TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not be finished wheeling and dealing in the NFL draft.
The team traded down five spots in the opening round, selected Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea 12th overall, while also putting themselves in a better position to be impact players on Day Two by receiving a pair of second-round draft picks from the Buffalo Bills.
General manager Jason Licht now has three picks in Round 2 — No. 38, 53 and 56 overall. He’s happy about having Vea, a rare blend of strength and quickness for a prospect his size.
“I’m smiling from ear-to-ear,” Licht said Thursday night.
The former University of Washington standout will be plugged into a revamped defensive line anchored by six-time Pro Bowl tackle Gerald McCoy and bolstered by last month’s trade for pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul and the signing of Beau Allen, Vinny Curry and Mitch Unrein in free agency.
The Bucs ranked last in the NFL with 23 sacks a year ago. Upgrading the defensive line and a porous secondary are among the top priorities after going 5-11 and missing the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.
Other needs Licht could address, beginning with the second round, are running back and offensive line.
The general manager also notes having three second-round picks could provide the Bucs flexibility to move up — or down — again Friday. The club currently doesn’t have a third-round selection, which was sent to the New York Giants as part of the trade for Pierre-Paul.