Projecting the Buccaneers 53-man Roster: Final Edition

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The National Football League final cuts deadline looms this Saturday. Here is a look at how things could shake out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they narrow the roster to 53.

Quarterbacks (2)

Jameis Winston

Ryan Griffin

Blaine Gabbert (PUP)

In my first roster projection, I had the Buccaneers carrying three quarterbacks into the season. Unfortunately, Blaine Gabbert separated his shoulder diving for a first down in last Friday’s preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.

The team appears confident the veteran will sooner rather than later, but he could still land on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List if not Injured Reserve (IR) with a designation to return. The former requires keeping him out for a minimum of six weeks with the latter requiring eight weeks minimum before activation. Also, teams are only allowed two designations to return per season so that could be a consideration as well with Jason Pierre-Paul possibly taking one of those slots.

In the meantime, Vinny Testaverde Jr. was re-signed to handle the bulk of Tampa Bay’s preseason finale in Dallas on Thursday. If Gabbert does land on IR, expect the team to scour the waiver wire for a veteran with game experience.

Running Backs (4)

Peyton Barber

Ronald Jones II

Dare Ogunbowale

Andre Ellington

Not much has changed here since my last roster projection. I still anticipate these four to be kept, with the top three all having respectable roles in the offense while the bottom three listed chip in on special teams. Dare Ogunbowale seems to have locked up the third-down specialist role while Ronald Jones II looks likely to continue as the primary kickoff returner while splitting time with Peyton Barber on early downs.

Wide Receivers (5)

Mike Evans

Chris Godwin

Breshad Perriman

Justin Watson

Bobo Wilson

I was hoping the third preseason game would provide some clarity here but it is still as murky as ever. No one on the bottom half has distinguished themselves sufficiently to remove the uncertainty surrounding the reserve wide receiver spots.

Previously, I projected Spencer Schnell to secure the final spot, but he was limited to just a single snap on offense Friday. Meanwhile, Bobo Wilson and Scotty Miller both got an extended look with the offense and handled punt return duties.

My guess is the three (Wilson, Miller, Schnell) are competing for a single roster spot as the primary punt returner and speed threat on offense. If that is the case, Bobo Wilson is likely the leader. I believe the team drafted Miller with the expectation he could unseat Wilson, but that just hasn’t come to fruition yet. He will have one more chance Thursday in Dallas. Otherwise, the team will look to sneak him onto the practice squad alongside Anthony Johnson.

Tight Ends (4)

O.J. Howard

Cameron Brate

Antony Auclair

Tanner Hudson

The Buccaneers are all but certain to keep four tight ends and the preseason exploits of Tanner Hudson have been impossible to ignore. In the short-term Hudson makes an intriguing understudy for Cameron Brate. However, his long-term viability with the team will rely on his development as a blocker.

Offensive Line (9)

Donovan Smith

Ali Marpet

Ryan Jensen

Alex Cappa

Demar Dotson

Caleb Benenoch

Earl Watford

Josh LeRibeus

Cole Boozer

The top-seven remains unchanged from my previous projection. To my eye, Nate Trewyn and Williams Poehls have outplayed Cole Boozer and Josh LeRibeus. However, they are not the ones getting the second-team snaps. The team cannot possibly feel confident in either Boozer nor LeRibeus based on what they’ve seen thus far. Expect at least one if not multiple waiver-wire transactions to fill out this group. Look for Trewyn and/or Poehls to make the practice squad if they can clear waivers.

Defensive Line (6)

Ndamukong Suh

Vita Vea

William Gholston

Beau Allen

Rakeem Nunez-Roches

Jeremiah Ledbetter

Rakeem “Nacho” Nunez-Roches was going to be a tough out for this coaching staff even before his two-sack performance on against the Dolphins. Now, he’s eliminated any doubt. In this edition, Tampa Bay keeps six defensive linemen while reducing the wide receiver group to five.

Outside Linebackers (5)

Carl Nassib

Noah Spence

Shaquil Barrett

Devante Bond

Anthony Nelson

Jason Pierre-Paul (IR with the designation to return)

The only change to the edge group is Devante Bond being moved over. Realistically, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles probably intends to use him both inside and outside depending on where the need arises and what personnel packages they develop. This just makes the positional balance sheet a bit more even.

Good news regarding Pierre-Paul broke with the announcement he has been cleared to begin rehabbing his neck injury. The assumption here is the team will still take the cautious approach placing him on IR with a designation to return. This will give the team an 8-11 week window to evaluate his progress before returning him to practice.

Inside Linebackers (5)

Devin White

Lavonte David

Kevin Minter

Deone Bucannon

Jack Cichy

There have been no updates on Lavonte David since his knee surgery was announced three weeks ago. The diagnosis then was that he would be ready to go for the regular season. While I’d feel better with positive confirmation, I am penciling him in as the starter. Jack Cichy‘s infectious energy and high motor earn him a roster spot as well.

Cornerbacks (6)

Vernon Hargreaves III

Carlton Davis

Jamel Dean

Sean Murphy-Bunting

M.J. Stewart

Mazzi Wilkins

Ryan Smith (suspended)

No changes here. In fact, M.J. Stewart further solidified his status with a strong performance in the first half against Miami. He played 42 snaps Friday night including 28 at nickel corner and another 13 on special teams (per PFF, subscription required).

Safeties (4)

Jordan Whitehead

Justin Evans

Mike Edwards

Isaiah Johnson

Justin Evans was medically cleared and resumed practicing this week, a welcome relief for those that have been sweating it out over his status (like me). This likely means Kentrell Brice and Isaiah Johnson are competing for a single spot. I’ll side with Johnson based on his versatility and special teams prowess.

Special Teams (3)

K: Matt Gay

P: Bradley Pinion

LS: Zach Triner

KR: Ronald Jones II

PR: Bobo Wilson

The only changes here are at the return spots. Head Coach Bruce Arians appears sold on Jones as the primary kick returner due to his breakaway speed and ability to break tackles while Wilson locks down the punt return job over Miller and Schnell.


Check us out on our socials:   
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk 
Instagram: @primetimesportstalk

Share this:

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *