TAMPA, Fla. — After trading out of Thursday night's first round of the NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers start Friday night with the first pick of the second round when the draft restarts. It's a position that leaves the Buccaneers with tons of flexibility.
The Bucs can keep the pick and make their selection of the best player on their draft board or they could trade the pick to acquire more draft picks to help fill out the roster ahead of an expected deep playoff run this season.
Assuming the Bucs don't get a trade offer that blows them away (they have eight other picks in the draft this year including five in the first four rounds), the team has a plethora of directions it can go with the 33rd pick (first of the second round).
Here's a look at some of the prospects the Bucs could be looking at if they make the 33rd pick:
Trey McBride, tight end, Colorado State — The Bucs hope Rob Gronkowski comes back for another run with the team, but could always draft a replacement in McBride. The 6'4" tight end played in a pro-style offense at Colorado State and can block when needed. He won the Mackey Award as the nation's best tight end last season and led his team with 90 receptions for 1,121 yards. Still, 33rd may be early to draft the former Ram.
Travis Jones, defensive tackle, Connecticut — Jones is a massive defensive tackle who was the lone bright spot on a terrible UConn team 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. Jones at nose tackle could allow Vea to kick out to defensive end or vice-versa. Adding Jones would give the Bucs one of the toughest 3-4 defensive lines to run against in the NFL.
Logan Hall, defensive tackle, Houston — Sticking with the defensive line here, Hall pulled down 13 tackles for loss and six sacks last season to lead the Cougars' defense. Hall stands 6'6" and weighs 283 pounds which would likely have him lined up as a defensive end in Tampa's base defense. Bringing in Hall or Jones would likely make Ndamukong Suh's departure almost certain, though no official word has come on if Suh plans to play next season.
Boye Mafe, outside linebacker, Minnesota — The former Golden Gopher reportedly has one of the fastest times off the line of scrimmage of anyone in the draft. He played with his hand on the ground for the Gophers, but would likely be a 3-4 outside linebacker for the Bucs. Lining him up beside last year's first-round pick, Joe Tryon, would give the Bucs a pair of gifted young pass rushers to develop for the next several seasons.
Christian Watson, wide receiver, North Dakota State — Call me a homer, but Watson to the Bucs makes sense. It would give Tom Brady another large target on the outside and allow Chris Godwin time to ease back into the lineup. His size (6'4") and speed (4.36 40-yard dash) have to be enticing for the Bucs. If they know Gronk would return, this would be a no-brainer to pair him up with Evans and Godwin to give opposing defensive coordinators many sleepless nights. The fact that he is from Tampa would be icing on the cake.
Bernhard Raimann, offensive tackle, Central Michigan — He's only played tackle for two years and his arms are on the shorter side, but the tape shows a nasty blocker willing to take on the opponents best pass rusher. He is likely to improve with coaching, but his relative youth may be too much for the Bucs who are in win-now mode heading into the 2022 season.
Nakobe Dean, linebacker, Georgia — The Bucs are set at linebacker for this year, but adding Dean would set them up for the future. Lavonte David is 32 and Tampa will need to start planning for his replacement. Dean has first-round level talent but slid out of the first round. Last season with the Bulldogs, Dean was a first-team All-American and All-SEC selection with 72 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, two interceptions, six pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. He's also heavily involved with community service efforts and is almost exactly the size of Tampa's current inside linebackers. Again though, the Bucs are likely looking for players to start or be on the field a lot immediately and Dean may not be that right away.
And this is only a small sample of the available players in the draft. Whatever the Bucs decide to do, they've been very successful in the draft in recent seasons and fans should expect that streak to continue.