The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not be in complete rebuild mode but most certainly have some remodeling to do. After replacing former HC Dirk Koetter with the league’s most sought out head coaching candidate Bruce Arians, the fan base, the players, and their front office finally have something to be excited about. Yet, this offseason has not been good to Tampa Bay and the team has lost several key contributors to free agency including LB Kwon Alexander, WR Adam Humphries, WR DeSean Jackson, and released DE Vinny Curry. HC Arians and GM Jason Licht have had their hands tied this offseason as the franchise is severely cap strapped. In less than a year’s time, the team signed offensive linemen Ryan Jenson, Ali Marpet, and Donovan Smith, taking up a combined $33.5 million per year. Jameis Winston is also on the 5th-year option of his rookie deal, totaling $20.9 million and edging out his favorite target Mike Evans who’ll be making an even $20 million in 2018. Tampa has invested 34 million more into the offensive side of the ball and although it’s paid off to the tune of the leagues #1 offense in 2018, the defense and more specifically the secondary has been the team’s Achilles heel for years now.
The Buccaneers barely have enough cap space to sign their rookies and this could mean the end for longtime Buc and leader of the defense in DT Gerald McCoy. He’s due $13 million and the production sadly doesn’t match the price tag anymore. With the potential of defensive line prospects such as Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen, and Ed Oliver on the board at pick #5, the Buccaneers may find McCoy’s replacement, cut ties, and open up some cap space at the same time. The team could use help across the board but doesn’t have the glaring weaknesses that’ll force a position of need pick. The franchise has stated that they believe in the blue-chip players that’ll be at the top of the draft and would require a “too good to be true” type offer to even consider trading down like they’ve done the past two drafts.
With the wide receiver, cornerback, safety, and running back positions being as plentiful as they are in this year’s draft, expect the Buccaneers to address those needs in the mid to late rounds and the front seven early. Versatility should be highly valued for this year’s draft picks and the team’s goals should be to find one player who can fill multiple roles. Josh Allen can fill the edge rushing role opposite of JPP and even play OLB when needed in coverage. An Andy Isabella instantly fills the deep threat D-Jax role and can also translate into Humphries 3rd down slot role. Same goes for a player like Chase Winovich, who can rush the passer and play the run in both a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme. With only 6 picks, killing to birds with one stone should be the Buccaneers draft approach this season.
Round 1, Pick 5
Round 2, Pick 39
Round 3, Pick 70
Round 4, Pick 107 Round 5, Pick 145
Round 7, Pick 215
Edge, CB, LB, S, RB, WR, G, T, QB
Early Rounds (1-2):
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Devin White, LB, LSU
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Jeffery Simmons*, DT, Mississippi State
Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan
Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Darnell Savage, CB, Maryland
Mid Rounds (3-4):
Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
Yodny Cajuste, LT, West Virginia
Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
Jachai Polite, Edge, Florida
Charles Omenihu, Edge, Texas
David Montgomery, RB, Iowa St
Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
Jaylon Ferguson, Edge, LA Tech
Tre Lamar, LB, Clemson
Michael Jordan, G, Ohio St Michael Deiter, G, Wisconsin
Oshane Ximines, CB, Old Dominion
Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis
Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo
Late Rounds (5-7):
Chase Hansen, LB, Utah
Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Nate Herbig, G, Stanford
Hunter Renfroe, WR, Clemson
Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor
Austin Bryant, EDGE, Clemson
Myles Gaskins, RB, Washington
Lil’ jordan Humphries, WR, Texas
7 Round Mock Draft:
#5: Devin White, LB, LSU
The Buc’s aren’t as desperate to find Kwon Alexander’s replacement as some may believe. “IF” and when healthy, the Buccaneers actually have a promising linebacking core. Led by the likes of Pro Bowler Lavonte David and featuring newly signed safety turned coverage LB Deone Bucannon, as well as 2017’s 3rd rounder Kendal Beckwith. The LSU backer made a huge impression as a rookie before missing last season with an ankle injury due to a car accident. In a limited role, Beckwith contributed 73 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 2 QB hits, 2 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble his rookie season. So even with all that said, unless multiple quarterbacks go inside the top 5 or the Jets truly love Ed Oliver, the LSU Stud Devin White is the last of the ultra-elite prospects expected to be on the board at pick #5.
#39: Chase Winovich, Edge, Michigan
As the Bruce Arians led Buccaneers transition from a 4-3 defense to Todd Bowles’ hybrid 3-4 scheme, an edge rusher such as Chase Winovich who can play 3-4 OLB would be a perfect fit opposite of Jason Pierre Paul. Chase at pick #39 may be wishful thinking but the consensus feeling is that he’s not likely to go inside the 1st even though his film is night and day better than that of fellow Wolverine Rashan Gary. Many are comparing the edge rusher to Clay Mathew’s and not just cause of the long golden locks. Winovich plays like a man possessed with relentless pursuit and a nasty set of pass rush moves.
#70: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
After receiving first round notoriety earlier in the draft process, the Clemson product is expected to slide a little bit as names like Lonnie Johnson and Rock Ya-Sin have climbed up a majority of draft boards since the NFL Combine. With the Buccaneers investing a multitude of high draft picks into their secondary between 2016 1st rounder Vernon Hargreaves and two 2018 2nd rounders in M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis; Tampa needs to see their investments through. Mullen in the 3rd round would be a steal and would certainly bring another level of competition to the cornerback room.
#107: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Bryce Love went from a highly regarded 1st round running back in 2017, to someone that nobody is talking about in 2018. The Buccaneers are desperate to establish a successful backfield after spending a 2nd round pick on USC’s Ronald Jones in 2018. RoJo could arguably be considered the biggest bust of his draft class and the Buccaneers should not wait around to see if he can make a Melvin Gordon like resurgence in his sophomore season. Bryce Love would immediately step in as the Buc’s best receiving/3rd down back and likely challenge Peyton Barber for the starting role.
#145: Nate Herbig, G, Stanford
The “Big Island” is considered a mid-rounder by some and late rounder by most due to his weak but improving pass blocking technique and ability. The Buccaneers are planning on going with Humboldt State’s Alex Cappa at guard this season after a small but promising rookie outing. Herbig is a huge man, who’s very athletic for a 350 pounder and is a destructive run blocker. Herbig has massive potential and someone the Buc’s could use in goalline or 3rd/4th and short situations in year one but he’s a developmental type player.
#215: Hunter Renfroe, WR, Clemson
HIGHLY UNLIKELY…..But Hunter may slide due to having some of the smallest hands ever recorded by a wide receiver. The Buccaneers desperately need to fill the void left by slot wideout and go to target Adam Humphries and Renfroe does just that. He’s likely a round five prospect but rumors have swirled that some teams aren’t interested at all due to his red flag measurables. If so, the Buc’s should capitalize and grab this technician of a route runner.