11 realistic Buccaneers first round targets, ranked from worst to best

Even picking No. 26 overall, there are so many fantastic options for the Buccaneers to choose from.
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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It might seem that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picking No. 26 overall in the NFL Draft this year would mean they won't get a crack at a top player, but that's overlooking Jason Licht's talent.

The Bucs' GM has a knack for mining the draft for impact players, and picking this late is merely a fun challenge than anything else. We also don't know how the draft board is going to fall, as there are already some who think that Top 10 players could be available at the back half of the first round.

Landing the right guy is never easy, especially that late, but there's no shortage of potential imapct players Tampa Bay could land for the future.

11 realistic Buccaneers first round targets, ranked from worst to best

11. Payton Willis, LB/NC State

It's not that Willis is a bad player, he just bottoms out on this list for a few key reasons.

Linebacker is a position the Bucs will likely address in the draft, but there are a ton of true edge rushers the team could pick from here instead. He's also a fringe Day 2 candidate, which means if things start to shuffle around it could be that the Bucs can land him with in the second round.

Either way, Willis should be on the radar.

10. Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB/Missouri

Similar to Willis, the Bucs might be able to wait to get Rakestraw Jr., but the question is should they? That's really the case with a lot of these fringe first-rounders, as we saw last year what happened when Detroit bucked conventional thinking and drafted the guys they liked before they got away.

You don't get any bonus points for cutting it close.

Speaking of Detroit, the Bucs traded Carlton Davis III there this offseason which means cornerback is a bigger need than it already was. That's something Rakestraw can help with, as he has CB1 upside and could challenge Jamel Dean for that role if all goes well but be some serious depth if nothing else.

9. T.J. Tampa, CB/Iowa State

Noticing a trend here?

Picking this late in the first round means the Bucs have a wider net of guys who make sense and they won't get hammered for taking "too early". Tampa is a lot like the other corners in this range, but he comes pre-branded for the Buccaneers.

How can the Bucs not draft a guy named Tampa? It's almost an obligation, but one that would give the team a guy who is a Top 10 corner in his class and someone with insane upside. He's also sort of the last guy who is on the sliding scale of players the Bucs could take at No. 26 but also realistically wait until No. 58 to land since he's a consensus Top 75 pick.

8. Kool Aid-McKinstry, CB/Alabama

While there's some debate as to whether or not some of the other cornerbacks on this list could still be available on Day 2 if the Bucs pass, Kool-Aid McKinstry is firmly not in that category.

He's going to be a first round pick and if not he won't last much longer than the first few picks of Day 2. McKinstry is out of the Bucs range at No. 58, which means if they want him they'll need to get him here.

McKinstry has been linked to the Bucs going back to when they had a Top 15 pick in the draft during their midseason losing streak, and here he is still attatched to them even with picking later in the round. He's an incredibly intelligent cornerback, which makes up for some of the athleticism he lacks, and could be a perfect fit for Todd Bowles' defense.

He can play zone, too, which is also another reason the Bucs might look his way at No. 26.

7. Nate Wiggins, CB/Clemson

There seems to be a very thin line between Kool-Aid McKinstry and Nate Wiggins, and it doesn't feel like the Bucs can go wrong with either one.

Wiggins is a little taller and leaner than McKinstry, and has the elite athleticism that his counterpart lacks. He graded out lower according to PFF, though, but that doesn't mean he can't develop into an impact start for the Buccaneers that they desperately need at corner. Either as a partner for Dean or his eventual replacement, Wiggins feels like a fit at No. 26 and will be hard to pass over depending on what other talent is still on the board.

6. Chop Robinson, EDGE/Penn State

There's no question that Chop Robinson is one of the best edge rushers in the draft, but he might end up being more of a project than it seems. He's like a wad of clay that the right defensive mind can sculpt into an absolute menace, which is some pretty attractive upside to consider.

One potential hangup is that Robinson needs to be coached out of his mistakes, which is something that the Bucs coaching staff has struggled with over the years.

Tampa Bay has swung and missed on a pair of guys in a similar position late int he first roudn recently. Both Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Logan Hall have failed to develop into what the Bucs needed them to be, with Hall going as far as switching positions.

Robinson being closer to those two in the Venn diagram isn't really great but it could be that the Bucs learned their lessons and can atone for those sins by creating a monster on their defenisve line.