With Donovan Smith locked up long term, what should the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do with the no. 5 position in the 2019 NFL Draft?
Let’s look at the options in order of priority.
The Bucs need all the help they can get, and given the demand for quarterbacks and pass rushers in the first round, the team could take advantage of a trigger-happy general manager who has a dream player in mind to help build a unit. The best-case scenario for the first round for the Bucs is a trade down to mid-1st round and a low end 1st-round choice. They can have two ready starters.
If you really want a reason the Bucs should trade down, let’s look at history. The last no. 5 overall pick, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, couldn’t recreate his rookie year success in 2005. At least Doug Martin at 31st in 2012 produced, even if it was every other year, on average. Jameis Winston, Gerald McCoy, and Mike Evans paid off at 1, 3, and 7 respectively. The other top 10 picks from 2000-2018? Gaines Adams (RIP) at no. 4 was a bust in 2007. Mark Baron was seventh overall before Martin never made a Pro Bowl. He had a career-high 91 tackles in 2016. He didn’t register a single interception half of his career. At least he’s available as a free agent now.
I’m not saying mid-1st rounders are shoe-ins for success either, but you may have a better chance with two first rounders than with only one. Head coach Bruce Arians is looking for players he can start now.
It seems like an obvious choice if the team can’t trade down. Arians isn’t interested in rebuilding, and it’s something Tampa Bay fans have been sick of doing because of the futility of it. Game changers like Josh Allen of Kentucky and Montez Sweat from Mississippi St. could make offenses respect the Bucs’ defense again.
The conservative choice is to draft an offensive lineman, specifically a tackle for the long term. While Smith is locked, you need to think beyond the aging Demar Dotson. Jawaan Taylor from Florida or Jonah Williams from Alabama are studs worthy of the status. Versatility is also a big plus if the pick can play guard.
This is my lowest priority pick. Alabama’s Josh Jacobs projected to a first rounder in most draft boards, but the fact he fluctuates all over the place means only some are sold on his status and worth. It’s not a stretch to say he’s a reach at 5th overall when he’s likely to be available later in the round.