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Tampa Bay Buccaneers open to drafting Tom Brady successor in 2021, 3 potential options

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have taken an all-in approach with Tom Brady, leading to a Super Bowl and putting them in a great position to repeat next season. But with the 2021 NFL Draft approaching, there’s a chance Brady could have something in common with Aaron Rodgers.

Tampa Bay will bring back all 22 of its starters, the first time a Super Bowl champion has done that. The stacked roster gives the organization plenty of flexibility with the No. 32 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. While many consider the defensive line, running back and wide receivers to be among the Buccaneers’ biggest needs, don’t rule out a quarterback being drafted.

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Bruce Arians recently spoke to reporters about the team’s draft plans. When asked about whether the club would consider taking a quarterback, possibly with a first-round pick, the future Hall of Fame coach wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

“If the right guy is there that we think is a developmental guy that has the upside that outweighs every other position of those five or six guys that we’re looking at, then we wouldn’t be against it,” Arians said on a recent Zoom call with reporters. “The same thing in the second round and the third round — if we have five guys and one’s a quarterback and we think his development is better than those positions, sure.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians on possibility of drafting a quarterback, via The Athletic

Brady, who turns 44 in August, just signed a multi-year extension with Tampa Bay. While the contract is through the 2025 season, it’s a voidable contract after 2022.

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If the Buccaneers are serious about potentially drafting a young passer to develop behind the greatest quarterback in NFL history, a few options stand out.

Kyle Trask, Florida Gators

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Many have considered Kyle Trask a Day 2 prospect during the pre-draft evaluation process. He is coming off a phenomenal season at Florida, finishing as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Due to issues with him lacking any elite physical traits, the 6-foot-5 quarterback has been pushed down the board. But recent reports suggest there’s a chance he is a first-round pick.

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Trask has drawn varying comparisons, ranging from Brad Johnson to Mason Rudolph. He is on the older side for a quarterback, entering the NFL as a 23-year-old. But there are a few things the Buccaneers might like about him. He showed in high school and at Florida that he can handle being a backup and use the opportunity to learn from it. He also showed tremendous development from 2019 to 2020, a sign that NFL coaching could get more out of him.

He would have at least two years to learn about diagnosing defenses, making quick throws and how to better navigate pressure from Brady. The time learning Arians’ scheme and working with a great staff could also help him iron out some mechanical issues. He doesn’t profile to be a high-end starter, but he could provide a solid floor.

Davis Mills, Stanford Cardinal

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Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Davis Mills is a former five-star recruit and the No.1 pro-style quarterback from the 2017 recruiting class. He began his collegiate career. He took over as Stanford’s starter in 2019, showing promise across eight games and became the full-time starter this past season. However, Mills only played in five games.

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The 6-foot-4 quarterback lacks mobility and there isn’t a ton of film (13 games) for teams to evaluate. He became a five-star recruit because of his arm strength, size and the ability to get the football out of his hands quickly. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. labeled him as a sleeper in the 2021 NFL Draft and many teams might see the physical tools that can be groomed to make him an eventual starter.

Tampa Bay would be an ideal landing spot for Mills. There would be no pressure for him to see the field in the first two years. The Buccaneers could use the preseason to give him a lot of snaps, also keeping Brady fresh in training camp with the rookie getting more work. He is a Day 2 pick, who the Bucs could take to end the second round or maybe even in Round 3.

Kellen Mond, Texas A&M Aggies

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Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports

Mac Jones is the biggest riser in the 2021 NFL Draft, but there is also momentum building for Kellen Mond. A former four-star recruit in 2017, the 6-foot-3 quarterback flashed plenty of upside at Texas A&M. At a time when teams are looking to diversify their offense, Mond’s dual-threat ability stands out.

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The 21-year-old quarterback has drawn many comparisons to Colin Kaepernick (88.9 career passer rating, 85 career touchdowns). Many questioned Mond’s ability to stay in the pocket and if he could consistently put the ball in the right spots. He demonstrated all of that for the Aggies.

Mond isn’t anywhere close to being ready to start in an NFL game. He is still only showing flashes of good decision-making when pressured, still learning to make anticipation throws and he is still hesitant to throw deep. All of those things can be worked on with coaching. Mond could be Tampa Bay’s No. 3 quarterback in 2021 and later become Brady’s backup the following year. If the Buccaneers are thinking about upside, Mond should be the target.