Bucs Predicted to Land QB Receiving No. 1 Draft Pick Buzz

Jason Licht

Getty It has been an eventful offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could strike gold with the No. 19 pick in the draft if potential No. 1 pick Will Levis actually falls that far — or close enough to merit a trade up.

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah predicts that the Bucs will take the Kentucky quarterback at No. 19 in a March 21 mock draft. Levis has been projected as high as the No. 1 pick to the Carolina Panthers, based on a CBS Sports mock draft by Josh Edwards.

“If Levis starts to slide, I believe a team like Tampa Bay will trade up to get him. In this scenario, he falls right into the Bucs’ lap. Levis would compete with Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask for the starting job,” Jeremiah wrote.

The Bucs have a serious need for a franchise quarterback after Tom Brady‘s retirement in February, and neither Mayfield nor Trask have proven to be of that caliber yet. Levis stands among a deep class of four first-round quarterback prospects who could all go in the top 10. Hence, Edwards could see the Bucs’ NFC South rival Panthers going after Levis with the top pick.

“Carolina controls its own fate after moving up from No. 9 overall. The Panthers really like Will Levis, and he fits the mold of a Frank Reich quarterback,” Edwards wrote. “I am not saying with certainty that he will be the No. 1 overall selection, but I think it would be naïve to ignore the possibility. In 2018, everyone thought the [Cleveland] Browns were leaning towards Sam Darnold or Josh Allen until they took Baker Mayfield.”

Anthony Richardson Could Help Will Levis Fall to Bucs

Levis generally doesn’t get picked before Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud in mock drafts, and Florida’s Anthony Richardson has become more of a challenger to go early in the draft. Richardson’s NFL Combine performance impressed scouts though questions about his accuracy with the Gators remain.

Jeremiah sees Richardson as the reason why Levis could plummet in the first round. Richardson goes to the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4 in Jeremiah’s mock draft because of the former Gator star’s “unbelievable athleticism” and “fun fit in [head coach] Shane Steichen’s offense”.

If Levis fell past the Colts in reality, he would also need to fall past another 4-5 teams with varying quarterback needs before the Bucs go on the clock. Teams with quarterback needs between the Colts and Bucs include NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons at No. 8. The Falcons have second-year signal caller Desmond Ridder but were linked to Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson in offseason rumors.

Levis met with the Bucs during the NFL Combine as did Richardson.

Bucs Benefit Little From Drafting Will Levis, Insider Says

As Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds sees it, drafting Levis or any quarterback at No. 19, hinders the Bucs in 2023.

“Creating a battle royale situation with three QBs becomes cumbersome because there are not enough reps to split three ways to give each passer the chance to master the new offense and separate himself from the competition,” Reynolds wrote.

The Bucs already invested a second-round pick in 2021 with Trask and a $4.5 million salary cap hit with Mayfield. Tampa Bay faces numerous other needs on the roster for 2023 amid a challenging salary cap situation, Reynolds noted.

“Tampa Bay only has two safeties — Antoine Winfield Jr. and backup Nolan Turner — on the current roster. The Bucs will also need to draft an offensive lineman with a premium pick as they jettisoned two starters this offseason in left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Shaq Mason. Drafting another edge rusher early in case Shaq Barrett doesn’t return to form from his torn Achilles or Joe Tryon-Shoyinka doesn’t pan out seems like a foregone conclusion, too.”

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