Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Where the draft picks fit on the team

Devin White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Devin White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added eight players in the 2019 NFL Draft with six being on defense. Here is how they would fit in on the team right now.

It has seemed that this entire offseason the biggest report from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the recent regime change is how the defense is going to change. Very few things have been said about the offense, which will look to be almost identical to last season other than a healthier offensive line, and the draft reflected this.

Six defensive players were drafted along with one offensive player and a kicker. While nothing is set in stone yet, the Buccaneers defense will surely have some new options to play around with this upcoming season.

Devin White is almost guaranteed to be a starter at inside linebacker alongside Lavonte David. White has all of the characteristics both physical and mental to excel on this defense and will contribute from day one. In addition, one of the messages that has been highlighted this offseason has been that defensive coordinator Todd Bowles intends to use a defense that utilizes 3-4 and 4-3 packages based on the personnel.

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In a 4-3 White would stay on the inside and then Lavonte David would move back to the outside where he has played most of his career. For all intents and purposes White will be an immediate replacement for Kwon Alexander, and hopefully this time the Bucs can hold on to him.

After Devin White the consensus is a little less clear as to which of the draftees will be starters from the beginning of the season like he will. As far as positions of need go, the other outside linebacker spot opposite Shaquil Barrett will be fourth round pick Anthony Nelson’s to lose. Basically a faster copy of defensive end Carl Nassib, Nelson will be a front-runner to start at that position that desperately needs a star and a contributor.

In a 4-3 set Nelson also has the size to play defensive end as a down lineman. While not as elite as his fellow edge rushers in this year’s Draft, Nelson has a mixture of size and speed that makes his future look bright under Todd Bowles.

Cornerback and 2nd round pick Sean Bunting will likely not have a starting spot handed to him, but will surely be in a competition starting in training camp to be a starter. Bunting has the physicality and play style to fit into Bowles defense like a glove, and perhaps better than some of last year’s starters.

With Vernon Hargreaves receiving an extension, it is likely that Bunting, Carlton Davis, and Hargreaves are in a competition for their order in the top two spots, and third spot in a nickel defense.

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Don’t be surprised if one of the other cornerbacks on the roster is traded and Bunting sees his competition to becoming a starter lessen before the season starts. As Bunting’s competition disappears so too would third round pick Jamal Dean’s.

Similar in his physicality and taken to play Bowles defense better than the corners on the team last year, Dean could be a fringe player or utility sub on the team as it is, but with an injury or trade to Carleton Davis or Hargreaves, Dean could see his chances improve to make it on the field.

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Safety Mike Edwards would likely be the last player drafted (other than kicker Matt Gay) who has a chance of earning some real playing time this season. The Buccaneers have some depth at this position with the likes of Justin Evans, Kentrell Brice, Deone Bucannon, and Jordan Whitehead, but Edwards has a nose for the ball and plays hard and could carve out a role on the team, especially if Whitehead fails to produce and Bucannon plays more reps at linebacker.

As for the other players taken in the Draft, receiver Scott Miller and defensive lineman Terry Beckner will struggle to see the field. Miller was talented in college and is fast, but it seems unlikely that he could come in and immediately beat out starting receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, backup Breshad Perriman, and tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. It is most likely that Miller will start out on special teams even though he did not play that role at the end of his college career and work his way up from there.

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Terry Beckner was drafted to shore up the inside of the defensive line at one of the 3-4 defensive end positions, but him making the team is not a foregone conclusion. Beckner could be a decent backup player but has dealt with injuries for a long period of his career. This may make the Buccaneers cautious to use an active roster spot on him, but if Beckner could remain healthy he could preserve his status on the team.