Bucs Predicted to Land ‘Too Good to Pass Up’ Quarterback

Tom Brady

Getty The Buccaneers quest to replace Tom Brady could result in a "three-way competition" in 2023.

To replace the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could go for a “three-way competition” at the position.

ESPN Bucs insider Jenna Laine predicted that the team will take quarterback Will Levis with the No. 19 pick on Thursday, April 27, in the NFL Draft. Laine noted other needs besides quarterback, but she sees the Bucs taking one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft instead.

“While offensive tackle and edge rusher are the Bucs’ biggest draft needs, general manager Jason Licht said he ‘wouldn’t be afraid to take another quarterback,'” Laine wrote. “Oklahoma offensive tackle Anton Harrison would be a solid fit for new offensive coordinator Dave Canales’ wide zone scheme, but in this scenario, Levis at No. 19 was too good to pass up. This makes for a true three-way competition to be Tom Brady’s successor with Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask.”

Neither Mayfield nor Trask look like shoe-ins to replace Brady, who led the Bucs to a Super Bowl win and two NFC South division titles in three seasons. Mayfield will  play for his fourth team in less than two years despite his promising start to pro football as a No. 1 pick in 2018. He signed this offseason as the Bucs only had Trask on the roster.

Trask has only 10 snaps of regular season experience after two seasons of sitting behind Brady and former Bucs backup Blaine Gabbert, who joined the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason. Licht called Trask an “unknown” during his pre-draft press conference.

Levis comes into the draft as a quarterback who could go as high as No. 1, or he could plummet to late in the first round and the Bucs get a shot without moving up. He played in a pro-style offense at Kentucky and threw for 5,232 yards and 43 touchdowns versus 23 interceptions in two seasons.

Will Levis Rumored to go No. 1 in Draft

Levis notably responded to a Reddit rumor that the Carolina Panthers, which hold the No. 1 pick, already told him he would go in the top spot. For much of the pre-draft process, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young looked like the most likely No. 1 pick for the Panthers.

“I don’t want to speak on it too much,” Levis told Panthers beat reporter Joe Person of The Athletic. “But just don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.”

Levis visited the Bucs on April 12. That could mean interest in drafting Levis, but the Bucs also learned about a potential opposing quarterback if he lands with the Panthers, a division rival, or elsewhere.

Despite the potential of Levis falling to No. 19, he also is far from alone among the top quarterback prospects who could drop. Speculation of Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker likewise simmered in recent weeks. Hooker and Richardson also got linked to the Bucs amid draft rumors.

Bucs Could go With Other ESPN Draft Suggestion

While Laine predicted Levis at No. 19, she proposed an alternative in Harrison.

The Oklahoma tackle could boost a Bucs offensive line with his size and athleticism. The Bucs offensive line dealt with injuries, and the offense sputtered overall with 18.4 points per game and a league-worst 76.9 yards per game.

Tampa Bay also parted ways with veteran offensive tackle Donovan Smith this offseason.