After being one of the biggest let downs in 2017 the Bucs needed to revamp a few key positions, particularly on defense. The goal was to get more physical and nasty in the trenches, build up the running game and sure up the secondary. Based on this plan it feels like the Bucs achieved all their goals and should be primed to live up to the hype that started building going into last year. Our Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2018 NFL Draft Review analyzes every single Bucs pick looking both at fit and value.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2018 NFL Draft Review
1st Round – Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Vea is a powerhouse defensive tackle with rare movement ability. His strength and athleticism make him a great run defender and developing pass rusher. If he can continue to fine tune his hand usage then he can be a perennial pro bowler. This will help improve a Bucs defensive line that was pushed around on a consistent bases last season. It will be very hard to push a guy like Vea in the Tampa trenches.
2nd Round – Ronald Jones, RB, USC
After two lack luster years and issues of not being able to stay on the field (injury and suspension) the Bucs decided to part ways with running back Doug Martin. This created an even bigger need at running back for a Tampa Bay rushing attack that ranked 27th in the league last year. That should change with the addition of Jones. His elusiveness, speed and quickness make him a big play threat who can gash defenses anytime he touches the ball. Expect him to be the Bucs featured back moving forward.
2nd Round – MJ Stewart, CB, North Carolina
Stewart is a versatile corner who can play outside and in the nickel. And while this pick might have been earlier than I was have expected, he’ll add some much needed depth to a Bucs secondary that needs a big upgrade. Stewart also brings physicality and tackles NB ability to help support the run. I don’t expect to see starting reps for Stewart this year, but he’ll get plenty of playing time.
2nd Round – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn.
This is the big body corner the Bucs have been looking for. Davis is the kind of outside CB that can match up with guys like Julio Jones and Devin Funchess and hold his own. He has the capability of playing up at the line of scrimmage with his ability to press and get physical against the run as a dependable tackler. He should be able to crack the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
3rd Round – Alex Cappa, OL, Humboldt State.
Coming from a division two school, Cappa my take some time to adjust to level of competition at the NFL level. That being said, he’s show everything you’d want to see to expect big things. He dominated his level of competition as a nasty and imposing run blocker. He also showed very well at the senior bowl, proving that he was more than just a big fish in a small pond. He might start out as quality depth, but with Ali Marpet and Ryan Jensen there to mentor him (two guys who also didn’t play division one football) I believe it’s only a matter of time before Cappa wins the starting guard job in Tampa.
4th Round – Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh.
Whitehead is a fast and physical safety who will get a crack at competing for the starting job in Tampa. He’s a good tackler and has all the tools to cover man to man and over the top. His instincts are a little lacking and can get burned by play action, so he’ll need to clean that up before he can be trusted to get any real minutes on defense. Worst case scenario, he’s going to be a fantastic special teams player.
5th Round – Justin Watson, WR, Penn
Despite not playing division one football Watson looks to be ready to make his mark at the next level. He tested very well at his pro day, showing the size and speed you’d want in a NFL pass catcher. He excels as a route runner and can track the ball well over his shoulder. His playing time will be limited to mostly special teams if he makes the roster. However, he could find an increase in playing time next year when the Bucs are expected to part ways with Adam Humphries and potentially DeSean Jackson.
6th Round – Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin
Based on talent alone, Cichy could have easily been a day two pick. He’s a physical and dependable tackler with enough athleticism and agility to stay on the field for all three downs. He’s much like the Bucs third round pick from last year, Kendell Beckwith, who can play both middle and strong side linebacker. He will make for great depth and special teams value. The big issue will be staying healthy. He missed the second half of the 2016 season with a peck injury and all of 2017 with a knee injury. This pick is a calculated risk, but one well worth taking at this point in the draft.
Draft Grade: A
Best Pick: Carlton Davis
Biggest Reach: MJ Stewart