Hello Bucs Lifers and welcome to the wonderful world of Deez! Some of you might be familiar with my work from the WhatTheBuc website. Some of you may not. But I have now been given the awesome opportunity to contribute some of my fan perspective pieces right here on Bucs Life News, so all of you now have the honor and privilege of reading my brilliance!
I’m a fan, just like all of you. The only difference is that I’m dumb enough to wear a mask and sweat my nads off every game instead of dressing like a normal, sane person. That being said, I try to write from a fan’s perspective. I write from the heart. I write what I feel, both good and bad. And I’ll give you my opinion on whether it’s good or bad. Some may disagree with me, and that’s fine, but it’s always the truth. You can guarantee that. I try to stay informed as much as I can about what’s going on with the team so that I can offer that same courtesy to my readers.
With that in mind, I’ve decided that my first official article for Bucs Life News will be my very own 53-man roster prediction for the 2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now that the preseason games are done and over with (thank goodness!) and the team made it through training camp without any real significant injuries, I have a pretty good idea of how this roster could shape up. In an interview during the game last night, Bucs general manager Jason Licht said that they pretty much had the roster worked out with the exception of a few spots. So I’m going to take a stab at what I think it will look like after they finish final cuts at 4 pm tomorrow. Keep in mind that this roster could change once other teams start making cuts as well. So here we go!
QUARTERBACKS (3)- Jameis Winston, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin
Winston is the obvious starter here, but the battle in camp has been for the backup QB spot. I initially didn’t think that they could carry three quarterbacks on this roster, but with the shoulder injury to Gabbert and the stellar play of Griff this preseason, I don’t think they have a choice but to keep all three of them. In fact, in the postgame press conference last night head coach Bruce Arians even said that Griffin had “earned his spot on the team”.
RUNNING BACKS (4)- Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones II, Dare Ogunbowale, Andre Ellington
With Ellington’s long history of injuries, the Bucs have to keep four running backs on this team. And the explosion of Ogunbowale on to the scene makes their choice an easy one. In fact, he may even be ahead of Ellington on the depth chart when it comes out. Undrafted rookie Bruce Anderson had a decent final game against the Cowboys, but it wasn’t enough to earn him a roster spot. I do think that he did just enough to make the practice squad though.
WIDE RECEIVERS (5)- Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson, Bobo Wilson
There may have been some contemplating by the Bucs staff about keeping a sixth wide receiver on this roster, but I don’t think anyone other than these top five has done enough. I know the staff really wanted rookie speedster Scotty Miller to be a part of this team, but he was injured for most of camp and hasn’t impressed much in these final two preseason games. Undrafted rookie Spencer Schnell has played well, but I’m not sure it was enough to earn a spot on this roster. Both of them could end up on the practice squad if they make it through the waiver process.
TIGHT ENDS (4)- OJ Howard, Cam Brate, Antony Auclair, Tanner Hudson
Hudson’s record-setting performance this preseason made the Bucs decision to keep four tight ends an easy one. I thought that free agent Jordan Leggett was going to compete for that fourth spot, but he never quite came around. Even if he had, I’m not sure that he could’ve beat out Hudson after the way he’s played.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)- Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa, Demar Dotson, Caleb Benenoch, Earl Watford, Josh LeRibeus, William Poehls
I’ve seen roster projections that have the Bucs keeping rookie guard Zack Bailey or even rookie center Nate Trewyn, but in my opinion, they need some more work before their 53-man roster worthy. Both of them should end up on the practice squad, though. I’ve seen Cole Boozer left on the roster in some projections, but since he still has practice squad eligibility, I think that’s where he could end up. I’ve also seen projections that have Benenoch as the only offensive tackle on the roster. I can’t see that happening as Arians has not been pleased with his play on the left side. Unfortunately, he is the best option as the reserve right tackle and probably as the sixth o-lineman in jumbo packages. Watford offers versatility to play either guard position or even center and Poehls offers versatility as well with the ability to play guard or tackle. I saw him practicing at right guard in camp and then he played most of the second half last night at left tackle. LeRibeus is my only question mark here. Do the Bucs keep a backup center on this roster or do they choose to use that spot for another position? I say his versatility to play guard or center helps him here, and he makes the cut. At least for now.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6)- Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, Beau Allen, Will Gholston, Rakeep Nunez-Roches, Patrick O’Connor
I initially thought that they would keep five in this group, but I had to add a spot because I couldn’t decide between “Nacho” Nunez-Roches or O’Connor as both of them have had really solid camps. Rookie Terry Beckner Jr. misses the cut, but should end up on the practice squad where he can develop a little more.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)- Carl Nassib, Noah Spence, Shaq Barrett, Devante Bond
I had to take one spot away from this group to add my sixth d-lineman, so for now, there are only four outside linebackers. Keep in mind that Jason Pierre-Paul will be back eventually. Yes, he’s been cleared to start rehab activities, but for now, he’s on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, and he won’t count against the roster until after 6 weeks. It seems as though Bond has finally found something he’s good at on defense, so he takes that final spot in the group away from rookie Anthony Nelson who ends up on the practice squad.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)- Lavonte David, Devin White, Kevin Minter, Deone Bucannon, Jack Cichy
I originally only had four in this group until Bruce Arians recently said that Jack Cichy has become one of his favorite players. As active as this position is in Bowles’ defense, they could use the extra man anyway.
CORNERBACKS (5)- Vernon Hargreaves, Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean, De’Vante Harris
I thought about putting undrafted rookie Mazzi Wilkins here in place of Harris, but I think it makes more sense to keep the vet and put the rook on the practice squad. Once Ryan Smith comes off of his four-game suspension, he’ll end up as that fifth corner and Harris will likely be released. There’s also the possibility of MJ Stewart coming from his safety position to play some corner if they need some help, so this group will be just fine until Smith returns.
SAFETIES (5)- Justin Evans, Jordan Whitehead, Mike Edwards, MJ Stewart, Kentrell Brice
Injuries have really done this group dirty. Evans has been out the entire training camp with one thing or another. Edwards started camp strong, but has been hurt for the last couple of weeks. The only certainty with this group at this point is that Whitehead should be one of the two starting safeties. There was a back and forth with me between keeping Brice or Darian Stewart, but I ended up going with youth and athleticism over age and experience.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)- P Bradley Pinion, LS Zach Triner, K Matt Gay
The jobs of Pinion and Triner have been safe throughout camp, so the only real position battle in this group was at kicker. Even though that race has been neck and neck, the Bucs spent a fifth-round pick on Gay and he would cost them a little less money than Cairo Santos. Gay wins the job in my book.
PRACTICE SQUAD (10)- C Nate Trewyn, G Zack Bailey, OT Brock Ruble, CB Mazzi Wilkins, DL Terry Beckner Jr., ILB Emmanuel Smith, OLB Anthony Nelson, RB Bruce Anderson, WR Scotty Miller, S John Battle
Well, there you have it. My 53-man AND practice squad roster projection for the 2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I could be wrong on a few of these, but this would be my decision based on the limited amount of football that I’ve seen throughout training camp and the preseason games. Hey, what do I know though, right? I’m just a fan, playing a fan, disguised as another fan.
Here’s what I do know.
I love this new Todd Bowles defense. I love the aggressiveness. I love the blitzes. I love the versatility. I love all of it.
I know that we may have a kicker that could end the “Matt Bryant curse” once and for all in Matt Gay. He ended this preseason 5 of 6, including two game-winners, with two from 50+ yards and was 2 for 2 on extra points.
I know that this offense will be scary IF the offensive line can get their jobs done. This should be a career year for Jameis, and a breakout year for Godwin and RoJo.
I also know that this team will compete for the NFC South division AND a playoff spot. I don’t care what the “experts” are predicting with their 5-11 and 7-9 records. Arians and his staff will have this team ready to compete every week and are teaching them how to win close games.
We’re in for an exciting season Bucs Lifers, and I’m looking forward to every minute of it!
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!