The present Bucs are extra enjoyable to observe than previous variations that made draft season begin in October. But it surely’s by no means too early to consider who might be on the staff’s radar in the course of the upcoming faculty soccer season and all through subsequent spring.
Lately, draft gurus start releasing their “way-too-early” mock drafts on the identical day that the present yr’s draft ends. So, whereas Matt Miller’s 2023 mock draft isn’t the primary 32-team projection we’ve seen for subsequent yr’s class, it’s the most recent take a look at who might doubtlessly be on the board for the Bucs subsequent April.
Maybe unsurprisingly, Miller has the Bucs addressing their secondary with their first choose in subsequent yr’s draft. Primarily based on projections from ESPN’s Soccer Energy Index, Tampa Bay holds the No. 26 choose on this mock draft. And with it, Miller has the staff choosing Texas A&M defensive again Antonio Johnson. Right here’s what Miller needed to say in regards to the choice.
“Predicting what Tampa will do virtually a yr out is not possible with out figuring out if it is going to be rebuilding or reloading for an additional run with quarterback Tom Brady. Both method, one power of this staff in the course of the Tremendous Bowl run in 2020 was a younger secondary that attacked offenses. Coach Todd Bowles might spend money on the defensive backfield, and the versatile Johnson is strictly the form of participant Bowles has preferred in his profession. Johnson was Texas A&M’s second-leading tackler (79) final season, and he additionally had a sack and an interception.”
Johnson is coming into his junior season with the Aggies. On the floor, it is smart that he can be a possible first-round choose. He performed in seven video games and made one begin as a freshman in 2020 earlier than breaking out in 2021. Beginning all 12 video games for Texas A&M final yr, he completed second on the staff with 79 tackles. He additionally posted 8.5 tackles for loss, 5 move breakups, a sack and an interception.
Projecting The Bucs’ Wants Heading Into 2023
It’s comprehensible that Miller went with a defensive again right here for Tampa Bay. The Bucs have (some may say elite) group already, however three starters are in contract years in 2022. Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Mike Edwards are all enjoying for second contracts this season. It’s unlikely that each one three might be again in 2023. To not point out, each Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal are on one-year offers with the staff. So, it seems like a protected wager that cornerback/security is perhaps a most important precedence for basic supervisor Jason Licht and his workers subsequent spring.
With that stated, it’s not a provided that the Bucs will deal with their secondary with their first choice within the 2023 Draft. Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds wrote in this week’s Bucs Monday Mailbag that the staff might have an enormous want on the inside linebacker place very quickly.
Lavonte David is 32 years outdated and might be a free agent once more on the finish of this yr. Even when he’s again in 2023, he’ll be 33 and approaching the top of his profession. The Bucs would in all probability wish to have his eventual alternative already on the roster. To not point out, 2023 might be a contract yr for Devin White. Tampa Bay must decide on him in some unspecified time in the future, whether or not earlier than subsequent season or after. So, inside linebacker might trump the secondary as a much bigger want when it comes time for the Bucs to make their first choose in subsequent yr’s draft.
Tampa Bay might even go off the board. Maybe Brady leaves or retires and a sense develops that Kyle Trask isn’t the quarterback of the long run. May the Bucs choose a quarterback late within the first spherical? It could give them the fifth-year choice to work with. Cross rushers are at all times a necessity, so perhaps Tampa Bay goes that route. It’s a tough name to make proper now, however because the season rolls on and finally involves an finish, the image will definitely clear up.