Stop me if you have heard this before. This is a defining season for the immediate future of this franchise. JAMEIS WINSTON is about to start making big time QB money. The years of Rookie contract money are about to end, and before the team hands him a big contract of over $20M per year, for multiple years, it has to make a determination as to whether he is their franchise QB, or if they need to start over again in 2020. Overall, his pro career to date has been mediocre, with a trail of off-field issues. Ironically, he seems to have serious leadership charisma when he stays out of trouble. He’s a good athlete, with a strong arm, but exhibits poor decision making skills, especially in decisive moments of game action.
It would behoove the Bucs management to put more talent around him NOW, and the 2019 Draft may have the biggest impact on that task. Veteran NFL Coach BRUCE ARIANS has been brought in as Head Coach to oversee the reclamation project, in conjunction with GM JASON LICHT.
Round 1, Pick 5
DEVIN WHITE LB LSU 6’0/237 PP#8
Their biggest VFA loss was LB KWON ALEXANDER. So bring in another LSU alum, and the highest ranked LB in the 2019 Draft. He is fast and tough, with excellent athleticism. His 4.42/40 time at the Combine was just incredible. He can stop the run and/or drop into coverage. In his two seasons as a full-time starter for LSU, he recorded 133 and 123 tackles, respectively. He brings his A-game every week, and has a high FBI. This Pick makes up for the loss of ALEXANDER, and then some.
Round 2, Pick 39
GREG LITTLE OT OLE MISS 6’5/310 PP#36
This big fella is arguably the best pure OT in this Draft. The only real question I have heard from the scouting community is his intensity from play-to-play. I get that, but I do NOT think he is lazy. He tends to reach and grab a bit. He’s a natural knee bender, who needs a pro coach who will have his back, but push him when he slips up a bit. Part of the WINSTON puzzle, to me, is too much pocket pressure. Hopefully, this guy will win a starting job and upgrade the pocket stability. He could slide inside to OG if that helps the team more immediately.
Round 3, Pick 70
JARRETT STIDHAM QB AUBURN 6’2/214 PP#68
SURPRISE! I think the team needs to upgrade the QB group. FITZPATRICK is now in Miami. Number two on the current BUCS depth chart is one BLAINE GABBERT. STIDHAM is not going to excite too many folks, but in the right setting, I think he has some NFL level skills. He’s a good athlete, with a strong arm and a fairly quick release. He was the most consistent QB in Mobile for Senior Bowl week. His 2018 season at Auburn was disappointing, but far from all his fault. The MALZAHN Offense there requires a strong running game, which was not present in 2018. Thus, STIDHAM completed 60.7% of his passes after hitting on 66.5% in 2017, but his 18-5 TD/INT ratio was still very good. At the worst, I believe STIDHAM is a solid NFL back-up, and at his best he’s ANDY DALTON, which would make him a better starting option than what we have seen overall from JAMEIS as a pro.
Round 4, Pick 107
LONNIE JOHNSON DB KENTUCKY 6’2/210 PP#114
There are quite a few question marks in the BUCS secondary right now. JOHNSON played mostly CB last season, but his size and athleticism also would seem to translate into S consideration. The fact that FA KENTRELL BRICE, let go by the Packers, but currently listed as a starter on the BUCS depth chart, should be frightening. JOHNSON posted a 4.52/40 at the Combine, which is marginal perhaps for CB, but plenty fast at S. He also ran a solid 7.01 in the 3-Cone, which clearly indicates he can change direction in coverage. With some accelerated coaching and playing time, he might be ready to help their secondary as a Rookie.
Round 5, Pick 145
MECOLE HARDMAN WR/RS 5’10/187 PP#138
Let’s give WINSTON a fast, elusive slot receiver to go with his big targets at the other receiving slots. Gotta luv his 4.33/40 time from the Combine. He will also serve them well in the Return Game. He accelerates quickly, and blazes his way through opponent coverages. He is indeed a Home Run threat anywhere on the field. To my eyes, he could be an inexpensive, but effective, replacement for the newly departed DeSEAN JACKSON.
Round 6, Pick 197
ROSS PIERSCHBACHER OC/G 6’4/306 PP#196
He was a four year starter for Alabama, which is a hard thing to do with their mother-lode of talent each season. He may need a year or two to develop more strength, but he has the FBI and experience to play soon at the next level. The BUCS have a mid-thirties backup, (SMITH), and a high priced OC in JENSEN. I think he could beat out a couple of vet backups as a Rookie. This young man could be a bargain priced roster addition with serious pro upside.
Round 6, Pick 208
RODNEY ANDERSON RB OKLAHOMA 6’0/224 PP#107
Perhaps the biggest issue for the BUCS Offense in recent years has been the lack of a ball possession running game. DOUG MARTIN flashed early in his Bucs career, but fell victim to injuries and off-field issues. So, on the assumption that this guy’s medical at the Combine was cautiously optimistic, it is time to take a gamble on greatness with a powerful home run playmaker, when he is healthy. He can run and he can catch. He runs with power and speed. His career rushing average for the Sooners was 6.4 ypc. He carried only 11 times in 2018, before tearing an ACL. My fear is that his medical history is a game ender, but a healthy ANDERSON is exactly what they need. If his knee prognosis is good, then I say take a chance on greatness this late.
Round 7, Pick 215
DAN GODSIL LS INDIANA 6’4/244 PP#UR
The team let go of vet LS SANBORN to save some money. GODSIL is generally considered the best LS prospect in this year’s prospect group. He has nice sized hands, (10 1/8″), to go with his football player frame. The consensus seems to be, that if he is left undrafted, there will be a significant number of teams trying to sign him as an URFA, which could get expensive compared to a 7th Rounder Rookie contract. They have a new VFA Punter in PINION, and have had PK issues seemingly forever. Get them a good snapper to help reduce overall errors.
A young quality QB to back-up, and/or, push WINSTON could be a good thing, and if ANDERSON is healthy, (likely mid-season), a big boost for their running game could be a huge deal. Over time, WHITE should actually be an upgrade for their LB crew. Now, go get a solid group of URFAs, Mr. LICHT. Oh, and don’t forget to make sure that Coach ARIANS understands that Rookies in the NFL cannot all be redshirted. Play the Rookies!