2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview – Draft + Roster Breakdown
Just to be clear, all of the commentary below best reflects my own evaluations of these various prospects months before any of them were selected by teams—Tampa included. Therefore, you could be sure that the following best reflects an unbiased representation of how I feel about all of these new Bucs. Also, my big board was quite original, it was my first year attempting to put together a large big board that wouldn’t be majorly influenced by the common Twitter ‘draftnik,’ some notable variations on my big board include Miami’s first-round pick, from Clemson– Defensive Tackle Christian Wilkins receiving a “LATE” grade. These variations work in both directions as I gave Oakland’s fourth-round pick, from Houston—CB Isaiah Johnson, a “1” grade. Will my grades better reflect the true talent level of these young prospects relative to the actual draft order? I guess we won’t know for quite a while, so I’d again urge you to take all of these grades, and comments with a grain of salt.
Here is what you can expect to see below; first I’m going to give my thoughts on every single Tampa Bay Buccaneers selection—grades, and un-drafted free agents included (Note: when I provide ‘my pick’ I’m restricting my possible selections to players that play the position that was taken), then I’m going to present my favourite and least favourite picks by any team in a few specified rounds. Thereafter, I’ll note my three favourite, and least favourite draft classes. Lastly, I’ll close the piece with an outlook on Tampa Bay’s future.
SECTION 1: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS | 2019 DRAFT REVIEW
ROUND 1, PICK #5: DEVIN WHITE, LB – LSU
Overall Grade: 96.0 (Top-5) / LB#1 / OVR#2
My pre-draft Thoughts: “Devin White is a f—ng savage. He tackles hard, knows exactly where to be and is massive. This guy would be an All-Pro 3-4 LB. He doesn’t seem to stack up amazingly with large pulling guards and cannot overpower them, but hey, neither could Derrick Brooks. Devin White is the next great NFL ILB. Absolute monster.”
-He has been compared to the “Next Ray Lewis”
Some people were adamant that using a Top-5 pick on an ILB wasn’t great use of elite draft capital, and I could not disagree more. Some franchises seems to get lucky in finding certain high-level players at certain positions—for example, Green Bay went from Brett Favre straight to Aaron Rodgers, and Indianapolis went straight from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck, I’d say that both of those franchises are exuberantly fortunate when selecting quarterbacks, and I truthfully believe that Tampa shares the same fate for linebackers, and defensive tackles. Going from Derrick Brooks, to Lavonte David just as the team transitions from Warren Sapp to Gerald McCoy is similarly overly fortunate—and the tandem of Devin White, and Vita Vea seems primed to continue the chain.
Nonetheless, Devin White is an amazing prospect and player. If I had to bet my life on any prospect from this year’s draft being a future hall-of-famer, I would have absolutely selected Devin. 4.4 speed, incredible agility, hits hard, great leader, and is squeaky clean off the field. True five-star prospects don’t come often but the Bucs and Jason Licht seemed to land one– surely. Frankly, as mentioned previously, Bucs fans—more so than any other franchise—should understand the true impact an elite LB can make in the NFL– so their disappointment with landing a premier player at the position disappointed me. If the Bucs were set on making a selection at five, they absolutely made the correct decision. Taking Josh Allen, who is a one-year wonder, decent pass-rusher would not have been nearly as helpful. Allen received a late-first, early-second type grade from me, and I stuck to that throughout the process. When you’re picking in the Top-5 you want to walk away with an elite player, and I feel the Buccaneers have done so. In fact, the only scenario that I would have preferred would have been them trading down, accumulating another Top-75 pick, and still getting Devin.
My Pick: Devin White, LB – LSU
ROUND 2, PICK #39 – SEAN MURPHY-BUNTING, CB – CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Overall Grade: 66.5 (LATE) / CB#20 / OVR#209
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “He plays press well, but doesn’t have the speed to catch up to WRs that blow past him. I love CMU’s system for DBs because they play aggressively and are in position to tackle. Bunting is a premium UDFA.”
One thing that worries me about Bunting is that when I was evaluating him, I specifically noted that he wasn’t quick, which is odd because he ran a 4.4 forty-yard dash. Keep in mind that I was evaluating corners in a chain, and watched one after the other, and Bunting stuck out as being slow. Of course, he isn’t actually slow, but my eyes told me he was playing slow, and that’s a problem. I’m worried that Jason Licht got burnt last year by a player that “played faster than he ran,” in MJ Stewart, and is now putting a larger emphasis on combine times, evidenced by the fact that Bunting is an incredible athlete, extremely tall, and has quite good ball skills.
I feel as if Licht mushed his measurable and balls skills together to convince himself to take a non-Power5 corner in the Top-40, especially with more impressive tape. Hopefully Bunting proves me wrong, and I do think he’ll play better in Todd Bowles’ scheme specifically because he’s better in press-man coverage than he is in zone, however, passing up on Joe juan and Greedy Williams stings because both of them felt like true first-round corner prospects. Also considering the fact that Licht simply hasn’t drafted defensive backs very well over his tenure, him trying to find “gems” from Central freaking Michigan absolutely worries me, not to mention the fact that he did it with a premium Top-40 selection in a deep draft class. The athleticism is there, the ball skills are there, the height is there, the tackling is there, but Murphy-Bunting just seems very raw and we need help in the defensive backfield immediately, so a few “red-shirt years” just aren’t plausible. Risky and bold pick, we’ll see if it pays off for General Manager Jason Licht.
My Pick: Joejuan Williams, CB – Vanderbilt
ROUND 3, PICK #94 – JAMEL DEAN, CB – AUBURN
Overall Grade: 59.0 (UDFA) / CB#26 / OVR#271
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “Not fast, not big, not quick, and doesn’t attack the ball carrier well. Dean should be going undrafted. He’ll get a shot in camp but I doubt he’ll ever make a 53-man roster.”
Clearly I wasn’t a big fan of Jamel Dean, who was again another corner that looked really slow, and small on film but then blew the roof off of the combine. Again, this pick scares me. Jamel Dean is a remarkable athlete, despite the fact that I didn’t think so when watching his tape. I feel as if, if Dean ran a 4.5 forty, he would have been un-drafted. After watching his film again, he makes some nice tackles, and hits hard for a CB, however, he got taken out of plays by wide-receivers who were blocking downfield, and a supposed ‘tackling CB’ should not be getting consistently held up by SEC WRs on the outside.
This is another pick in I wish the scouting staff just trusted their initial instincts on Dean, instead of making excuses for weak tape and fawning over his combine results. Hopefully, like Bunting, Dean proves me dead-wrong and of course, as a Bucs fan, I’m rooting for him. My pick here would have been Houston’s Isaiah Johnson, who is slightly slower, but much larger. Johnson really impressed me on film, and I’m simply more confident in Johnson as a prospect versus Dean, despite the fact that both are somewhat raw.
My Pick: Isaiah Johnson, CB – Houston
ROUND 3, PICK #99 – MIKE EDWARDS, S – KENTUCKY
Overall Grade: 64.5 (LATE) / S#18 / OVR#232
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “MJ Stewart reincarnated. A slow, but methodical DB. He’s not terrible but doesn’t fly around the field by any means. He can probably contribute in the NFL as a SS, but I wouldn’t take him until the 4th or 5th round, if my preferred options were already taken.”
Another questionable DB selection for Licht. Now, Edwards is by no means a liability, but he never really jumped off the page. Ironically, I actually compared him to MJ Stewart, a DB that isn’t terrible, but clearly won’t be able to keep up with quick WRs at the next level. One big difference between Edwards and Stewart is that the former is more of a leader, and has a knack for forcing turnovers. Hopefully his skill set translates well to the NFL and he plays better than MJ Stewart did in his first year, but I am certainly looking forward to the competition that will take place between Mike Edwards, MJ Stewart, Justin Evans, and Jordan Whitehead for those two starting safety spots. My pick here would have been Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, simply because his ability to play nickel and safety is perfect for what Tampa Bay and Todd Bowles should be looking for—versatility. I thought that Bowles’ creativity could have done great things with a DB prospect as talented as Gardner-Johnson, but there must have been a supplemental reason as to why he fell because as a prospect he is much, much better than a typical fourth rounder.
My Pick: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB – Florida
ROUND 4, PICK #107 – ANTHONY NELSON, EDGE – IOWA
Overall Grade: 80.5 (3) / EDGE#11 / OVR#85
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “Nelson was actually very solid all-around. Very similar to Zach Allen, but better at run-defending, but worse at pass-rushing. I’d take Nelson in the second round personally. I think he can start in the NFL.”
Finally we’ve taken a player I’m actually high on! I really liked Nelson’s tape. He’s a massive body, but with pass-rush upside. He’ll make for an excellent 3-4 DE in the NFL, and should be significantly better than Will Gholston, who has become nothing but an above-average run-stopper. Nelson should be able to best Gholston at training camp simply due to his pass-rushing potential, age, and cheaper contract. Nelson can certainly take on a large number of snaps, and is used to playing in the hard-nosed and aggressive Big-10. I really like this pick and feel as if we’ve finally landed a player that’ll surely contribute a proportional amount of help relative to his draft position. Finding anything more than a mediocre role player in the fourth-round is a win, and I feel as if Nelson is a third-round type guy. Nice job here. My pick here, at the position, also would have been Nelson. There just weren’t any superior 3-4 DLs available at this point. Jason Licht took his second optimal player of the draft class, based on my big board, the first being Devin White.
My Pick: Anthony Nelson, EDGE – Iowa
ROUND 5, PICK #145 – MATT GAY, K – UTAH
Overall Grade: N/A / K#1 / OVR N/A
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “26/31 with a long of 55. Not terrible, but isn’t very impressive either. Will get looks at camp.”
The balls on Jason Licht to turn this draft card in….. Just three years after the Aguayo disaster Licht turns right back to the draft to find the team’s franchise kicker. As a kicker, Gay is actually quite good. He missed five kicks last year, and three of those five were blocked, meaning his actual kicker average is ~93%, which is incredibly good. Now I know drafting kickers is typically looked down upon, but a quick glance at Licht’s non-kicker fifth-rounders tells me that it isn’t exactly a huge deal to sacrifice this pick to try and find a long-term answer at kicker.
Despite Thomas Bassinger’s multitude of articles about how good kickers don’t influence outcomes of football games very much, they still surely impact the game more than a typical fifth-rounder. Also, Gay was actually the highest-ranked kicker on my big board, despite the fact I don’t officially grade them. He bested San Diego State’s John Baron, and Oklahoma’s Austin Siebert. Therefore, since I’m restricting myself to making picks at the position that was actually taken, Gay oddly becomes the optimal selection here.
My Pick: Matt Gay, K – Utah
ROUND 6, PICK #208 – SCOTT MILLER, WR – BOWLING GREEN
Overall Grade: N/A / WR N/A / OVR N/A
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: Nil
I evaluated nearly 450 prospects this year, and I had never head of Scott Miller from Bowling Green. Nonetheless, he seems as if he is destined to become the Bucs’ new Adam Humphries, and is who the team is trying to replace with this pick. Miller is undersized, but really quick. I don’t know enough about Miller to truly rate this pick, but we’ll have an idea after training camp. Jason Licht typically does really well with WRs, accurately selecting Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, as well as scooping up Adam Humphries previously. Therefore, I trust him at this position versus something like DB where he has been all over the map. My pick here would’ve either been NC State’s Kelvin Harmon, Georgia State’s Penny Hart, or Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley. Harmon is quite slow, but Hart and Wesley are both undersized receivers that have a knack for making catches in traffic. Since Hart played with inferior competition, I’d have given the nod here to Antoine Wesley, who actually went undrafted.
My Pick: Antoine Wesley, WR – Texas Tech
ROUND 7, PICK #215 – TERRY BECKNER, DT – MISSOURI
Overall Grade: 71.5 (LATE), DT#15, OVR#145
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “Beckner was decent. Nothing spectacular but he was just as good as the other average DLs like Wilkins, and Ferguson. That’s the range I would take Beckner, just after those guys.”
I actually compared Beckner pre-draft to other DTs who I thought were mid-to-late round picks, that ended up going in the Top-100 in Christian Wilkins (13th), and Jaylon Ferguson (85th). Beckner was all-around quite solid. Wasn’t a game-wrecker my any means, but is probably better than guys like Beau Allen, and Akeem Spence, that the Bucs have previously used as reserved DTs, that are probably below average. I think Beckner has a real chance to make the roster, and that’s really all you can ask for from your seventh-round pick. If I had to take a Defensive Tackle here, I’d take Temple’s Michael Dogbe, who went later in the round to the Arizona Cardinals, but I liked him significantly more than that. I think Dogbe could be one of the draft’s biggest steals, so that’s why I would’ve taken him here.
My Pick: Michael Dogbe, DT – Temple
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS
Here is a list of all the UFAs that the Bucs picked up that I evaluated:
BRUCE ANDERSON, RB – NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Overall Grade: 71.0 (LATE), RB#18, OVR#155
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “He hit the hole quickly, bounced off tackles, and protected the passer well. I’d take a flyer on him late in the draft. I think he has a chance to be good, I’m just not entirely sure because of the competition he played against.”
ANTHONY JOHNSON, WR – BUFFALO
Overall Grade: 70.0 (LATE), WR#27, OVR#173
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “Johnson did some things well but was just an average route runner, and didn’t have great speed. I mean for god sakes he has trouble getting open against friggin’ Northern Illinois, so how is he gonna separate from NFL-caliber DBs? However, he did make catches despite not having that separation.”
DAMARKUS LODGE, WR – OLE MISS
Overall Grade: 63.5 (UDFA), WR#37, OVR#294
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “I mean he’s decent but nothing special. Just a typical average WR3 or 4 in the NFL. He can’t carry a team, nor does he do anything at a crazy high level. Very, very similar to average WRs around the league. Marqise Lee, Ted Ginn, Michael Gallop, Devin Funchess, and the sort.”
ZACH BAILEY, OG – SOUTH CAROLINA
Overall Grade: 62.0 (UDFA), OG#17, OVR#314
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “Bailey did well against Clemson. Not great, but created lots of ties. Didn’t lose or win very often, which is fine. He’s an UDFA type of guy.”
LUKAS DENIS, S – BOSTON COLLEGE
Overall Grade: 54.5 (~), S#22, OVR#392
My Pre-Draft Thoughts: “Denis is small, and slow. Despite the fact that he seemed to make plays at Boston College, they all seemed to be easy, routine, lucky breaks. I really don’t see how Denis could possibly be an NFL caliber player.”
OVERALL GRADE: ~C+
The team did a good job finding a future All-Pro in Devin White, and attacked the glaring holes in the secondary. Unfortunately, Jason Licht elected for high-risk, high-reward, low success-rate players instead of taking a safer approach. It is very possible that all three of the DBs selected this year just don’t pan out, and that should not be the case. He did a good job addressing the DL with some later picks, getting Nelson and Beckner is a win from those spots. I didn’t mind them not addressing RB as I do have a lot of faith in the combination of Peyton Barber, and Ronald Jones, probably more than I should have—mind you. The only real issue was the failure to address the OG need. That RG spot is going to be filled by either Evan Smith, Earl Watford, or Alex Cappa, and that’s scary. The Bucs did some good things last week, but if I’m being honest, with the way that board fell they could have absolute SMASHED the draft and walked away with more than one sure-fire starter for next season when In reality they just added a lot of ‘competition.’ I feel as if they left much to be desired. Keep in mind, this draft grade will go from a C+ to an F if the Buccaneers let Gerald McCoy go. If McCoy is incorrectly sent packing, the team not only is relying on a bunch of raw, and mediocre DBs in the secondary, but mediocre interior DLs like Beau Allen. In which case, we’d be one Vita Vea injury away from trotting out a starting 3-4 of Will Gholston, Anthony Nelson, and Beau Allen, which is absolutely woeful.
SECTION 2: BEST + WORST PICKS IN EACH ROUND
ROUND 1 – BEST
1) LOS ANGELES CHARGERS select JERRY TILLERY, DT – NOTRE DAME 28th OVERALL
Tillery was given a ‘Top-5’ grade on my big board and I loved his tape. He can absolutely be a dominant defensive lineman in the NFL, and the Chargers did well to scoop him up at the end of the first-round.
2) OAKLAND RAIDERS select JOSH JACOBS, RB – ALABAMA 24th OVERALL
I might get killed for this but I really didn’t see much of a difference between Josh Jacobs and Saquon Barkley. Barkley might have more experience, but Jacobs flashed at times. Getting him 24th overall could pay huge dividends.
3) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS select DEVIN WHITE, LB – LSU 5th OVERALL
I love Devin. He was the number two guy on my big board, and I really think he’s going to be a future perennial All-Pro. How much more could you ask for?
ROUND 1 – WORST
1) HOUSTON TEXANS select TYTUS HOWARD, OT – ALABAMA STATE 23rd OVERALL
I get it, they wanted Dillard, but Tytus Howard is a raw prospect that is probably going to get blown up in his first few years in the NFL, and with such a dire OL situation in Houston, I don’t understand why they’d select such a raw prospect with guys like Greg Little on the board.
2) MIAMI DOLPHINS select CHRISTIAN WILKINS, DT – CLEMSON 13th OVERALL
Wilkins just screams mediocrity to me. I just don’t get what people love about him. He just isn’t that dominant. In my opinion, his teammate Dexter Lawrence was much more dominant. Just seems early for Wilkins, in my opinion.
3) ATLANTA FALCONS select KALEB MCGARY, OT – WASHINGTON 31st OVERALL
After making a really good pick in the Top-15 with Chris Lindstrom, who I think will be an All-Pro OG in the future, Atlanta went ahead and took a mediocre OT prospect at the end of the first. McGary is a late day-two guy and the Falcons traded up for him!
ROUND 2 – BEST
1) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS select DK METCALF, WR – OLE MISS 64th OVERALL
Metcalf has awful agility figures but has undeniable WR1 potential. He’s quick, big, and can attack the ball on deep and intermediate routes. He isn’t a good screen WR but who cares, what he can do is something that can’t be easily found and the Seahawks did well to pick him up at the end of the second.
2) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS select ERIK MCCOY, C – TEXAS A&M 48th OVERALL
There was only one guy in this draft that I thought could properly replace Max Unger and the Saints got him in the second round. McCoy is rock solid as a centre and is going to unfortunately be a really solid player for the Saints.
3) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES select JJ ARCEGA-WHITESIDE, WR – STANFORD 57th OVERALL
I loved watching Arcega-Whiteside. If Mike Evans was three inches shorter, he’d be Arcega-Whiteside. He just has the same receiving style as Evans does, and personally I think he’s going to quickly overtake Desean Jackson in Philly much like how Chris Godwin did the same in Tampa. I’d like to see how Desean reacts to again becoming a tertiary option behind players like Jeffrey, Arcega-Whiteside, and Ertz.
ROUND 2 – WORST
1) HOUSTON TEXANS select MAX SCHARPING, OT – NORTHERN ILLINOIS 55th OVERALL
Personally, I thought Scharping was one of the worst OLs in the draft, let alone a Top-50 prospect. He was abused in the game I watched and looked unplayable at even the college level. I’d expect him to be miserable in the NFL.
2) DETROIT LIONS select JALANI TAVAI, LB – HAWAII 43rd OVERALL
Tavai was really, really slow. He tackles well but I don’t see how he can perform well at the next level at such a slow pace. I very much preferred other options.
3) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS select BEN BANOGU, EDGE – TCU 49th OVERALL
Taking an EDGE rusher in the second round that can’t create any push is quite the bold strategy. At best, Banogu is a mediocre pass-rush tallying maybe three-four sacks a season, and the 49th overall pick should be used for something better than that, no?
OTHER – BEST
1) ARIZONA CARDINALS select MICHAEL DOGBE, DT – TEMPLE 249th OVERALL
Dogbe looks thin on film but beat his man on a consistent basis. As a seventh-round pick, Dogbe will easily surpass expectations. They could have taken Dogbe in the Top-50 and I wouldn’t have even blinked. I think he’s that talented.
2) OAKLAND RAIDERS select ISAIAH JOHNSON, CB – HOUSTON 129th OVERALL
The steal of the draft, Isaiah Johnson is a raw CB that could have been a first-round pick next year had he put together another solid year. Johnson has the length, the speed, and the strength to be a top-tier NFL CB. I preferred him to players like Trayvon Mullen, and Sean Bunting who were selected in the early-second.
3) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS select CHAUNCEY GARDNER-JOHNSON, DB – FLORIDA 105th OVERALL
The Saints had two picks in the Top-105 and managed to take two players who garnered first round grades at some point during the process. The Saints could not be any happier with their draft class. Gardner-Johnson is a versatile defender, and great tackler. He has fantastic instincts, and was all over the field. He’ll terrorize the Bucs and Bruce Arians for the next little while and we deserve it. We took three DBs over CGJ.
4) BUFFALO BILLS select JAQUAN JOHNSON, DB – MIAMI 181st OVERALL
The Buffalo Bills landed one of my favourite safeties in the entire class in the sixth-round. Johnson, just like Gardner-Johnson was all over the field. He’s just a playmaker, and I wish my Bucs would have taken him instead of one of the DBs we did take. I think Johnson is going to surprise a lot of people in the NFL.
5) LOS ANGELES RAMS select DAVID EDWARDS, OT – WISCONSIN 169th OVERALL
When David Edwards gets his hands on you, that’s it, the play’s over. He’s incredibly strong, and was rock solid on the Wisconsin OL. Playing OL in the Big-10 is not easy, and getting a player that played extremely well in that conference in the fifth-round is a huge win.
SECTION 3: BEST + WORST OVERALL DRAFT CLASSES
BEST DRAFT CLASSES
Out of all of the teams in the NFL, not a single one drafted more Top-64 prospects on my big board than the Cardinals (5). Despite the fact that I’m not a huge fan of Kyler Murray’s as I simply prefer the traditional pocket passer, their haul could not be overlooked. Byron Murphy (CB), Zach Allen (EDGE), Hakeem Butler (WR), Deionte Thompson (S), and Michael Dogbe (DL) all received second-round or better grades from me, which is an incredible feat. Not only did Arizona stockpile high-quality picks, but with their eleven picks, they only selected three players with UDFA grades, the Buccaneers took more UDFA grades and they only had eight picks.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The 49ers didn’t quite land as many Top-64 prospects as the Cardinals, as they only got three, but their draft class was equally impressive. They landed Nick Bosa (EDGE), Kaden Smith (TE), and Tim Harris (CB), all of which received those Top-64 grades, not to mention the fact that they landed the #1 player on everyone’s big board in Bosa. Their haul is exemplified through their lack of blatant misses. In eight selections, the only non-draftable grade they drafted was the punter, who I didn’t even grade. John Lynch did an excellent job landing one premier player and then six additional immediate difference makers. He should be proud.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
No team in the NFL did more with less this draft season than the New Orleans Saints. They landed two Top-64 prospects with only one pick in the Top-100. Erik McCoy and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson will outperform some teams’ actual first and second rounders, despite the fact that the Saints landed both without a first and third round pick. Not only did the Saints pick up those two guys, but their UDFA class was pure class as well as they picked up two of my favourite players in this draft class in Wyoming’s Carl Granderson (EDGE) and Villanova’s Ethan Greenidge (OT) both of whom should make their roster and actually contribute immediately. Both of them wildly impressed me.
WORST DRAFT CLASSES:
Despite making one of my favourite picks in the draft (DK Metcalf at #64), the Seahawks didn’t do much with their abundance of late-round selections. Other than Metcalf and LJ Collier, the Seahawks didn’t select a single other draftable player, despite having eleven selections. Not a single other team selected more UDFA or worse rated prospects than the Seahawks this year, so this decision isn’t a tough one based on my big board.
The Vikings did well to land one of my favourite players in the draft in Alabama’s Irv Smith, however, the rest was quite disappointing. Despite making a couple decent late-round picks in Elon’s Oli Udoh (OT), and Oregon’s Dillon Mitchell (WR), I was vastly underwhelmed by their mid-round selections, and they failed to land a single first-round graded player despite having two Top-50 selections.
The Texans really did not draft well this year. I’m not a big fan of any of their first three picks and think the draft could have gone a lot better for them. Their OL was a clear issue, and after this offseason DB became a pretty pressing need as well. To be fair to them they hit on each of these needs, however, the players they took were largely underwhelming. Tytus Howard, Max Scharping, and Lonnie Johnson likely had no business being Top-55 picks, alas here we are. With two second rounders, the Texans very much underperformed. However, I do like their selection of Xavier Crawford (CB) in the sixth-round, as well as UDFA pickups Drew Lewis (LB), and Johnnie Dixon (WR).
SECTION 4: POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN | TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
(listed in order of how likely it is that they make the final roster)
QUARTERBACK: JAMEIS WINSTON, BLAINE GABBERT, RYAN GRIFFIN
Unlike most Buccaneers fans, I’m a huge fan of Winston’s and truly believe he can be a top-tier passer in the NFL. His intermediate accuracy is elite and I love his heart and character. I’ve always believed Winston is part of the solution, much to the chagrin of the typical NFL media member. Winston has the potential to be a franchise quarterback and I think out of everyone in the NFL nobody gets more of an unfair shake than Jameis. Off-the-field he deserves to be criticized, but on the field he is more impressive than most. The moment that sticks with me is watching Fox Sports’ Tony Gonzalez observe a 55-yard completion to Mike Evans down the right sideline, and having Gonzalez—with a straight face—say that it was a poor play by Winston because it didn’t end up being a touchdown. Ridiculous.
Regarding the backups, I think Gabbert and Griffin are fine. Moral of the story is that if Winston goes down the season is over anyways. Even a top-tier backup like Fitzpatrick could only lead the team to maybe a couple extra wins, that are rather pointless once the season ends, no? Keep in mind that if the Bucs choose to carry two QBs, then they’ll free up around a million dollars in additional cap space.
RUNNINGBACK: PEYTON BARBER, RONALD JONES, ANDRE ELLINGTON, BRUCE ANDERSON, SHAUN WILSON
I’m fine with the RB situation. The team spent a high second rounder on RoJo last season, and I still have faith in him to wake up. I was very high on RoJo coming out of USC and truly believe that the lack of snaps, and Dirk Koetter’s clear lack of faith in him killed his confidence. Bruce Arians should do wonders for Ronald. Peyton on the other hand is just rock solid. He won’t do anything crazy special, but isn’t a liability either. He should be find in a creative offence.
Ellington is Bruce’s version of Jacquizz Rodgers—a vet RB that just gets the scheme. Shaun Wilson will probably find himself off the roster after this year as he just never evolved as a returner. Bruce Anderson on the other hand has some potential to make the team as he can catch the ball out of the backfield really well, and is quite good as an athlete. I’m intrigued by this RB3 and RB4 battle that’s going to take place at Training Camp.
WIDE RECEIVER: MIKE EVANS, CHRIS GODWIN, BRESHAD PERRIMAN, JUSTIN WATSON, SCOTT MILLER, BOBO WILSON, DAMARKUS LODGE, ANTHONY JOHNSON, SERGIO BAILEY
Evans and Godwin are obviously an elite WR-tandem, no commentary needed. However, unlike last year, the final four WR spots are wide-open with Hump and DJax out of the picture. Guys like Breshad Perriman, last year’s fifth-rounder Justin Watson, and this year’s sixth-rounder Scott Miller have to be considered favourites for these spots just because of the resources spent on them, but guys like Bobo Wilson and this year’s UDFAs are going to have to battle for the last couple spots. Honestly, Breshad Perriman is practically a lock, and his track-like speed is going to provide the element that left with Desean Jackson, however, the slot and reserve roles are still up for grabs, and without knowing very much about any of these guys, I’d like to see them battle it out at camp.
TIGHT END: OJ HOWARD, CAMERON BRATE, ANTHONY AUCLAIR, DONNIE ERNSBERGER, ISAIAH SEARIGHT
Obviously Howard, and Brate are shoe-ins to make the final roster as they make up the most dominant TE-room in the entire NFL. However, Anthony Auclair, from my home-province of Quebec will have to fend off two challengers this year for the last spot as a TE. Ernsberger might be competing for Alan Cross’ FB/TE hybrid spot, but Auclair is going to need to step his game up if he wants to be on the team next year.
OFFENSIVE TACKLE: DONOVAN SMITH, DEMAR DOTSON, CALEB BENENOCH, RUEBEN HOLCOMB, MITCH LIEDTKE, COLE BOOZER
The two starting spots are locked up, but our depth looks shoddy. Benenoch or the former-practice squad OT Rueben Holcomb are going to need to step up to claim the swing tackle role this season. Hopefully one of them steps up this summer, because if not, we’re one injury to either starter away from having a really weak offensive line.
OFFENSIVE GUARD: ALI MARPET, EARL WATFORD, ALEX CAPPA, ZACH BAILEY
The Bucs were bold not to address the OG position this off-season, practically counting on last year’s third-round pick, Alex Cappa to exponentially improve. If not, they’ll have to rely on mediocre veterans like Watford and Evan Smith to not be awful.
CENTER: RYAN JENSEN, EVAN SMITH, NATE TREWYN
Ryan Jensen is paid like the best center in the NFL, and despite bringing his patented aggressiveness, he left much to be desired as a lineman. Although, I do expect him to improve. The trio of him, Marpet, and Smith are going to need to step up considering the fact that they are being paid like some of the league’s best OLs despite the fact that we trotted out below-average results.
DEFENSIVE LINE: GERALD MCCOY, VITA VEA, BEAU ALLEN, ANTHONY NELSON, WILLIAM GHOLSTON, TERRY BECKNER, STEVIE TUIKOLOVATU
With Gerald McCoy still on the roster, the defensive line looks at worst, serviceable. However, without McCoy, we are one Vita Vea injury away from trotting out the worst starting defensive line in the NFL. Keeping McCoy, someway, somehow should be Jason Licht’s number one priority right now. Also, Jason Pierre-Paul is not playng on the DL this season, he’ll be a 3-4 OLB in this new scheme, so don’t count on him to line up in the three-tech without McCoy. I’d like to ideally see McCoy in the three-technique, Vea at nose-tackle, and Anthony Nelson at five-tech.
EDGE RUSHERS: JASON PIERRE-PAUL, SHAQUIL BARRETT, CARL NASSIB, NOAH SPENCE, KAHZIN DANIELS
Honestly, our EDGE situation looks quite good. Nassib stepped up last year, Spence should step up this year, and Shaquil Barrett is ready for an opportunity to start. I think these guys will perform at a high level with Todd Bowles at the helm. So long as Noah Spence is ready to provide at least some support, the depth at the position looks quite good as well.
LINEBACKERS: LAVONTE DAVID, DEVIN WHITE, DEONE BUCANNON, KEVIN MINTER, KENDELL BECKWITH, JACK CICHY, DEVANTE BOND
It’s quite clear, after evaluating the long list of adequate middle LBs that the team doesn’t expect Kendell Beckwith to ever return, unfortunately. Nonetheless, Devin White and Lavonte David might be the best ILB tandem in the league, and Bucannon+Minter can provide adequate support when need be. Of course, Cichy, and Beckwith are high-potential reserves should they manage to best their injuries. Devante Bond looks like the odd man out here.
CORNERBACK: VERNON HARGREAVES, CARLTON DAVIS, SEAN BUNTING, JAMEL DEAN, RYAN SMITH, KENTRELL BRICE
The Buccaneers are putting a lot of faith in some of these young CBs, but the logic at this point has to be at least a couple of them have to be decent. Ryan Smith and MJ Stewart both disappointed last year, but Carlton Davis has some potential. The Bucs just need either Jamel Dean or Sean Bunting to be able to take quality snaps as a nickel or exterior CB for the team to have a chance next season. It should be fun watching them progress and age together as they surely are the youngest defensive backfield in the NFL.
SAFETY: JUSTIN EVANS, MIKE EDWARDS, JORDAN WHITEHEAD, MJ STEWART
Another fun competition for the summer. Two former second round picks, a third, and fourth rounder will battle it out to become the starting safety tandem in 2019. Again, I’m looking forward to watching these young DBs age and progress together, all of whom are below the age of 25, and more likely close to 21 or 22. All of them can’t be busts, right?
SPECIAL TEAMS: BRADLEY PINION, MATT GAY, CAIRO SANTOS
Pinion is certainly going to make the team as they’ve already guaranteed his salary for 2019, however, the kicker battle between Gay and Santos should be fun to watch. Gay has the upper-hand just because he was drafted, but if Santos out-performs I don’t expect Licht to hesitate in being the first GM to cut a draft pick this year.
SEASON SCHEDULE: (Credit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media)
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