The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a disappointing season, to say the least. Coach Todd Bowles’ first season as the head man did not go well. The defense was streaky, the offense featured a putrid run game and quarterback Tom Brady finally showed his age.
Following a first-round exit against the Dallas Cowboys (31-14), the Bucs have a lot to figure out. Brady’s time in Tampa Bay seems to be over. He could retire, but if he doesn’t, Brady will likely head elsewhere. Per NFL odds, the Las Vegas Raiders are the even-money favorite if Brady departs. In addition, the Buccaneers have a long list of key defensive pieces hitting free agency. Tampa Bay has plenty of needs to address in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.
2022 Season Record: 8-9
Positions needed by the Buccaneers
- Offensive line
Notable Draft Picks
- Round 1, Pick 19
- Round 2, Pick 50
Potential First-Round Targets
With Brady potentially leaving, the quarterback could be a dire need. Kyle Trask is the only QB on the roster under contract, and he has appeared in only one game with nine pass attempts. The No. 19 overall pick is not a good spot to take a QB. Anthony Richardson could slide to the Buccaneers, but he’s a raw prospect and does not fit Tampa Bay’s current scheme. The Bucs will probably have to fill their quarterback hole via trade or free agency.
Tampa Bay should look for a value pick at No. 19. Linebacker, offensive tackle, or defensive back are ideal choices for the Bucs. Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson would be a good replacement for veteran Lavonte David, who is a free agent. Simpson has exceptional versatility and particularly excels in coverage with great range. However, there are some concerns about Simpson as an every-down middle linebacker since he was consistently moved around at Clemson.
Clemson LB Trenton Simpson’s versatile skill-set on 3 consecutive plays:
-Defending the run
-Lining as a safety, playing short-area zone coverage
-His ability to be a run-and-chase defender
— WBG84 (@WBG84) January 25, 2023
Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones is another intriguing option. The Bucs should start looking to replace left tackle Donovan Smith, who comes off a poor season. Jones would be a terrific value at pick No. 19 if he’s available. The Georgia product could be the most athletic tackle in the class. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound tackle reportedly clocked 19 mph on the GPS track. Jones excels as a puller in the run game, but he has limited experience with inconsistencies in mechanics.
Alabama defensive back Brian Branch would be another excellent value pick. Branch brings fantastic versatility with the ability to play both safety spots and nickel. Mike Edwards, Keanu Neal, and Logan Ryan are free agents, which leaves one major contributor at safety – Antoine Winfield Jr. Branch is very good in run support, which makes him a great fit for strong safety. He could also help with replacing slot corner Sean Murphy-Bunting, who is also a free agent.
Learn More About the NFC South Draft 2023
- Carolina Panthers 2023 Positions Needed & First Round Draft Picks
- New Orleans Saints 2023 Positions Needed & First-Round Draft Picks
- Atlanta Falcons 2023 Positions Needed & First Round Draft Picks
Potential Second-Round Targets
Jamel Dean, who was Tampa Bay’s best perimeter cornerback, is another impactful defender entering free agency. Dean could demand too much money, meaning the Buccaneers would need a replacement. This need could be addressed in the first round, but the second round also provides good value thanks to a deep class.
Bowles has a reputation for utilizing heavy man coverage. Rutgers cornerback Max Melton could be the perfect fit with his physicality at the line of scrimmage paired with good length and athleticism. Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes is another potential target with his excellent ball skills and ability to play man or zone coverages.
The Buccaneers could focus on replacing veteran defenders early in the 2023 NFL Draft.