Did Todd Bowles tip the Buccaneers NFL Draft plans

It seems we could be in for some more NFL Draft surprises from the Buccaneers.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions
NFC Divisional Playoffs - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

NFL free agency seems to be behind us, at least when it comes to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team spent most of the first few waves working on bringing their own guys back rather than getting into a bidding war for top available talent.

Part of this was a smart plan, as it meant guys like Bake Mayfield, Mike Evans, and others came back on relatively team-friendly deals. Focusing efforts internally means that key positions still need to be addressed, which the Bucs seem ready to do in the NFL Draft.

Tampa Bay had more money to spend this offseason than it did last year, but that wasn't an excuse to simply go out and toss money at the team's problems. Jason Licht has done a fantastic job of building through the draft, and it's a cost-effective route for the team to take.

At the NFL Owners Meeting this week, Bowles gave some insight into what the Bucs might be thinking heading into the draft.

Did Todd Bowles tip the Buccaneers NFL Draft plans

Here's where things get interesting, as the Bucs typically do the opposite of what is expected of them in the draft. We saw it last year and it seems like we're going to see it again -- at least that's what Todd Bowles indicated when he tipped the team's plans earlier this week.

With everyone assuming the team will try and add to the offense early in the draft, Bowles indicates that Tampa Bay might once again zig toward defense when everyone is expecting a zag.

“I think the defensive players are getting pushed back. After pick No. 12 or No. 13, you’re probably going to see some surprises," Bowles said. "I’m not sure if there’s going to be an inside guy [taken] in the first round; there probably won’t be a running back in the first round. There will be one tight end and you probably won’t see a safety in the first round. So there will be depth — and very few D-linemen [in the first round] — so there should be a lot of guys in Rounds 2, 3 and 4 that we can really see that we probably shouldn’t expect to be there.”

This is what happened last season. Everyone expected the Bucs to either trade up for a quarterback to replace Tom Brady or dip into the tackle class to begin rebuilding the offensive line. The latter remains a need -- perhaps Tampa Bay's biggest -- but it's not the only one.

Rather than go with an offensive lineman, the Bucs opted to take Calijah Kancey to bolster the edge rusher and spent most of the draft reloading defensive talent. That could be the case again this April, as the run on quarterbacks and linemen might cause some other top players to slide down the draft board.

The good news is that it's a pretty deep guard class, with Mason McCormick slowly being penciled in as a Day 2 pick for the Bucs. Tama Bay has a pair of third-round picks after trading Carlton Davis III to Detroit, which means Cooper Beebe, Sedrick Van Pran, and others could be options and allow Tampa Bay to dip into the defensive pool.

It's a perfect position for a draft maestro like Jason Licht to cook up a fantastic class and continue laying the foundation for the future.

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