Draft Spotlight: The Next Great Buccaneer
The Buccaneers are primed to make a franchise-altering decision.
With a premium top 5 selection in this year’s NFL Draft, the value of hitting on the pick is of paramount importance to the future of this team. A roster that just came off back-to-back underwhelming 5-11 seasons, righting the ship is the primary goal for this new regime. Arians and Licht want to win, and they want to win now.
Selecting a perennial Pro Bowl player with their 1st round pick would go a long way to making the Buccaneers feared once more.
With the rumors of quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins being selected in the top 4 picks, that means an elite player is likely to fall into Tampa Bay’s lap at 5.
With so many team needs, who should that player be? Do the Buccaneers go EDGE rusher? Should the team address linebacker? Do they double-dip on a defensive tackle for the 2nd consecutive year?
This year’s draft is loaded with young, defensive talent. A number of these elite players could make an instant impact for the Bucs, should they be selected by the Tampa Bay team looking to turn things around…
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Ed Oliver is a very polarizing prospect among draft experts. Some liken and hail him as the next Aaron Donald, while on the contrary, many others claim he’s too undersized and unproductive rushing the passer to be an effective 3-down player in the NFL. Despite all the noise, Oliver is a player who was misused at the University of Houston. The former 5 star recruit isn’t a player who is going to beat you with overwhelming power or a bull-rush; instead, he relies on his finesse and electric burst off the line of scrimmage. His best position at the professional level would be as a 3-tech defensive tackle. Playing at the 3-tech would allow him to integrate his savvy fluidity and ability to penetrate the offensive line.
At Houston, however, Oliver was often used as a nose tackle, playing directly over the center, which stifled his ability to get to the quarterback. In most schemes, it’s ideal to have a big-bodied, space-eating, havoc-wreaking player at nose tackle, or also known as 0-tech. Oliver does not fit that mold by any standards, as he measured at the NFL Combine at 6’2, 287 pounds.
Moving the multi-year Houston starter to 3 tech at the next level, as many believe most NFL teams will do, would unlock Oliver’s full potential, allowing him to increase his sack numbers that have come under much scrutiny from draft gurus. Recording an underwhelming 5.5, 5.0, and 3.0 sacks through his college career, many question Oliver’s ability to get to the passer, an issue some believe would be relieved if he was simply used properly.
Should the Buccaneers select Ed Oliver with their 1st round draft pick, it would likely mean the end of the Gerald McCoy era in Tampa Bay. With a 13 million dollar cap hit in 2019, along with the rampant trade rumors circulating, adding Oliver would provide a much younger and cheaper option at DT next to Vita Vea. Along with the financial benefits of acquiring Oliver, it also makes sense schematically. The Houston prospect would line up next to Vita Vea in a 3-4 system; Vea, who is the prototypical nose tackle, could create some serious havoc lined up with Oliver. The presence of Vea would allow the Houston DT to get plenty of one-on-one matchups, and with his explosiveness and burst, he would exploit that to the Buccaneers’ benefit. Many draft experts have stated Oliver would need to be drafted into the right situation to thrive, and Tampa Bay is certainly one of those.
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Josh Allen improved his draft stock from a year ago more than anyone in this class, perhaps. From being regarded as a Day 2 pick to now heralded as a consensus top-5 selection, Allen has dramatically improved his game, and is only going to get better. The EDGE rusher out of Kentucky added on weight and vastly improved his sack numbers from 2017 to 2018. Many believe he would be a perfect fit with the new-look Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense – one that relies on speed, athleticism, and attacking opposing offenses. Allen, Pierre-Paul, McCoy, and Vea is a formidable defensive front, one that is a real possibility in the near future.
Josh Allen in the hands of defensive mastermind Todd Bowles would be a force to reckon with. Allen, known for his electricity coming off the edge, as well as his proficiency in coverage, would allow Bowles to take advantage of the multiplicity that the 3-4 defense provides. The Kentucky product would be the eventual successor to JPP, and ensure the Buccaneers pass rush wouldn’t age along with the 30 year old Pierre-Paul.
The chances of it are unlikely, but should Josh Allen fall into the Bucs lap at 5, it’s hard to see the team not running their draft card up to Commissioner Roger Goodell and finalizing the pick.
Adding Allen to the equation would go a long way to rebuilding the formidable Buccaneers defense of the late 90s and early 2000s.
Devin White, LB, LSU
Devin White: the odds-on favorite to be the selection for the Buccaneers in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Since the loss of star MLB Kwon Alexander, this team has a massive gap at MIKE linebacker. When also considering the injuries to LBs Kendell Beckwith and Jack Cichy, and the uncertainty their futures hold, selecting a linebacker to bolster the unit is growing in importance.
Devin White could be the solution to that mounting problem.
Possessing sideline-to-sideline speed and effective coverage skills, many are crowning the LSU linebacker as the next Patrick Willis, which is quite the mantle to live up to. A natural-born leader, not only does White guide his team on the field, but off it as well.
Pairing Devin White with Lavonte David would create another deadly tandem on this Buccaneers defense. In an attacking 3-4/hybrid defense, the addition of White in Bowles’ scheme is a match made in heaven. The Louisiana phenom is known for his ability to be an impact player, and excels at stopping the run and blitzing the passer. A multifaceted threat, Devin White would make Buccaneers fans soon forget about the departure of Pro Bowl linebacker Kwon Alexander.
While his detractors claim he needs to become more gap-sound and improve his tackling mechanics, those are all aspects that can be easily corrected with competent coaching, something the Buccaneers do not lack. White, an already elite player, has the potential to become someone special if cultivated properly.
If all the hype becomes reality and Devin White is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer this spring, it could ring in a new season for this Bucs defense, and ultimately the entire team.
Ultimately, the Buccaneers are likely to select a premium player in this year’s draft; who that will be, and how they affect this team, could have ramifications that will alter this franchise for years to come – whether that be good or bad. It will be up to Licht and Arians to hold each prospect under a microscope and decide who will be the next great Buccaneer.
We want to know who you believe will be the next great Buccaneer. Make sure to comment down below and share your thoughts!
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