Buccaneers Urged to Take ‘No-Brainer Pick’ in NFL Draft

Todd Bowles

Getty Todd Bowles could go for West Virginia's Zach Frazier in the draft.

While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have played nearly two seasons without now-retired center Ryan Jensen, the team could fill the big void he left when the draft rolls around next week.

That’s how Buccaneers insider Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com sees it when it comes to the No. 26 pick if West Virginia center Zach Frazier lands at the spot. Kaufman wrote that “this 6-foot-3, 314-pound mauler out of West Virginia first the [Jason] Licht profile, and the Buccaneers general manager has been successful about drafting the right linemen as Kaufman noted.

“He’s what the Bucs are looking for and what they so desperately need — a nasty, hulking interior lineman who can set an ornery tone up front,” Kaufman wrote about Frazier. “That’s something the Bucs haven’t had since Ryan Jensen went down with a 2022 training camp injury that essentially ended an accomplished career.”

Buccaneers Couldn’t Fill Ryan Jensen Void With Robert Hainsey

Jensen didn’t play in 2022, and Buccaneers offensive lineman Robert Hainsey moved over to the starting center in just his second year. The Buccaneers offense struggled but made the playoffs, and Jensen played in the Wild Card game loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

It looked promising that Jensen would return for a full season in 2023, but continued knee problems sent him to injured reserve instead during training camp. Jensen never played in the 2023 season, and he retired afterward.

“Hainsey has tried his best, but he’s playing out of position as the anchor of a young front that struggles to open holes for [running back] Rachaad White,” Kaufman said.

Tampa Bay hasn’t been able to run the ball successfully under head coach Todd Bowles, and part of that stems from the offensive line. The Buccaneers didn’t make any drastic changes at running back in free agency, and White looks poised to be the top back again in 2024.

“Todd Bowles craves bigger, more aggressive bodies up front and Frazier has all the tools necessary to inject juice into this drab ground game,” Kaufman wrote. “Duke’s Graham Barton may be more versatile and Jackson Powers-Johnson has a bigger frame, but Frazier is the right guy at the right time. He’s a 4-time state wrestling champion. Big deal, you say.”

“Wrong,” Kaufman added. “It’s a very big deal because once Frazier gets his mitts on you, he owns you.”

Zach Frazier Thrived as a 2-Sport Athlete

The Fairmount, West Virginia, native won four heavyweight titles and lost only two matches in his prep career. That means he spent his winters dominating other young men at 285 pounds, which would only compliment his gridiron play as Kaufman pointed out.

On the football field, Frazier didn’t give up a sack as a high school senior. In addition, he showed he can make a big play when needed as he recovered a fumble for a touchdown as a senior.

In college, Frazier started 46 games and played in 47 for the Mountaineers and earned All-American twice and All-Big 12 Conference three times. West Virginia also had him as the team captain for three of his four years.

“If Frazier’s still available when the Bucs are on the clock Thursday evening, there should be no hesitation. Turn the card in and start high-fiving the Glazers,” Kaufman concluded.

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