How Critical Is This Month’s Draft?

April 9th, 2023

Bucs GM Jason Licht.

Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht and head coach Todd Bowles have repeatedly said since the combine that they believe the Bucs have a real shot of making noise in the NFC South.

This is why the Bucs didn’t have a housecleaning to load up on draft picks, they said. Joe thinks the reasons run deeper than that, but OK. Joe will play along.

Is the NFC South that bad? Well, the slimy Saints went out and got a quarterback. And right now Joe doesn’t think it is nonsense to suggest Derek Carr is a better quarterback than Kyler Traskfield.

The Stinking Panthers? They will draft a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick. So that’s a wild card.

The Dixie Chicks? They’ve got a decent, if not underrated roster with the exception of Desmond Ridder.

Former Vikings and Titans suit Jeff Diamond seems to think the Bucs’ draft later this month is critical because he believes the rest of the NFC South is beginning to pull away from the Bucs with their personnel upgrades.

Things should look better for Tampa Bay cap-wise in 2024 when they no longer have Brady’s dead money hitting their salary cap ($35 million this year). The Buccaneers need to step up their talent base because their NFC South peers — the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons — appear to be doing just that.

This is what happens when you are handcuffed by the salary cap. The Bucs only had so much Team Glazer loot to spend. So they really couldn’t make much headway or keep up with the NFC South Joneses.

For the Bucs to keep pace with the rest of the NFC South, Joe figures Rachaad White has to be much better than the best runner on the worst rushing team, and either Bucs sack king Shaq Barrett needs a miracle recovering from a blown Achilles or the light bulb finally turns on for Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.

56 Responses to “How Critical Is This Month’s Draft?”

  1. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    ‘Jeff Diamond seems to think the Bucs’ draft later this month is critical because he believes the rest of the NFC South is beginning to pull away from the Bucs with their personnel upgrades.’ – Joe

    He only thinks that because of the free agency moves, which we really could not do much in because of the cap. But we’ve still got more than a few good players, and some 2-3rd year guys who may step up after a year of experience.

    But QB is the real sore spot (that and HC)…and where we definitely downgraded.

    I still think we should draft a rookie QB and have a TRUE competition between the three. Not that I think Bowles would risk his job by giving Trask or a rookie the start.

  2. Beej Says:

    Need find some way of signing Hicks and/or Gholston. Neither seems to be drawing much attention. Mebbe spiff them season tickets to Manchester United…

  3. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Derek Carr stinks. Saints will go 8-9, 9-8. Bucs can compete with that record. The dangerous team in NFC South are the Panthers.

  4. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    ‘For the Bucs to keep pace with the rest of the NFC South, Joe figures Rachaad White has to be much better than the best runner on the worst rushing team, and either Bucs sack king Shaq Barrett needs a miracle recovering from a blown Achilles or the light bulb finally turns on for Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.’ – Joe

    I think White will do okay, unless he gets injured. That’s why I support your desire to get another RB (except no earlier than round 4). We need solid depth there.

    As to Shaq…man, I’m hoping for the best…but even the guys who do recover from such an injury do not do so in a year. He might be heading for an injury settlement.

    That said, I think Tryon-Shoyinka was thrown to the wolves, so expecting so much of him in his first year or so might have been pushing it…however, I DO think the experience has given him a good idea of how to improve his gameplay.

    Whether he actually does so, of course, is up to him. He’ll have the opportunity.

    On a side note…I really miss JPP’s presence. I know he was aging and injury prone…but his influence on that defense made a huge difference. He was the true leader while he was here. I would take him as a backup if he would be willing. Save him for late in the season, yet still have him there to lead the young players.

  5. FlBoy84 Says:

    Not that it’s likely to happen, but the best way to add inexpensive, talented depth is to trade down multiple times to accumulate as many 2nd-4th round picks as we can get. There are still starting caliber/high quality backup players at practically every position in those rounds that will all be signed for the next 4 years. It makes too much sense for it to happen lol.

  6. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Bucs strapped by the salary cap, yet the Saints keep finding ways to sign expensive talent. Would someone explain how this can be?

  7. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Alanbucsfan Says
    “Derek Carr stinks. Saints will go 8-9, 9-8.”

    I wouldn’t be too sure. His situation is eerily similar to Drew Breez when the Saints first signed him. All it took was a change of scenery. Carr is better than his brother ever was, and his stats are good enough to make him worth taking a chance on. It was a good signing by them.

    Better than Baker Mayfield certainly.

    Our only hope for this year is this draft. Jason Licht has to get at least 3 good linemen (2 OL, 1 DL) and a good safety. Beyond that…better quality depth and a RB. But the lines are the most important spots in this draft.

    If he can shore up the lines, then heading into next year we’ll see a huge difference. This year? Well, Bowles will likely insist on sticking with Mayfield until it is too late to matter, and even if he were willing to put in Trask, we have no true idea of whether Trask can do the job.

    Best case scenario…Mayfield finds a way to get suspended for the first half of the season, forcing Bowles to start Trask.

  8. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    The entire NFC South has got better, so us winning the division is not a given.
    WE need a really good Draft

  9. FlBoy84 Says:

    An overlooked and underexamined move was the hiring of George Edwards as OLB coach. If JTS, Anthony, Gill, Rookie(s), etc. have a break out year, it will likely be due to his teaching. Dude’s been coaching in the NFL for 26 years as both a DC and position coach. Def agree with BB that the D def missed the presence and attitude brought by JPP and Suh. Hopefully Gaines brings a bit of an attitude to that DL this season.

  10. Oxycondoms Says:

    All drafts are important . Licht viewed draft after super
    Bowl a luxury draft. Thats where this teams problems began

  11. Buc king Says:

    I think lt gaurd and slot cb are where we need to hit gold…
    It be nice to get a great rb depth at safety MLB n olb who can learn from the best like David while he’s still here. A qb I’m not really excited on.. I don’t see one that checks all the boxes that look better then we currently have.
    We need a edge guy who plays with speed n anger.
    My hope is this year we fix the oline and secondary.
    Next year qb and dline. No nfl team is perfect or great everywhere.
    I think Bowles on def can do more with less..
    Offense needs the weapons.. hopefully the te we drafted take another step but if we see a world beater then we may want to grab one.

  12. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Buccaneer Bonzai says, “Better than Baker Mayfield certainly.”

    The Bucs have excellent receivers. If Bucs develop a running game as promised, Baker will have one of his best NFL seasons.
    Carr is consistently a .500 QB, checkdown, sacks, interceptions, with an occasional great game to keep your hopes up.
    Mayfield knows what he’s capable of more than anyone and he actively campaigned to come to the Bucs because he knows the talent will help him succeed. Browns and Panthers?- add in Texans and there’s the 3 most dysfunctional teams the past 3 years
    Trask? – no one knows.

  13. Mr. Editor Says:

    We have a lot of guys on the roster at key positions with one year, “prove it” deals. Let’s hope that happens!

  14. 80forBrady Says:

    I hope Licht spends the top 3-4 picks shoring up both sides of the trenches.

    That will build a solid foundation for the future.

  15. Allbuccedup Says:

    Licht really only had one bad draft until the last two years lets hope its a good one this year.

  16. Buc4evr Says:

    Agree that we need to get Gholston and Hicks back, draft a good LT and an Edge. It is going to be interesting to see who the third QB will be. I have a feeling the Bucs will still pick up another veteran QB after the draft. It’s hard for me to believe that if the Bucs expect to really win the division, that they are going to rely on Trask or Mayfield.

  17. TBChucky Says:

    Hopefully he’ll kill it this draft! We need it!

  18. Geno711 Says:

    I did not watch enough of Derek Carr or Baker Mayfield to have strong opinions on them.

    New Orleans has some better defensive pieces than we do, I believe so I tend to like them over the Bucs. However, both the New Orleans head coach and the Tampa head coach led their teams to some god-awful offensive play last year.

    We got rid of what we think was our number 1 albatross, Leftwich. I am not sure that New Orleans did enough in their offense to change their ineptness there last season.

  19. Jack Clark Says:

    “the Bucs didn’t have a housecleaning”

    Uhh… yes we did? We got rid of our Super Bowl winning, starting left tackle Donavon Smith, tight end Cam Brate and running back Leonard Fournette. And by “housekeeping” I mean:

    Housekeeping (verb): To get rid of unwanted or undesirable items or people

  20. Jack Clark Says:

    Cap room wouldn’t be such as problem if we had great coaches who could develop players into legends

  21. EC Buc Says:

    How are three teams that have been purging their rosters over the last 3 years be “pulling away”? Bucs have been stacked for the last 3 with talent all over the damn place. If anything, they have caught back up… Last year the TE room was a concern, then by injury, the online. So we are still a couple weeks from the draft and plenty of time to find some FA players. Yea the draft is important to get some youth and maybe some promising depth but to say catching up to the other teams, nah. Bucs have a core roster to make a push for the division.

  22. Marine Buc Says:

    All things considered GM Licht has done a pretty solid job drafting players.

    He had a few awful drafts – 2014 (with the exception of Mike Evans), 2015, 2016 and 2017 (except for Godwin) were pretty bad.

    2018, 2019 and 2020 drafts were good if not excellent.

    2021 and 2022 are still being analyzed but don’t appear to be above mediocre so far.

    We have had enough drafts to recognize Licht’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Licht’s strengths:

    – Offensive tackles
    – Offensive guards
    – Safeties
    – Corner Backs
    – Wide receivers
    – Punters

    Licht’s weaknesses:

    – Quarter Backs
    – Kickers (I know Gay is solid but not in Tampa)
    – Running Backs
    – Edge Rushers
    – Defensive Lineman (Vita is solid but was 12th overall pick)
    – Linebackers (White is OK but #5 overall pick)

    We need two starters from this draft and several key rotational and depth players from this draft.

    It would be nice to move back from pick #19 and still be able to grab a starting caliber Left Tackle. Then a solid Edge Rusher in the second round…

  23. Allbuccedup Says:

    We keep signing these one year contracts and we are going to have only 25 players and whatever we keep in draft picks, maybe 30 or 31 players.

  24. Mike Johnson Says:

    UF you don’t think teams in our division got better? Then you don’t know football. Don’t kid yourselves, Our Bucs are facing an uphill climb this season. An Outstanding draft for us is Mandatory. We got an awful lot of holes to fill. An awful lot.

  25. Mike C Says:

    Buccaneer Bonzai says, “Better than Baker Mayfield certainly.” Baker with Rams last year (last year’s Ram team was a train wreck [yes worse than the Bucs]) 86.4 qbr. Car last year with Raiders 86.3 qbr….

  26. TOMMY MORDUE Says:


  27. Jumbo Says:

    What the JL loving Joe-joes finally got right is that the entire NFC south can win the division. the Bucs may not even make the playoffs. However, the JL loving joe-Joes got wrong is the constant name calling like slimely. Geez. Enough already.

  28. Atlbuc28 Says:

    Kyler Traskfield! Thats a perfect way of saying ” If you have two QBs you don’t have one” Hilarious!

  29. Resilient Says:

    1st rd – OT
    2nd rd (trade up) – QB (Hooker or Levis)
    3rd rd – S
    5th rd – TE

  30. Marine Buc Says:

    At first I thought the Bucs would be drafting an OT in round #1. But now I am split 50/50 on OT or Edge Rusher…

    Regarding Shaq Barrett – “A study published in 2018 to Foot and Ankle International found that 28% of players who suffered a torn Achilles did not resume their careers. Of those who did the study found the mean return time was 339.8 days after the surgery was performed.”

    So it is possible Shaq Barrett does not return – if he does it probably won’t be until mid season.

    The combo of Nelson and JTS is not going to get the job done. The Bucs have met with Nolan Smith and are now meeting with BJ Ojulari.

    If Licht likes Matt Bergeron, Cody Mauch, Jaelyn Duncan or Blake Freeland we could be picking OT at #50 and selecting a much needed Edge Rusher at pick #19.

    Donovan Smith was out LT for 8 seasons and was a 2nd round pick as well.

  31. Beej Says:

    I think we can squeak by with current guys at tackle a LOT better than at edge

  32. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Beej

    The one wildcard in all this is – does our GM believe Luke Goedeke can play Right Tackle?

    If Licht’s plan is to move Goedeke to RT and Wirfs to LT we might be looking at an entire different draft plan…

    It’s possible the Bucs draft BPA at pick #19, #50 and #82. We have slots to fill at nearly every position including QB.

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    Marine Buc … We won’t know if the Wirfs to LT experiment will work, thus Bucs will almost surely draft a LT capable of starting in either the 1st or 2nd Rnd. Not to mention that the Bucs showed last year why versatility is so important in today’s NFL (we need at least 2 guys to play virtually every position).

    I can see an OLine composed of a rookie LT, Stinnie, Leverett or Hainsey at LG, Jensen at C, Goedeke at RG & Wirfs at RT.

    Could just as easily see an OLine composed of Wirfs at LT, Stinnie or Leverett at LG, Jensen at C, Hainsey at RG & Goedeke at RT.

    Personally I’d rather go with what’s behind Door #1, because that keeps Wirfs at RT & adds a (hopefully) quality rookie LT. That’d give us Stinnie, Leverett, Hainsey, Goedeke plus (probably) Molchon & Walton to fill the LG & RG positions and provide depth. With 4 whole months to develop that group before Game 1, we should be able to get at least an average OLine out of it.

  34. Dooley Says:

    Critical because our roster is in the midst of being drastically reworked/retooled/reshaped and we’re looking for a quick turn around from multiple draft prospects this season. Will we get an immediate return? It’s not out of the question, but let’s start with getting as much talent as possible at the positions we need help first and then let the camp battles begin.

  35. Goatfarmer Says:

    Marine – solid observations about Licht and his scouts.

  36. Allbuccedup Says:

    If Goedeke failed at guard I would be surprised if he would excell at right tackle. I would not chance it I would still draft a tackle in the first or second round.

  37. Just Leave Trask Alone Says:

    “The draft is important”

    – Captain Obvious

    Bucs organizational draft history is a well documented comedy of errors. That’s why they were so bad for so many years.

    Licht’s recent history is a mixed bag. Funny because he tends to not outsmart himself in the 1st round, rounds 2 & 3 are a different story. Most GMs would have been fired after the Aguayo debacle. I cursed Licht immediately in the moment watching that happen – loudly. It was the most spectacularly incompetent boneheaded draft maneuver I have ever witnessed in my life. He traded up to get a kicker in the second round. Bad bad bad bad bad.

    Then again there have been some good picks.

    Generally speaking when Bucs target blue chippers that fall to them they do fantastic. With the notable exception of Marpet, Licht’s small school and off the radar gambles don’t payoff.

    Licht loves to be the guy who knows what others don’t know. That leads him to outsmarting himself more times than not. This year yeah I agree – it’s not the time to get cute and gamble. Targeting tweener guys and less stout stature guys you think will develop in the 1st round has not worked out.

    Target known good players with attractive measureables.

    Or else what? You whiff on players and get thin in places super quick.

  38. Just Leave Trask Alone Says:

    I’ll add this 2018, 2019 & 2020 were outstanding drafts. Every other year terrible outside Evans and Godwin (going back that far). I mean really bad.

    They fire a scout or something? If so get that guy back.

  39. steele Says:

    If Mayfield doesn’t completely crap the bed, this team will be similar to what was: neither here nor there under Bowles and mystery man Rah Rah Canales, and a roster full of question marks, some veteran dead wood, and JAGs who still haven’t stepped up.

    I expect the rest of the NFC South will be parity again, regressing across the board. Derek Carr will always be a loser, and no, a change of scenery will likely not change that. Raiders “changed the scenery” internally and specifically for him countless times, and he failed them. Saints season will depend on their defense, again. As for Desmond Ridder, Matt Corrall and Carr also, that’s a pretty hit or miss bunch of QBs, and compared to them, Mayfield isn’t a disaster by comparison.

    You could even make the argument that Mayfield, at his best, is the best QB among them. If—if—he finds some kind of consistency in his game and doesn’t lose his mind.

  40. fwfan Says:

    So according to all the fans here all Licht has to do is hit on all his drafts for the team to win. No big deal right? Pretty simple, sounds good. Can anyone tell me what gm in the last 5 years has hit on all his draft picks? When was the last time Licht has hit on all of his draft picks? Goodness, there are hits and misses in every draft but to run the table? That is delirious and hilarious.

  41. Pablocruise Says:

    Barrett can definitely come back from Achilles tear, I had one playing ball and healed fine, never another problem, he is a top tier player, that’s why I think he can come back strong, Achilles is a big tendon that, if done right, will never be another problem. Always draft best player available, and that goes to what their grades are on the one’s available and where/if they can fill a need. Tape doesn’t lie and these guys know it but never can predict how guys will transfer from college to pro. I agree with Flaboy, Coach Edwards was a significant signing, and I think the infusion of young fresh minds on the staff to match the younger FASTER players we need will pay off. Things were getting stale around here.

  42. Fansince76 Says:

    Edge, Edge, OT , safety then RB.

  43. Beej Says:

    Marine Buc Says:
    April 9th, 2023 at 4:04 pm
    @ Beej

    The one wildcard in all this is – does our GM believe Luke Goedeke can play Right Tackle?

    Goedeke ALSO graded out very well at guard for that last game. Sitting out several games seemed to improve his perspective. Anyhow, I thought Brandon Walton did ok at tackle for someone who’s scarcely played

  44. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    What we end up doing with the O-line and Dave Canales play calling will likely determine our season, not the draft. This draft will be very important for the next few seasons, when these rookies will be expected to make a real impact. Our defense should still be top 10, so it’s all about Canales.

  45. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    Like I said – “If Licht likes Matt Bergeron, Cody Mauch, Jaelyn Duncan or Blake Freeland we could be picking OT at #50 and selecting a much needed Edge Rusher at pick #19.”

    We don’t know what Licht’s draft board looks like. I do trust his ability to pick offensive lineman. He might really like one of the OTs that will be available at pick #50.

    Shaq Barrett is probably done until mid-season – and he might be done for good after next season.

    I would prefer a slight move back from pick #19 and pick up an extra 3rd and 5th round pick – as long as we could still score one of the top 5 or 6 OTs or a talented Edge Rusher.

  46. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Alanbucsfan Says:
    “The Bucs have excellent receivers. If Bucs develop a running game as promised, Baker will have one of his best NFL seasons.

    Carr is consistently a .500 QB, checkdown, sacks, interceptions, with an occasional great game to keep your hopes up.”

    Not trying to be confrontational, but you are totally wrong about Carr.

    He’s never had over 14 picks in a season, and he’s had 4 seasons of 10 or fewer.

    He’s only had under a 60% passing percentage once, and that was his rookie year.

    That same year was the only time he’s had lower than an 86 quarterback rating.

    His fumbles are a knock…but when you look at his lack of protection, it explains a lot.

    Tons of first downs every year. Tons of 20+ completions.

    Winning is a team effort. The Raiders have been horribly run since 2003…before that a lot of the time too.

    One thing is clearly certain…Carr is not a .500 QB. When the QB does all he needs to do to win, and the team still loses, that’s on the coaches, GM, and the other players.

  47. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    That said? I’ll still be rooting against him.

  48. Bucamania Says:

    This draft is HUGE. Bucs can’t afford another lousy draft. Licht HAS to hit on the top picks.

  49. Mike C Says:

    Bonzai, are you cars brother? Dude is not that good.

  50. Goatfarmer Says:

    Jeff Diamond, LOL. Naa, this draft isn’t important.


    Sure, it would help if JL could find two or more starters in this draft but what team doesn’t want that? These maroons get paid to write this squat. Sad!

  51. Redeemer Says:

    GF, you up too late brother. Get some sleep. I for one can’t handle anymore baker or draft talk. The proof will be in the pudding, whatever the hell that means. My momma always said, we live to fight another down.

  52. Leopold Stotch Says:

    Every draft matters. Every draft is critical. Every pick is important.

  53. garro Says:

    We all know that we need to hit 2 or three opening day starters in this draft.
    Chances are we won’t. If Jason and company pull it off and Shaq and Jenson are healthy we will do alot more than compete in the NFC South!

    I for one don’t give alot of credence to a Vikings “suit”.

  54. garro Says:

    Totally agree with Defense Rules. Door #1 one all the way! Go Bucs!

  55. Brandon Says:

    Ya’ll commenting on Achilles injuries need to stop. You apparently know nothing. Brent Grimes, Terrell Suggs, DaQuan Bowers, all tore their Achillles and were back playing at around six months. Medical procedures are far different with this injury than it used to be and people make full recoveries and in far less time than they ever did before. I had my Achilles detached and re-attached in December 2019. My goal all along was to be cleared for sports in six months…. I made it in five. By the fifth month, the repaired Achilles was outperforming the uninjured one. By six months, the Achilles was better than it was pre-injury.

    If Barrett doesn’t make it back all the way from the injury, it’s because he didn’t rehab it hard enough and wasn’t THAT good to begin with (19.5 sacks good). He’s always been a mystery to me, kinda fast, kinda powerful, kinda productive. If he works hard, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be 100% on opening day.

  56. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Licht has to produce this draft or he and Bowles will be jettisoned.