The NFL Draft in 2023 will be here before we know it. What will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do with this year's draft capital? Despite the Buccaneers' willingness to make draft-pick swaps, they still hold all of their picks in the first three rounds. Here we'll look at the three best players for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to target with their 2023 NFL Draft first-round pick.
It's worth noting that the Bucs won't have a fourth-round pick in the 2023 draft as they traded it to the Jacksonville Jaguars for two other picks in the 2022 draft. However, they did end up selecting cornerback Zyon McCollum with one of those picks and used the other to move up in the draft. Additionally, the Buccaneers acquired compensatory picks in the fifth and seventh rounds for losing two players in the 2022 free agency period. They also have extra picks in the sixth and seventh rounds from previous trades.
Keep in mind that the Buccaneers are preparing for a future without Tom Brady. They have an aging roster that can still compete in certain areas, and they now have a quarterback in Baker Mayfield. Despite not having a surplus of draft picks in 2023, the picks they do have will allow them to bring in younger talent and build depth for the team.
Now let's look at the three best players for the Buccaneers to target in the 2023 NFL Draft first-round.
3. Deonte Banks
Since his freshman year in 2019, Deonte Banks has been making defensive contributions and has played in a total of 30 games. Although he suffered an injury that ended his 2021 season early, Banks returned to the field in 2022 as the starting corner and had his best season so far. With 38 total tackles, eight pass break-ups, and one interception, Banks has demonstrated his skills as a big, physical cornerback. He has also shown smooth movements that allow him to match and mirror opposing wide receivers.
As a cornerback, Banks is physically impressive. He boasts a height and length that is above average. He also possesses an exceptional level of reactionary athleticism that allows him to swiftly turn, run vertically, and sink his hips to break back down toward the ball. This rare combination of physical attributes and athleticism makes Banks a formidable force on the field. The Buccaneers need a QB, sure, but they already have Mayfield, right? Adding a top-rated young CB would do wonders for their defense.
4.36u to kick off Day 2?!@TerpsFootball DB Deonte Banks was flying.
📺: #NFLCombine on @nflnetwork
📱: Stream on NFL+ pic.twitter.com/0m0yPLG51S
— NFL (@NFL) March 3, 2023
2. O'Cyrus Torrence
O'Cyrus Torrence is an interior offensive lineman for the Florida Gators and a senior who transferred to the program in 2022. Torrence had an impressive record in the Sun Belt Conference, having been named to the Second Team All-Sun Belt (2020) and First Team All-Sun Belt (2021).
He has a great build with a significant amount of mass and length. Torrence has also demonstrated traits that are transferable from the college game to the pro game. His strengths lie in his ability to use his mass and natural strength, particularly in the run game. He is adept at generating movement along the line of scrimmage by quickly taking the first step, creating opportunities for ball carriers. Torrence is a high-energy offensive lineman who always plays through the whistle and strives to prevent defenders from making plays.
When it comes to pass protection, Torrence uses his strength effectively to thwart defenders in their pass rush. He handles the bull rush well and has the lower-body strength to stay anchored and stop defenders from penetrating the pocket. He could be a valuable o-line addition, especially when protecting someone like Mayfield.
1. Brian Branch
Brian Branch has been an important contributor to the Alabama secondary since his freshman year. He has shown his versatility by playing multiple positions on defense. These include deep safety, strong safety, nickel, linebacker, and even as the end man on the line of scrimmage in some blitz packages. Branch's short-area quickness, acceleration, and high motor make him an instinctual defender. He just always seems to be around the ball. That said, we expect Branch to be most productive in the nickel/hybrid linebacker role closer to the line of scrimmage.
When lining up as a defender in the box, Branch excels in recognizing plays. He has the athleticism to get to any spot on the field. Branch is also efficient in tackling and has good closing speed against the run. His physical presence and occasional violent tackles make him a tone-setter on defense. In zone coverage, Branch's ability to read the quarterback's eyes and jump routes makes him a disruptive defender. He also has the range to make plays on the ball and intercept passes in deeper portions of the field. Additionally, Branch is a threat as a blitzer. We'd love to see him apply pressure to the opposing quarterback in Tampa's colors next season.