The Bucs have gone from laughable losers to a hot point of interest after their signing of VFA QB Tom Brady. Their ticket website has been a hotbed of activity since the signing, despite the fact that ticket prices went up double digit percentage points immediately. The Bay Area is blazing with excitement at the improved prospects for the team with Brady at the controls of their Offense. However, playing in the same division with the Saints means the Bucs will have to surround Brady with additional talent. And the biggest potential add-on avenue is through the Draft.
Round 1, Pick 14 (PP#16) JEDRICK WILLS OT Alabama 6’4/312 Protecting a relatively immobile BRADY will require better play at the OT slots. I can forsee SMITH sliding over to RT and WILLS taking over the LT slot. WILLS may not be the best long term LT prospect in this draft, but he may be the most ready to play right away, given his college background. He played in 10 games as a true frosh, and has started every game the past two seasons for the Tide. He is on the bottom end of height for a pro OT slot, but he has 34 1/4″ long arms, with an 83 1/2″ wingspan. His 5.05/40 time at the Combine was also high in the rankings amongst OT prospects. He’s a tenacious hombre who is still developing as a pass protector. WILLS is also considered to be a high FBI guy, who still has upside in most facets of his play. He has a wide base, providing strength and anchor ability against edge rushers.
Round 2, Pick 45 (PP#44) CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE RB LSU 5’7/207 This guy really came on in 2019 for an LSU running game that looked to be sub-par by Bayou Bengal standards. He’s explosive with the ball in his hands, and really excels as a receiver. He has large hands for his size (9 5/8″), and he shows them in catching everything thrown his way, then accelerating to and thru secondaries. He caught 55 throws last season, and ran under/through defenders for YAC. Seeing what Brady did in New England with James White ought to bode well for CE-H. He and the much improved Ronald Jones should give the Bucs a nice 1-2 RB set to work with.
Round 3, Pick 76 (PP#75) DEVIN DUVERNAY WR Texas 5’10/200 EVANS and GODWIN give Brady the best set of targets he’s arguably ever had as a pro, but it wouldn’t hurt to compliment those guys with a fast, natural slot receiver more along the lines of a guy named Edelman. Duvernay blazed a 4.39/40 at the Combine and is quick as well. He also runs like a RB after the catch. He exploded in his senior year at Texas, catching 106 balls for almost 1,400 yards. He looks to still have some upside in him, and a QB like Brady will help him reach new levels in route running and reading secondary coverages. Duvernay should also find a few roles on Special Teams with his speed and toughness.
Round 4, Pick 117 (PP#114) McTELVIN AGIM DT Arkansas 6’3/309 AGIM returned for his senior season at Arkansas, even though the program was pretty much in chaos. It paid off, as he worked his butt off and arguably had the best season of his college career. He earned an invite to the Shrine venue and was absolutely dominant in practices. Purely and simply put, he was unblockable in pass pro drills. His energy, quickness, and hand usage to avoid blockers was elite. In fact, he was so impressive that he got the coveted “call-up” to participate in the Senior Bowl the following week. His explosion and quickness should be a nice compliment to the power and strength of SUH and VEA in their DL group. Agim ran a 4.98/40 at the Combine. He’s also a sideline to sideline chaser in run defense.
Round 4, Pick 139 (PP#141) KAMAL MARTIN LB Minnesota 6’3/240 Heading into his senior season for the Golden Gophers, MARTIN was expected to be a team leader both on and off the field. Playing through some nagging injuries, he played in only 8 games, but still managed a career high 66 tackles in those abbreviated appearances. His size numbers are quite impressive. He has 10 1/8″ hands and 34″ arm length. His wingspan measures 81″. The question to be answered is whether or not he can handle pass coverage roles. Despite questions about his fluidity, he did record 2 INT’s last season. Helping him make the team will likely be his physical nature, which should translate well to Special Teams roles right away.
Round 5, Pick 161 (PP#162) MALCOLM ROACH DL Texas 6’2/297 A few years back, ROACH might have been urged to head to Canada to play because of his lack of height for a DL position. However, with positional size stereotypes being phased out in the NFL, ROACH is too athletic and physical to eliminate from prospect lists. He was a true leader in the Texas defensive unit last season, specializing in big, clutch plays. Even I was caught off guard when the 297 lb. ROACH clocked a 4.84/40 at the Combine, and thinking back to my film watching, he does indeed play with that kind of speed and hustle. The Bucs may find that he will give them multiple role options in their defense.
Round 6, Pick 194 (PP#187) JON RUNYAN OG Michigan 6’4/306 Yes, one more OL candidate for the BUCS roster. RUNYAN was part of that stellar OL unit at Michigan. He started the past two seasons out at LT. Word got to him that he might be a bit short for an OT job in the NFL. So rather than fight it, he began his switch to OG during his week at the Shrine venue. With his dad Jon, a former NFL OT, in town, the coaching got detailed and serious while in St. Pete. By game day, RUNYAN looked like a natural inside, and I think with his positive attitude about making the position switch, he has a very good chance to earn an NFL spot as a versatile backup. I also believe he has a solid chance to fight for a starting position on the Interior is a year or two. He has a good gene pool, decent size and experience, and the kind of desire and work ethic to play in the NFL. This is really good value for Round 6.
There is sufficient base talent on this roster to compete for a play-off spot with a QB like Brady in play now. The above draft effort fills some holes around Brady and promises better quality depth in more spots than in recent years. However, the Saints are a tough team to move past. Expectations are sky high, and will be a challenge to satisfy.