With the NFL Draft finally, here, rumors are starting to swirl with a fury. It’s the final time until next year that we’ll be able to watch draft dust get kicked up this much.
And the result is potentially seeing draft plans exposed at the last minute. One of those rumors involves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a top offensive star.
We’ve known for a while that the Bucs are likely going to dip into the offensive talent pool with the No. 19 pick, with a tackle being the consensus pick among most experts. There was a hot minute where the Bucs were a sexy pick to trade up and draft a top quarterback, but that ship seems to have sailed and sunk a long time ago.
Broderick Jones, then Darnell Wright, and now Anton Harrison then began being penciled in as the Bucs pick once everyone moved off the idea of the team drafting a quarterback.
No matter who it ends up being, finding a tackle to replace Tristan Wirfs on the right side of the offensive line has long been a pick that most experts have locked in. Not every expert, though. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah performing one final zag while everyone is zigging with the No. 19 pick.
Final Daniel Jeremiah mock draft has Bucs landing a top offensive star
In an earlier mock draft, Jeremiah was one of the first experts to slot Texas running back Bijan Robinson to the Buccaneers.
He didn’t do that this time but still stuck with an offensive skill position player, instead mocking Ohio State star Jaxon Smith-Njigba to the Buccaneers at No. 19 overall.
“Smith-Njigba could be a top-10 pick or he could slide to this spot,” Jeremiah wrote. “The Bucs need to get younger and add more weapons offensively. He’d be a great addition.” Whoa. If this happens, it would be huge for a number of different reasons.
Perhaps the most significant would be the fact that a player like Smith-Njigba slid all the way to the Bucs. It’s hard to see him getting past the Green Bay Packers at No. 13.
And if they pass it’s even harder to see Aaron Rodgers not lobbying the Jets to take him at No. 15. But if he gets past that part of the order, the Bucs could be in business.
A couple of things would need to happen in order for the Bucs to take Smith-Njigba, the biggest being a run on tackles zapping the pool of its top talent before Tampa Bay goes on the clock. Tackle is going to likely be the pick for the Bucs, it’s just a question of which tackle it will be.
If they’re all gone though, and guys like Joey Porter Jr., and Brian Branch are off the board, all of a sudden this pick looks really good.
Even if there are some tackles left, the Bucs could be tempted to take Smith-Njigba to fortify the wide receiver position for years to come.
As the team enters a new era, Mike Evans isn’t getting any younger and his contract is up after this upcoming season. Chris Godwin is injury-prone and is a free agent after 2024. The ideal situation would be for the Bucs to bring them both back on new contracts, but drafting Smith-Njigba helps ease the pain of losing one of them.
There’s also the boost to the offense it would provide this year. Tampa Bay has made zero indications it plans on tanking this season, and a three-headed receiving monster of Evans, Godwin, and Smith-Njigba is a good way to be competitive on Sundays.