Piecing Together The Draft Puzzle

May 20th, 2023

Solving the draft riddle.

So this week the Bucs published their latest “Below the Surface” video.

“Below the Surface” is a series of “Hard Knocks” style documentaries where the Bucs video production team brings fans inside the walls of One Buc Palace for a look at team operations.

This episode focuses on the draft, specifically the selection of Bucs first-round draft pick Calijah Kancey at defensive tackle.

Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht said there was a list of three players he had targeted and Kancey was on top of it.

Of course he was! Did you expect Licht (or any general manager) to say, “We wanted (insert player’s name) but the motherf@#$ing Jets got him.”

To be fair, in the video Licht is seen saying, “We’re worried about Kancey” being picked before the Bucs’ pick. Licht admitted he was sweating the Kancey pick because his targeted three players were starting to come off the board.

So who were the other two players Licht wanted? It seems one might be off-ball inside linebacker Jack Campbell, who the Lions selected at No. 18, right before the Bucs. On paper it seems to fit. Both Bucs starting inside linebackers may not be here in 2024.

Devin White, who will be a free agent next spring, demanded a trade prior to the draft. Lavonte David, 33, signed a one-year contract. So drafting an inside linebacker would have made all the sense in the world.

As the Lions were on the clock, a great get by the Bucs’ video production team had Bowles saying, “That Iowa linebacker is a Dan Campbell kind of guy.”

Campbell is Detroit’s coach. “That Iowa linebacker” was Jack Campbell.

Bowles was right next to Licht in the Bucs’ war room. Surely he knew the three players Licht was eyeing. Would Bowles have referred to one of those players as “that Iowa linebacker” instead of referring to the player by name?

Bowles did say in a later interview that two of the three guys the Bucs targeted were on the board when Detroit picked. Bowles said the Lions “went the other way, they picked the linebacker.” Did that mean the Bucs were prepared to draft Campbell?

That’s rather vague but seems to suggest the Bucs were ready to pull the trigger on Campbell, provided Detroit selected Kancey.

Here are picks Nos. 12-17, and Joe will guess Broderick Jones was the other prime target:

No. 12: Detroit, Jahmyr Gibbs, RB
No. 13: Green Bay, Lukas Van Ness, LB
No. 14: Pittsburgh, Broderick Jones, OT
No. 15: New York Jets, Will McDonald, DE
No. 16: Washington, Emmanuel Forbes, CB
No. 17: New England, Christian Gonzalez, CB

It’s known the Bucs wanted an offensive tackle because Licht’s top disciple, John Spytek, admitted after the draft the Bucs wanted to draft a tackle but none fell to them. Spytek added the team wasn’t going to reach for one.

19 Responses to “Piecing Together The Draft Puzzle”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    “Below the Surface” is very well produced with great production value…I really enjoy them….
    As far as the draft……Licht did mention Kancey before the pick so there is some evidence he was a target.
    I think the linebacker would have been a better pick for the future but we’ll see.

    I would imagine there were at least 12 players on Licht’s board that were picked before he picked.

  2. BBQBUC Says:

    My main take on the draft is this. Given Baker Mayfield’s lousy record and likelihood of busting with the Bucs – his 4th team in 8 years – that the Bucs passed on both Will Levis and Hendon Hooker in the draft means the Bucs are comfortable with Kyke Trask. If they were not, there is no way they pass on both Levis and Hooker. In fact, I am now convinced they intend to start Trask and brought in Mayfield as a backup.

  3. Joe in Michigan Says:

    BBQBUC: Are you Trask’s agent or his Mom? If you’re neither of those, you might have an unhealthy infatuation with the guy.

  4. LakelandSteve Says:

    BBQBuc, yes Mayfield does have a losing record, but remember he played for an awful Carolina team and a bad Ram team last year. In 2020 with the Browns he was 11-5 and went to the playoffs. He has a 1-1 record in the playoffs. What is Trask’s record the last two years? Can’t fault him for that as he was playing behind Tom Brady and he was so good he wasn’t even dressing for the games because he was 3’rd string. How in the world barring injury is Trask going to beat out Mayfield who has 5 seasons under his belt and has proven he can win in this league and win in the playoffs. Don’t talk to me about college, this isn’t college.

  5. Joe in Michigan Says:

    LakelandSteve: BBQ & CrackWise were trying to say the other day that Trask is better than Mayfield because he’s taller…If being taller was that much of an advantage, wouldn’t Mike Glennon have had a nice career with the Bucs? Wouldn’t Brock Osweiler have really been something special? Comical.

  6. Bucs Guy Says:

    Glad we didn’t pick Campbell. I have concerns about his ability to cover — like Devon White.

  7. Mosey Says:

    Got rid of too many studs that won a Superbowl 👍

  8. Dooley Says:

    @Bucs Guy

    Same, I think Campbell is a good football player, but he’s a fraction of the athlete Kancey is in my opinion and Kancey is just as good a football player as Campbell.

  9. Pickgrin Says:

    The Bucs knew Paris Johnson would be long gone – they were also high on Darnell Wright and Broderick Jones at OT. Those were the 3 tackles they liked and would have drafted if any fell to #19.

    The other target was RB Jahmyr Gibbs as called by JBFs own “draft guru” Sean Sullivan.

    I doubt the Bucs would have drafted LB Jack Campbell over Kancey but might have considered Campbell if Kansey and all above listed players were off the board.

    Aside from missing out on a top OT prospect – I’m very happy the way it turned out because getting Kancey + Sirvocea Dennis in the 5th is going to work out way better than having chosen an ILB in the first round. (Or a RB in the 1st round – eye roll)

  10. Hodad Says:

    Why do most fans on this site think Willis, and Hooker are so much better than Trask? The college numbers don’t bare that out. The Bucs had both players in for a pre draft visit, and apparently didn’t see an upgrade to Trask. For a team that needs a QB that says it all. Of course Joe Buc fans will be proven right because they’re the real experts. Licht, and his team know nothing.

  11. Crickett Baker Says:

    With our cap problems we were lucky to sign a QB as good as Mayfield is (and can be), believe me. I was ok with starting Trask but how could we possibly go into the season with one QB? I was pretty much amazed and happy that we got Baker. Our expectations need to be lower this year and we should all be happy with the new team we are developing.

  12. FrontFour Says:

    We’re in a 2-3 year rebuild. I liked the draft and the UDFA’s we picked up. A lot of young guys will get a shot here and make the team. Will be same next year.

  13. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Believers in Mayfield always try to justify and make excuses for him.

    In contrast, all the others just want to know if Trask can be better than Mayfield’s 40% winning record.

    A great QB motivates his team. As I recall, Mayfield did the opposite.

  14. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Crickett Baker Says
    “With our cap problems we were lucky to sign a QB as good as Mayfield is…”

    True, cap played a big role. But Mayfield is not good at all, regardless of the excuses being made for him…none of which are actually justified. Some fans are ‘hoping’ he’ll suddenly improve. Not going to happen. It’s been proven time and time again.

    I wish it could be different.


    FrontFour Says
    “We’re in a 2-3 year rebuild. I liked the draft and the UDFA’s we picked up. A lot of young guys will get a shot here and make the team. Will be same next year.”

    I agree. Though, I do think that if this year’s picks work out, and next year’s picks do, we might see it trimmed down to a 2 draft rebuild.

    Plus, cap issues will be fixed next year.

  15. Allbuccedup Says:

    Jason looks constipated in that photo.

  16. Pine Hills Fred Says:

    If Kancy works out he’d be more important than Campbell would be this year.
    As far as QB goes…I wasn’t thriller with ANY of this draft’s crop. If Baker and Kyle both blow chunks this season we should be in a fine draft position. If one or both succeed we can draft a linebacker instead next draft.

  17. BBQBUC Says:

    @Joe in Michigan

    Your inability to address the facts and logic in my take on the draft (posted above) suggests you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Indeed, your name calling suggests you’re a toddler.

  18. BBQBUC Says:

    Hodad Says: “Why do most fans on this site think Levis and Hooker are so much better than Trask? The college numbers don’t bare that out. The Bucs had both players in for a pre draft visit, and apparently didn’t see an upgrade to Trask.”

    Two excellent points. On this here FSU site, many were saying that not if, but when, the Bucs draft Willis or Hooker, it was going to show what the Bucs think of Trask. Well, the Bucs didn’t draft Willis or Hooker – or any other quarterback. So, they must think quite highly of Trask, eh?

  19. garro Says:


    These days when you point out the flaws in someones logic.
    It imediately goes to thats just one persons opinion or the childrens classic …name calling.