The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to have been rebuilding since the departure of Jon Gruden. Is the team finally putting some polish on this extended reconstruction?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have seen flashes of greatness from beleaguered quarterback Jameis Winston and other skill players, and now with a new head coach (again), the team hopes to bring it all together with another strong draft class.
State Of The Team
Bucs fans would like to believe this team will contend for a division title and beyond in 2019; you don’t hire a 60-year-old head coach if a rebuild is envisioned. However, if things don’t go as planned in Tampa Bay early on for Bruce Arians, the organization could turn into a dumpster fire relatively quickly.
This year is truly a make-or-break year in Tampa Bay as the team already has limited cap space, entering into the last year of quarterback Jameis Winston’s rookie deal as well. Even an average 8-8 season could reek of NFL purgatory for the Buccaneers as they will have to make cuts to pay Winston, or if he bottoms out they could be looking at yet another total rebuild in 2020.
Total Draft Picks
The Saints have six draft picks in 2019, including two via trades with the Jets and Browns
- Round 1 (No. 5 overall)
- Round 2 (No. 39 overall)
- Round 3 (No. 70 overall)
- Round 4 (No. 107 overall)
- Round 5 (No. 145 overall)
- Round 7 (No. 215 overall, via Cardinals)
Top 3 Draft Needs
Linebacker: With the departure of Kwon Alexander to the San Francisco 49ers and the uncertainty surrounding Kendell Beckwith’s future after his ankle injury, the Buccaneers have two holes to potentially fill in the middle of their defense. Even after signing Deone Bucannon, Tampa Bay will be looking for further solutions at linebacker.
Safety: The Buccaneers secondary is bleeding, and safety remains one of the biggest holes. Arians seems to express the utmost confidence in cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves and Carlton Davis, meaning that the upgrade in their secondary will come at the safety position. Kentrell Brice is a nice piece to add, but relying heavily on him would be bad news for the Buccaneers.
Defensive Line (Inside): The future of perennial Pro Bowler and long-time Buccaneers Gerald McCoy is very much in doubt. It looks like the writing is on the wall for McCoy, who is carrying a $13 million cap hit at the age of 30 for a team with less than $2 million in cap space. Tampa Bay will have a large void to fill in 2019 if they do, in fact, move on from McCoy.
Top 3 Draft Targets
Needing to fill the hole that Alexander leaves behind, the Buccaneers have a chance to draft the 2018 Butkus Award winner in linebacker Devin White from LSU. Known for riding a horse around campus, this LSU Tiger presents the most athletic linebacker in the class with blazing speed and strength.
Another prospect that could be in play if Tampa moves out of the five slot is cornerback Deandre Baker out of Georgia. While none of the corners in this class warrants a top five selection, the Bucs could get away with taking Baker in the 11-20 range. Not known as the most athletic corner in the class, but has razor sharp technique that allows him to stick opposing receivers.
Decision Maker (Or Who To Blame If Things Go Wrong)
General Manager Jason Licht is the decision maker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and one more draft that is not viewed as favorable in the eyes of the fans may be his last. After picking Vita Vea over Derwin James a year ago and picking kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round in 2016, Licht does not have the greatest track record to instill confidence into the hearts of Buccaneers Nation.
Best/Worst Pick In Current Draft Slot
Historically, who was the best pick and the worst pick based on where the team is currently picking.
Best Pick: Mike Evans– Wide Receiver – Round 1 (Pick No. 7) in 2014 NFL Draft
Signed a well-earned extension last year, easily the best receiver on the Bucs roster and Winston’s favorite target. Top 10 receiver in the league currently.
Worst Pick: Cadillac Williams – Running Back – Round 1 (Pick No. 5) in 2005 NFL Draft
Only one season over 1,000 yards rushing. Williams may have been more highly favored in the eyes of fans if he were not taken in the top 5. Running backs were valued differently in 2005, but a top-five pick was still too high for this bust.