Five players Tampa Bay could target after dropping out of first round

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Holding one of the last picks in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had plenty of time to think about their decision. Heading into Thursday, general manager Jason Licht made it clear that the Buccaneers would potentially be looking to trade for more picks in the middle rounds. After Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson left the roster for the New York Jets a selection early, that’s exactly the direction the franchise has gone.

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Tampa Bay traded the No. 27 overall pick for the No. 1 pick in the second, fourth, and sixth rounds. Overall, the Buccaneers now hold eight draft selections, including three picks (#33, #60, #91) on Day Two. The team will draft top 133 picks five times in a deep class.

That means there’s a legitimate chance for the franchise to add instant contributors to a roster that’s gearing up for another championship run. So, in which direction should they go? There are obvious needs on the defensive line, defensive backfield and tight end. The team could also use another interior offensive lineman to add depth. There are several ways to go that make sense for the present and the future of the Buccaneers.

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Here are five players Tampa Bay could have their eyes on on Day 2 of the draft.

1. Logan Hall, defensive tackle

Hall was a prospect the Buccaneers showed interest in throughout the pre-draft process as the team met him at the combine and welcomed him for a top-30 visit. While at Indianapolis, he ran a 4.88 40-yard dash, a 4.44-second shuttle, a 7.25 three-cone, and recorded a 30-inch vertical. It’s important to remember that Hall is 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, a true monster athlete for his height.

The former Houston star has shown versatility in playing defensive end or defensive tackle during his college career. With Ndamukong Suh still unsigned, Hall can immediately impact inside alongside Vita Vea and Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

Hall broke out in 2021, earning All-AAC first-team honors after recording 48 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 12 starts.

2. Trey McBride, tight end

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The tight ends room is a little worrisome right now in Tampa Bay, with the only real contracted contributor currently being veteran Cam Brate. The franchise is still confident that Rob Gronkowski will return rather than retire, but that didn’t materialize until the draft. Hence why it might be nice to add an insurance policy to the fold for 2022 which could be a future starter.

The majority of the best tight ends should be selected between the second and fourth rounds. Former Colorado State star Trey McBride is the best of the bunch. He projects himself as a tight end combo that can impact the game as a receiver and with his determination as a blocker.

The Colorado native caught 90 passes for 1,121 yards and a touchdown in 2021. He had six games 100+ receiving yards, including a career-high seven catches for 135 yards against New Mexico. After the season, McBride was named the Mackey Award winner for best tight end in college football and a consensus first-team All-American. Not only does he have talent, he has the production to back him up.

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3. Andrew Booth, cornerback

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The secondary needed to retool this offseason, and the Buccaneers made improvements by bringing in former Giants guard Logan Ryan and former Dallas guard Keanu Neal. Tampa Bay also re-signed local cornerback Carlton Davis for an extension while letting Jordan Whitehead leave for the New York Jets. Still, there’s still work to be done, and adding a cornerback to improve depth at a position that was plagued by injuries in 2021 could prove fruitful.

After a flurry of defensive backs left the board on day one, the dust is settling around Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth, who was considered a potential first-round pick. Not only is he an ideal height at 6-foot, 194 pounds with 31.5-inch arms, but he also has a knack for being around the ball. Over the past two seasons, Booth has recorded five interceptions and nine pass deflections while earning second-team All-ACC honors in both years.

The Georgia native will need development to the next level, but there’s a lot to love about his skill set. He is an effective press corner that impacts support for the race and brings a competitive spirit to the field. As the piece behind Davis, Jamel Dean and Sean Bunting, Booth fits the puzzle.

4. Kyler Gordon, cornerback

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Speaking of developing cornerbacks with ideal size, enter former Washington star Kyler Gordon, who may be even more athletic than Booth. He ran a 4.52 40-yard sprint while standing 5-foot-11.5 and 194 pounds with 31-inch arms at the combine. Long, long and primed with the athletic tools to become a top soccer player.

Gordon needs to improve his recognition and anticipation, but his brilliance and strength have allowed him to overcome those weaknesses at this point. Really, it would be huge for his growth to get regular reps. He became a full-time starter in 2021 for the first time and showed tremendous ability. Gordon recorded a career-high 45 tackles, 7 pass deflections, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble last season while being named First-Team All-PAC12.

The Washington native may have flown under the radar opposite Trent McDuffie, but Gordon is going to be in the spotlight on day two.

5. Nakobe Dean, linebacker

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This player might come as a bit of a surprise because Tampa Bay doesn’t exactly need a linebacker, especially with how other areas of the defense look. That being said, sometimes you have to pick the best player available, and the best prospect left in the entire draft heading into the second round just might be Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean.

What he lacks in size he makes up for in brilliance, agility, physique and quick feet. Dean is a punisher who faces blockers in the hole during plays in progress and always produces in the stat sheet. The forgotten man of the Bulldogs defense totaled 72 tackles, a team-high 10.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, two interceptions, five pass deflections, two forced fumbles and one defensive touchdown. He just finds a way to do it.

The Mississippi native was considered a first-team AP All-American and first-team All-SEC after leading Georgia to a national title. Although he didn’t go day one like five of his teammates, Dean is a steal at No. 33 and it’s possible another player the Buccaneers value will still be available when he picks again later. in the second round.

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