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ESPN’s Mel Kiper releases first mock draft, has Bucs selecting a lineman

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By: Gil Arcia

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

But on which side of the ball?

There are several concerns across the Buccaneers roster heading into the 2023 offseason. Now with their season over, the process of looking ahead and retaining or adding players is well underway.

It’s a huge uncertainty where the Bucs can go in free agency and in the draft. But for guys like ESPN’s Mel Kiper the draft analysis never sleeps and there’s never a bad time for guys like him to release their first mock draft.

He has Tampa Bay addressing the defensive front with the selection of Georgia Tech’s Keion White.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Keion White, DL, Georgia Tech

The Bucs could be in for an offseason of change, depending on what the NFL’s greatest quarterback decides. We already know they’ll have a new-look offense with coordinator Byron Leftwich getting fired. And even with concerns along the offensive line, I’m looking at the end spot in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 defense as their top need with Akiem Hicks and William Gholston both hitting the free agent market. Yes, 2022 second-rounder Logan Hall will get snaps on one side next season, but if they can add a starter here, why not do it?

White dominated at Old Dominion before he transferred to Georgia Tech in 2021. He missed most of that season with an ankle injury but had a dominant 2022, with 7.5 sacks and 57 total tackles. He’s another inside-outside lineman who would bring some interior pass-rush ability to Tampa. White will be at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, next week, and I know scouts are excited to see him up close.

Recently, an SB Nation Reacts poll asked Bucs Nation readers how the Buccaneers should prioritize their offseason in terms of most important position to address. A vast majority of fans said the offensive line is the biggest priority heading into the offseason with 53-percent of them voting in that direction. Only 5-percent voted on prioritizing the defensive front.

If Tampa Bay does in fact feel the need to address either front, offensively and defensively, than they can do so in free agency and/or the draft. Kiper’s mock may not be that far fetched but if the offensive line isn’t addressed during free agency, the first round of the draft may be where they go.

However, the injuries they suffered across the line in 2022 will be taken into consideration and the team may feel it’s not as big of a need as many think.

Originally posted on Bucs Nation – All Posts