Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2019 NFL Draft Combine preview

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 04: Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea (DL22) runs in the 40 yard dash at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 4, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 04: Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea (DL22) runs in the 40 yard dash at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 4, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

With the NFL Draft Combine less than a month away, who are prospects that Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fans should be keeping a close eye on?

The new league year is right around the corner as teams can start talking to free agents, and teams about trades beginning March 13. Before that the NFL Draft Combine, which is often over-looked starts February 26, 2019 and ends March 4, 2019 and besides a players pro-day, this is an important date for most players looking to hear their names called in April.

Tending to wait on making mock drafts until after the Combine, it is important to be on the lookout for the next great player to suit up for the Bucs. The combination of drills, interviews and measurements give NFL scouts and general managers a great place to start evaluating and rearranging their draft boards.

Watching players for their short shuttle, 40 yard dash, vertical jump, and standing broad jump aren’t getting the whole picture as the Combine runs defensive and offensive drills dependent on each position as well. These together with interviews are how teams evaluate a bulk of what goes into picking draftees, yet often enough we have the Antonio Brown’s and Tom Brady’s, great players being selected in the fifth and sixth round respectively.

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Tampa Bay, now more than ever needs to hit this year on draft picks. With the team under new head coach Bruce Arians and owning the fifth overall pick, trading back with a quarterback needy team should take priority. Should a trade back happen, it should produce a second round pick and more as in recent years, the Rams and Browns have both received large hauls for making a deal with teams looking to move up and nab their quarterback of the future.

With the Draft coming up in late April, and having five selections in the top-100, trading out of the fifth spot gives the Buccaneers a chance to add more ammunition and an opportunity to add more talent. The defensive lineman and wide receivers are deep followed by a decent offensive line group in this year’s draft class. This presents an opportunity for the Bucs to easily fill their roster with promising youth to help areas of weakness in their current line-up.

Tampa Bay stands with picks 1.5, 2.39, 3.70, 4.108, 5.146, and 7.217, losing the sixth round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The talent is there this year, and building draft capital is the best way to get a significant infusion of youth. Bucs’ GM Jason Licht has traded back and acquired more picks in the past, and should strongly consider making a move back again.

With the draft so deep, a couple of mid-round picks should be used on offensive lineman. Dalton Riser and Yodny Cajuste, both tackles, will be a solid option later in the first if a trade down does occur, but are likely to be gone before the early second round. Guard Chris Lindstrom from Boston College and hybrid interior lineman Garrett Bradbury out of NC State are among other names to watch for at the Combine.

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Linebacker isn’t the deepest class ever seen, with Devin White from Louisiana State being considered the top prospect who should be on the board at the edge of the top-ten if a trade back is made to that position. Devin Bush from Michigan is a target to keep an eye on in the late first or early second round should that asset be added in a prospective trade down.