Buccaneers land successor to Baker Mayfield in latest 7-round NFL Mock Draft

The Bucs can not only reload but lay the foundation for a solid future with this draft class.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints / Chris Graythen/GettyImages
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Free agency is officially in its third or fourth wave, which means the cream of the crop has been taken care of and attention begins to turn toward the NFL Draft.

That’s where teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can cook up a class that both addresses outstanding needs while also laying the foundation for a strong future. The Bucs spent most of free agency bringing back their own guys, which meant big deals for Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, and collectively a handful of others.

It also meant sitting out the gold rush of free agency’s first wave, which prevents the Bucs from addressing some key areas of need. Thankfully Jason Licht has proved to be something of a draft wizard and has a chance to find some top young talent to plug holes on the roster while also and serving as pillars for the future.

Latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-round NFL Mock Draft

Round 1, Pick 26: Laiatu Latu, Edge/UCLA

One area the Buccaneers haven’t yet addressed in free agency, and probably won’t, is edge rush. It was a pricey position this offseason and one that didn’t have many home run options that would have justified the Bucs breaking the bank to get.

Luckily, the draft is ripe with talent Jason Licht can mine.

The Bucs don’t have to overdraft an edge rusher as guys like Marshawn Kneeland and Mohamed Kamara are perfect Day 2 targets. However, if Tampa Bay goes on the clock at No. 26 and UCLA’s Laiatu Latu is still on the board then the pick might be a no-brainer.

Last year we saw the Bucs zig and take Calijah Kancey when everyone thought they’d zag and grab a top offensive player. That move paid off immensely and Latu is a guy worth double dipping on that strategy with. He’s a pass rush monster who lives in the backfield and will quickly become a nightmare for offenses to deal with when getting rotated in with Kancey.

What makes him even more valuable, and dangerous, is that he might be able to be on the same line as Kancey. Latu played a near-even split of left- and right-side snaps, which means the Bucs could have a defensive line of Kancey and Latu bookending Vita Vea in the middle.

Good luck to offenses trying to protect against that front.