It’s time for this kind of content now Buccaneers fans.
With the Bucs’ season being over, it is about time to start looking toward the draft. While they did exceed expectations, The Buccaneers still only won 10 games, so there is room for improvement. And a lot of the room will have to come in the draft. Now, I am writing this article with the expectation that Antoine Winfield Jr, Mike Evans, Chase McLaughlin, Lavonte David , and Baker Mayfield have resigned. Obviously if any of those guys leave, that will open up even more holes. Some of them are somewhat doubtful, like David, but I they will all return.
The absolute biggest need in my opinion is EDGE rusher. Basically everyone who has watched this team knows it. This team does not have a good edge rusher, and it killed them in the Lions game. I love Shaq Barrett. He is such a great guy and has done a lot for this team, but I think he is on the decline. It is very likely he will be cut next season. He only managed 4.5 sacks playing most of the games this season, which is really terrible for an edge rusher. Yaya Diaby has definitely shown potential, but we need somebody else to pair with him. This will very likely be the first round target for the Buccaneers and if they nail the pick, would create a terrifying d-line for opponents.
To focus on the other line, center and guard is one of the other biggest needs in the draft. I don’t know what happened to Robert Hainsey, but he regressed mightily since 2022. He got a grade of 52.8 on PFF and is credited with four sacks. Not good, in other words. I think he can be a serviceable back-up, but he is not starter material. This may be a position they fill in FA. I personally would love Andre James from the Raiders. Still pretty young and was solid on their line. But considering Licht’s track record with linemen in the draft, I could lean either way.
The same argument can be made for LG. Matt Feiler was below average for most the season. I think Cody Mauch will have a much better season after an offseason of bulking up, but Feiler is 31 and on the decline. I wouldn’t even keep him on as a back-up as we have Leverett. Him and Hainsey were consistently ranked bottom five on offense by PFF for games. This would probably be easier than center to solve in FA. There are guys like Robert Hunt or Dalton Risner that can be signed. But I still prefer having a homegrown line than just buying a bunch of pieces in FA. Easier to save money and we have a GM that hits on that position in the draft.
Those are the two most pressing, but other lesser but still important positions can be filled. We definitely need another CB. Preferably one that is not injury prone and can catch interceptions. I saw a stat that only 9 of our 13 interceptions came from DBs. Almost made me cry. Antoine Winfield Jr cannot carry all of our secondary, even though he tried to do it this whole season.
We could also use more weapons on offense. Evans is 31 and has had a small issue with drops this season. So a WR to let him grow under Evans wouldn’t be the worst thing, but it will likely come in the later rounds. Same thing with TE since Cade Otton is just kinda average and we don’t have anyone. And finally a rb to pair with Rachaad White. Considering we still had the worst run game in the NFL, any kind of help there would be nice.
I wrote about this before, but I wouldn’t hate having a QB to develop behind Baker. I’ve basically lost hope Trask can do anything, so getting another guy could be helpful. It is possible that a guy like Michael Penix falls to the 3rd round. Apparently NFL teams aren’t super high on him. More likely, if we do pick someone up, it will be along the lines of Spencer Rattler or Benjamin Pratt.
Like I said before, Licht has given me plenty of reason to trust he can draft the right guys for this team. His 2023 draft was spectacular and 2022 is shaping up to be solid after a year. While it sucks we are no longer playing football this year, I am excited to see what the future of this team looks like.
Make sure you check out Devin’s blog at cannoncrunch.wordpress.com.
Cannon Crunch with Devin Sanguinett