As soon as the news broke that the Buccaneers had traded WR Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills for a 6th round draft pick, the first reaction was how this trade would affect the way the Bucs approached this year’s draft. Immediately, fans and media assumed the Bucs had to go wide receiver or bust in the 1st round of May’s draft. I’m here to tell you that isn’t necessarily true.
Before Williams was traded, it was already assumed that his days with the Buccaneers were numbered. The Bucs front office should not have had to adjust their draft board at all following the trade.
Prior to the trade of Williams to the Bills, I thought there was already a good chance the Bucs would go with either Clemson’s Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, if either was available. To take it a step further, I didn’t think then, and still don’t think now, that it is out of the realm of possibility that the Bucs double up on receiver in this deep draft at the position.
While receiver is undoubtedly a need of the Buccaneers, it is not their only need. It is also not the only direction they could go in the 1st round.
Because this draft is so loaded at receiver, the Bucs can go in a different direction in the 1st round if the receiver they covet is off the board, and still get a very talented receiver in round 2. Depending on how the 1st round plays out, receivers like USC’s Marqise Lee, FSU’s Kelvin Benjamin, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, and Ole Miss’ Donte Moncrief could all be available when the Bucs pick in round 2. The 3rd round will have another group of talented receivers as well, which could include a couple names mentioned before.
The depth at receiver in this draft will only help the needy Buccaneers to not be forced to panic if both Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans come off the board before their 1st round pick.
Jason Licht and Lovie Smith are building a team that they hope can compete both now and in the future. They must stay true to their rankings and their feelings. While receiver is a need for this team, there is no need to reach for a receiver early in this draft if the player they want is no longer available.
Follow Justin Pawlowski on twitter @Commishonline for updates on the NFL Draft and the Bucs.