With the NFL draft just around the corner, the Buccaneers are getting ready to add plenty of talent to the team. That being said, there are a few things that are crucial to nailing the most important draft since at least 2015. The following are some of the do’s and don’ts of this year’s draft for the Buccaneers.
Do: Draft a replacement right guard in the first three rounds.
Look, this one shouldn’t take this much convincing. We all saw Caleb Benenoch struggle mightily at right guard last year. Between that and the rotating right guards, the right side of the line struggled. The Bucs were 29th in team rushing stats, and according to the Washington Post, Caleb Benenoch allowed a whopping nine sacks last year (read article here).
Right guard is a huge need for the Bucs, but none of the guards in this draft are worth the fifth overall selection the Bucs currently hold. Alex Cappa was drafted last year, but in the chances he got, he showed he wasn’t quite ready for the NFL. That being said, there are a few options for the Bucs to consider in the second round. Chris Lindstrom is my favorite prospect, a plug and play at right guard who can bring physicality to the line. If the Bucs don’t draft one in the first two rounds, it might be slim pickings in round three.
Don’t: Draft a wide receiver in rounds 1-5.
Even with the loss of DeSean Jackson, the Bucs are still perfectly fine at wide receiver. We know Bruce Arians likes his speed wide receivers, but hopefully Jason Licht can find a guy in the later rounds or an undrafted free agent to fill that position. I wouldn’t mind if the Bucs don’t draft a wide receiver at all, but if they do, there’s no need to do it early. Mike Evans is an elite talent and Chris Godwin looks ready to step into a starting role. Couple that with the fact that OJ Howard and Cameron Brate are readily available in the passing game, and the Bucs are just fine. The Bucs need to focus on the needs of the team before they address some of the Bucs’ wants.
Do: Draft a defensive lineman within the first two rounds.
It’s no secret this defensive line class is phenomenal. With Gerald McCoy most likely on his way out, the Bucs could use some youth to bolster the first line of defense. Jason Pierre Paul isn’t getting any younger, and outside of Carl Nassib, not many young guys have shown promise (fingers crossed for Noah Spence in this new defense). Vita Vea last year and an elite defensive line talent this year set the Bucs up for the next few years. The trenches have always been the key to winning football games. It’s 2019, and some coaches still don’t understand that. Make the right move and take a young pass rusher early in this year’s draft.
Don’t: Take running back in the first four rounds.
The problems in the run game were not due to the talent of the backfield. I repeat, production from the backfield was not a result of poor running back play. The offensive line was atrocious in run blocking last year. Dirk Koetter was committed to making bad outside zone run calls that yielded absolutely nothing. I will continue to try to convince the world that Peyton Barber has the ability to be a bell cow back. The Bucs also spent a premium draft pick on a running back in Ronald Jones. Jones didn’t even get a chance to prove himself.
With a new coaching staff and hopefully some new offensive linemen, the Bucs don’t need to draft a running back early. Keep in mind, one of Jason Licht’s specialties is finding undrafted free agents who can contribute to this team. If he can find a running back after the draft, that should be plenty. But if the Bucs must draft one, at least wait until later on in the draft to do so.