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Tampa Bay looked like the team to beat in the NFC early on in the 2021 season. Tom Brady picked up where he left off and the defense looked as good as ever. They hit a snag in the road though, and seemed to falter down the stretch. Though making the playoffs the Buccaneers couldn’t seem to capture the magic that saw them become Super Bowl champs in 2020.
After a retirement scare from Brady, the Bucs will look to run it back but clearly need to improve some areas of the roster. They will definitely need a QB of the future as Brady has shown he won’t be around forever, as well as some big men on the front lines. How will they fill those needs? The NFL Draft!
Round 1, Pick 27: George Karlaftis, DL, Purdue
The Bucs won the Super Bowl due to their front seven completely taking over games. Shaq Barrett, Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh were monsters, but they should look to get younger.
Getting a player like Karlaftis in the building would be invaluable. Not only can he rush from the interior, but he can also stand up and play from the edge. Have that kind of versatility would give new head coach Todd Bowles a Swiss Army knife up front to terrorize offenses. Given that they have some young defensive pieces already, getting younger up front would ensure that this defense can continue it’s dominance for a while.
Round 2, Pick 27: Jayden Peevy, DL, Texas A&M
Round 3, Pick 27: Kellen Diesch, OL, Arizona State
The trend of bolstering the trenches won’t stop in the first round. Day two should see the Bucs filling the lines with more depth and talent.
Jayden Peevy is an immovable object and an unstoppable force all in one package. His length is scary and his strength and motor are on display every down. He would give the Bucs a great situational pass rusher for now, but will develop into an every down interior defensive lineman.
On the other side of the ball, Kellen Diesch is another mountain. While he doesn’t flash any elite level athleticism, his eyes and feet are amazing. He rarely gets beat by twists or stunts and stuffs power rushes with ease. He is well versed in zone blocking as well, which adds to his value. The Bucs could find two gems on day two that give them long tenured service.
Round 4, Pick 27: Luke Goedeke, OL, Central Michigan
Round 7, Pick 27: Jack Koerner, Safety, Iowa
Round 7, Pick 40: Jake Bentley, QB, South Alabama
Day three is going to a future builder for Tampa Bay. As previously stated, Brady has shown retirement isn’t out of the question, so the Bucs should be on the lookout for his successor. They should also look to shore up the depth with guys who can step in as starters soon.
Finding a guy like Jake Bentley is amazing on day three. He is a guy with all the physical tools you want, and learning under Brady is only going to sharpen those. He has a quick release with a whip of an arm. He also has touch to get balls over linebackers and shallow safeties over the middle. Seeing him in Crimson and Pewter to learn for the next year or two and compete for the starting spot is a plus for Tampa.
Koerner and Goedeke are both guys who could start or play major roles early on as late draft picks.
Goedeke is a interior blocker with a mean streak and is as smart as they come. He is stout in pass protection and finishes on run blocks. The only concern is he doesn’t have the athleticism you would like in a starting interior lineman.
Koerner is a solid safety who plays with his eyes very well. He has good feel in zone coverage and plays off teammates well. He doesn’t possess great physicals but his tape shows he can be a starter at the next level with time. As of right now as a backend three safety package guy is where he would have a lot of value for Bowles’ defense.
The Bucs are dangerous and with Brady returning are looking to make another run. If they want to make the most of it, drafting well is their best hope.