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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers’ Mock Draft 3.0: Final Draft Week Edition

Robert Brumfield

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Photo Courtesy of: www.buccaneers.com

Draft Day excitement is at it’s peak with this year’s class of prospects counting the moments until Thursday night in Detroit when they’ll anxiously await their selection. For Bucs’ fans and players, it’s been mostly positive vibes around AdventHealth Training Center. Tampa Bay’s front office has hit consistent home runs in keeping their own stars this off-season, so nailing the Draft will complete a near flawless setup for the 2024 campaign.

In this spirit, this will be our last Mock before Draft Night. This scenario I ran through involves TWO early trades, both within the first round. First, Tampa Bay trades the 26th pick and 125th pick to San Francisco for the 31st and 63rd pick. The Kansas City Chiefs then immediately trade the 32nd pick (last pick in the first round) and the 95th pick to move up one spot and get a player they were dead set on, giving the Bucs an extra pick as well as two picks far better than they had. EIGHT total Draft picks, listed below in order. ENJOY and GO BUCS!

Round 1/Pick 32- Kool-Aid McKinstry (CB/Alabama)

McKinstry is the whole package and CB1 on alot of boards. He’s long and rangy, fast, and disciplined. He has the ball skills of Trevon Diggs with the blanket coverage ability of Darrelle Revis. This Alabama native lived out his childhood fantasy of playing for the Crimson Tide and has been a consensus up and coming superstar since he was in High School. No surprises here as he will be a Day 1 starter, immediately making the Bucs secondary one of the best in the NFC.

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Round 2/Pick 57- Troy Franklin (WR/Oregon)

Franklin is coming off of an absolutely monster season for the Ducks. With Bo Nix as his QB1, this human highlight reel snagged 81 balls for almost 1400 yards while finding the endzone 14 times in 2023. With four multiple touchdown games, he comes in as a standout amongst one of the best receiver classes in recent memory and would make Baker Mayfield’s job alot easier considering his knack for circus catches and getting open.

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Round 2/Pick 63- Sedrick Van Pran-Granger (Center/Georgia)

There are only about four centers that will likely be Day 1 starters, and VPG is one of them. This young man is dripping with potential. Though smaller than his peers at the position, he makes up for it with elite ability to get to the second (and third) level of a defense. He has a high motor, good awareness, and is able to keep his head which will serve him well in the NFL, though he will see stunts and twists from almost every defensive coordinator that he may not have seen as much in college. If this kid puts on a few pounds of lean muscle and listens to good coaching, the sky is the limit for him.

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Round 3/Pick 89- Blake Corrum (RB/Michigan)

Sometimes, even when you have a skill position player able to do the job, you pick his replacement earlier than technically necessary. Blake Corrum being available in Round 3 is almost pre-ordained and if he makes it to Tampa, he’s guaranteed to be high on their board. His eye-watering speed and high motor just screams Tampa Bay, even as a tandem back to help Rachaad White & Chase Edmonds. The argument could be made to let Corrum sit a spell and learn the nuances of the NFL, but if Tampa grabs this gem at 89, don’t expect the fanbase to don the pitchforks if Liam Coen wants to give the youngster an early crack at an RB1 workload.

Round 3/Pick 92- Dominick Puni (Guard/Kansas)

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Puni found his way onto another of my mocks, so I won’t deny he caught my eye early. That said, the comprehensive sim had him ripe for the taking a handful of picks later this time, and there’s a *slightly* glaring need at Guard for the Bucs. A 6 foot 5 inch mammoth with a massive advantage over small and mid-sized rushers, Puni is one of those lineman that destroys undersized linebackers in space and is a guaranteed pancake if he gets the position to seal off a D-tackle without his feet set. Puni is a guy that defines “once he gets his hands on you, it’s over.”

Round 3/Pick 95- Austin Booker (EDGE/Kansas)

The selection of back to back Jayhawks could only be possible with a player like Booker. Matching a solid need in Tampa, Austin Booker has almost everything on some level that a pass rusher would ever need. At 6’4″ and 240 lbs, he is rangy but not awkward, fast but not without discipline, and he has the mind to read and diagnose protection slides and chipping tight ends you rarely see in a player at this experience level. Add the fact he has an endless gas tank and this is the blank canvass pass rusher Bowles could paint his masterpiece with.

Round 7/Pick 220- Jowon Briggs (DT/Cincinnati)

Jowon Briggs from the Bearcats is admittedly a wildcard. Collecting additional picks could give the Bucs the opportunity to take on a “project” such as Briggs, with a high ceiling and high floor. Briggs has EXTREMELY violent hands, which can be honed into a formidable defensive advantage for a savvy defensive coordinator, which Bowles is in spades. This player has most of the physical attributes, albeit with a slight lack of range, but he stands out as teachable and a value pick at any time late in the draft considering how good he could be if his clumsy technique is sharpened by professional coaching.

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Round 7/Pick 246- Prince Pines (Guard/Tulane)

Tulane is an elite school for churning out trench warriors. Pines has an INSANE number of snaps under his belt and has played at both Baylor and Tulane. He does struggle with side to side play, leaving the potential open for corner blitzes and fast edge rushers like Micah Parsons to wreak havoc in his QB’s backfield, but would make a fine rotational lineman almost immediately and has a nice ceiling with some disciplined coaching and a plan to work on his feet quickness.

That concludes my last Mock Draft before this year’s NFL Draft! Thanks for reading and following the Buccaneers here at Sports Club Florida. Make sure to check out our other great contributors for more on all your favorite Florida sports teams!

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Bucs host 10th annual “Cut and Color Funds the Cure”

Robert Brumfield

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Photo Courtesy of: www.buccaneers.com

Thursday at AdventHealth Training Center saw some staff and players take part in one of the most fun yearly rituals here in Tampa, the “Cut and Color Funds the Cure” benefit. The event, held for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation (NPCF), is in it’s tenth year, and it brought out a huge group of Bucs legends.

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During the event, Buccaneers current and former players, staff, and even hall of famers have their heads or facial hair shaved or colored red by pediatric cancer patients . This year even brought out Buccaneers COO Brian Ford to take part in the festivities.

In the ten year tradition, the team has raised over $700,000 for the NPCF and created many more priceless memories. For the first time this year, the event was open to the public, with seating access and signed photos going to fans that donated at least $100 to the cause.

Current or former staff members in attendance this year were GM Jason Licht, Head Coach Todd Bowles, former coach Bruce Arians, Assistant General Managers Mike Greenberg and John Spytek, and others. Players like Mike Evans, Jamel Dean, Antoine Winfield Jr., Cade Otton, and Yaya Diaby sat while patients sheared or died their hair while the press took photos and fans interacted with staff and members of the NPCF.

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Former players notably involved this year included Rob Gronkowski (of course), Mike Alstott, Ronde Barber, Barry Smith, Dave Moore, Richard “Batman” Wood, Jimmie Giles, Martin Gramatica, Michael Clayton, and Dexter Jackson.

Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford was quoted, “Every year we try to give an afternoon to some very courageous children and their families to forget about what they are up against, and you just see smiles all around.”

The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation is a non-profit based right here in Tampa. The purpose of the organization is to raise awareness and fund research to try to eliminate childhood cancer. It uses research initiatives to combat cancer early on in some cases and fund targeted treatments in collaboration with the nation’s leading hospitals. Cancer is the number one disease based cause of death to children in the U.S. and everyday, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer in this country.

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More than 95 percent of childhood cancer survivors experience significant health-related issues by age 45 due to the current treatment options, something the NPCF is trying to change. Sadly, only 4% of the billions of dollars allocated for cancer research by the federal government is specifically for treating childhood cancer.

Thanks for reading and getting your Bucs news here at Sports Club Florida! Make sure to follow us and go check out some of our other great contributors for more on your favorite Florida sports teams.

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Buccaneers officially add Ryan Jensen to the Retired/Reserve list, marking end of an era

Robert Brumfield

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Photo Courtesy of: www.buccaneers.com

This week marked the official end of an era for former Buccaneers Center, Ryan Jensen, though it was mostly a formality at this point. Jensen had announced his intent to retire back on February 2nd after playing nine seasons as a professional.

Jensen was the centerpiece of an offensive line that dominated for most of his tenture in the Bay. Notably, the team’s four highest scoring seasons were from 2018 to 2021 with Jensen snapping the ball. He also anchored the line for Tom Brady in Super Bowl LV.

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The Baltimore Ravens drafted Ryan Jensen in the 2013 NFL Draft with the 203rd overall pick (Sixth Round) out of Colorado State (Pueblo). Jensen played four seasons as a Raven, with 2017 being his final season after starting all 16 games and being noticed by other teams around the League. That is when Tampa Bay entered the picture.

Jensen was signed by the Buccaneers entering the 2018 campaign. He immediately became the starter and one of the most dominant centers in the NFL. Throughout his five years played in red and pewter, Jensen was the linchpin for an offensive line that led the NFL in passing yards per game (305.0), as well as second ranked overall in third down conversion rate (44.5%), yards per play (6.1), first downs per game (23.2), points scored per game (28.6), and total yards per game (400.9). His offensive lines also yielded sacks at the fifth lowest rate of any team during this span.

Sadly, in a painfully ironic twist of fate, Jensen suffered a season ending knee injury during the Buccaneers last preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens of all teams. General Manager Jason Licht announced shortly after that Jensen would miss the entirety of the season. While the February announcement makes the retirement itself merely a formality, seeing Jensen’s name officially added to the retired list marks the end of a proud era for this offensive line that powered the Greatest QB of All-Time to a Super Bowl just a few short years ago.

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Jensen finishes his career with 100 games under his belt, including 90 starts. His 5,307 snaps played between the 2017 and 2021 seasons are the most played by any player. We as fans will now wait the mandatory five years and hope that in the distant future, Jensen will be named to the Hall of Fame in Canton. He sure has earned it.

Thanks for reading and getting your Bucs news here at Sports Club Florida! Make sure to follow us and go check out some of our other great contributors for more on your favorite Florida sports teams.

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All-Pro Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. signs record breaking new deal

Robert Brumfield

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Photo Courtesy of: www.buccaneers.com

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht placed the Franchise tag on Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. almost immediately during this off-season. Winfield Jr. had been voted First Team All-Pro after a stellar season and was as much of a priority to keep on the roster as Baker Mayfield or Mike Evans were. Franchise tagging a player doesn’t necessarily guarantee an extended stay, however. Ideally, a tag is a stop-gap measure to keep the player on until a contract agreement can be reached.

Bucs Nation can breathe a collective sigh of relief now after the team and Winfield Jr. reached an agreement this week to a four-year, $84.1 million contract that makes the 25 year old the highest paid defensive back in NFL history. This marks the first time a safety has held the highest paid slot at DB, usually reserved for cornerbacks. The deal includes a $20 million signing bonus with $45 million guaranteed, keeping Winfield Jr. in Tampa Bay through 2027. When he spoke to the media after the signing, Winfield said his best football was yet to come.

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The Buccaneers in recent years have a seemingly great rapport with their players when contract time comes up, due alot in part with the excellent management of Jason Licht and his staff. Twice in the past three years a franchise tagged player has signed a long-term extension with the Buccaneers, with the most recent example being in 2022 with wide receiver Chris Godwin.

Winfield Jr. was selected with the 45th overall pick during the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. After winning a Super Bowl during his standout rookie season, his play has continually improved and the statistics back it up.

In 2023, Winfield Jr. set new personal season records in tackles (122), sacks (6), forced fumbles (6), fumble recoveries (4), AND interceptions (3). Social media absolutely caught fire when Winfield was initially not chosen for the Pro Bowl, yet that was ultimately overshadowed by his First Team All-Pro selection, which is the gold standard of NFL personal season achievements. As he begins his fifth season as the star safety for the defending NFC South Champion Bucs, look for plenty of highlights from #31 in 2024.

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Thanks for getting your Buccaneers news here at Sports Club Florida! Make sure to go check out some of our other great contributors for more on your favorite Florida sports teams.

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