So now that the excitement of the draft has passed, it is time to recap these busy three days for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Round 1 was a complete success, as the Bucs were able to trade down to the number 12 spot and acquire two additional, much-needed 2nd round picks. They spent the 12th pick on a defensive tackle, namely Vita Vea out of Washington. Vea is 6’4” and weighs 347 lbs, giving him NFL-worthy size and a powerful upper body. He is surprisingly athletic and quick for his huge frame and possesses great instincts for a defensive tackle. Plays particularly well against the run and knows how to hold his gap. All in all, picking up the best defensive tackle in the draft and thus filling a huge need on the line next to Gerald McCoy was a great decision by the Buccaneers.
The previous trade with the Buffalo Bills gave Tampa Bay a total of three draft choices in round two. They spent the first one on Ronald Jones, running back out of Southern California. Jones is 5’11” and weighs 205 lbs. He is a very athletic and fast running back. Does not have a huge frame, but still knows how to avoid or even break tackles. He is explosive enough to run to the outside and break long runs. He knows how to protect the ball, as he only had two fumbles in his college career (591 carries). Jones excels at juking defenders and making last second cuts, his acceleration is unparalleled. Definitely a good pickup, since running back was a huge need for the Buccaneers. Ronald Jones will start at the position by Week 1.
With their second pick in round two, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected M.J. Stewart, corner back out of North Carolina. Stewart is 5’11” and weighs 200 lbs. He plays very tough and does not shy away from contact. He did not record an Interception in 2017, but that is mainly due to the fact that quarterbacks usually avoided throwing it anywhere close to him. His physical style of play makes him a valuable weapon against the run. Stewart has great instincts for the game, he rarely falls for double moves. Great wrap-up tackler. Could be used as a safety if that is what the Bucs coaching staff decides to do. Defensive Back was one of Tampa’s biggest needs before the draft, so Stewart was a decent pick at this point in the draft.
Then later in the second round, the Bucs used their last pick they had in this round on another corner back, as they selected Carlton Davis, out of Auburn. Davis has great size at 6’1” and 205 lbs. He was projected to be picked early in the second round by many NFL analysts, so the Buccaneers receive great value with Davis very late in the second round. He is a great press-corner back who uses his big frame to contain his opposing wide receivers. Davis excels at knocking the ball away from receivers, as he had double-digit pass breakups in each of his three seasons, with the Tigers. His style of play reminds me, somewhat, of Richard Sherman. Tampa Bay certainly gets great value and a great player at a position of need here.
The Buccaneers did not have a third round pick at the beginning of the draft, but they decided to trade back into the third round with the New England Patriots to grab Alex Cappa, guard out of Humboldt State, late in the round. Cappa is 6’6” and weighs 305 lbs. He looked great at Humboldt State, has not faced NFL-caliber players yet, however. He is a very physical and nasty player. Better at run blocking than protecting the pass. He definitely fills a need at a position that should have been targeted earlier in the draft.
In round four, the Buccaneers picked up Jordan Whitehead, safety out of Pittsburgh. Whitehead is 5’10”, 198 lbs and makes sense for Tampa, as well, considering how weak our defensive backfield was last year. Whitehead plays fearful and physical. He may be a little undersized, which makes it difficult to help out against the run at the line of scrimmage. Needs to prove himself in training camp. Decent pick, considering Tampa’s needs.
With their penultimate pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers picked Justin Watson, wide receiver out of UPenn, in Round 5. wide receiver was not really a position of need, as the Bucs could have used the pick on another offensive lineman, for instance. Yet, obviously Licht and Koetter really liked Watson. At 6’3” and 225 lbs he is a big receiver with a great football IQ and a good character. Will not see the field much in year one.
The Bucs used their last pick of the year on a linebacker, namely Jack Cichy out of Wisconsin. Cichy is 6’2” and 238 lbs. Has shown great instincts and quickness at Wisconsin and was their team leader. Recognizes play-action instantly and is not fooled by trick plays. Has a history of injuries, so there is a concern. He may have been picked because of Beckwith’s accident. Cichy will have to prove himself in training camp too.