Look for Tampa to take the best pass rusher, cornerback or receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Now that Tampa Bay’s season has come to an agonizing end, it’s time for the annual question about Tom Brady’s future.

Surely the future Hall of Fame quarterback can’t play until he’s 50, right?

Brady will be 45 by the time next season starts, but even if he does decide to retire, the Buccaneers aren’t likely to draft another QB a year after taking Florida’s Kyle Trask in the second round. Instead, look for Tampa Bay to draft a receiver, defensive lineman, cornerback or an interior offensive lineman thanks to the potential loss of several key free agents.

Some of Tampa Bay’s more prominent free agents include WR Chris Godwin, center Ryan Jensen, edge Jason Pierre-Paul, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard, offensive lineman Alex Cappa, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II.

Out of that total, the Buccaneers probably won’t draft a defensive or offensive interior linemen in the first round of the draft. Those positions typically don’t go on Day 1 unless it’s a special talent, and even then, those players would still have to fall to Tampa Bay at pick No. 27. You can probably also cross off running back and tight end, as there’s no RB or TE in this draft who is predicted to go in the first round.

That leaves the team with picking the best receiver, cornerback or outside linebacker/edge rusher when the Buccaneers are on the clock.

Some potential first-round names include:

Defensive line

DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M: Leal’s draft stock has been all over, and part of that is figuring out what position he’s best suited for at the next level. At 6-foot-4, 290-pounds, Leal would likely start at the 5-tech position in Tampa’s 3-4 defense, where he would replace Suh. Other names to watch: Phidarian Mathis, Alabama; Devonte Wyatt, Georgia. It may be a bit of a reach to take Mathis or Wyatt in the first round, but it’s doubtful either one will still be available late in the second round.


Derion Kendrick, Georgia: The former Clemson standout made the most of his transfer to Georgia, but how he got there will be discussed during team interviews. The 6-foot, 190-pound senior finished the season with 41 tackles, a team-leading 4 INTs, 3 QB pressures and 3 pass breakups and more than held his own in the championship game against Alabama. Other names to watch: Trent McDuffie, Washington; Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson. There’s a good chance neither player is still available, but if McDuffie hasn’t already been taken, don’t be surprised if he’s the Buccaneers’ pick.

Wide receiver

Jahan Dotson, Penn State: Several receivers should be available late in the first round, but the talent-level drops off a bit after that. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound senior would be hard to pass up. Dotson finished the season with 91 receptions for 1,182 yards and 12 TDs, all career-highs. He’s also a dangerous punt returner. Other names to watch: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama; Chris Olave, Ohio State; Treylon Burks, Arkansas. You can hardly go wrong with any of these picks, although Williams might not be fully healthy until later in the season after suffering an ACL tear in the championship game.

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