Buccaneers Insider Proposes 3 Tantalizing Trade-Up Options for Draft

Brock Bowers

Getty Georgia tight end Brock Bowers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could make a splash by trading up on Day 1 of the NFL draft to pick one among three players projected to be selected before the Buccaneers’ No. 26 overall pick, according to Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith.

Topping the list is Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, Smith told Casey Phillips on their “Road to the Draft” podcast on Buccaneers.com.

“[Bowers] is a guy who has top-10 talent,” Smith said. “If he made it to [close to] the Buccaneers would they be tempted? I think they would. As a pass catcher, he’s one of top tight end prospects we’ve seen in a long time. … He could add a new dimension to any offense.”

In three seasons, Bowers had 175 receptions for 2,538 receiving yards and 31 total touchdowns. In 2023, Bowers became the first two-time Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top college tight end. With the Bulldogs, Bowers was a two-time CFP national champion and three-time Associated Press All-American.

Tampa Bay has selected tight ends in the each of the past two drafts: Purdue’s Payne Durham in the fifth round in 2023 and Washington’s Cade Otton in the fourth round in 2022.

Otton has 89 receptions for 889 yards and 6 touchdowns through his first two seasons, including 45 receptions for 455 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2023.

Duke Offensive Lineman Might Be Impact Player ‘Right Away’

Another trade-up option Smith proposed was for Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton. Barton, 6-foot-5 and 313 pounds, was a two-time All-ACC selection and a second-team Associated Press All-American in 2023.

Barton is already projected to the Buccaneers at the No. 26 overall pick in The Ringer’s latest mock draft.

“Barton played primarily at left tackle for the Blue Devils,” The Ringer’s Daniel Comer wrote in his mock draft profile. “But he has the body type and demeanor to thrive at any of the three interior spots — which is where the Buccaneers need the most help.”

Florida State Star’s Unusual Path to Becoming NFL Prospect

Smith’s third and final proposed trade-up option was Florida State defensive end Jared Verse,. He spent the first three seasons of his college career at Albany, an FCS school, where he played in 2020 and 2021.

Verse transferred to Florida State to play the last two seasons, where he was a two-time first-team Associated Press All-American. Verse finished his college career with 31.5 sacks and 38.5 tackles for loss, including 9 sacks each of the last two seasons with the Seminoles.

Verse would have likely been a first-round selection after the 2022 season but chose to return to Florida State  and helped lead his team to an undefeated regular season in 2023.

At the NFL combine in February, Verse checked in at 6-foot-4 and 254 pounds while running the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds.

“It’s not an awesome year for edge rushers in the draft … but there’s a lot of guys that you like as you get a little farther down in the first round who have traits,” Smith said. “One of them is Jared Verse. Right off the bat he’s got good power, good strength and some explosiveness that jumps off the table.”