We’re not even to training camp yet, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already looking ahead to next offseason.
That’s what the national media thinks, anyway.
One thing that has been certain in an offseason of uncertainty is how down on the Bucs everyone outside of Tampa Bay is. After Tom Brady retired, the trucks got packed up and the Bucs were tossed back into the wilderness they emerged out of back in 2020. Nobody is giving this team a shot, something that not a soul has seemingly tried to hide.
From being dubbed the second-worst team in the league to having Todd Bowles fired more times than we can count, the outlook on the Bucs season is grim even if reality suggests something much brighter.
It’s easier to focus on the negative, though, which is why it should come as no surprise that an early NFL Mock Draft has the Bucs looking at a rebuild by taking a young quarterback high in the draft.
Early NFL Mock Draft has Bucs taking a QB not named Caleb Williams
NFL Draft expert Jordan Reid posted an early 2024 mock draft over at ESPN and had the Bucs taking a quarterback in the first round.
Yes, he had the Bucs drafting in the Top 3 but no he did not have them taking Caleb Williams.
For the sake of context, the mock draft had the Arizona Cardinals with the first two picks in the draft — one being their own and the other being the pick they received from the Houston Texans. Williams went No. 1 overall with Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr going second. With the board falling that way, Reid mocked North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye to the Bucs at No. 3 overall.
“He is an extraordinarily accurate deep passer, completing 63 passes thrown 20-plus air yards last year. Scouts want to see a stronger finish this year — Maye closed his sophomore campaign with 6 total touchdowns, 4 interceptions and 14 sacks in four consecutive losses — but he has clear next-level starter tools,” Reid writes. “His combination of deep-ball touch and mobility makes him someone the Bucs could build around.”
It needs to be said that it’s impossibly early to be making these sorts of predictions. The top of next year’s draft class is probably going to look very different than it does right now, and for good reason. Draft stock will rise and fall based on what happens in the college season, and trying to figure it out all now doesn’t make a lot of sense.
That being said, the lesson to learn here might be that Bucs fans should familiarize themselves with quarterbacks other than Caleb Williams. The Heisman winner is the sexy quarterback choice at the moment, but he might be out of the Bucs reach when the draft finally rolls around.
Nobody in Tampa Bay is tanking this season, and tehre’s a chance the team makes the playoffs despite all of the doubt. Even if they end up at the bottom of the standings, it’s looking like the Bucs would need the No. 1 pick to secure Williams and that’s only happened twice in franchise history.
The idea that the Bucs would land the No. 1 pick twice in a decade is a depressing thing to think about.
Williams looks phenomenal but it’s best for the Bucs to just see where the chips fall — both with how their season stacks up and how the draft class shapes up — rather than overthink next year’s NFL Draft before the season that will determine its order is even played.