Buccaneers 53-man roster projection after first cuts and preseason game

Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first preseason game and wave of cuts behind us, let’s take a look at what the final 53-man roster may look like for the Buccaneers’ 2022 NFL season.

Now that we’ve seen the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in action under Todd Bowles (in some capacity at least), and the first wave of cuts come and go, we now have a little more clarity on what the final 53-man roster will look like. While much of the roster makeup is more likely than not set in stone, there are still some intriguing battles for spots among bubble players to explore, so let’s take a look.

As an aside before we begin, this is under the assumption that Ryan Jensen, Gio Bernard, and Cam Gill will start the season injured and not a part of the active roster. Time to dive in.

Buccaneers QBs: Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask (3)

No surprises here. The GOAT Tom Brady is your starter, Blaine Gabbert is his hand-picked backup, with Kyle Trask serving as the heir apparent (for now). If the preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins was any indication, the future looks a little brighter with Trask under center. Ryan Griffin should find a spot on the practice squad.

Buccaneers RBs: Leonard Fournette, Rachaad White, Ke’Shawn Vaughn (3)

Perhaps a bit of a surprise here. Bernard is still hurt and may miss some time. While Patrick Laird was brought in after the injuries to Bernard and Kenjon Barner, he may not be able to crack the final roster anyway and ends up on the practice squad. The Bucs may just roll with these three backs until Bernard is healthy and go from there. What is still up in the air however is how Vaughn and White will be ordered on the depth chart behind Fournette.  What happens when Bernard is healthy again remains to be seen. The primary reason for keeping only three is also for the next position group

Buccaneers WRs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, Russell Gage, Tyler Johnson, Jaelon Darden, Scotty Miller, Cyril Grayson (8)

This is where things start to get a little juicier. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, the depth in the Bucs’ receiver room is insane. The first four are no-brainers. Beyond that, we have a battle on our hands. Tyler Johnson may force the Bucs’ hands to keep him around, looking better and better every time we see him. Darden also saw a lot of targets, and is valuable for his return ability, as of now. Scotty Miller and Cyril Grayson both make the squad over Breshad Perriman. Perriman was brought in as almost an emergency last year, and Miller and Grayson both have rapports with Brady. With the three backs, the Bucs can still keep the eight receivers they seem to like the most. Besides, with health a question for a handful of them, it makes sense.

Buccaneers TEs: Kyle Rudolph, Cameron Brate, Cade Otton, Ko Kieft (4)

Four tight ends? It could happen. Kyle Rudolph is a road-grater of a blocker that can still be a valuable asset in the passing game when healthy, Cameron Brate is more of a receiver, and Cade Otton is an all-around tight end the team hopes can take over one day. Ko Kieft meanwhile, is known primarily as a blocking tight end, but the way the Bucs used him as more of an H-Back in the preseason opener, means he could be a valuable asset for a team that wants to run the ball more often in 2022. The fact that they carved out a specific role for him is very telling.

Buccaneers OL: Donovan Smith, Aaron Stinnie, Robert Hainsey, Shaq Mason, Tristan Wirfs, Luke Goedeke, Josh Wells, Nick Leverett, Fred Johnson (9)

It will be interesting to see what happens with the Buccaneers’ offensive line if Ryan Jensen is somehow able to come back at any point. That aside though, the offensive line, still one of the NFL’s best, is relatively locked-in. Fred Johnson’s final spot could be interesting given his competition does feature some other young players the team likes.

Buccaneers DL: Vita Vea, Akiem Hicks, William Gholston, Logan Hall, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Pat O’Connor (6)

This group is another one that’s relatively straightforward. The Buccaneers have a six-man rotation of their down-linemen that they should feel not only comfortable going into battle with, but confident as well. Games are won and lost in the trenches, and the Bucs are thriving on both sides of the ball in that department.

Buccaneers OLBs: Shaq Barrett, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Anthony Nelson, Carl Nassib (4)

Even without Jason Pierre-Paul, the pass-rush of the Bucs should not miss a beat. Shaq Barrett is a game-wrecker, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka has a chance to break out in his second season, and the recently returning Carl Nassib is back in Tampa Bay where he had his two career years. When he and Anthony Nelson, a solid depth piece, are your rotational pass-rusher, quarterbacks beware.

Buccaneers ILBs: Lavonte David, Devin White, K.J. Britt, Grant Stuard (4)

Again, very to the point here. Lavonte David and Devin White are your two obvious starters, with the improving K.J. Britt and special teams demon Grant Stuard behind them. With David guiding the group, more improvements should be to come. Britt and Stuard should also continue their spectacular work on special teams, which is how their spots are all but locked up.

Buccaneers CBs: Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean, Zyon McCollum, Dee Delaney (5)

With Ross Cockerell shown the door, the five corners the Buccaneers will keep around appear to be all but set. Following along to see where each one are lined up should be intriguing, as they’ve been lined up all over the place during camp. Especially when you consider the safeties.

Buccaneers S: Antoine Winfield Jr., Mike Edwards, Logan Ryan, Keanu Neal (4)

The four safeties are also versatile. Mike Edwards finally gets his chance to start, and Winfield and Neal have been working at slot corner during training camp. It was expected of Ryan, but not as much of Winfield. Ryan was expected to bring the versatility and coupled with the Neal signing, the writing was on the wall for Cockrell, who is versatile in his own right.

Buccaneers ST: Ryan Succop, Jake Camarda, Zach Triner (3)

This may be a bit controversial. Joe Borregales is well-liked in the Bucs building and amongst Bucs fans. However, the missed kick to lose the preseason game, a sneak preview of what could be to come in regular season NFL action, was not a good sign. He may be on thin ice with summer coming should he miss another, allowing the Buccaneers to stick with the familiar Succop. Punter should be interesting should rookie Jake Camarda not shake off the rookie jitters. Zach Triner is in no danger at long-snapper.

At the end of the day, we don’t know what will happen in the NFL, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are no different. Things change at the drop of a helmet. However, if we had to guess, this is what the final roster of the 2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look like.