In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers drafted a Linebacker, two cornerbacks, one defensive end, a defensive tackle, and even a kicker. But where do these players fit in? Here is a deeper look at all eight picks.
Round 1: Devin White/Linebacker/LSU
For Tampa, this pick made the most sense. After losing Kwon Alexander in free agency, the Bucs had a gaping hole at middle linebacker. With no Kwon, the injury of Kendal Beckwith looming to be a possible career ender. Losing Adarius Taylor to free agency as well, the Bucs were left with second and third string backups and very little depth. While they added Shaq Barrett and Deone Buccanon for a bargain, Tampa still needed depth. Enter Devin White, who had over 120 tackles and double-digit tackles for loss in each of his last two seasons.
White will bring the emotional leadership and much-needed speed the Bucs require in the secondary. Paired with Lavonte David in an aggressive Todd Bowles defense, White can be used in a variety of ways such as blitzing, run gaps and even dropping into coverage. While other talents such as Josh Allen were on the board, Tampa couldn’t afford to miss on such a vital position later in the draft. White will be an immediate plug and play player who is used to playing in a 3-4 defense and should thrive.
Final Thoughts: Plug him in right next to Lavonte David. This pick was all about fortifying that linebacker position and getting a guy fast enough to cover running backs and wide receivers. The Buccaneers also solidified the issue of missed tackles last season
Round 2: Sean Murphy- Bunting/CB
It is no secret that Tampa Bays’ pass defense is atrocious. Over the last two seasons, the Bucs have had the worst pass defense in the league, giving up nearly 400 yards a game. While the Tampa offense marched up and down the field at will, the defense would give up double-digit leads with ease. Scheme or not, Arians was having none of it and made that very clear by drafting a third cornerback in two years.
While Carlton Davis has started to settle into an NFL defense, the other cornerback drafted last year, MJ Stewart, looks to be transitioning to safety. This came after having serious speed issues when covering receivers. Even with the obvious need, the pick was surprising as the Bucs chose Murphy- Bunting over highly regarded Greedy Williams. Williams ended up falling in the draft.
Murphy- Bunting boasted an impressive 18.5% catch rates allowed, 41.5 passer rating allowed when targeted allowed and not a single touchdown allowed in 2018. While dominating against receivers, Murphy-Bunting was also one of the most athletic players in the draft. At six foot tall, a 41.5-inch verticle and 4.42 speed, Murphy-Bunting provides the much-needed height and speed to cover receivers such as Julio Jones and Michael Thomas in the NFL South.
Final Thoughts: A starter. Not a secret Tampa is hurting for a third corner, and could even force VH3 inside. His speed and size make him a major improvement over Brent Grimes, who was 5-foot-11 and could not be bothered to cover anybody.
Round 3 pick 1: Jamel Dean/CB/Auburn
As previously mentioned, the Bucs had a horrible pass defense and this pick adds some much-needed depth. With the addition of Dean, Tampa now has two cornerbacks from the University of Auburn. Dean brings a more athletic ability to the secondary with a 4.3, 40-yard dash, 41 inch vertical and 6-foot-1 inch height. Dean’s length and recovery speed make him someone who can create pass breakups and help in zone schemes. The only big red flag especially being taken in the third is that he’s had three major knee injuries already. This means that durability is a huge question mark.
Final thoughts: Jamel Dean will have to fight for a starting spot, but athleticism and speed give him an edge.
Round 3 pick 2: Mike Edwards/Safety/ Kentucky
Much like the cornerbacks, Tampa’s first three safeties went down with injuries last season. With the departure of Chris Conte, and Jordan Whitehead as well as Justin Evans coming back from injuries, Edwards was a much-needed body in the secondary. Mike Edwards somehow fell to Tampa late in the third round and was an absolute steal. Edwards had 300 tackles, 10 interceptions, 23 passes defended two touchdowns and two forced fumbles during his time in Kentucky. With a Tampa defense that struggled to take the ball away the past two seasons, Edwards brings a “see-ball get-ball” mentality.
His one flaw, however, is sometimes biting on plays that are meant to do just that; have him come down out of coverage and have the secondary exposed. His ball skills and raw instincts leave the defense coaches licking their chops.
Final Thoughts: Mike Edwards could very well find himself in the starting rotation of safeties. Todd Bowles has come out and said it is normal for him to use seven defensive backs at one time on the field. So a healthy dose of Edwards could be seen early and often. Even if not in those heavy defensive back situations, the Bucs will be looking to keep guys off IR as much as possible and that starts with ensuring fresh legs.
Round 4: Anthony Nelson/DE/Iowa
Entering day three, Bucs fans and draft experts alike were both concerned and confused as to why Tampa Bay had not addressed the defensive line. With Gerald McCoy’s future murky and Jason Pierre Paul on the wrong side of 30, the Bucs were thought to be looking into solidifying the line. They also needed to find a suitor to be the veterans successor in the years to come.
By selecting Anthony Nelson as a fourth rounder, Tampa could have landed one of the steals of the draft.
At 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds, his size length and strength make him another chess piece for Todd Bowels to add to his arsenal. Tampa getting pressure on the quarterback has been a problem in recent years, which has created one of the worst defenses in football. Nelson adds another body to the rotation of an evolving defense that looks to be more aggressive. With more looks come more packages of personnel, and more opportunities to see the field as a rookie. During his career at Iowa, Nelson collected 23 sacks, at least six in each of his three-year tenure, as well as an impressive 13 tackles for loss, nine of his 23 sacks and a touchdown in 2018.
Final Thoughts: Anthony Nelson is a second Carl Nassib. They are both 6-foot-7, roughly 270 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash with only a few tenths of a second separating them. With a lineup possibility of JPP-Nassib-Nelson-Vea, that size and strength would scare just about any NFL offense.
Round 5: Matt Gay/Kicker/Utah
Tampa has this knack of taking a pick that makes you go “okay, but why?” and this year they wanted to take it to another level by adding another kicker. Immediate flashes of Roberto Aguayo missing anything his foot touched flashed before each and every Bucs fans minds. Although, after taking five minutes to really think about it, the pick makes a lot of sense. Tampa’s special teams were just as bad if not worse than its defense.
Missed field goals. shanked punts. bad coverage on punts and kickoffs made life harder for the Bucs. Gay brings in an impressive resume: perfect from extra points, perfect from inside 39 yards, six from 11 from 50 plus. and a long of 55 yards. Matt Gay could be the answer to the kicking curse once and for all.
Final Thoughts: Matt Gay has a real chance to steal the starting job from Cairo Santos, who struggled at times last season. In all honesty, he needs to win the job if the Bucs are going to rectify using another draft pick on a kicker.
Round 6: Scott Miller/WR/Bowling Green
Tampa lost two very important assets in the offseason, both of whom happen to be wide receivers. Losing Jameis’s security blanket, Adam Humphries, as well as trading away arguably the fastest receiver in the league, Desean Jackson, left the Bucs empty in the receiver department. Tampa now needed a speedy deep threat to complement emerging stars Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Scott Miller fits that profile. Standing at just 5-foot-11 and a 40 yard dash time of 4.36. Miller had a very impressive career at Bowling Green. He accumulated over 2800 yards in his four-year tenure and 23 touchdowns with an average of over 13 yards per catch. Miller was considered to be a sneaky underrated prospect of the 2019 NFL draft.
Final Thoughts: Miller may be facing an uphill battle for a chance at a 53 man roster spot. The Bucs already signed speedster Breshad Perriman in the offseason. Bobo Wilson and Justin Watson are also waiting for their own chances to shine for the last two years. However, Miller may be kept as an asset for special teams.
Round 7: Terry Beckner/DL/Missouri
Todd Bowles’ defensive reloading was not over just yet, as the Bucs drafted Beckner with their last pick of the draft. Beckner has an interesting story. He was once the second-rated player coming out of high school and after an impressive first season at Missouri, blew his knee out. Beckner would need nearly two years to get truly healthy again, but came back as a force. Over his last two seasons, he amounted an average of 35 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, had 10 total sacks and an interception.
While he may have slowed down some thanks to his knee injuries, Beckner is still a force to be reckoned. He still has the speed to bull rush defenders and create some pressure. He plays aggressive and full throttle, often ragdolling the ball carrier and in constant pursuit of tackles. This fits the exact mold coaches Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles were looking for.
Final Thoughts: Beckner could be an important role player in this reloaded Bucs defense, and rotation is key. Beckner could fill the Vinny Curry roll and add some much-needed depth. Beckner still has the killer instinct that made him one of the top-rated prospects coming out of high school. Even if that means carrying a chip on his shoulder to prove it.