Buccaneers 7-round mock draft: Tampa Bay reloads on defense and takes some offensive lottery tickets

It’s starting to look like the Bucs will have a top 10 pick to start building for the future.

Mississippi State v Alabama
Mississippi State v Alabama / Brandon Sumrall/GettyImages
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Round 2

Barrett Carter. 42. Carter. Barrett Carter. player. . . 432. Linebacker. Clemson

After taking McKinstry with their first pick, Tampa Bay doubles down on defense with the selection of Carter, one of the top linebackers in the nation. Since committing to the Tigers in 2020, Trotter has become a solid pass rusher and coverage linebacker while anchoring one of the ACC's top defenses.

During the 2022 season, his first full year, Trotter enjoyed a career-best season, recording 73 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, eight passes defended, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles, earning All-ACC first-team honors. To follow that up, Carter has complied 59 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, and two passes defended this season.

While Trotter's stats aren't as gaudy as last year's, the 6'1", 220-pound defender has still shined for the Tigers in some major games. Take Clemson's 31-20 week 12 upset win against No. 20 North Carolina, where Trotter had four tackles and a game-high two passes defended, one of which came within the final two minutes to stifle the Tar Heels' potential game-winning drive.

As a pass rusher, Trotter's torrid foot speed, suddenness, and jaw-dropping reactionary athleticism make him an issue for offensive tackles to block. Trotter's combination of swim and power moves add to this, and has allowed him to pressure quarterbacks at a consistent rate in the ACC.

In coverage, Carter has matched up with receivers and tight ends and has been able to cover them decently. When his assignment takes him down the field, Carter will get caught in no man's land. Otherwise, Carter does a good job of defending the perimeter and the middle of the field.

One major knock on Carter is that he needs to get stronger before being drafted, as his play strength is above average at best. Because of this, Carter's ability to quickly deconstruct blocks and make solo tackles is limited below what it needs to be. In the modern NFL where second-level versatility and deception are paramount, however, Carter as a new-age playmaker with traditional utility will hold immense amounts of value in the NFL.