Buccaneers land potential sleeper QB and more in latest 7-round NFL Mock Draft

Tampa Bay adds three key defenders with their first five picks, while also adding two receiving threats for Baker Mayfield

2023 Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma State v Texas
2023 Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma State v Texas / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages
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Round 7, Pick 243: Austin Reed, QB/Western Kentucky

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Following the retirement of legendary quarterback Tom Brady, the Buccaneers were at a crossroads with whom to sign or draft as their next quarterback. In March of 2022, Tampa Bay signed veteran Baker Mayfield to a one-year, $4 million contract to become the Buccaneers' next starting quarterback.

With the conclusion of the 2023 season, there's no doubt that the addition of Mayfield paid massive dividends. Starting in all 17 games, Mayfield completed 64.3% of his passes for 4,044 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, and ten interceptions for a 94.6 passer rating, all career-highs. In addition, Mayfield lead the Buccaneers to their third straight NFC South division title and was named as the NFL's Most Improved Player of the Year.

Needless to say, Mayfield thrived this past season in Tampa Bay, and may end up as the Buccaneers' starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. With that said, Mayfield is a free agent this offseason, and may not return to Tampa Bay in hopes of securing a more lucrative contract from another team.

Regardless of what happens with Mayfield this offseason, the Buccaneers have 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask as the only quarterback that is under contract for the 2024 season. With that said, Tampa Bay uses one of their two seventh round picks to add Western Kentucky's Reed to the quarterback room, who was one of the nation's top passing leaders in the last two seasons.

After serving as the starting quarterback at West Florida for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Reed transferred to Western Kentucky in hopes of boosting his draft stock under the Hilltoppers' pass heavy scheme. In his first season at Western Kentucky, Reed completed 64.6% of his passes for 4,744 passing yards, 40 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions for a 149.1 passer rating.

In 2023, Reed would follow that up with a modest 3,340 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and 138.3 passer rating on 61.5% completion, leading the Hilltopers to back-to-back 8+ win seasons.

At 6'2" and 220 pounds, Reed has the ideal size of a prototypical NFL quarterback, and also has solid arm strength and velocity generation. Reed's velocity carries well enough into the intermediate and deep parts of the field, and is able to place the ball where only his receivers are able to catch the ball.

Similarly, Reed does a great job at anticipating breaks on comebacks and hitch routes, which allow his receivers time and space to catch the ball and make plays after the catch. Above all, Reed knows how to use his eyes to mislead LBs off the snap and open the middle of the field, which is becoming a more and more valuable skill in the NFL.