The 2023 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with eight picks this year. How did they do in the 2023 NFL Draft? Tampa Bay appeared to have stalled in the NFC South with Tom Brady’s retirement. However, the 2023 class may have provided an opportunity for them to restore some momentum and begin rising back. Here we’ll look at the grades for every single pick that the Buccaneers made at the 2023 NFL Draft.
In the wake of Brady’s retirement, the Buccaneers quickly went from being a top NFL team in terms of building their roster to becoming quite depleted. Although they still have skilled players on defense, their offensive line is now a major concern. Of course, finding a reliable quarterback was an even bigger challenge entering the draft. We mean, sure, Baker Mayfield is working on making a comeback. That said, he probably won’t be the permanent solution. The departure of Devin White also made it clear that they now need to focus on finding a good linebacker. While Lavonte David is a great player, he won’t play forever.
Let’s look at the 2023 NFL Draft grades for the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 NFL Draft Grades
Round 1, Pick 19- DT Calijah Kancey (Pittsburgh)
Calijah Kancey is viewed as an excellent addition to the Bucs, despite his smaller size for a defensive tackle. With Vita Vea playing alongside him, they make a powerful duo. Vea can draw attention away from Kancey, allowing him to make more plays. Kancey’s arrival provides immediate impact as a three-technique player with explosive, flexible, and precise skills.
While there is much excitement surrounding Kancey’s arrival, there are concerns about Tampa Bay’s quarterback situation. Again, sure, they have Mayfield and Kyle Trask on their roster. Recall, however, that Will Levis was available for them to draft without trading up. It is unclear why they chose not to take that chance, particularly as Levis would not have been expected to play immediately. This means that the issue of the quarterback position may need to be addressed again in the near future.
Pitt’s first defensive player taken in the first round since … Aaron Donald
DT Calijah Kancey is headed to the Bucs with the 19th pick pic.twitter.com/wh93AK55eD
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 28, 2023
Round 2, Pick 48- OL Cody Mauch (North Dakota State)
It was difficult to predict where Cody Mauch would end up playing in the NFL Draft. However, he could potentially fill multiple positions on the offensive line for the Buccaneers. While this ambiguity isn’t ideal, it’s also part of what makes him appealing as a player.
Recall that Tampa Bay has a significant need for improvement at both left tackle and guard positions. Despite concerns about his arm length, Mauch projects to play as a guard due to his explosiveness and physicality, although he is somewhat lean for his size. However, his nimble athleticism, smooth footwork, and independent hand usage could allow him to overcome these concerns and play as a tackle. Ultimately, it will be up to the Buccaneers to decide where to play him. Having said that, with added strength, Mauch has the potential to excel in either position.
Round 3, Pick 82- WR YaYa Diaby (Louisville)
YaYa Diaby was one of the most traits-rich EDGE prospects in the draft. He was also added to the roster, boasting awe-inspiring power capacity and elite athleticism but needing to work on his hand usage and run support. These additions should help strengthen the Buccaneers’ EDGE talent and provide more rotational depth.
Round 5, Pick 153- LB SirVocea Dennis (Pittsburgh)
Tampa Bay made a phenomenal pick by selecting SirVocea Dennis in the fifth round. With rumors swirling about Devin White’s potential trade and Lavonte David’s aging, Dennis could be a valuable addition to the team. He’s a compact athlete with a 6’0, 226-pound frame and impressive athleticism. He is explosive and can make an impact when he reaches his full potential.
Round 5, Pick 171- TE Payne Durham (Purdue)
The Buccaneers traded up to get Payne Durham in the fifth round. Yes, they could have waited and still added another tight end. Still, Durham is a reliable receiving threat with strong hands and excellent instincts. He’s not a great athlete, which may have caused him to fall in the draft, but he could still be a valuable addition to the team.
Round 6, Pick 181- DB Josh Hayes (Kansas State)
Josh Hayes was not the highest-rated player on the board. However, he offers versatility as he can play either cornerback or nickel. He had a solid performance in 2022 with 5.5 tackles for loss and seven pass breakups. Hayes exceeded expectations with a 4.47 40-yard dash time on his pro day. The Buccaneers had a particular interest in him. Additionally, while there were other higher-rated players available, the team ultimately chose Hayes.
Round 6, Pick 191- WR Trey Palmer (Nebraska)
In the later rounds of the draft, value becomes critical. The Bucs found it in Trey Palmer. He’s a top-100 WR with exceptional speed in the 4.3 range, which he uses to create mismatches on the field. He also possesses excellent ball-tracking ability and shows promise in efficiently cutting stems. Palmer could be a valuable asset to the team.
Round 6, Pick 196- EDGE Jose Ramirez (Eastern Michigan)
Tampa Bay made a sneaky good pick by selecting Jose Ramirez in the sixth round. He may not be as explosive as YaYa Diaby, but he has excellent finesse and ankle flexion as a rusher. This allows him to win with bend and active hands around. Ramirez is a quality rotational add who could have a nice career as a designated pass rusher. With Diaby and Ramirez on the team, the Buccaneers could have a formidable pass rush.
Again, recall that there were rumors circulating that the Buccaneers would trade up to select either quarterback Will Levis or a top tackle to avoid missing out on the position. However, neither of those scenarios materialized. Although Levis was available when the Bucs were on the clock, they ultimately decided not to draft him. Surprisingly, Tampa Bay chose not to select a quarterback at all during the weekend and instead focused heavily on improving their defense.
Despite lacking flashiness, the Bucs’ draft class should not be overlooked. General Manager Jason Licht successfully secured three outstanding players with his top selections. One of these players is Calijah Kancey, a defensive tackle with exceptional first-step quickness and the ability to penetrate the line. Despite standing a couple of inches shorter than ideal, Kancey amassed 7.5 sacks in his previous season and could have been a top-five pick if he were taller.
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