The 2019 NFL Draft is now less than two weeks away and the mock drafts are coming out by the bunches. Some mocks have the Bucs taking Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. Some have them taking Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver. A few have Kentucky defensive end Josh Allen falling to them. Most have them taking LSU linebacker Devin White. I’ve even seen a mock where Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa falls all the way to that fifth pick.
So what I’ve decided to do, is break down the options and explain why each one of these possible picks could make sense. I will even break down the possibility of trading back if they are given the opportunity by a QB needy team. This is a big draft for Jason Licht. It could be his last in Tampa if he doesn’t get it right. So let’s take a look at the choices that the Bucs could theoretically have with the fifth pick of the 2019 Draft.
LB Devin White, LSU
Most of the mocks that I’ve seen so far have the Bucs taking the superstar linebacker from LBU (LineBacker University) and for good reason. After losing Kwon Alexander and Adarius Taylor to free agency and the possibility of losing Kendell Beckwith to a career ending injury looming over One Buc, the Bucs suddenly look a bit shorthanded at inside linebacker. They did re-sign Kevin Minter and sign Deone Bucannon in free agency and they still have Lavonte David as well. However, it’s the lack of depth behind those guys that is concerning. At the moment, the reserve inside backers would be Riley Bullough and Jack Cichy. Bullough has only played in 12 games in his first two seasons while Cichy is coming off of another ACL tear. Adding White to that mix would help solidify the middle of the defense. I’ve heard him compared to guys like Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis so it sounds as though he’s one of the closest things to a sure bet that you can have in the draft.
DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama
All signs are pointing towards the Buccaneers parting ways with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy at some point this offseason. Whether it’s via trade or just flat out releasing him, it seems inevitable that the Bucs will have to cut ties with him just to create enough cap space to sign their draft picks. That being said, they’ll have to replace him. The best way to do that is to draft the best 3-tech defensive tackle in this draft as Williams is widely considered. WalterFootball.com even compared him to McCoy, but called him a “better version”. It seems like a storybook scenario for the Buccaneers that could very well happen.
DT Ed Oliver, Houston
Williams might be considered the best all around defensive tackle in this draft, but Oliver is definitely the most athletic. If the Bucs are looking to replace McCoy in this draft and Williams is already off the board by their fifth pick, then Oliver would be quite the consolation prize. He may be a little more raw than Williams, but his upside might be just as high. With his athleticism and the right coaching staff, they sky could be the limit for this guy. But is taking him at #5 a reach for a raw project like Oliver? If the Bucs trade that fifth pick and only move back a couple spots, they could probably still get him AND collect an extra pick or two in this draft. That will be the decision for Jason Licht if Williams is off the board.
DE Josh Allen, Kentucky
It’s highly unlikely, but it could happen. And I’m sure that the Bucs would take the gift. Even though edge rusher might not be as high on the priority list as the interior d-line, they wouldn’t pass up on getting one of the best (if not the best) pass rushers in this class if he somehow falls to them at the fifth pick. This draft is so deep at defensive tackle that they could take an edge rusher like Allen in the first round and still grab a really good interior guy in the second round. I don’t see Allen getting past the Raiders at the fourth pick, but stranger things have happened in the NFL Draft. If a couple of teams end up trading into the top 5 for quarterbacks, then that means these top defensive guys like him and Bosa could end up falling into the Bucs lap.
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Again this is highly unlikely, but still a possibility. Especially since the “racial tweets” surfaced which might cause a team or two to be hesitant to pick him. Is he a racist? I don’t know. His Twitter history doesn’t make a very good case for him if he’s not. But I do know this, he’s a really good football player. If this “racial” thing does scare one or two of those top teams from picking him, then the Bucs could find themselves in a situation where they have to decide whether the public backlash that could come with picking him would be worth grabbing arguably the best defensive player in this draft. I would hate to be in Jason Licht’s shoes if that happens. But again even if he does fall, I don’t see him getting past the Raiders at four since they need some serious help on the edge.
DE/DT Rashan Gary, Michigan
He’s not a popular choice in mock drafts, but I have seen it. When you stop and think about it, the pick does make sense. He has the versatility to play on the edge or on the inside on late downs in Todd Bowles defense. With him drawing player comparisons to Detroit’s Ezekial Ansah, there’s a chance that he could be gone when the Bucs go on the clock. If Nick Bosa goes #2 and Josh Allen goes #3, then the Raiders could end up taking Gary with their fourth pick. But if Bosa, Allen and Williams are all gone within those first four picks and Gary is sitting there on the board for the Bucs, don’t be surprised if he’s the pick.
I’m always a big proponent of trading back in the draft and gaining extra picks. The draft is a usually a gamble no matter what player you pick or what round you pick them in, so I’m always for stacking the odds. More picks means more chances to get it right. This would be a great draft to do it too since it is so deep at the positions of need for the Buccaneers. They are in a great position as well. Picking fifth right in front of a QB needy team like the Giants could draw some interest from other teams like Denver, Miami, Cincinnati and Washington who will all probably be looking to find a new quarterback in this draft. If they do get a phone call from one of those teams and Quinnen Williams is already gone, I fully expect the Bucs to trade back and gain two or three early to mid round picks. Even if they do trade back into the 10 to 15 range, they would still have a shot at players like DT Ed Oliver, LB Devin Bush, DT Christian Wilkins or OT Jawaan Taylor. If they could get any of those guys AND gain a few more picks in this draft, it would be a dream scenario for the Bucs.
I know it seems like an unusual scenario, but let me throw this out there…
WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Wide receiver is one of the strongest and deepest positions on this Buccaneers football team, but think about it. He’s drawn player comparisons to Bucs former wide receiver DeSean Jackson and is considered by some to be the top WR prospect in this draft. What if Bruce Arians wants to replace that downfield speed threat that he lost when Jackson left? Brown would be the best choice to do it. And if the Bucs trade their fifth pick and end up picking in the 10 to 15 range, it makes even more sense. They did have him in for a pre-draft visit, so keep that in mind. That doesn’t always mean anything, but I find it interesting that they used one of their limited visits on him.
If you think that was crazy, what about this scenario…
WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
Does that not blow your mind? Think about it though. What if the Bucs do trade their fifth pick and end up in the 10 to 15 range? There’s a number of directions they could go at that point and this could be one of them. As I said above, Marquise Brown could be an option there as a replacement for Jackson. However, they did kind of replace him and his downfield speed when they signed Breshad Perriman in free agency. Sure they are stacked with big wide receivers like Mike Evans (6’5″/230lbs) Chris Godwin (6’2″/215lbs) Justin Watson (6’3″/215lbs) and Perriman (6’2″/215lbs). But do you think Bruce Arians would pass up an opportunity to add another big time weapon to his passing game? Metcalf is 6’3″/230lbs, ran a 4.3, had a 40″ vertical and put up 27 reps of 225lbs. He’s a physical freak. I know with all the talent they have at receiver that it’s hard to imagine them using their first round pick on one even if it is a player like him. But can you imagine a redzone offense with him, Evans, Godwin and Howard running around? The possibilities are endless. The chance is there.
I have no clue. Seriously. No clue. I can make a case for picking Devin White. I can make a case for picking Quinnen Williams. And I can always make a case for trading back. They’re all great options and I’d be happy with either of them. What the Bucs do with that fifth pick will be determined by what happens in the four picks ahead of them. If Williams is there, he’ll be the pick. If Williams is gone, then White could be the pick. But if somebody calls Jason Licht and makes him an offer he can’t refuse, then they won’t be picking fifth at all. And where they trade back to will determine what they do next.
Regardless of where they end up picking in the first round of this draft, there’s one thing that is certain. They will be getting a game changer. Whether they pick 5th or 15th, they’ll be getting a player that will make an instant impact on their roster and that should get all of us Bucs fans excited. In fact, this draft is so deep with talent that you could even say that about the second round as well. I’ll be front and center at the draft to witness it first hand compliments of the Buccaneers and I can’t wait to see what happens.
So until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!