Bringing Tom Brady aboard the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ ship was a wise move back in 2020, as it delivered the franchise’s second Super Bowl. But Brady’s addition, along with several other veterans, created a salary cap issue they’re still trying to recover from.
Last year the bottom nearly fell out completely, with the Bucs sinking from 13 wins down to eight, yet this was still good enough to clinch the dreadful NFC South. Now with Brady moving on, coach Todd Bowles will be relying on either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask to lead the way.
Related: 2023 NFL mock draft
This is in conjunction with already losing several other veterans to free agency, including Sean Murphy-Bunting and Mike Edwards, while letting go starting left tackle Donovan Smith and key Super Bowl LV contributor Leonard Fournette.
Yet, the Buccaneers have just under $6 million to spend before hitting their 2023 spending limit. According to OverTheCap, Tampa Bay will need roughly $10 million to sign their own draft class this offseason. This means, barring any significant contract restructures, there is very little to no room for any more big free agent additions, leaving the 2023 NFL Draft as Tampa Bay’s best way to improve the roster from here.
The Bucs have plenty of draft capital, yet they also have several key needs to address before the 2023 season kicks off. Before diving into our Buccaneers mock draft, here’s a rundown of their needs and draft picks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft picks 2023
Here are the Buccaneers’ draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
- Round 1: 19th overall
- Round 2: 50th overall
- Round 3: 82nd overall
- Round 5: 153rd overall
- Round 5: 175th overall
- Round 6: 179th overall
- Round 6: 181st overall
- Round 7: 196th overall
- Round 7: 252nd overall
Related: 2023 NFL Draft rumors
Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft needs 2023
Here are the Buccaneers’ current draft needs before the 2023 NFL Draft.
Related: 2023 NFL Draft order
Tampa Bay Buccaneers mock draft
First round, 19th overall: Bijan Robinson, running back, Texas
Aside from hiring a new offensive coordinator, we’ve yet to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do anything to address their league-worst rushing attack last season. While we can expect to see Rachaad White take a step forward in his second season, should Tampa Bay really be counting on the second-year pro to single-handedly take this ground attack from the 32nd-ranked unit to above-average? Probably not.
Yet, adding another dynamic rusher like Texas’ Bijan Robinson may do the trick. Boasting Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will help whoever wins the starting QB job, but having a reliable one-two punch out of the backfield could be even more impactful for Tampa’s scoring attack.
Plus, like White, Robinson can help in the passing game, too, making his presence felt catching passes out of the backfield, turning short gains into touchdowns. Aside from possibly trading down to nab an offensive line prospect the Buccaneers like while collecting a few more assets, it’s hard to find a better option than Robinson with the 19th pick in the first round.
Second round, 50th overall: Matthew Bergeron, offensive tackle, Syracuse
As we hinted at with their first selection, the Buccaneers need to do something to improve their rushing attack from last season. Prioritizing an offensive tackle in the first round may be a wiser move in the long run, but having Tristan Wirfs, who may be able to convert from the right side over to left tackle, may allow the Bucs to be patient when addressing their needs in the trenches.
If so, landing a player like Syracuse’s Matthew Bergeron in the second round could prove to be a steal. Having primarily played left tackle with the Orange, Bergeron also has some experience playing right tackle as well. His work as a pass protector leads many to believe Bergeron can be a Day One starter at the next level while he continues to get stronger as a run blocker.
When it comes to adding a capable starter along the offensive line midway through the second round, it doesn’t get much better than the 6-foot-5 Quebec native.
Third round, 82nd overall: Jordan Battle, safety, Alabama
Another major weakness for the Buccaneers heading into the draft lies in the secondary. With safety Mike Edwards and cornerback Sean Bunting moving on, the Bucs have a total of 17 starts to replace in their defensive backfield and very little depth to rely on for a bigger role.
If a player like Alabama’s Jordan Battle is still available in the third round, Bucs GM Jason Licht should immediately turn Tampa Bay’s draft card. At 6-foot-1, 209 pounds, Battle would bring a bit more size to coach Todd Bowles’ secondary while also bringing the capability of a Day One starter.
Battle has a nose for the football, and he loves to use his physicality to his advantage. He could still improve his ability to cover, particularly in man coverage, but he still has respectable ball skills, picking off at least one pass in each of his four seasons with the Crimson Tide. He’d make for an intimidating safety duo, combining with Antoine Winfield Jr.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers mock draft 2023: 7-round projection
- 1st Round, 19th overall: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
- 2nd Round, 50th overall: Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
- 3rd Round, 82nd overall: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
- 5th Round, 153rd overall: Viliami Fehoko, EDGE, San Jose State
- 5th Round, 175th overall: Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia
- 6th Round, 179th overall: Chandler Zavala, OG, North Carolina State
- 6th Round, 181st overall: Keaton Mitchell, RB, East Carolina
- 6th Round, 196th overall: Starling Thomas V, CB, UAB
- 7th Round, 252nd overall: Drake Thomas, LB, North Carolina State