ESPN predicts Top 10 players Buccaneers are likely to draft with No. 26 pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL Draft
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL Draft / Tom Pennington/GettyImages

With the NFL Draft just days away, final predictions are getting locked in as far as what certain teams might do.

Generally, we are like Jon Snow and know nothing as these last few days before the draft are peak Smokescreen SZN. Teams are naturally dishonest about their true intentions and that's even more the case as front offices prepare to try and land players that could change a franchise's fortunes.

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it's an even harder task to figure things out. Jason Licht plays his moves so close to the chest that the payoff almost never fails to land. Last year he zigged and drafted Calijah Kancey when everyone expected a zag toward an offensive lineman.

We could be in for another round of that this year, as the Bucs hold a ton of cards with the No. 26 pick and nobody is sure which one will get laid on the table. Mock drafts have made various predictions but ESPN's analytical algorithm is getting in on the fun and using data to try and figure out which pick Tampa Bay will make.

ESPN predicts Top 10 players Buccaneers could draft with No. 26 pick

It's not an exact science, but ESPN has used its analytics model to crunch existing mock draft data alongside the likelihood of player availability at each pick to compile a list of likely selections. For the Bucs, it seems like anyone wanting an edge rusher or an offensive lineman will be very pleased.

Most Likely Pick: Chop Robinson, EDGE/Penn State

According to ESPN's analytics, there's a near-100 percent chance that the Bucs walk away from the first round on Thursday with Chop Robinson as the team's newest member. This has slowly started to become close to the consensus pick for the Bucs, but even that's hard to lock in with so many experts also throwing out very real options like Jackson Powers-Johnson and Jared Verse.

Notably, Verse doesn't even appear as a potential option for the Buccaneers at No. 26, while Powers-Johnson does at a low percentage.

Other Potential Picks:

  • Darius Robinson, EDGE/Missouri
  • Cooper DeJean, CB/Iowa
  • Nate Wiggins, CB/Clemson
  • Kool-Aid MicKinstry, CB/Alabama
  • Tyler Guyton, OT/Oklahoma
  • Graham Barton, OT/Duke
  • Jer'Zhan Newton, DT/Illinois
  • Amarius Mims, OT/Georgia
  • Adonai Mitchell, WR/Texas

We've been beaten over the head with so many mocks trying to lock a pick in that some of these names might be new to Bucs fans.

Cooper DeJean, Nate Wiggins, and Kool-Aid McKinstry are usual suspects, but Amarius Mims and Jer'Zhan Newton are less obvious choices. Something to take away here isn't that they could be picks with the Bucs first pick but might be players that end up in Tampa Bay on Day 2 of the draft.

It's also worth noting that four wide receivers pop up on the overall list, with Adonai Mitchell clocking in at around a 50 percent possibility to be the selection. Speedster Xavier Worthy, LSU star Brian Thomas Jr., and Georgia standout Ladd McConkey are also listed as options.

The good news is that this generally lines up with areas of need the Bucs need to address. Offensive line help is badly needed, the team has to address depth at edge rusher, and trading Carlton Davis III creates a need at cornerback.

We won't officially find out until Thursday what happens.

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