Buссаneers Predісted to Lаnd Former 35-TD Quаrterbасk

Buссаneers Predісted to Lаnd Former 35-TD Quаrterbасk

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have their franchise quarterback, but they may have room for one more.

In a 2024 NFL Mock Draft compiled by Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News, Iyer projects the Buccaneers to select a quarterback with the last pick in the sixth round at No. 220 — the University of Kentucky’s Devin Leary.

Devin Leary Ranked Among Top QB’s in 2021
Leary is a 24-year-old quarterback who spent six years in college, starring during his first five years with the North Carolina State Wolfpack. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Leary threw 35 touchdowns against just five interceptions during the 2021 season. He actually ranked 10th in the nation in touchdowns and third in the ACC.

While Leary’s 2023 season with the Kentucky Wildcats was not as productive as his 2021 season, it still ranked among the top quarterbacks in the SEC. Leary threw 25 touchdowns in 2023, ranking second in the SEC. However, he did lead the SEC with a league-high 12 interceptions.

Devin Leary Projects as Backup QB in NFL
Leary — who started 39 games during his collegiate career — is projected to be a backup type of quarterback in the NFL. His notable strengths are his ability to pick up yards with his athleticism — as Brentley Weissman of The Draft Network describes in his scouting profile of Leary.

“Devin Leary is an above-average quarterback prospect with average overall arm strength, accuracy, and touch,” writes Weissman. “But he has the ability to win both in and out of structure and the athleticism to pick up yards as a runner. He projects as a quality backup in the NFL.”

However, Weissman also notes Leary’s lack of development during the latter stages of his career as a big reason why he projects as not only a backup, but a Day 3 pick.

“Overall, Leary’s lack of development in his later years is a big reason for concern and his lengthy medical history will give teams pause,” says Weissman. “He has good intangibles, toughness, and enough natural arm talent to warrant a day-three pick, which gives him a chance to compete as a backup at the next level.”

By selecting a quarterback like Leary towards the end of the draft, the Buccaneers avoid questions of a possible quarterback controversy with established starter Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield recently signed a three-year deal worth up to $115 million, establishing him as the Buccaneers’ franchise quarterback for the next few years. The former No. 1 overall pick obviously earned that status after posting a career year — 28 touchdowns and 4,044 passing yards — while leading Tampa Bay to a surprising division title and playoff appearance.

While it’s clear the Buccaneers are not turning away from Mayfield any time soon, Tampa Bay is lacking a quality backup behind the reigning Pro Bowler. Kyle Trask — who has just 10 career pass attempts to his name — remains the backup and John Wolford — who has just five career starts to his name — rounds out the depth chart.

Drafting a player like Leary — who has potential — who can push both Trask and Wolford could be to the Buccaneers’ benefit. After all, Mayfield could suffer an injury and miss time. In that scenario, the Buccaneers would need a reliable backup.

Leary may not be a household name or one of the top quarterbacks on the draft board, but it might be worth taking a flier on the former 35-touchdown quarterback considering Tampa Bay’s limited options behind Mayfield.

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