What do you do after winning the Super Bowl in your first postseason appearance since 2007 like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just did when they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9?
You reload, of course.
To quote Shuri from the movie Black Panther, “just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.” That’s the way Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht needs to approach this 2021 offseason.
Now, I certainly don’t have to tell him that, as he deserves to be named Executive of the Year for the job he did getting the Buccaneers over the mountain top. But, if I were sharing a beer or two with Mr. Licht, I could offer up some draft suggestions on how he can keep his Tampa Bay team at the top of the league.
Here’s a seven-round mock draft to prove it.
Round 1 (Pick No. 32): Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
Ndamukong Suh is a free agent, and while I think the Buccaneers will do their best to bring back Shaquil Barrett and Chris Godwin, that might mean someone has to be left out of the repeat run—unless Suh just signs for the league minimum or something crazy.
Barmore has shown flashes of some really nice interior pass rushing. He’s a perfect complement to Vita Vea.
Round 2 (Pick No. 64): Trey Smith, IOL, Tennessee
The Buccaneers don’t have any immediate needs on their offensive line at this moment, but they could down the line—and when that’s the case, getting a guy in the building now who you can groom makes sense. Donovan Smith isn’t a free agent this offseason, but is the next. The Buccaneers have some flexibility in what they can do at tackle, but it might involve moving some guys around. Smith is a player who has started at both tackle and guard and would be a perfect swing tackle to add to the depth chart.
Round 3 (Pick No. 95): Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
In a similar situation to Suh, I am not sure what the future holds for Antonio Brown. Would Brown take a much smaller contract than he might be able to get elsewhere to stay with Tom Brady and this offense for another year? He could, but if he doesn't, the Buccaneers could stand to keep their receiver room deep.
The Buccaneers have Scotty Miller as a deep threat, and they like Tyler Johnson, but Rodgers is another player they can scheme quick touches to who can be great after the catch.
Round 4 (Pick No. 136): Rashad Weaver, EDGE, Pittsburgh
Look, at this point, they’re just drafting good players. You can look at almost every position on the roster and say they’re set, but we got more picks to make.
Weaver brings another good young edge presence to a room that could already have two strong veterans in the starting roles. But Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul won’t be there forever, and even while they are, you can never have too many good pass rushers. Weaver can be a strong 5-tech, 4-3 defensive end for them.
Round 5 (Pick No. 175): Pooka Williams, RB, Kansas
The Buccaneers’ running back room could look quite different next season. Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn will be there, but who is to say whether Leonard Fournette or LeSean McCoy make it back to Tampa? Even if Fournette does, as I assume he will, the Buccaneers could add a dynamic playmaker for special teams and maybe some fun gadget work with Williams. Just go watch his highlights and thank me later.
Round 6 (Pick No. 215): Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma
Depth at cornerback is important, even with a strong young secondary like the one in Tampa. This one is a bit of a luxury pick, but you never know when you need someone to step up. Norwood came on strong in the second half of the season, becoming a full-time starter and grabbing five interceptions.
Round 7 (Pick No. 248): Buddy Johnson, LB, Texas A&M
Everyone knows that Lavonte David and Devin White run things in the middle of Tampa’s defense, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. But the Buccaneers do need some depth at linebacker. They have veteran Kevin Minter, but could stand to add another young off-ball linebacker. An experienced MIKE like Buddy Johnson, who has started every game for the Aggies over the last two years, would be a good choice.
Round 7 (Pick No. 255): Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
Why not, right? Brady isn’t going to live forever, and I’m not sure Blaine Gabbert is the guy they want to take over after Brady is done. It’s a flyer of a pick, but a fun one.