Fans of every NFL championship contender, along with the NFC South’s three other teams, are absolutely nodding in joy upon reading that last sentence.
So, who should the Buccaneers draft in the first round? As with our mock drafts, we picked players based on need and team fit. Also, all prospects are ranked alphabetically as opposed to preference or potential.
Based on consideration of the aforementioned prerequisites, we believe the Buccaneers should target the following players with the 27th overall pick.
Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
My gut tells me that the Buccaneers will take the Best Player Available approach, and new head coach Todd Bowles loves his defensive playmakers. Such a reality only increases the possibility (at least, in my eyes) that the reigning NFC South champions will target Booth, who earned All-ACC honors in each of the last two seasons.
The 6-foot, 194-pound Booth has a natural eye for the ball and snagged five interceptions in his two seasons as a starter. Although he’s not a complete prospect yet (and very few rarely are), he’d be a perfect fit in Bowles’ system.
Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
After playing at Hutchinson Community College (Kansas) in 2017 and spending the next two seasons as a reserve at Georgia, the 6-foot-3, 304-pound Wyatt steadily improved after becoming a starter in 2020. Wyatt totaled seven tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in 14 starts for the national champions last season.
The Buccaneers need to get younger on the interior defensive line, and the 2021 All-SEC selection is a player the Super Bowl 55 champions could begin building around. We love the idea of Wyatt winding up in Tampa Bay, and we believe he should be the pick here if he’s still on the board.
David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
Unfortunately for Ojabo, he’s currently best known as the player who tore his Achilles at Michigan’s Pro Day in March. The injury could drop the All-Big Ten standout to the draft’s second day, which is excellent news for teams looking to acquire an impactful pass-rusher at a relatively cheap rate. After all, a player selected in the first round will be in line for more money than one selected on Day 2 or Day 3.
The NFL is a business, folks. It’s best to accept that reality and move on.
Although Ojabo only started seven games in 2021, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound pass-rusher tallied 11 sacks and a school-record forced fumbles in 14 total outings. NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein compared the Michigan product to former Seattle Seahawks pass-rusher Cliff Avril, a 2016 Pro Bowl selection who tallied 74 sacks in 10 seasons.
“The upside is evident, despite his inexperience. At times, the run tape can be a rough study, but it improved as the 2021 season progressed. Ojabo’s rush approach is fairly sophisticated, with the feet and agility to juke, stutter, spin, and race his way past offensive tackles. He’s not ready to take on pro run blockers, but Ojabo is in the early stages of his physical and play development.”Lance Zierlein
All of that should work for the Buccaneers, even if Ojabo doesn’t see the field until 2022.
Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
The New York Jets never selected an offensive player in the first round during Bowles’ four years as head coach from 2015-18. Does that mean the Buccaneers will definitely pick a defensive player this year? Probably not, but we might as well include an offensive option.
Although some appear to like the idea of Tampa Bay selecting a running back, we’ll go with Johnson here. The Boston College standout and two-time captain clocked in at 6-foot-3 and 312 pounds at the NFL Combine. Although Johnson has experience at both tackle positions, he is expected to remain a guard in the NFL.
The Buccaneers would strongly benefit from a versatile guard after Ali Marpet’s sudden retirement earlier this offseason, and Johnson checks every box.