Free agency is fast approaching. At this point we have an idea of the Bucs needs, so we are able to project to a degree what they might do in the draft. Based on what we expect, this is the Bucs pre-free agency mock draft.
32 – Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
Ossai is a high motor outside linebacker who can really do it all. He’s a good pass rusher and has a lot of the off-ball linebacker skills that Todd Bowles likes to utilize. He would be a great fit as a third edge rusher or a potential replacement for Shaq Barrett if he were to leave in free agency.
64 – Jay Tufele, DL, USC
Whether Ndamukong Suh retires or returns to Tampa, the Bucs need to find a long term running mate next to Vita Vea. Tufele is a perfect fit with what the team wants in their defensive linemen. He’s strong at the point of attack and projects as an above average run defender with some pass rush ability.
95 – Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
The Bucs search for a reliable pass-catching running back comes to an end with this pick. Gainwell is a weapon out of the backfield and should be able to contribute right away. He may lack elite athleticism and didn’t consistently play against top competition, but he brings big talent in this role.
137 – Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
It’s unlikely that Antonio Brown will be back next year. If the Bucs want some extra firepower to replace him, Smith is a good option on day three. He played at least nine games all four years at South Carolina and even had some kick return responsibilities. Despite never having top end production, his draft stock is on the rise after a strong Senior Bowl.
177 – Naquan Jones, DT, Michigan State
It’s important to remember that the Bucs have not only Ndamukong Suh as a free agent, but also Steve McLendon. After acquiring him from the New York Jets after the Vea injury, McLendon played admirably at nose tackle. Jones could fill that role very well. At 6’4 and 340 lbs he has the size you look for at the position. He’s a high effort player who flashes some pass rush skill as well.
186 – Reed Blankenship, S, Middle Tennessee State
The Bucs need to improve their special teams and there is a need for a backup strong safety behind Jordan Whitehead. Enter Reed Blankenship. He is a well-rounded safety who makes sound tackles. He could use the year as just a special teams guy and get in the weight room and be a possible starting option if Whitehead can’t be re-signed next year.
246 – Chris Rumph, EDGE, Duke
Rumph is undersized, but brings quickness and athleticism as a pass rusher. Definitely not a guy you want in the trenches on expected run downs, but he can be a third down specialist with possible special teams value.
253 – Tommy Doyle, OT, Miami (Oh)
Doyle has great size at 6’8 and 330 lbs. He moves fairly well and would be a great developmental option behind Donovan Smith. At this point in the draft he’s fantastic value.