bucs, though, which not only landed the top free agent cornerback with the team that owned one of the league’s worst-positioned salary cap but it essentially eliminated the need to use a top pick on a replacement.
With Dean back in Tampa Bay, the front office can turn its eye toward another position of need and use the No. 19 pick on a different top prospect who might develop into a core piece of the team’s future.
NFL Mock Draft: The Ringer predicts Buccaneers will replace Tristan Wirfs
There’s a fair amount of shock value to that statement, but if you’ve been paying attention to the Buccaneers then it’s nothing new. It’s no secret the Bucs might try to find a replacement for Wirfs in the draft — not because they’re planning a future without him but because it’s part of a larger offensive line shift.
Donovan Smith’s time with the Bucs is over, and with that comes the need to replace him at left tackle. The idea is for Wirfs to fill that vacancy, which is great because he’s one of the best young tackles in the league.
What that creates, though, is another void on the offensive line. Wirfs moving to left tackle means the Bucs need to find a new right tackle for this plan to work. The Ringer’s Danny Kelly thinks the team might find exactly that in Ohio State’s Dawand Jones.
"After releasing longtime starter Donovan Smith, the Buccaneers need some help on the offensive line. With Tristan Wirfs a potential successor at left tackle, the Buccaneers grab a day-one starter on the right side in Jones. He’s a mountain of a man who will add intensity and power to the team’s offensive line."
He goes on to say that Jones has a wingspan like a B-52, will lift up and toss down defenders, and lots of other stuff that should excite Bucs fans.
Kelly isn’t alone in thinking the Bucs might be shifting their focus at No. 19 to the offensive line. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. mocked Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright to Tampa Bay in his latest mock draft who played both tackle positions while in college. Wright could present a scenario where Wirfs stays at right tackle, but it’s looking more like replacing him on that side of the line is the route the Bucs will go.