Updated March 4, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
Since general manager Jason Licht took over Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers have attacked the same side of the ball in the first and second round. In 2014, the Bucs took a wide receiver and tight end with their first two picks. A year later, they selected a quarterback and offensive tackle in the top 35. This past April, they went with a cornerback and pass-rusher. In speaking with Bucs sources, it sounds like the offensive side of the ball is the priority in the first round at least.
There is a group of first-round offensive weapons who are in play for Tampa Bay. Sources say that Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, Washington wide receiver John Ross, and Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis are all possibilities. Sources say that Miami tight end David Njoku could also creep into that conversation as his workouts are expected to be tremendous.
Many Buccaneer fans would love the team to land Florida State star running back Dalvin Cook, but the Buccaneers don't see Cook sliding to them. One team source said that is "wishful thinking." Even if the Buccaneers pass on McCaffrey, they see other running backs they could land on Day 2 as having quick starting potential. Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara and Texas' D'onta Foreman probably won't make it to their second-round pick, but there are other second-day backs that they like. Those players are Boise State's Jeremy McNichols, Wyoming's Brian Hill, Oklahoma's Samaje Perine, Toledo's Kareem Hunt, and South Florida's Marlon Mack (see where they rank in our 2017 NFL Draft Running Back Prospect Rankings.) The Buccaneers think all of those backs are good enough to start quickly in their NFL career. There also are a huge group of receiver prospects for the second day and middle rounds that Tampa Bay can draw on.
What Tampa Bay is able to do in free agency obviously could impact its draft direction, but at this time, upgrading the weapons for Jameis Winston seems to be the priority on Thursday night of the draft. A safety and pass rusher could also factor into the early rounds, but an offensive skill position player seems to be the focus in the first round.