NFL Draft Betting: What Positions Are on the Buccaneers Radar at No. 26?

Gabriel Santiago
Gabriel Santiago@gps_onthemic
NFL Draft Betting: What Positions Are on the Buccaneers Radar at No. 26?

Having won the NFC South three years running, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are at an intriguing crossroads.

Notably, Tampa Bay inked quarterback Baker Mayfield to a three-year, up to $115 million contract. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner played quality football for the Buccaneers in 2023, so that deal gives the franchise some continuity at the game's most important position.

With Mayfield now settled in West Central Florida, the Bucs are not considered frontrunners to grab a quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft's opening round. Come April 25th, Tampa Bay has their initial pick slated at 26th overall. Keeping that in mind, which on-field position will the Buccaneers take with their first selection?

FanDuel Sportsbook has NFL Draft odds available for which position a wide range of teams will take with their first pick. In Tampa's case, Todd Bowles is entering his third season as head coach while Jason Licht has been the team's general manager since 2014.

It is worth mentioning that the Bucs have used their initial selection on a defensive player in three straight drafts (and five of the past six). Still, the current roster might actually have more pressing needs on offense. Does that mean Tampa Bay deviates from its recent strategy later this month in Motor City?

Let's look at the Buccaneers' draft odds, surveying which positions seem like the best bet.

All NFL odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

NFL Draft Odds

Position of Tampa Bay's First Pick
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds
Defensive Lineman/Edge+185
Offensive Lineman+210
Wide Receiver+600
View Full Table

Defensive Lineman/EDGE (+185)

In both drafts with Bowles at the helm, Tampa has selected a player from this category with their initial pick. Last year, the Buccaneers went with defensive end Calijah Kancey at 19th overall. For 2022, they were without a first-round choice, taking edge rusher Logan Hall at pick No. 33.

Tampa Bay's recent track record at the NFL Draft is likely part of the reason why "Defensive Lineman/EDGE" is the market favorite (+185 odds) at FanDuel Sportsbook. Additionally, the Bucs' scheduled spot (No. 26) is a bit out of range for the top talent at other needed positions. When Tampa Bay is first on the clock, there is a fair chance that the best available player will be a defensive game-wrecker.

According to draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's most recent mock draft, Tampa is in line to take edge rusher Darius Robinson of the Missouri Tigers. Standing at 6-foot-5, Robinson is coming off an All-SEC campaign where he produced 8.5 sacks at 14.0 TFL. Simply, he looks like he would fit right in with Tampa's current personnel.

Former NFL running back (and current analyst) Maurice Jones-Drew also has the Buccaneers going for a defensive lineman at 26th overall. However, MJD sees Jared Verse from the Florida State Seminoles as the pick. Verse shined in Tallahassee, showcasing 9.0 sacks as a senior. Should the Buccaneers elect to keep him in the Sunshine State, Verse makes for a cohesive fit.

Offensive Lineman (+210)

Considering Mayfield was dropped for 40 sacks (sixth-most) in 2023, Tampa Bay would be wise to focus on protection for their signal-caller.

FanDuel Sportsbook lists Offensive lineman with +210 odds in this market, which is tied for second-shortest. Looking back, the Bucs most recently used their first pick on a player from this category just four seasons ago.

In 2020, Tampa selected Tristan Wirfs as their bookend left tackle with the 13th overall pick. Of course, Wirfs has been a staple of the team since then. He earned a 81.1 grade, per Pro Football Focus, last year and was also an integral part of the Bucs' most recent Super Bowl run.

Tampa Bay can absolutely benefit from another player in the trenches of Wirfs' caliber. Fortunately for the Buccaneers, the 2024 NFL Draft is considered to be relatively deep with offensive-line talent.

When pick No. 26 comes around, the Bucs might have a couple enticing options in this position group. Oregon Ducks interior O-lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson makes sense for Tampa if he's available. Powers-Johnson is of a similar build to former Buccaneer center Ryan Jensen, who thrived before retiring due to injury.

Cornerback (+210)

In 2023, the Bucs were torched for 268.7 passing yards per game, which was the NFL's third-worst clip. Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jamel Dean are fine players in the secondary, but there is a need for Tampa at the left cornerback spot. Currently, Zyon McCollum is listed as the starter there as we prepare for the upcoming draft.

PFF writer Brad Spielberger has the Buccaneers selecting a corner at No. 26 via Nate Wiggins of the Clemson Tigers. Wiggins has the ability to be an impactful rookie for Tampa Bay. At the 2024 NFL Combine, Wiggins showcased his game-changing speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds (second-fastest time of the event).

According to numberFire, the Bucs' pass D was ranked 25th in the league last year. Knowing that this is a team that wants to get back to the postseason -- currently yielding +300 odds to win the division, per the NFC South odds at FanDuel Sportsbook -- Bowles and company would do well to address Tampa's perimeter defense.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.