The NFL draft is behind us. OTA’s are in full swing, and rookie camp will be coming up soon.
So how did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fare in the 2023 Draft?
The Bucs resisted the urge to take the best player on the board and drafted for need and depth.
To recap, the top areas of need on this Bucs team going into the draft were offensive tackle, defensive line, depth at linebacker, secondary depth, and quarterback.
The Bucs filled the needs of every single position that needed to be addressed except for quarterback.
Pro Football Focus gives the Buccaneers a grade of A for the draft.
I give the Buccaneers an A as well overall. However, I can’t give the Bucs an A+ because they did not take on offensive linemen in the first round.
Buccaneers Filled A Lot Of Needs With This Draft
Offensive Line is the most significant need on this team. Although four offensive linemen were off the board by the time the Bucs made their selection at number 19, Anton Harrison from Oklahoma was still available, and the Bucs passed on him to take Calijah Kancey, the defensive tackle from Pittsburgh.
Kancey has been compared to fellow Pitt linemen Aaron Donald and Hall of Famer John Randle. Kancey and Vita Vea will be the nose tackles in Todd Bowles 3-4 defense, with Logan Hall moving outside to defensive end.
If Kancey lives up to the hype, this will go down as an excellent pick for the Buccaneers. If not, this will be another in a series of highly wasted draft picks.
In the second round, the Buccaneers addressed their need along the offensive line by selecting Cody Mauch, the tackle from North Dakota State.
Mauch will switch from tackle to guard, according to GM Jason Licht. With Tristan Wirfs changing to left tackle, Luke Goedeke is penciled in as the starter at right tackle.
Entering training camp, the starting offensive line, left to right, will be Tristan Wirfs, Nick Leverett, Ryan Jensen, Cody Mauch, and Luke Goedeke.
Buccaneers Add Linebacker Depth
In the third round, the Buccaneers went for linebacker depth, adding YaYa Diaby from Louisville. Diaby brings 4.51/40 speed to the linebacker position and an ability to get to the ball carrier and the quarterback quickly.
Diaby had 14 TFL last season and nine sacks in his senior season at Louisville.
Joe Tryon-Shoyinka is officially on notice.
In the fifth round, the Bucs continued to address the depth at linebacker and selected a teammate of Chancey’s at Pitt, linebacker SirVocea Dennis.
A Butkus Award semi-finalist, and first-team All-ACC selection, Dennis had 36 TFL over his last 35 games while collecting seven sacks. Dennis should make an impact on special teams immediately.
The Bucs then addressed the tight end position with their next pick, selecting Payne Durham from Purdue.
Buccaneers Add Another Tight End
With the team not bringing back Cam Brate, the Bucs needed another tight end, and Durham fits what the Buccaneers were looking for.
Durham is more of a pass-catching threat than a blocker. He had 56 catches for 560 yards and eight touchdowns in his senior season. Durham joins Cade Otten, and Ko Kieft, with another tight end or two being added to the roster not of the question as training camp draws closer.
The Bucs returned to the defensive ball with their next pick, selecting Josh Hayes defensive back from Kansas State.
Hayes will be an impact player on special teams from day one, adding much-needed depth to the secondary. He brings his 4.44/40 speed and a physical presence to the secondary.
Hayes will work as a nickel corner in Todd Bowles defense.
With their final selection in the fifth round, the Buccaneers selected wide receiver Trey Palmer from Nebraska. Palmer was projected to be a third or fourth-round pick but fell to the Bucs in the sixth round.
Palmer was one of the fastest receivers in the draft class, running a 4.33/40. In addition, he set a Nebraska record for receiving yards his senior season, significantly impacting the return game.
Think Scotty Miller, only faster with better hands.
Plamer will compete with Devin Thompkins for the return job in training camp. Don’t be surprised if he returns kicks and punts on opening day.
With their final selection in the draft, the Buccaneers again went defense, selecting linebacker Jose Ramirez from Eastern Michigan.
Ramirez was a two-year starter playing on the edge with 31.5 TfL and led the FBS in sacks per game with one. Last season alone, Ramirez had 12 sacks.
Ramirez should see significant time on special teams and contribute as an edge rusher.
Buccaneers 2023 Draft Class
Round 1 Pick 19 Calijah Kancey Defensive Tackle Pittsburgh
Round 2 Pick 48 Cody Mauch, Guard North Dakota State
Round 3 Pick 82 YaYa Diably Linebacker Louisville
Round 5 Pick 153 SirVocea Dennis Linebacker Pittsburgh
Round 5 Pick 171 Payne Dunham Tight End Purdue
Round 6 Pick 181 Josh Hayes Defensive Back Kansas State
Round 6 Pick 191 Trey Palmer Wide Receiver Nebraska
Round 6 Pick 196 Jose Ramirez Linebacker Eastern Michigan