The NFL draft is a month away. What are the Bucs’ top priorities?

TAMPA — The dawn of the new NFL year was especially bright for the Bucs, who retained their most prominent free agents and even lured one of their former standouts (Jordan Whitehead) back into the fold.

But the figurative flowers showered upon general manager Jason Licht and Co. in early March could wilt quickly if the team doesn’t follow up with a solid draft, which commences in a month.

Now that the flurry of free agency has subsided and the Bucs’ remaining needs are a bit more clear, we’ve ranked the five positions most likely to be addressed — in order of greatest necessity — during draft weekend. (Bear in mind, the draft possibilities are based on where the Bucs select, which for now is No. 26 in the first round.)

5. Cornerback

Licht and Co. have been aggressive in addressing the position after trading veteran Carlton Davis to the Lions, but we still wouldn’t be shocked to see them draft a corner. Davis and fellow starter Jamel Dean missed a combined 24 games the last three seasons and played together in only four of the last nine contests in 2023. New arrivals Bryce Hall (from Jets) and Tavierre Thomas (from Texans) should provide depth at corner and nickel corner, respectively, but the 2024 corner class is too talented to ignore.

Draft possibilities

Terrion Arnold, Alabama: First-team All-American tied for sixth in FBS with five picks in 2023

Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo: Williston native dominated Senior Bowl, ran 40 in 4.33 seconds at combine

Max Melton, Rutgers: Todd Bowles has an affinity for Rutgers guys, and this one’s a ballhawk

4. Receiver

Mike Evans perhaps now a bona fide Buc for life — and Chris Godwin remain the top two options, and rookie Trey Palmer (39 catches, three touchdowns in 2023) had a promising debut, but the position still sorely lacks depth. No other wide receiver had more than 17 catches last season. Moreover, Evans turns 31 in August and Godwin’s 28-year-old body has taken a pummeling. The Bucs need more sleekness and may be wise to start seeking that rangy vertical threat to ultimately fill Evans’ cleats.

Draft possibilities

Adonai Mitchell, Texas: Classic vertical threat (6-foot-4) had 11 TD catches in 2023

Xavier Worthy, Texas: Longhorns’ leading receiver set NFL combine record in 40 (4.21 seconds)

Brian Thomas Jr., LSU: 6-foot-3 speedster led FBS with 17 receiving TDs in 2023

3. Interior offensive line

Veteran center Ryan Jensen has retired, and veteran guards Nick Leverett (to Patriots), Aaron Stinnie (to Giants) and Matt Feiler were allowed to become free agents. Free agents Ben Bredeson (from Giants) and Sua Opeta (from Eagles) were signed, but the Bucs likely will seek to draft someone that can evolve into an interior cornerstone in the mold of Ali Marpet.

Draft possibilities

Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon: 328-pounder won Rimington Trophy as nation’s top center

Graham Barton, Duke: Blue Devils left tackle, lauded for his combative hands, projects to play inside in NFL

Zach Frazier, West Virginia: Four-time prep state wrestling champ had 46 career starts with Mountaineers

2. Inside linebacker

Devin White, whose star faded with stunning briskness, now is on a one-year, prove-it deal in Philly. And while the team was widely hailed for retaining Lavonte David, the future Ring of Honor inductee is 34. K.J. Britt stepped in admirably last season when the team lost faith in White, and 2023 draftee SirVocea Dennis has upside, but the team clearly needs to replenish at this position.

Draft possibilities

Payton Wilson, N.C. State: Has an injury history, but upside (4.43 seconds in 40) is tantalizing

Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M: First-team All-American had 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks in 2023

Junior Colson, Michigan: Haiti native had team-best 95 tackles in 2023; excels in coverage

1. Outside linebacker/edge rusher

The Bucs already have released veteran Shaquil Barrett and might be losing patience with former first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (13 sacks in three seasons). Yaya Diaby sparkled as a rookie (team-best 7½ sacks), but the other options at the position (aside from rotational player Anthony Nelson) are unproven.

Draft possibilities

Laiatu Latu, UCLA: Lombardi Award winner would be a bona fide steal if still available when Bucs select

Jared Verse, FSU: Fleet bull-rusher seems more suited to 4-3 defense, but could Bucs really pass him up?

Chop Robinson, Penn State: Ran 40 in 4.48 seconds at combine, with staggering 1.54-second split

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