Whatever the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ draft plan was before last weekend got torn up and thrown in the trash on Sunday, when left guard Ali Marpet stunned the Bucs and the rest of the football world by announcing his retirement at age 28.
Now the Buccaneers, who were already scrambling after Tom Brady’s retirement, have to re-focus their priorities going into the 2022 NFL Draft, where they pick 27th in the first round.
That means taking a closer look at the offensive linemen that have gathered in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine. Here are five players the Buccaneers should be taking a closer look at this weekend as they re-adjust their draft plan on the fly.
Kenyon Green, Offensive lineman, Texas A&M
If Green is still on the board at 27, the Buccaneers might have dodged a huge bullet. Green is regarded as the best guard in the draft, having played on one of the best offensive lines in college football last season. Green is particularly attractive to teams because he has experience playing a variety of different positions along the line.
Most mock drafts have Green coming off the board somewhere in the 20s, so the Buccaneers should have a shot at him, but they might need to try and swing a trade to move up in order to be certain to get him.
Sam Howell, Quarterback, North Carolina
If the Buccaneers choose to address the offensive line situation in free agency, they could be back in the market for a quarterback in the first round. Some mock drafts have Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett falling into the 20s, but it seems a bit of a stretch that he will fall that far down to the Bucs at 27.
Howell is another top quarterback prospect from the ACC that should be there for the Bucs if they are not entirely sold on Kyle Trask as their long-term replacement for Brady and they don’t make any moves at the position in free agency.
Daniel Faalele, Offensive lineman, Minnesota
Even if the Buccaneers land Green or someone like Trevor Penning in the first round, the potential free-agent defections of linemen Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa could have the Buccaneers needing to invest multiple draft choices on O-line replacements.
Faalele was one of several members of the Gophers’ line to be named All-Big Ten. At 6-foot-9, 380 pounds, he was an immovable object that allowed one sack on 777 snaps this past season. This massive left tackle is projected for the second round and would be an ideal fit for the Bucs.
Chasen Hines, Offensive lineman, LSU
Another solid offensive line prospect, Hines is an accomplished run-blocker who also has a knack for picking up blitzes, which can’t hurt when protecting at the NFL level. Hines can play both guard and center, and that versatility could earn Hines a mid-round selection.
Kyler Gordon, Defensive back, Washington
Cornerback is another area the Buccaneers will be looking to improve upon next season and Gordon is expected to be available late in the first round, but not much later than that. Gordon allowed just a 49.1 QB rating when passes were thrown his way in 2021, making two interceptions and was named All-Pac 12.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference