Bucs made an even bigger investment in Baker Mayfield during 2024 NFL Draft

It wasn't a rookie who walked away from the weekend a big winner, it was Baker Mayfield.
Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Mike Carlson/GettyImages

As the dust settles on another NFL Draft weekend, winners and losers are being sorted out among the many grades being handed down by experts.

Mostly the fallout will focus on the incoming rookies and the teams that drafted them, but the biggest winner for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was already on the roster. Baker Mayfield signed a $105 million contract this offseason but he got a lot richer thanks to what the Bucs did at the draft.

Tampa Bay had four picks in the Top 100, and seven in total, with a majority of them being used to help give Baker what he needs. Even the defensive picks, like Alabama's Chris Braswell and Georgia's Tykee Smith, help give Mayfield even more to work with than he had before even if it's support on the other side of the ball.

What the Bucs added on offense, though, was clearly done with Baker in mind and he has to be thrilled about how things shook out.

Buccaneers gave Baker Mayfield everything he needed at NFL Draft

Of the Bucs' seven draft picks this weekend, five of them were spent on offensive players. Two of the Top 100 picks were used on offensive players as well, while every single Day 3 selection was made on Baker's side of the ball.

Graham Barton was the team's first pick of the weekend, and he projects to give Baker the stout center he lacked last season. Robert Hainsey did what he could but filling Ryan Jensen's shoes is no easy task, and it was clear the team needed an upgrade. That's going to be what Barton hopefully ends up being, but everything that has been said about him implies he'll be exactly what the team needs.

Baker is also entering just his second year in Tampa Bay, and now has a center he can develop a connection in the years to come.

Having Barton fall to No. 26 was a stroke of good luck, but he might not even be the best pick the Bucs made. Wide Receiver Jalen McMillan has the chance to be the steal of the draft for Tampa Bay; he was ranked the 57th best player in the class and the Bucs got him with the 92nd pick.

McMillan gives Baker another huge target and should form a three-headed monster alongside Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Long-term he provides some stability at receiver, as it's unclear what will happen with Godwin's contract after this season and Evans is set to hit the market again in 2026.

Bucky Irving rounded out the top half of the Bucs' draft strategy, and he'll join a backfield with Rachaad White that should give Baker the sort of rushing attack he didn't have at his disposal last season. Barton's selection factors into this as well, with strong run-blocking grades boding well for how much Liam Coen can improve things.

Even the late-round picks were designed to help Baker out. Elijah Klein adds some youthful depth at guard and could challenge Ben Bredeson for the starting job, while Devin Culp is a speedy wide receiver who converted to tight end at Washington.

There are still some areas of the roster that the Buccaneers need to give some attention to after the draft, but it's hard to have qualms with their approach given how much it helped Baker Mayfield. If nothing else it was a clear investment in him -- in addition to the contract -- and a testament to how much the Bucs believe in his ability to lead the team into the future.

More Tampa Bay Buccaneers news and rumors