TAMPA, Fla. — When future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady announced his return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, much of the focus turned to free agency. But Thursday, the Bucs can add even more firepower in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Buccaneers hold the number 27 overall pick in the first round Thursday, meaning Bucs fans will have plenty of anticipation building before the team goes on the clock Thursday.
With plenty of talent available, the Bucs can go in a number of directions or trade either up or down, depending on the player they are targeting.
After countless mock drafts from the experts, here's a compilation of some of the players Tampa Bay may have available to them with the 27th pick.
- Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia — after starting for the national champion Georgia Bulldogs, Wyatt put on a show at the NFL combine including running a 4.77 40-yard-dash while weighing in at 304 pounds. Last season, Wyatt helped lead the Bulldogs' historic defense while racking up 39 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in 14 starts. He's been dinged by talent evaluators for having shorter arms and not enough pass moves. He's been listed as a late first-round pick or early second-round pick in most mock drafts. He would likely fill the hole left by Ndamukong Suh if he doesn't return to the Bucs.
- Zion Johnson, G, Boston College — after losing both starting guards from last year's team, the Bucs added starter Shaq Mason via trade with the Patriots, but still have a hole on the offensive line. As history has proven, keeping pressure away from Tom Brady guarantees success. Adding Johnson would fill the offensive line hole and give Brady and the Bucs another quality, young offensive lineman to pair with right tackle Trystan Wirfs. Johnson bench-pressed 250 pounds 32 times at the combine and is a wide, girthy blocker who has experience at tackle but will slot in at guard in the NFL. He may be off the board by the time Tampa goes on the clock in the first round.
- Travis Jones, DT, UConn — Jones is a massive defensive tackle who was the lone bright spot on a terrible UConn team in 2021. He stands 6'4", weighs in at 325 pounds, and ran a sub 5.0 second 40-yard-dash at the combine. He's a classic nose tackle that would line up next to Vita Vea to give the Bucs more than 670 pounds of defensive linemen between them if he was drafted by Tampa. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has him slotted at 27 to be taken by the Bucs in his mock draft. Jones at nose tackle could allow Vea to kick out to defensive end or vice-versa. Adding in another defensive lineman like William Gholston or others would give the Bucs a massive defensive line for opponents to deal with for years.
- David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan — Ojabo was considered a top 15 pick before he tore his Achilles tendon during his Pro Day at Michigan. The injury could see him plummet out of the first round, though NBC Sports' Peter King mocked Ojabo to the Bucs in the first round. When he was on the field for the Wolverines, he was a beast. Starting opposite possible number one overall pick Aidan Hutchinson, Ojabo posted 35 tackles (12 for loss), 11 sacks, and five forced fumbles. He posted a 4.55 40-yard-dash during the combine and if he makes it past the first round, will likely go in the first half of the second round. He's a polarizing pick for many because he will not play in 2022, but should be ready for the 2023 season.
- Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M — Much in the same way Johnson would fill an Ali Marpet-size hole on the line, Green would be a similar pick. He's started at both guard and tackle spots on the offensive line, which would give him positional versatility in the NFL. He may not make it to the Bucs as the Dallas Cowboys are rumored to be interested in the local Texas star. Green stands 6'4 and weighs 323 pounds. He only put up 20 reps of 250 pounds on the bench press, but the tape of him run blocking should give general managers plenty of comfort adding him to their offensive line.
- Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa — You may be sensing a pattern here of the offensive and defensive lines, which is intentional. Smith hasn't been talked about much during the pre-draft process but has reportedly been high on many teams' draft boards. At 6'5", 324 pounds with 34-inch arms and 10 3/4 inch hands, he's the prototypical size of an NFL tackle. He's been described by multiple evaluators as "nasty" when it comes to his blocking. He has some holes in his technique, but NFL.com said he would be a good pick to move inside to guard to utilize his power in the running game as he develops. At guard, he could hold the fort until Donovan Smith retires or moves on and then kick out to tackle if the Bucs wanted to go down that route.
- Logan Hall, DT/EDGE, Houston — Hall played inside at defensive tackle in college, but he may be the perfect 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. He stands 6'6", weighs 283 pounds, and ran a 4.88 40-yard-dash at the combine. Last season, he racked up 48 tackles (13.5 for loss) along with 6.5 sacks in 13 games. He's almost in-between positions size-wise and the team that picks him will be projecting a lot if he does kick outside. He's been a late riser up draft boards, according to multiple media outlets. If he's not selected at the end of the first round, he'll likely go early in the second round.
- Treylon Burks — You have Tom Brady, may as well give him another weapon on the outside. The Bucs already have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, along with the improving Tyler Johnson. Adding Burks would be a luxury pick for the Bucs, but would set their wide receiver corps up for the next 5-6 years. Burks was a beast for Arkansas in 2021 pulling down 61 catches for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns in 12 starts. He racked up six 100-yard games in 2021 and was named a first-team All-SEC selection. Some experts pegged his combined performance as disappointing (4.55 second 40-yard-dash), but he played extremely well in the toughest conference in college football.
That's just a sampling of who might be available for the Bucs when they go on the clock Thursday night, probably around 10 or 11 p.m.