2020 NFL Draft Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Exit Jameis Winston, enter Tom Brady.

With the addition of six-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady during the offseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft outlook might have changed a little, but who the Buccaneers draft with the 14th pick on Thursday night will be just as important for the franchise’s immediate future.

For this preview, we will look into what Tampa Bay’s best option is if they keep the 14th pick in this year’s draft.

The Buccaneers offense is stacked with weapons around Tom Brady, including two of the top receivers in the league, Mike Evans and Chris Goodwin. New-addition Rob Gronkowski may be rusty, but he is no slouch at tight end either.

The focus with Pick 14 will likely be the offensive line. Winston was sacked 47 times in 2019, while Brady took 20 fewer sacks over the course of the season with New England. Tampa Bay will want to close that gap if not erase it entirely in 2020.

With all that being said, the four best offensive tackles in the draft appear to be Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, and Louisville’s Mekhi Becton.

Becton and Thomas are the two with the most experience on the left side of the line, where the Bucs will try and focus on protecting Brady’s blindside. Remember, the Bucs with the 14th pick, will likely not get the first offensive lineman in the draft, so they may have to prepare with two, or even three, picks in mind.

Most mock drafts show Tampa Bay taking Thomas at 14. The 6′ 5″ junior was a three-year starter in the SEC, having to go up against defenses like Alabama and Florida. Thomas’ experience at left tackle over the last two seasons may give him the upside over Alabama’s Wills.

Becton is likely a top two choice for the Bucs as he’s played both left tackle and right tackle during his career at Louisville, sometimes even in the same game. His lack of competition in the ACC may hurt his draft stock when his tape goes up against Thomas, Wills, and even Wirfs in the Big Ten.

If all four of the top linemen are taken before the 14th pick, Tampa may have to go with Houston’s Josh Jones. Jones started 45 games at left tackle, so he checks that box, but his level of competition in the American Athletic Conference may bring up some question marks.

Tampa Bay’s defense also features a variety of young talent and some veteran players like Levonte David and Jason Pierre-Paul, so they will likely save defense for later in the draft, as well as the likelihood of drafting more offensive lineman throughout the weekend and in free agency.

Plus, we can never throw out the option of a trade.

The reality of it all is that the Bucs are likely looking for a player that is ready to start blocking for Tom Brady right now. As good as these guys were in college, it isn’t guaranteed to translate over to the NFL.

Tampa Bay has a team of scouts pouring over these guys’ film, not just to determine who is the best now, but who is ready now. Sometimes that pick can surprise you.

Either way, the Bucs have until Thursday to decide, as the 2020 NFL Draft will still take place virtually, starting at 8 P.M. EST with the 1st Round, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the 14th pick.

Written by Danny Morales

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