Who was the Bucs’ backup plan in the 1st round?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were thrilled to land Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft, as most expected him to be off the board before the No. 26 overall selection.

If he had been off the board, though, would the Bucs have pivoted to the next-best interior offensive lineman available, such as Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson?

No, according to Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report, who says that Tampa Bay’s backup plan in the first round was Illinois defensive lineman Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton.

Newton ended up landing at the top of the second round with the Washington Commanders, but he was widely regarded as a surefire first-round talent as one of the top defensive prospects in the entire draft.

While some might have been puzzled by the Bucs using their top pick on an interior defender for the third year in a row, 2022 second-round pick Logan Hall has yet to live up to his original draft slot, and Newton would have provided Tampa Bay with an immediate upgrade alongside Vita Vea and Caljah Kancey.

It’s all a moot point now, though, as the Bucs landed their top target in Barton as the new anchor for the interior of their offensive line.

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire