NFL Mock Draft: College Football insider has Bucs taking WR at No. 19
By Josh Hill
College Football insider Bruce Feldman put together an NFL Mock Draft over at The Athletic, and has the Buccaneers going in a new direction at No. 19 overall.
With the calendar flipping over to April, it’s officially NFL Draft SZN. Every team, even those that finished at the top of the league, have shifted into draft mode but it still remains unclear what certain plans are as the big day approaches.
Count the Tampa Bay Buccaneers among those teams, as there are a number of different directions the team can go with the No. 19 overall pick.
Re-signing Jamel Dean in free agency opened up a few new paths the team can take, as it won’t need to focus the top pick on finding his replacement. Even when Dean’s future was in flux, some draft experts were looking at other position groups the Bucs could look to improve and that trend continues with the latest round of NFL Mock Drafts.
Not needing to replace Dean with a young cornerback doesn’t exclude the Bucs from still looking to add at the position in the draft. While Dean is back, Tampa Bay has lost Mike Edwards, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Keanu Neal to other teams which has depleted important rotational depth in the secondary.
Pairing a top safety like Brian Branch with Antoine Winfield Jr could be a route the team goes, and one that makes sense in terms of positional need. Some experts have begun to look at the other side of the ball for where the Bucs might use the team’s top draft choice, as passing on defensive help might mean adding a key skill position player for whoever is under center this upcoming season.
Buccaneers take a WR in expert’s latest NFL Mock Draft
The Athletic’s college football expert Bruce Feldman put together his most recent mock draft and decided to have the Bucs look at offensive talent with their top pick.
It’s not a running back, though, as we’ve seen Bijan Robinson mocked to the Bucs in various drafts over the last month or so.
This time, though, a wide receiver is mocked to the Buccaneers at No. 19 overall. Boston College star Zay Flowers was the pick in Feldman’s latest mock draft, changing things up a bit in terms of pondering what the team can do with its first round pick.
"While the idea of picking an OT here might be tempting, Flowers is too good to pass up. I could see there being some consideration here for USC’s Jordan Addison, but the hunch is that Flowers is the most complete prospect, although both are undersized. The 5 feet 9, 182-pound Flowers, who only has 29 1/4-inch arms but does have 4.42 speed and a 10-7 broad jump, proved to be a one-man wrecking crew for BC despite not having many offensive pieces around him in 2022. He caught 56 passes for 892 yards and nine TDs despite being the main focus of rival defenses.”"
For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay Zay does have a nice ring to it.
Wide receiver is not a top need for the Bucs, but it’s a position that is also a bit underrated in terms of what the long-term depth there looks like. Mike Evans is entering the final year of his contract while Chris Godwin has one more year left but a potential out for the Bucs after next season.
One of those two — if not both — will be back in 2024 but Feldman’s pick is a reminder that the team needs to start thinking about the future at wide receiver. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation as the quarterback position needs to be figured out first.
What happens with who the quarterback of the future is triggers other roster moves down the road. If the Bucs end up drafting someone next year, then the team will want to have weapons around him but has a longer timeline to get those set. If Kyle Trask or Baker Mayfield prove themselves, then the timeline is much tighter.
It’s not an incredibly deep wide receiver class this year, but the hit rate at the position seems to be much higher in recent years than elsewhere on the roster. Flowers would be a huge addition to the offense and, for at least one season, create a three-headed monster at wide receiver for Dave Canales to scheme with.
We’re still early in the draft process, but as the big day approaches it’ll be interesting to see if these sorts of scenarios begin to stick.