When the NFL season closed with yet another Super Bowl title for the New England Patriots, the rest of the NFL began to prepare for the combine and draft. One of those teams is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking to try and get back to having a winning season. They took some big steps by signing Bruce Arians and a slew of new coaches. The Buccaneers will have the 5th pick in the first round. The fans and the organization both know what they need to focus on. Here are my predictions of who the Buccaneers will pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Round 1 – OT Jawaan Taylor, University of Florida
Taylor comes into the draft at 6’5” and 330 pounds. He is a massive tackle. This will be a wise pick to help protect quarterback Jameis Winston. That was a problem last year, not being able to protect the quarterback. Taylor would help the run the game as well, which the Buccaneers need to establish. In 2018 the Buccaneers passed the ball 90% of the time on offense, which meant the opposing defenses knew what to be ready for. If the Buccaneers cut Demar Dotson and don’t resign Donovan Smith, Taylor could be a huge help in 2019.
Round 2 – S Deionte Smith, University of Alabama
The Buccaneers also need help in the defensive secondary. The Buccaneers thought they had a veteran in Brent Grimes. That all came to a halt when he got on his wife’s podcast and said he didn’t get paid enough to cover certain wide receivers. Currently it is a question whether Vernon Hargreaves will make it through camp, and he has been a bust. Deionte Smith would be a good pickup to help the secondary. Smith is who defensive coordinator Todd Bowles would love to develop to help his young secondary.
Round 3 – LB Te’von Coney, Notre Dame University
The question for the Buccaneers in their linebacker core is if Kwon Alexander will be resigned. The Buccaneers have already released Vinny Curry, and they are leaning toward letting Gerald McCoy and Desean Jackson go. This would free up enough cap space—about 36 million—which would be plenty to bring Alexander back. On the other hand, Coney would help if that doesn’t occur. He is 6’1” and weighs 240 pounds. He was very good at Notre Dame and would be a good replacement if Alexander isn’t resigned.
Round 4: DT Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois University
Like I said before, now that Vinny Curry has been released that might also include Gerald McCoy and Beau Allen. That means that would leave Vita Vea and some big holes on the defensive line. Saunders comes in at 6’2” and 310 pounds. He had a great showing at the Senior Bowl. Saunders would help the rotation of a line that would also feature Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib and Noah Spence.
Round 5: EDGE Jalen Jelks, University of Oregon
The Buccaneers ranked near the bottom of the league when it came to sacks despite Jason Pierre-Paul reaching double-digits. No other defensive player reached 7. Jelks had 7 sacks and 15.5 tackles for losses. He would help Pierre-Paul apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He will need a strong combine to be a good pick in the fifth round.
Round 7: RB Bryce Love, Stanford University
The Buccaneers second-round pick from 2018 Ronald Jones looks like a bust. He struggled and looked out of place in the NFL. Running back Peyton Barber had great production. Love would be a fantastic addition. The Buccaneers need to establish a running game. In my opinion they haven’t had one since the Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott days.
This draft will be very important to general manager Jason Licht. Licht somehow kept his job after the second 5-11 season. He will have to make sure he has a solid draft. These players would help the Buccaneers have a better 2019.
Let see what happens in the combine and how the Buccaneers draft. We will have to hold our collective breath and wait for April to get here.