While Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said he wants to draft 32nd “every year” in the NFL Draft, the Bucs may make a move tonight.
“It’s all going to depend on who is there at each pick, what players are there, if there’s an opportunity,” Licht said in a press conference on April 21.
Greg Auman of The Athletic speculates that a move up by the Bucs to get a higher-quality prospect could cost some lower-round draft picks. If Tampa trades down, it could lead to more depth on an already deep team.
“Sometimes moving back three or four spots will get you a fifth-round pick, and you have to weigh that,” Licht said in the press conference. “I love draft picks, but I don’t know in this year.”
Tampa doesn’t have much roster and cap space to work with 64 players signed and $934,811 of cap room per Over The Cap. The Bucs already have all 22 starters back from its Super Bowl team. Antonio Brown will return to the fold, too, after his agent confirmed plans to re-sign with the team. Licht describes the team’s draft position as having “a lot of wants” instead of needs.
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Excitement Amid Options Galore
“It’s exciting to go into a draft like that,” Licht said. “We do still have some positions and some depth and some areas where we may need help in the future that we’re looking into.”
Licht has succeeded at moving around the draft board in the past per Auman. That’s included taking offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs from trading up and defensive tackle Vita Vea from trading down in recent years.
Picking at 32, which poses “8,000 scenarios” as Licht said, could still produce another draft gem for the Bucs.
“I’m happy we’re picking here, and I want to pick here every year, but it does make it a little bit more challenging in terms of predicting who/what players would be there for sure.”
Bucs’ Draft Priorities on Defense?
Numerous draft analysts project the Bucs taking an edge rusher per Buccaneers.com’s Carmen Vitali, but Licht didn’t tip the cap to that direction too much in his press conference.
“It’s not as deep as it has been in some years,” Licht said about defensive prospects in the draft. “We’ve known that for some time. Now there still are some that we like.”
Licht reiterated the re-signings of Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon factored into that. Licht added that the Bucs staff likes what they see in Jeremiah Ledbetter and Khalil Davis.
“So we’ve got depth for this year,” Licht said.
Auman considers the Bucs’ biggest “long-term positional needs” are linebacker and defensive line.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com likes edge rusher Gregory Rousseau of Miami going to the Bucs at 32nd. Brooks noted that veteran Jason Pierre-Paul may not play in Tampa beyond 2021. NFL.com’s Chad Reuter also forecasts Rousseau going to Tampa.
The Draft Network’s Justin Melo sees the Bucs picking Washington edge rusher Joe Tryon. Melo likewise believes it could help the Bucs fill in Jason Pierre-Paul’s cleats if he leaves after the 2021 season.
“There is a group there that’s interesting,” Licht said about edge rushers in the press conference.