When every draft is finished, each team’s coaching staff, front office, and all its fans pore over the names on each team’s drafted list. Every individual places their own value on each and every name on that list. It sometimes isn’t until seasons later that they find out what they actually have for their precious picks. In the best-case scenarios, the class works their way into the lineup in the first season, showing right out of the gate that the pick spent was indeed worth it. It’s got to be a special moment for a General Manager to look out onto the field during a game and see multiple rookies making a difference, after all, that is the goal of every team that steps up to the podium to take players that can contribute as soon as possible to a team’s weakness. Jason Licht, Bruce Arians, and Todd Bowles should be very pleased with their first draft together.
The Big Kahoona
The stud linebacker out of LSU that garnered such comparisons as a Brooks 2.0 or Ray Lewis-esque player was in all practical purposes, set up for incredible failure, due to out of this world comparisons being placed upon him by supposed experts in the field. Being compared to a pair of the best linebackers of the modern era is a heck of a compliment, as well as a heavy yolk. Devin White had to get through an early-season injury to even make it to the field. Once he made it to the field, though, he has with every game improved and impressed as he plays through the schedule. From forced fumbles after trucking down a running back 60 yards to tackles for a loss, sacks, and passes defended and beyond White is making a difference and showing flashes of the comparisons placed upon him.
Defensive backfield much improved due to rookie class
Sean Murphy-Bunting, Mike Edwards, and Jamel Dean are also showing their worth, while playing more and more. The Defensive Backfield trio is becoming a mainstay in this their rookie season. With every passing game, they are becoming more comfortable and able to allow their talent to take over and shine. There is another who is injured at the moment but had been seeing playing time on the defense: defensive Lineman/Outside Linebacker, Anthony Nelson. So there you have five drafted players on Defense all playing a major role in the Bucs improvement over the 2018 version.
Wide receiver and special team’s rookies
There are two more picks to mention. Wide receiver Scotty Miller has been playing well as of late. He has yet to make much of a big impact. That will happen when two of the leagues best receivers are on the depth chart ahead of you. It’s expected that he will continue to shine when given the limited chances afforded him. Last, but not least, is kicker Matt Gay. At times impressive, at other times disappointing, for me, the jury is still out on the rookie kicker. He missed three extra points against Atlanta (two misses, and a block), and to me, he’s just missing too often to be penned in ink as the answer to our kicking woes. He has the skills to do it, but will he? So far, I would say he still has much to prove. It would be a good idea, in my opinion, to bring in an Undrafted Free Agent after next year’s draft to compete with Gay. Maybe before season’s end, he can get his consistency back on track, and cement his roster spot.
Entire rookie class, contributing in different degrees
So there you have it, all seven rounds worth of rookies contributing on the field in their first year in the NFL, and some are contributing more than others, but most of them in an important role, and that’s a fairly rare thing in the NFL these days. Let’s hope they all continue moving forward, helping this team get better. Go Bucs!!