On Saturday, September 5th, the Buccaneers roster will look drastically different than its offseason counterpart. Teams will have until 4 pm that day to trim their depth chart to 53 players from the current 80. In this article, I will predict the final roster included with my thinking and rationale, lets dive in.
I predict Bruce Arians to role with three quarterbacks this season. As you can see, Ryan Griffin does not make the final cut, and after a number of seasons, there is just no reason to keep holding on to him. The younger Reid Sinnet will take his place, operating as an emergency quarterback should Brady or Gabbert get hit with COVID19.
Ronald Jones II
There are not many surprises here. Ronald Jones will carry most of the workload with Dare Ogunbowale and LeSean McCoy eating up the rest of the carries. I’m not sure Arians trusts Vaughn or Calais enough to give them significant offensive snaps, but they should make an impact on special teams.
Bruce Arians has sang praises to Jaydon Mickens recently and I think he is the front runner for the return job. Rookie Tyler Johnson has been injured for most of camp, so there is a decent possibility he lands on injured reserve. Scotty Miller’s stock has skyrocketed as well, and has made a strong case for the wide receiver three spot.
The top three should come as no surprise here. But I elected to go with the stout blocker in Antony Auclair over Tanner Hudson. Hudson has a similar skill set to Cam Brate, and the Buccaneers need a true blocking tight end on the roster. Auclair fills that role perfectly, and will only see the field on goal line or short yardage situations.
The Buccaneers were not happy with their interior line depth, and signed former Arizona Cardinal A.Q. Shipley as a result. He is the only true backup center on the roster should Ryan Jensen go down. The final spot was difficult to nail down, but I chose Josh Wells, as he has the most experience with the team. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him waived during the season for an upgrade at the position however.
The Buccaneers front seven is one of the best in football. Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh are bullies at the point of attack, and Will Gholston is a stout run defender. Rakeem Nunez-Roches has had a solid camp, and Khalil Davis will look to carve out a larger role. Patrick O’Connor and Kyle Love only make the team as a last result, and are expendable pieces once the season begins.
A 3-4 scheme requires teams to carry a large linebacker core. We already know about the top four, but the backup jobs are still largely up for grabs. Jack Cichy and Kevin Minter have the best chance to back up the inside jobs, as they have familiarity in the system. Anthony Nelson is expected to take a step forward in 2020, likely rotating for a limited number of snaps. Seventh round pick Chapelle Russell may just fill in that final slot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to the practice squad first.
I originally had Parnell Motley making the final cut, but an injury that will sideline him the rest of camp complicates the matter. He should still land on injured reserve or the practice squad, but carrying an injured player, especially undrafted, on the 53 makes little sense. Depth here is a major concern, as Mazzi Wilkins and Ryan Smith are the only backups should a starter get injured. I wouldn’t mind an A.Q. Shipley type signing for this group.
Antoine Winfield Jr.
I have no idea what is going on with Justin Evans, but I won’t be surprised if he makes another trip to injured reserve. While Antoine Winfield Jr. may not start week one, I don’t think the coaching staff can keep him off the field for long. Like corner back, depth becomes an issue after one injury.
There are really no surprises here. Matt Gay has struggled in camp, but I don’t think it will be enough for an Elliot Fry takeover. Bradley Pinion will continue to punt, and Zach Triner will be the primary long snapper.
Michael Divinity Jr. (Protected)
Parnell Motley (Protected)
Ryan Griffin (Protected)
Tanner Hudson (Protected)
The 2020 practice squad rules are drastically different in 2020. Teams can protect up to four players, and the overall roster size has been expanded to 16. Even more important, veteran players can now be put on the practice squad, which opens up an infinite number of possibilities for roster construction.