THAT’S ALL FOLKS!
The 2020 NFL Draft has come to an end, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can start looking towards the new season (if we even have one). I’m sure that none of you expected this draft to happen the way it did, but it’s over now, so let’s review how Day 3 went for our home team.
The Bucs entered Day 3 after hitting home runs with their first and second-round picks and addressing a BIG need in the third. Unfortunately, they had no fourth-round picks after trading one away for new tight end Rob Gronkowski and the other away to move up one spot in the first round. So, their first pick on Saturday came at #161 in the fifth round with the three more picks following that being the 194th in the sixth, the 241st in the seventh, and the 245th in the seventh. Some people were anticipating some kind of trade, whether it involved OJ Howard or not, up into the fourth round, but it never happened. Instead, the Bucs rolled with their four picks they started the day with.
Day 3, for the Bucs, started out with a BANG! After losing Breshad Perriman in free agency, the Bucs had a need to fill that third receiver position, and boy did they. They got lucky once when PFF’s highest-rated receiver in the FBS fell to them with that 161st pick. I had the Bucs taking Minnesota’s star receiver Tyler Johnson in the fourth round, so to get him in the fifth was a gift. At 6’2″/205lbs, he’s a Chris Godwin clone with decent speed and great hands. He’s a route technician and very dangerous after the catch. Now, who does that sound like? This guy should step in right away and compete for that #3 WR with Scotty Miller. In his final two years in Minnesota, he finished with 164 catches for 2,487 yards and 33 touchdowns, averaging over 15 yards per. TheDraftNetwork.com had him ranked as their 15th best wide receiver in this draft, and he was the 21st wide receiver off the board. They had him ranked 81st out of all the players in the draft, and he was the 161st player off the board. He was an absolute steal in the fifth round!
The Bucs had one more position that really needed to be addressed in this draft, which was a defensive tackle. Even though they re-signed Ndamukong Suh and Rakeem Nunez-Roches this off-season, they lost Beau Allen to the Patriots in free agency. They solved that issue when Nebraska’s Khalil Davis fell to them with their 194th pick in the sixth round. At 6’2″/305lbs, he ran a blazing 4.75 forty and put up 32 reps of 225lbs at the NFL Combine. In his last two years at Nebraska, he played 23 games finishing with 85 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks. What he lacks in length, he makes up for in power, quickness, and hustle. While he may not end up as the eventual replacement for Suh, but I think he’ll be a solid, productive addition to the d-line rotation. According to TheDraftNetwork.com, he was the 15th ranked interior defensive lineman in the draft. He was the 22nd interior defensive lineman off the board and the 194th player picked. I feel like the Bucs got another steal here with Davis.
By the time the seventh round came, the Bucs had filled their major positions of need and were now in the position to make a couple of “luxury picks“. The first was Temple inside linebacker Chapelle Russell. At 6’2″/235lbs, he ran a 4.69 forty, put up 21 reps of 225lbs, and had a 35″ vertical. In his three years as a starter for Temple, he played in 35 games finishing with 212 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 9 passes defended, and 4 forced fumbles. He tore his right ACL (knee) twice early on in his college career but came back strong after playing in all 26 games of his junior and senior years. He may be a tad bit undersized, but his speed and athleticism make him a good coverage linebacker. Don’t let his size fool you, though. He will still lay the wood on ball carriers. This 241stpick adds some much-needed depth to the Bucs inside linebacker group behind LavonteDavid and Devin White.
The second “luxury pick” for Tampa was another running back. With their 245th pick of the seventh round, the Bucs grabbed Louisiana-Lafayette’s, Raymond Calais. At 5’8″/190lbs, he’s a smaller back with great speed and agility who ran a 4.42 forty and jumped 37.5″ while putting up 20 reps of 22lbs. In his last two years as a starter, he played in 28 games finishing with 1,640 yards on just 198 carries averaging 8.5 yards per carry and scoring 13 touchdowns. He was considered a “gadget back” by most draft scouts and was projected as a possible fifth-round pick. He almost reminds me of a Warrick Dunn type back, but head coach Bruce Arians referred to him as a “smaller version of David Johnson” who Arians drafted in Arizona. That’s one hell of a compliment. Unless the Bucs sign a veteran free agent running back at some point, it appears as though Ronald Jones II will be the featured back in this year’s offense with third-round pick Ke’Shawn Vaughn being the third-down back and Calais being a change of pace back of sorts.
Even though the draft was over, teams weren’t done adding talent to their rosters. Before the draft even concludes, teams start calling guys that probably aren’t getting drafted to sign them as free agents. The Bucs stayed busy for a while adding 13 more undrafted free agents to the team. So here’s the full list of them and I’ll just discuss a couple that I think have a good shot of actually making the roster in some capacity.
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS
- QB Reid Sinnett, San Diego | 6’4″| 225lbs
- G John Molchon, Boise State | 6’5″| 325lbs (projected for Round 5-7): Started 29 games in his final three years, two-time All-Mountain West Conf First Team, part of a Bronco o-line that produced one of the most productive offenses in college football, has experience playing tackle as well
- G Nick Leverett, Rice | 6’3″| 310lbs
- G/C Zach Shackelford | Texas | 6’4″| 305lbs
- LB Cam Gill, Wagner: 6’3″/235lbs
- LB Michael Divinity Jr, LSU | 6’2″ | 240lbs (projected for Rounds 3-5): Played just 17 games during his junior and senior seasons but produced 77 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 7 sacks in that time, has versatility playing inside, outside and rush linebacker positions
- WR Josh Pearson, Jacksonville State | 6’3″| 205lbs: Ran a 4.46 forty at Pro Day, Walter Payton Award finalist, first-team AP All-American, finished with 126 catches for 2,066 yards and 30 touchdowns averaging 16 yards per catch
- WR John Hurst, West Georgia | 6’1″| 195lbs
- WR Travis Jonsen, Montana State | 6’3″| 210lbs
- DE/OLB Nasir Player, East Tennessee State | 6’4″| 265lbs: A three-year starter who produced 155 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks, 23 QB hurries
- DT/DE Benning Potoa’e, Washington | 6’3″| 300lbs: Played in 45 career games, produced 98 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in final three seasons, and a former teammate of Vita Vea
- S Javon Hagan, Ohio | 6’1″| 210lbs: Played in 50 career games as a four-year starter producing 316 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 6 interceptions, 26 passes defended and 7 forced fumbles, leader of the defense, four-time All-MAC team, do-it-all safety, and elite tackler
- CB Parnell Motley, Oklahoma | 6’| 180lbs: Played 39 games as a three-year starter producing 167 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions, 33 passes defended and 6 forced fumbles, an aggressive press corner with good speed and ball skills, locked down top prospects Jalen Raegor and Denzel Mims in 2019
In closing, the Bucs addressed the rest of their glaring needs by finding their new #3 receiver in Tyler Johnson, adding some much-needed depth at the interior d-line and linebacking corps in Khalil Davis and Chapelle Russell and bringing another running back into the mix with Ray Calais. They also added some more competition at their interior o-line, wide receiver, d-line and secondary with their undrafted free agent signings.
I’ve seen experts grading this draft as a solid B+ for the Buccaneers. I like to wait until after the season to grade a draft class, but if I had to grade this one right now I’d probably give it a B+ as well. You can tell with the way Jason Licht and his guys drafted that they are definitely in “win now” mode. Now all that this team needs is for the COVID-19 virus to go away so that we can get rolling with OTA’s and training camp.
Until then, as always, GO BUCS!!!