The NFL draft has come and gone, we are officially in the dog days of summer. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are quickly approaching their roster limit of 90 players, which means a fresh new batch of competition for training camp. In this article, I will attempt to predict where the new rookies will land on the depth chart come week one, and who could be pushed out as a result.
Tristan Wirfs, RT-1
This one shouldn’t need much of an explanation. Tristan Wirfs will be the starting right tackle when the Buccaneers kick off week one of the regular season. Wirfs was one of four plug and play tackles in this draft, and should drastically improve the right side of the offensive line.
Antoine Winfield Jr., FS-1
Another plug and play starter, Antoine Winfield Jr. should see playing time immediately. The real question is, who will line up on the opposite side of the field? I think Jordan Whitehead is solid in a strong safety role, but his coverage ability is still developing. Mike Edwards showed progress as well last season, but he still is a long ways away from reaching his ceiling. With that being said, I’m excited to see what Winfield can do in a Todd Bowles system, get ready for Tyrann Mathieu 2.0.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB-2
Ke’Shawn Vaughn was not a popular pick in the third round of the draft. Many fans thought there was better talent on the board, and I agreed, at the time. But when you go back and look at the tape, Vaughn has the ability to be special in this offense. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a workhorse back, but he can be a solid receiving option out of the backfield. T.J. Logan and Dare Ogunbowale sit behind Ronald Jones, but I expect Vaughn to eventually take over as the RB-2 in this offense. The next James White is here!
Tyler Johnson, WR-3
Boy oh boy, what a steal in the fifth round! This wide receiver class was deep, but I didn’t expected a player like Tyler Johnson to slip a full two rounds. The Buccaneers have the best receiving duo in the NFL in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but behind them, the cupboard is bare. Justin Watson and Scotty Miller have shown small flashes, but not enough to crown them as the WR-3 in this offense. Tyler Johnson will slot in to that role nicely.
Khalil Davis, DT-2
Khalil Davis is more of a developmental interior pass rusher in my mind. He shows ability to get to the quarterback, but struggled to contain the run at Nebraska. Given that the Buccaneers run a 3-4 defensive scheme, Davis should slot in as the DT-2 behind Vita Vea. Ndamukong Suh and Rakeem Nunez-Roches fit more in a defensive end role in this defense, otherwise Davis would be further down the depth chart.
Chapelle Russell, Cut
I hope I am wrong about Chapelle Russell, but he just doesn’t excite me as a prospect. He has solid ability to play the run, but was a liability in coverage at Temple. Depth at linebacker isn’t the strongest, but it also isn’t a weakness either. Seventh round draft picks are expendable, so if Russell doesn’t show out in camp, he could see the door before week one.
Raymond Calais, RB-4, KR/PR
Raymond Calais was drafted for one reason, speed. I don’t think he’ll get much action in an offense loaded with weapons, but that isn’t where the Buccaneers need him to produce. This team has longed for a return specialist since Michael Spurlock more than a decade ago. I think Calais has the ability to improve the third phase of the game, as he showed he has the ability with almost 100 kick returns and 2,000 yards in college.
Parnell Motley, CB-5
An undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma, Parnell Motley has a real chance to make this team. I was stunned when he went undrafted, as I thought he was an mid day three type of talent. He won’t rise above Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting or Carlton Davis, but Motley should be able to beat out Ryan Smith and M.J. Stewart. I think Mazzi Wilkins gets the nod at CB-4, but Motley can absolutely challenge that spot.