*Projected Trade with Arizona: Tampa Bay’s 7th overall for Arizona’s 15 and 47th Pick.
Round 1 (Pick 15) - S – Minkah Fitzpatrick: Alabama
The Buccaneers struggled defensively last year, allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw all over them. At 6’0, 204 lbs, Minkah Fitzpatrick is an animal on the field. The Buccaneers will not only be receiving help at safety but at corner and nickel as well. Fitzpatrick is a versatile ball hawk who has a combination of both athleticism and football instincts.
Fitzpatrick hasn’t known anything but success; starting as a five-star recruit out of high school to winning a wide variety of awards and bowl games.
Alabama Career Stats: 42 games, 171 combined tackles, 5 sacks, 9 interceptions, 4 TD.
2× Consensus All-American (2016, 2017)
2× First-team All-SEC (2016, 2017)
Chuck Bednarik Award (2017)
Jim Thorpe Award (2017)
Round 2 (Pick 38) – LB /DE– Arden Key: LSU
The Buccaneers signed two talented defensive linemen, Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre-Paul, but could use more depth off the edge. Arden Key provides a versatile role as an edge rusher and as an outside linebacker. At 6’5, 240 lbs, Key uses a wide range of techniques that unbalance and surprise offensive linemen. Key possesses’ all of the size and power traits you need in the NFL but off-field concerns are holding him back.
Key only played in eight games in 2017 due to an injury but still recorded 33 tackles, 4 sacks and a forced fumble.
In 2016 Arden set a school record of 12 sacks and 3 forced fumbles, earning First Team ALL-SEC.
Round 2 (Pick 47 Via ARZ) – RB – Derrius Guice: LSU
One of the Buccaneers biggest concerns is their running game. The Buccaneers ranked twenty-seventh in rushing and with the departure of Doug Martin, Jacquizz Rodger the small speedster is the current starter. Derrius Guice is a bull with the ball. The 5’11, 225 lbs back has had an amazing career at LSU, earning First Team ALL-SEC in 2016 and Second Team ALL-SEC 2017. Guice is able to wear down defenders and gain extra yards after contact.
Guice could be the perfect three-down back the Buccaneers have needed. Providing a one-two punch with Guice and Rodger.
Round 4 (Pick 102) – OT – Chuks Okorafor: Western Michigan
The final piece to the Buccaneers puzzle is solidifying their offensive line. Adding depth and a potential starter in Chuks Okorafor will allow the Buccaneers to protect Winston and give him time to look downfield. 6’6 and 320 lbs, Okorafor has the size and power to excel in the NFL. Okorafor began playing football a little later than most recruits. He lacks some instincts off the line which can be taught but his size and strength you can’t teach.
Okorafor has earned First Team ALL-MAC Honours and has had several All-American accolades making him a potential mid-round steal.
With a talented offence, the Buccaneers will be looking to boost their defensive play. These core draft pieces combined with Tampa Bays offseason acquisitions, The Buccaneers could be witnessing a 2018 playoff push.