The draft has come and gone. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted very well and have come out much improved. The team drafted players that will fill some serious needs and have the potential to be tremendous contributors to this team. But could it have been better? We will look at each pick and determine if there was a player that would have benefited the Buccaneers more on both a talent and a need standpoint.
Round One: Fixing The Offensive Line
In the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Tristan Wirfs, Iowa. An amazing prospect with strength, speed, and football I.Q. Well suited to start immediately, Wirfs is a top ten talent selected 13th overall. He is 6’5″, 320 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds. Watching his tape, he is explosive and dominates in the run game. His pass protection is good and will be coached up once he can get in camp. Solid player who could have easily been the first offensive tackle taken in this draft. He would have been the first selected if this were any other draft.
From a need and best available standpoint, the Buccaneers nailed this pick. He will solidify a weak point in the offensive line, improve the run game, and allow the passing game to flourish. Even with having to give up draft capital, the Buccaneers should always pull the trigger on this move. The Buccaneers could not improve on this pick. It’s perfect!
Round Two: Yet Another Defensive Back?
It’s no secret the Buccaneers have been trying to improve the secondary for some time. After spending multiple picks over the years on defensive backs, the team looks set at corner. Safety seemed to be an area where improvement was still needed.
Antoine Winfield Jr would hear his name called in the second round, 45th overall. Out of Minnesota, the 5’9″ 200 pounder can run with any wide receiver with his 4.45 forty time. He possesses great ball tracking ability and is a ball hawk. His instincts are possibly the best in the draft. If he started at a bigger school, he would have been selected in the first round.
From a talent standpoint, this pick is brilliant. When a team drafts a first-round talent in the second, you do it without hesitation. Now the safety class was not as deep as the wide receiver class. So with that knowledge in hand, drafting any wideout at this point would provide less of an impact to the team’s abilities. Running backs that can improve your team can be found anywhere. Need proof, look at the Super Bowl contending 49ers last year. Three undrafted backs that lead the way to the playoffs and beyond. A defensive line player would only be a rotational player mostly as the starting line is set.
So with the selection of Winfield Jr in the second-round, the Buccaneers did their homework and got this pick right! Winfield Jr will start and improve this team.
Third Round: Getting a Balanced Running Attack
The Buccaneers signed Tom Brady, an older statesman, who will benefit greatly from a balanced run game. Also, the offense will do much better with a pass protecting and catching back. Enter Ke’Shawn Vaughn from Vanderbilt.
You thought Cam Ackers performed well behind a bad offensive line? I’ll see your Ackers and raise you a Vaughn. Sitting in the SEC, Vaughn still pushed over a thousand yards each of his two seasons there. He is decisive behind the line with plus vision. Vaughn finds his lane and immediately finds one in the second level, once in the hole. As a running back, he can pass block and has the size to do so in the NFL. Sleeper pick? Maybe.
Again, there is little fault in the Buccaneers draft. At first glance, this could be one of the best in years. The need was there for sure. This is a two-back league that requires backs to have overlapping traits and skills. Vaughn will allow intentions of the offense to be disguised. He’s a solid pick here in the third!
The only back that may have been a better fit over Vaugh would have been La’Mical Perine. This is conditional though, as Perine shows he already is good at catching the ball out of the backfield and pass protection. As the season and their careers go on, the two can be looked at in comparison to determine who would have been better.
Since the backs will split time, looking at others who would not have a full starting role must be considered. Defensive line depth is important for the Buccaneers. With players set to depart in the next year or two and no solid depth, this could have been a position to address. Names like Neville Gallimore and Jordan Elliott, both of whom I had late second round early third-round grades on, come to mind.
But the defensive line may not have as much of an impact on the team as running back. The verdict on the third pick will be a debate as the season and the role of players develops. For now, on paper, it looks solid but can swing either way later.
If you’re looking for a betting term, its “Push”.
Round Five: Depth at Wide Receiver
Depth, no! Potential NFL starter, yes! If any other team had drafted Tyler Johnson, they would be speaking about him being a wide receiver two who might be a number one target. But he went to a team with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
Fans may not be blown away by his speed, but when his football I.Q. and route running that creates separation and decimate defenses comes into play, watch out! Johnson is a cerebral player who understands the smallest of details can make a difference. In the 2018 season, he hung 119 yards on Ohio State. The two corners he faced went in the first round of this year’s draft. One of them, Jeff Okudah, was the third pick overall. In his last two seasons, he posted over 1,1oo yards and over 15 yards a catch.
In the fifth round, there was no better wide receiver to pick. Johnson should have heard his name called in the third round or earlier. He is that good. Outside of Wirfs, this is the Buccaneers’ best pick of the draft. They can replace Godwin if needed, and substitution packages will be tremendous. As for a “need”, this is a perfect fit with the depth of the wide receivers in this year’s draft. It’s also a steal. Perfect pick!
Round Six: Defensive Line Depth
Finally, the Buccaneers address the lack of depth on the defensive line. Khalil Davis of Nebraska is an athletic defensive tackle. Quick off the snap, he plays with hustle and explosiveness. He’s solid against the run. The negative traits he plays with can be coached out of him, and he is now on the team to do so. Oddly enough NFL.com compares him to Rakeem Nunez-Roches, who is already a Buccaneer.
This selection adds depth and has the possibility of being more. Davis had 11 tackles for loss and eight sacks last season. He can contribute and early. Projected as a fifth-round this is another great selection. After all, there was no other defensive tackle on the board worth taking here and others taken before him don’t have his speed and athleticism.
Of the only individuals left on the board, there are a few who would have been worth consideration. Best of them was Prince Tega Wanogho. Wanogho is a developmental project but possesses the potential to be a starter in the NFL at tackle. After all, he hasn’t played football long as he came to America looking to play basketball.
The seventh-round can find use in multiple different ways depending on the general manager. Some look for depth. Others look for special teams studs who could one day rotate in and play. When you’re all in on the next season or two, being in the group looking for depth should be seriously considered. Jason Licht likes to look for corners and linebackers in these draft positions.
Naturally, he drafted Cappelle Russell and Raymond Calais in the seventh. These positions can be for players who have the talent and just need to be grooming in order to further this team progression. Players such as offensive tackle Trey Adams, defensive end Nick Coe, or quarterback Anthony Gordon are still on the board at this point. Though the players picked may be better for special teams, the three mentioned could have provided needed depth. With stout coaching, they could have developed into something special.
Outside of the seventh round, spectacular.
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