Written by Cody Manning, @CodyTalksNFL
After landing their big fish in free agency in Tom Brady, the Bucs put themselves in a win-now mode and entered the draft with the understanding that their selections need to help them as rookies, not later in their development. Jason Licht needed to to make sure he addressed protecting his new franchise quarterback, adding some weapons to the offense, and getting some prospects that could potentially complete their defense. He did that in this class and I will look at the impact they can give in Year 1.
Round 1, #13 - Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
After seeing 3 of the consensus Top 4 OTs go off the board, Licht and company started getting nervous that they may not leave with the much-needed tackle for their roster. Sitting at #14 with the worry that a team may trade ahead of them with the San Francisco 49ers or that they could take a tackle themselves, Tampa made a trade with John Lynch to swap #14 for #13, which included the 49ers receiving a 4th round pick, while they sent a 7th round pick back to the Bucs in the process.
This trade led to the selection of Wirfs. He is currently projected to be the Day 1 starter at right tackle for Tampa. He’s a big and athletic prospect that offers the versatility to play on either side of the line. Coming from Iowa, he will be coached up for a lineman and will make an impact on the unit as a rookie. He can help keep Brady standing upright and be used to open up running lanes for their rushing attack.
This was a great selection by Licht. Tackle was the biggest need for their roster and they landed my personal OT2 from my big board. The Bucs didn’t have time for a development tackle, selecting one of the top four tackles is an A+ selection for me.
Round 2, #45 - Antoine Winfield Jr., SAF, Minnesota
Entering the draft, Tampa’s secondary really needed a playmaker in it. In the 2nd round, Licht attempted to make an attempt to fill that role with the selection of Winfield Jr. He’s a versatile ballhawk safety that can be used in a variety of ways in Todd Bowles’ defense. He is capable of providing valuable snaps as a rookie, has a knack for finding the ball, and can help out on special teams as well.
Another A selection by Licht. Winfield Jr. was the 4th safety off the board and he was my SAF4 on my big board so he got some great value by landing him in the 2nd round where he did. The Bucs made the right call with their first two picks of the draft.
Round 3, #76 - Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt
Outside tackle, running back was the biggest position of need that the Bucs entered the draft with. While most, including myself, thought they would try to grab one of the top 5 backs in this class in the 2nd round, Licht decided to wait and grab one in the 3rd round. Vaughn gives Bruce Arians a depth piece that can be a 1-2 punch with Ronald Jones. He can be used on all 3 downs because of his receiving and pass blocking ability.
It will be interesting to see what role BA has planned for Vaughn in 2020. He was the 8th back off the board in the draft and was my RB10 on my big board. This was the range I thought he could get selected. While I was more of a fan of Zack Moss and Joshua Kelley, I respect this move by Licht. I give this pick a B.
Round 5, #161 - Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
Tampa has one of the best WR duos in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but after the departure of Breshad Perriman, the team lacks depth behind their two stud receivers. Licht and Arians saw the effect it had when the two went down with season-ending injuries at the end of the 2019 season. Johnson gives them a big-body position receiver that can win 50-50 balls. He has outstanding production and his experience will allow him to compete for snaps as a rookie.
Day 3 selections aren’t guaranteed to make the final roster, but this selection not only has a great chance to make the team because of the position, but he could get some reps in right away. Bucs fans should be happy with the 5th round pick. It’s an A me.
Round 6, #194 - Khalil Davis, DT, Nebraska
The Bucs have a great interior of their defensive front with Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh, but they lack depth behind them. Davis gives them a player that has the potential to play on all 3 downs and his athleticism is worth a gamble on Day 3. He has a shot to make the team and could be a rotational piece in 2020.
Round 6 selections are dart throws. I believe it’s best to take your chances on a prospect that has the athletic ability at a position of need. I give this pick a B+ because Davis could be on the final roster.
Round 7, #241 - Chapelle Russell, LB, Temple
Russell comes from a great program and has the capability to be a depth linebacker piece that can provide special teams value. Tampa’s linebacker room is already pretty solid so he will have a big hill to climb to make the team.
While I could see Russell making the team if he can prove his worth on special teams, I still would of like to see Licht take a swing on a corner or adding a depth piece for the offensive line. I’ll give this one a C since there is a slight chance he makes the team.
Round 7, #245 - Raymond Calais, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette
This was an odd selection for me, Tampa already addressed the RB position in the 3rd round which decreases Calais’ chances to make the team. He does have experience as a gunner and could provide special teams value that could work in his favor.
There were other backs I would have preferred if I was going to take a 7th round swing on the position. Similar to the previous pick, I’d like to see a corner or lineman off the board over a back. Because of the slim chance he is on the 2020 roster, I give this pick a D+.