Ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, now less than one week away, we attempt to make sense of the prospects the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have met with.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and general manager Jason Licht have always been hard to predict in terms of their draft plans. Last year, Licht shocked everybody by selecting Washington’s Vita Vea over Florida State’s Derwin James, and in 2016 he traded back into the second round to select kicker Roberto Aguayo.
Entering a make-or-break 2019 season, Licht and the Buccaneers cannot afford any cute maneuvers or sexy picks as he has attempted to make in the past. While Licht is a hard man to figure out, we attempt to crack the code to the Buccaneers draft plans this year based off of team needs and the players who have come into town.
First off, high profile prospects such as Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen, Ed Oliver and Devin White have all come to Tampa Bay in order to meet with the Buccaneers. While this may sound rather obvious, the Buccaneers are going to add an elite defensive talent in the first round; if it is with the fifth pick in the draft, it will likely be one of the four names mentioned above.
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However, Tampa Bay has also hosted first round talents in the form of Devin Bush Jr., Clelin Ferrell, Montez Sweat, and Rashan Gary. Each of these players corresponds with a potential trade down slot in the draft. Closer to the top-ten will be Gary, Sweat, and Bush. Ferrell could be in case of a slip into the second round or if the Buccaneers make a could of moves back into the first round and find themselves picking anywhere from the 17th pick to the end of the first round.
The Buccaneers also hosted another first round target that could be a wildcard on Licht’s board, because, you know, he always has one. Tampa Bay also hosted Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford. It is evident by other prospects visiting, such as Alabama State’s Tytus Howard, and Elon’s Oli Udoh that Licht is looking for the heir apparent to Demar Dotson, but could he really do so by selecting Ford right around the 10th to 15th pick in the draft?
Based on the other tackle prospects, Howard and Udoh, the Buccaneers could look to draft an offensive lineman at anytime as Howard is almost a lock to be a top-40 pick, while Udoh is looking like a day-three flyer with the fourth round as his ceiling. Another second round pick that could surprise Buccaneers fans would be Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown, who visited the team and could be squarely on the board with the 39th pick in the draft.
Other targets the Buccaneers are could have with the 39th overall pick include:
CB/S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida)
S Johnathan Abrams (Mississippi State)
CB Lonnie Johnson Jr. (Kentucky)
DT Dexter Lawrence (Clemson)
DT Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame)
DT (Jeffery Simmons) *has a torn ACL and will be out for potentially all of 2019
This list is heavy with defensive backs, suggesting the second and third rounds could be safety and corner consecutively, while the team is also preparing at the interior of their defensive line as well in case they draft a linebacker in the first round.
Other potential day-two targets who have visited Tampa Bay, but are more likely to be third round selections include:
EDGE Jachai Polite (Florida)
EDGE Jaylon Ferguson (Louisiana Tech)
CB David Long (Michigan)
CB Jamel Dean (Auburn)
Some later round prospects who have visited Tampa Bay and are worth keeping an eye on include Baylor wide receiver Jalen Hurd, previously mentioned Udoh, Southern California cornerback Iman Marshall, and Penn State running back Myles Sanders.
With the exception of a few outliers, it appears the Buccaneers are prepared to spend heavy on the defensive side of the ball in the first three rounds. One interesting point to note is no interior offensive lineman have been in for visits with the Buccaneers, even though the only hole along their offensive line is at right guard. It appears the job is last year’s third round pick Alex Cappa’s to lose.
It will not be a surprise to hear the first three or four names of the Buccaneers’ draft picks to come on the defensive side of the ball. Given Tampa Bay’s defensive performance in 2018, this comes as a welcomed relief to the entire city and Buccaneers’ fans everywhere.