Grading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rounds 1-3 Draft Picks

The first three rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft are finally over after many surprise picks and first-time events in the history of the draft. However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stuck to their game plan and did what they were expected to: they identified the main issues with their roster and used their picks to address these issues. Over the first three rounds, they picked four players, each with a different position on the field, who will be great additions to the team heading into the 2024 NFL season.

Let’s take a look into the four players who will be heading to Tampa Bay this season, and how their presence in the roster will benefit the team.

Grading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rounds 1-3 Draft Picks

Round 1, No. 26: Graham Barton, C ; A-

The Bucs started out the draft with Duke product Graham Barton in the first round. At 6’5″ and 313 lbs, Barton will bring a commanding presence to a Buccaneers offensive line that just lost Ryan Jensen to retirement. Barton should step in to fill in the void left by Jensen right away. His big size, technique, toughness, and agility should help the Bucs up their running game and keep quarterback Baker Mayfield on his feet during passing plays. As for stats, the Bucs were 26th among centers last season with a 90.7% pass-block win rate and 59.6% run-block win rate. Barton’s arrival will immediately boost those numbers and catapult the Bucs’ offensive line into one of the best in the league.

The only issue with this pick is that it seems way too high for an offensive lineman while the Bucs had other positional needs that should’ve been prioritized. With players like Darius Robinson, Nate Wiggins, and Cooper DeJean still on the board, it would’ve made more sense for the Buccaneers to address their defensive issues first rather than using such a high pick on a player that most likely won’t have the same impact as one of the players mentioned above. However, this wasn’t a bad pick at all. Barton will be a huge addition to the Bucs’ O-Line.

Round 2, No. 57: Chris Braswell, OLB ; A+

You can never go wrong picking an Alabama product in the draft. It’s not a coincidence that, as of last season, they had the most former student-athletes active in the NFL with 57; they are the nation’s top athletic program, producing world-class superstars like Derrick Henry, Jaylen Waddle, Amari Cooper, and Patrick Surtain, just to name a few. Edge rusher Chris Braswell will be no exception. He arrives on the team to replace Shaquil Barrett, who signed with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent, making him an undisputable starter from day one. Above-average quickness and agility will make him a centerpiece in Tampa Bay’s blitz game and an essential component of their 3-4 defense. He should be able to hit the ground running as soon as he gets to the team and is expected to be a starter right away.

Round 3, No. 89: Tykee Smith, S ; B

The safety position wasn’t really a positional need for the Bucs, as they already have Antoine Winfield Jr. and Ryan Neal locked and ready to play. His below-average size and speed will certainly be a problem in downfield coverage, but his usage as a nickelback in college will make him a perfect candidate to play in the slot in the Buccaneers’ secondary, functioning almost like an additional linebacker on the field. He also had four interceptions in 2023, tied for third-most in the SEC in a department where the Buccaneers ranked among the league-lowest last season. Expect him to be no more than a slot safety for at least his rookie season, but he could potentially graduate to a bigger role if he improves his coverage skills.

Round 3, No. 92: Jalen McMillan, WR ; B+

The Buccaneers received this pick via a trade with the Detroit Lions, in which they traded away cornerback Carlton Davis III and two sixth-round picks in exchange for this pick. He was used primarily as a slot receiver in Washington’s impressive passing scheme, making him a big question mark heading into the draft. The sample size is pretty small, but he has displayed above-average athleticism and route-running skills: since 2022, he has caught six touchdowns on post routes, tied for most in the FBS, and has recorded 253 receiving yards on said route, 10th in the FBS. His superb route-running capabilities make him a potential candidate for Tampa Bay’s WR3 spot, behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Plus, they just declined Russell Gage‘s team option, making him a free agent and giving McMillan less competition for the No. 3 spot in the offense. The Bucs took a gamble with this pick, and we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

Main Image: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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