Following a strong 2021 season that saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finish with a 13-4 record and atop the NFC South, expectations were high heading into 2022. Unfortunately, this unit underperformed. While they earned a spot in the playoffs, they finished the regular season with an 8-9 record.
On both sides of the ball, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have assembled a blend of both young talent and proven veterans. But in the coming weeks, several of these players could be gone.
In turn, the Buccaneers could look to go in several different directions in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Here are three players the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could target in the first round
Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could lose several starters in the secondary to free agency. This could lead to them addressing the area early in the draft. With the 19th pick, Alabama’s Brian Branch could be the pick.
During his time at Alabama, Branch spent time at both cornerback and safety. He managed to excel in both areas over his three collegiate seasons.
In total, Branch played 35 games during his collegiate career. He recorded 111 solo tackles, 172 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, seven defended passes, and three interceptions.
During the 2022 season, Branch posted the best numbers of his collegiate career. He finished the year recording 90 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, three sacks, seven defended passes and two interceptions.
Pairing Branch alongside a combination of Antione Winfield Jr. and Carlton Davis could give this secondary a legitimate core heading into the future.
With the versatility that Branch brings, the Buccaneers’ defense could take yet another step. His influence against both the run and the pass would be felt immediately. His playmaking ability could make him too good to pass on.