2023 NFL mock draft: New 7-round projections for the Bucs

Regardless of how the 2022 season ends for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they’ll head into the offseason with some big question marks on both sides of the ball.

With a challenging salary cap situation, and some key players headed for free agency, the Bucs will need to hit on their early picks in the 2023 NFL draft if they want to fill those spots and remain a playoff contender next season.

As they prepare for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Atlanta Falcons, as well as a home playoff game the following week, here’s an updated look at how all seven rounds of this year’s draft could shake out for Tampa Bay:

1st Round: Georgia CB Kelee Ringo

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting are both headed for free agency, so the Bucs could use another starting-caliber corner to pair with Carlton Davis III. Ringo’s had a roller-coaster campaign in 2022, but his size, length, and skill set make him a perfect fit in Todd Bowles’ scheme.

2nd Round: North Dakota State OL Cody Mauch

(Photo by Sean Arbaut/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay’s lack of quality depth in the trenches has been a huge reason for their offensive struggles this season, so adding another versatile blocker early in the draft should be a priority. Mauch could play either guard or tackle, and Bucs general manager has a knack for landing stud offensive linemen from smaller programs.

3rd Round: Washington State LB Daiyan Henley

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Lavonte David’s contract is up after this year, and even if he returns, he turns 33 in January. It’s time for the Bucs to start grooming a potential replacement to pair with Devin White, and Henley is one of the most underrated defenders in this year’s class.

5th Round: Iowa State EDGE Will McDonald IV

(AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Anthony Nelson and Carl Nassib are set to be free agents, while Shaq Barrett is 30 years old and coming off a torn Achilles. The Bucs need to reload their depth on the edge, and McDonald is a well-rounded pass rusher with 34 careers sacks to his credit.

5th Round (compensatory): Virginia WR Dontayvion Wicks

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Gage was given a hefty contract to be Tampa Bay’s all-important WR3, but he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. The Bucs should use one of their extra picks to add some receiver depth, and Wicks has the skill set and big-play ability to excel in this vertical passing scheme.

6th Round: Kansas S Kenny Logan Jr.

William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Edwards is on the final year of his rookie contract, and Logan Ryan is only on a one-year deal, so the Bucs could be looking for some safety depth in this draft. Logan is an experienced leader who could make an immediate impact on special teams, and perhaps grow into a bigger role on defense.

7th Round (from NYJ): Kentucky DL Justin Rogers

Syndication: The Courier-Journal

Akiem Hicks is on a one-year deal, and the Bucs’ rush defense takes a huge hit when he’s not lined up next to Vita Vea. Rogers is a space-eating interior defender who could take over Hicks’ role on early downs, freeing up 2022 second-round pick Logan Hall to remain a pass-rushing specialist inside.

7th Round: TCU QB Max Duggan

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Trask is the only quarterback currently under contract for the 2023 season in Tampa Bay, so if Tom Brady and Blaine Gabbert don’t return, the Bucs will need to add a couple. This year’s runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, Duggan might not have the physical tools to be an early-round pick, but his competitiveness and intangibles are worth taking a chance on here.

7th Round (compensatory): Ohio State K Noah Ruggles

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch

Ryan Succop has been the Bucs’ most consistent performer so far this season, but he’ll turn 37 next September, so the Bucs might have to find a replacement. A highly touted recruit out of nearby Steinbrenner High just north of Tampa, Ruggles would be worth a seventh-rounder if he can end up replacing the consistency Succop brings to the table.

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire