Way-Too-Early 53-Man Roster Projection For The Bucs

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Free agency, the draft, and rookie mini-camps have ended – so why not go ahead and give a 53-man roster projection for the Bucs in 2021?

When you consider the context and circumstances aligned with the roster, this has a chance to be the easiest way-too-early projection in NFL history.

But even though the spots at the top are set, there is still a good bit to figure out in terms of depth.

Let’s put the pieces together and see what the finished product looks like.


Quarterback

  • Tom Brady, Kyle Trask, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin
  • QBs carried on 2020 roster: (3)

The biggest question with the quarterback position is: Does Gabbert or Griffin win the No. 3 job? The Bucs like Griffin, but they like Gabbert more. And they’re paying him more. Unless Griffin just blows people away in camp, this is Gabbert’s job to lose.

Final: Brady, Trask, and Gabbert are the quarterbacks for 2021.

Running Back

  • Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, Giovani Bernard, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, C.J. Prosise, Troymaine Pope
  • RBs carried on 2020 roster: (4)

The Bucs could carry five backs in 2021, especially if one of these guys show they have exceptional special teams value, but it’ll most likely be four backs again. Bruce Arians thinks highly of Ke’Shawn Vaughn and he’s a third-round draft pick, so he’ll likely make the cut. Prosise and Pope have a long way to go if they want to make the team.

Final: Jones II, Fournette, Bernard, and Vaughn are the guys in 2021.

Wide Receiver

  • Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, Jaydon Mickens, Justin Watson, Jaleon Darden, Cyril Grayson, Josh Pearson, Travis Jonsen, T.J. Simmons, John Franklin
  • WRs carried on 2020 roster: (7)

Like quarterback, there’s a chance we see some change at the bottom of the roster, here. Watson is a capable special teams player and Mickens was a decent returner in 2020, but both will be challenged by Darden, who should knock one of the two receivers -or both- off the roster. The rest will have to show out in camp.

Final: Evans, Godwin, Brown, Miller, Johnson, and Darden make the team.

Buccaneers wide receiver Jaelon Darden/via buccaneers.com
Jaelon Darden should shake things up in the receivers room. Photo Credit: buccaneers.com

Tight End

  • Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Tanner Hudson, Codey McElroy, Jerell Adams
  • TEs carried on 2020 roster: (4)

Who wins the TE4 position? Hudson was a preseason darling and made the 53 in 2019, but found himself lost in a crowded tight end room in 2020. Can he continue to stick around? McElroy has received some playing time over the last year or so, but not much. Adams looks to be a camp body, but you never know for sure how that will turn out.

Final: Gronk, Howard, Brate, and Hudson are the guys.

Offensive Line

  • Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa, Tristan Wirfs, Josh Wells, Aaron Stinnie, Robert Hainsey, Brad Seaton, Calvin Ashley, Sadarius Hutcherson, Nick Leverett, John Molchon, Donell Staley
  • OL carried on 2020 roster: (9)

Hutcherson is also a guy who could possibly beat Stinnie out in camp. That’s probably not going to happen, but Stinnie still has a lot to prove despite last year’s playoff run. I do think the Bucs carry one more true tackle in Seaton this year.

Final: Smith, Marpet, Jensen, Cappa, Wirfs, Wells, Stinnie, Hainsey, and Seaton will be responsible for keeping Brady alive in 2021.

Defensive Line

  • Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, William Gholston, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Steve McClendon, Khalil Davis, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Pat O’Connor, Kobe Smith, Elijah Ponder, Benning Potoa’e, Sam Renner
  • DL carried on 2020 roster: (6)

This seems like a crowded room, but it’s not. It’s all about who wins that sixth spot in this 53-man roster projection for the Bucs. Davis could be the odd man out. He played sparingly in 2020 and O’Connor has proven to be a very effective special teams player. Davis only played 1% of special teams snaps in 2020. It’s worth noting that Elijah Ponder should convert to OLB/EDGE, which could help him land a roster spot.

Final: Suh, Vea, Gholston, Nacho, McClendon, and then O’Connor wins the sixth spot.

Inside Linebacker

  • Lavonte David, Devin White, Kevin Minter, K.J. Britt, Grant Stuard, Joe Jones
  • ILBs carried on 2020 roster: (4)

I would love to see both Britt and Stuard make the team. These guys are high-character players who will leave it all on the field, every week. But, effort alone doesn’t get you a job in the NFL. Britt has more upside, which should get him on the final 53.

Final: David, White, Minter, and Britt are your inside linebackers for 2021.

Outside Linebacker

  • Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Joe Tryon, Anthony Nelson, Cam Gill, Quinton Bell, Leighton McCarthy, Ladarius Hamilton
  • OLBs carried on 2020 roster: (5)

This is all about the fifth outside spot. McCarthy and Hamilton are two intriguing players and Bell has the speed that Arians loves on defense. But, Gill flashed the most promise in 2020 and he should ride that momentum into 2021.

Final: Barrett, JPP, Tryon, Nelson, and Gill are 2021’s sackmasters.

Cornerback

  • Carlton Davis III, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean, Ross Cockrell, Herb Miller, Nate Brooks, Chris Wilcox, Cameron Kinley, Antonio Hamilton 
  • CBs carried on the 2020 roster: (5)

The Bucs gave Cockrell a not one, but two-year deal, so I think it’s safe to assume the fourth cornerback spot is locked up. It’s a toss-up between the leftovers for the CB5 position. Wilcox is raw, but has everything the Bucs look for in a corner. Therefore, he gets the nod.

Final: CDIII, SMB, Dean, Cockrell, and Wilcox are locking down opposing receivers in 2021.

Buccaneers' Ross Cockrell and Ryan Smith/Via NFL.com
Ross Cockrell appears to have the fourth cornerback spot locked up. Photo Credit: NFL.com

Safety

  • Jordan Whitehead, Antoine Winfield Jr., Mike Edwards, Javon Hagan, Raven Greene, Augie Contressa, Lawrence White 
  • S carried on the 2020 roster: (4)

Greene is probably the the favorite to win the S4 position. He’s a veteran who has regular-season experience and has played special teams. Contressa is a major wild card. His versatility is an extremely intriguing characteristic, but he should be a safe practice squad stash. The coaches like Hagan, but he still has a lot to prove.

Final: Whitehead, Winfield Jr., Edwards, and Greene are manning the back end of the defense in 2021.

Specialists

  • Ryan Succop, Bradley Pinion, Zach Triner, Jose Borregales
  • ST carried on 2020 roster: (3)

Don’t let the Borregales signing fool you. This is Succop’s job to lose. Arians has stated he wants to carry another kicker on the practice squad, a la 2020. There’s a chance Borregales can get picked up if he ends up on the PS, but that’s just part of the game.

Final: Succop, Pinion, and Triner are all back for another run.


What do you think of this way-too-early 53-man roster projection for the Bucs? Let us know in the comment section below!

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