During the NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers built up assets to help construct the future of their franchise.
The Buccaneers had plenty of needs going into the 2019 draft. Excluding the quarterback and receiver positions, you could certainly make the case that almost every position on the team needs an upgrade. The needs were much greater on the defensive side of the ball as the Bucs gave up a whopping 29 points per game which reflected real issues in the secondary.
Round 1, #Pick 5: Devin White, Linebacker, LSU
The Bucs picking at number five overall allowed them to snag the best linebacker in the draft, Devin White of LSU. White was taken as much for his play on the football field as his leadership ability. For more on the White selection check out my article below.
Round 2, #Pick 39: Sean Bunting, Cornerback, Central Michigan
In the second round, Tampa Bay continued to go defense as they selected cornerback Sean Bunting from Central Michigan. It was a bit of a reach as Bunting was projected as a fourth or fifth round pick.
Bunting was a first-team All-MAC selection who had 39 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one blocked kick during his time at Central Michigan. Bunting has a nose for the football as he was known in his three seasons for creating turnovers and forcing fumbles. He is a very physical corner and has decent speed which is something that Todd Bowles and Bruce Arians are looking to upgrade.
Round 3, Pick #94: Jamel Dean, Cornerback, Auburn
The Bucs continued their defensive focus with Jamel Dean, a cornerback from Auburn in the third round. Dean played with current Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis when both attended Auburn.
Dean has the body of a safety rather than a corner at 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds. Dean is more of a project right now as he has had three knee injuries in his Auburn career. He also has good speed which is something that Bowles covets. He has a tendency to face guard instead of playing the ball. Nevertheless, Dean is a depth pick. He should be expected to develop more than be someone that is going to be on the field immediately. Do not expect him to step in and beat out Hargreaves or Davis for a starting spot.
Round 3, Pick #99: Mike Edwards, Safety, Kentucky
In another third-round selection, the Bucs went with safety Mike Edwards from Kentucky. Edwards was a four-year starter at Kentucky and has the versatility that Bowles likes in his defensive backs.
Edwards also put up great numbers in his four years at Kentucky. This included 300 tackles (20 for losses).23 passes and ten interceptions. While Edwards is short for a safety at 5-feet 11, he makes up for that with his physical play and strength. He is a good run defender and shows good quickness in pass coverage.
Outside of Justin Evans, there is no incumbent at the other safety position so it would not be a surprise if Edwards stepped in and started right away.
Of the three defensive backs drafted by the Bucs, Edwards is the readiest to come in and start.
Round 4, Pick #107: Anthony Nelson, Defensive End, Iowa
The Bucs went for some defensive line help in the fourth round as they took Anthony Nelson, an edge rusher from Iowa. Nelson had 9.5 sacks last season which was good for 17th in the country and 13.5 tackles for loss.
Nelson has good size at 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds. He also has good arm length which he will need to use to his advantage.
Nelson will probably not start this year but could be a key part of the defensive line rotation.
Round 5 Pick #145: Matt Gay, Kicker, Utah
Everything was going along nicely until the fifth round. They drafted another kicker, Matt Gay of Utah. Where have we seen this before? It doesn’t matter how many awards Gay won. It doesn’t matter if he made 100% of his field goal attempts over 50 yards, he is not worth a fifth-round pick, Especially when you have so many other pressing needs.
Now we’re really confused. Why spend the money on signing Cairo Santos if you knew you were going to take a kicker in the draft? It’s not like the Bucs have a lot of extra money to throw around.
Justin Tucker, Robbie Gould, Wil Lutz, Matt Bryant, and Adam Vinatieri were not drafted. They were signed as free agents. You can find a good kicker through other avenues without drafting one.
With needs on the offensive line and at running back, it was very disappointing to see the Bucs take another kicker.
Round 6, Pick #208: Scott Miller, Wide Receiver, Bowling Green
With the wide receiver position being the most solid on the team, Tampa Bay decided to take receiver Scott Miller from Bowling Green.
Miller had 71 catches for 1178 yards and nine touchdowns. As a former track star with 4.39 speed, Miller was drafted to take the spot vacated by Adam Humphries after he signed with Tennessee.
With Evans, Godwin, and Perriman set to be the top three receivers on the team, it may be hard to get Miller some touches. That is especially when you factor in that the Buccaneers have two of the best catching tight ends in the league in OJ Howard and Cameron Brate.
Look for Miller to get a long look at returning kicks and punts.
Round 7 Pick #215: Terry Beckner Jr, Defensive Tackle, Missouri
In the seventh round, Tampa Bay picked up a defensive tackle Terry Beckner from Missouri. Beckner, 6-feet 287 pounds, had 34 tackles (11 for losses), 3 1/2 sacks, and a forced fumble last season.
Beckner has a great work ethic and Jason Licht is confident that he can make this team and be part of a defensive rotation that needs all the help they can get.
Six of the eight selection were centered around defense. It was disappointing to see Tampa Bay not address the offensive line needs. Especially when it came to the right side of the line or adding a running back.
Coach Arians along with Jason Licht have both said that Alex Cappa and Caleb Benenoch have shown good improvement. They believe that improvement will continue throughout organized team activities and training camp.
With Greedy Williams on the board at number 39, the Bucs elected to pass on Williams and take a chance on an unknown Sean Bunting of Central Michigan. Let’s hope the Bucs don’t regret that decision.
Overall draft grade: C