Well, it’s over.
The 2019 NFL Draft is complete. The mock drafts are done. The guessing game is no longer necessary. Jason Licht, Bruce Arians and the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff have chosen who THEY think will help improve this team the most. Let me repeat that…who THEY think will help improve this team the most. Not the draft “experts”. Not the fans. Not the local sports writers. Who THEY think will improve this team the most. And THEY would know better than anyone. The Buccaneers draft picks were:
Rd.1/Pk.5- LB Devin White, LSU
Rd.2/Pk.39- CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, Central Michigan
Rd.3/Pk.94- CB Jamel Dean, Auburn
Rd.3/Pk.99- S Mike Edwards, Kentucky
Rd.4/Pk.107- DE Anthony Nelson
Rd.5/Pk.145- K Matt Gay, Utah
Rd.6/Pk.208- WR Scotty Miller, Bowling Green
Rd.7/Pk.215- DT Terry Beckner Jr, Missouri
They picked an inside linebacker, two cornerbacks, a safety, a defensive end, a kicker (Yes, another one), a wide receiver and a defensive tackle in this draft.
No offensive line.
No running backs.
And no stud 3-tech defensive tackle to “replace” Gerald McCoy. Nothing that we fans thought they needed.
So now that the picks have been made, I thought that we could break each one down a little bit and take a deeper look at each player. If for no other reason but to give myself some peace of mind and justify some of these decisions in my own head. So let’s start at the beginning with their first round pick.
I do like the Devin White pick, so I’ll leave this pick alone even though I really liked Ed Oliver and I personally would’ve preferred to trade back a few spots to gain a couple more picks AND still drafted Oliver. After losing Kwon Alexander and Adarius Glanton to free agency and probably losing Kendell Beckwith to what appears to be a career threatening injury, this was definitely a big position of need. So why not fill it with arguably the best player in this draft. It rarely happens that a team’s biggest need lines up with the best player available, but it did here so the Bucs had to take advantage of it.
This is where Jason Licht started to lose some Bucs fans. Passing on a supposed “first round talent” like Greedy Williams for Sean Murphy-Bunting was called a “fireable offense” by one NFL analyst. I saw a lot of Bucs fans grumbling about that pick. I must say though, I was a bit surprised. I don’t think it was a bad pick by any means, but I was shocked that they didn’t go offensive or defensive line here. Even if I thought they were going defensive back here, I was thinking Greedy Williams or even Delaware’s Nasir Adderly would be it. Evidently a number of teams had a second round grade on Murphy-Bunting so the Bucs weren’t alone with their high opinion of him. Again, I like the pick here, but I was surprised.
Jason Licht really pissed off the fan base by trading from the 70th all the way backto the 94th pick with the Rams, who then proceeded to pick Memphis running back Darrell Henderson. If the Bucs wanted to address the defensive line (which they did in rounds 4 & 7), they could’ve had Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich who went 77th to the Patriots, Western Illinois Khalen Saunders who went 84th to the Chiefs or Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson who went 78th to the Ravens. Instead, they chose to pick not one, but two more defensive backs in that third round. Auburn cornerback Jamel Dean with their 94th and Kentucky safety Mike Edwards with their 99th pick. At first, I was puzzled by them taking three defensive backs in a row. But then I remembered how injuries and lack of depth killed the secondary last season and it made a lot more sense to me.
The Buccaneers picked Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson after passing on Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Fergusonin the third round. Was it a smart move? Time will tell. I have to admit, I didn’t know much about the kid. But after some research, I’m loving the pick and I see how it makes sense for Todd Bowles defensive scheme.
Here, they took kicker (Don’t even get me started) with their 145th pick, while Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye was on the board and was taken next with the 146th pick by the Lions. Oruwariye was projected as a second or third round pick. I’m still trying to justify this pick in my head, but we as fans just need to accept the fact that Jason Licht used yet another valuable draft pick on a kicker. Hopefully, it works out.
They chose Bowling Green (Yes, I said Bowling Green) wide receiver Scotty Miller with the 208th pick when they could’ve had Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow who went 149th to the Raiders in the fifth round instead of a kicker. He was “discovered” by one of the Bucs regional scouts and he liked what he saw so much that he insisted that Tampa Bay send someone to his workout. I know absolutely nothing about this dude, except that he’s fast. Really fast. Like DeSean Jackson fast. And apparently there weren’t many other teams that knew much about him either. Only a few of them actually showed up at Bowling Green’s Pro Day (Can’t imagine why), but the few that did were impressed. Evidently there were other teams with enough interest in him to cause Jason Licht to use the sixth round pick on him.
They took Missouri defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. (I know…who???) with their 215th and final pick of this draft. Meanwhile, more “popular” names like Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis and Arizona’s P.J. Johnson were still sitting there on the board. Willis was projected as a late third/early fourth rounder, but ended up being one of the biggest surprise slides of the draft. Johnson was a raw talent with a very high ceiling due to his physicality and athleticism. Willis went undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Ravens. Johnson was the 229th pick by the Cardinals. I didn’t know much about this guy either, except that he had an extensive injury history so I never gave him a real look in my pre-draft research. Apparently, it didn’t bother the Bucs as much as it did me.
Listen, I’m not claiming to be some kind of football guru draft analyst. Jason Licht and his staff have forgotten more about football than I could ever know or learn. I trust their research. I trust their scouting. I trust their big board. And I trust their final decisions. That being said, I still needed to do some research into these players for myself. I needed to at least try and see what the Bucs saw in these picks that would make them pass up what some “experts” considered “superior talent”. And I’ve seen a large number of disgruntled Bucs fans who are needing the same thing. So, through what little fact finding I’ve been able to do in this short time, here’s what I’ve found out about each one of this year’s Buccaneers draft picks.
LB DEVIN WHITE
White was the #1 rated linebacker in this draft and arguably the best defensive player available with the Bucs fifth pick. It’s not very often where the best available player on the board lines up with your biggest position of need, but here for the Bucs it did. At 6’/237lbs, he ran a 4.42 forty and had a 39.5″ vertical while putting up 22 reps on the 225lb bench press. His forty time was the fastest time posted by a linebacker this year and the third fastest by one since the 2006 Combine. His vertical was the second highest this year among linebackers. In his final two seasons at LSU, he totaled 256 tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 1 interception, 9 passes defensed and 4 forced fumbles. He’s built like a 4-3 middle linebacker, but has excellent coverage ability with above average ball skills and is very good at blitzing up the middle. As you’ll see throughout this article, the Buccaneers theme for this draft was speed, athleticism and versatility. White offers all of them in large quantities. Versatility/Speed/Athleticism
CB SEAN Murphy- BUNTING
Murphy-Bunting was ranked the 5th best corner in the draft by TheDraftNetwork.com. Now I’m not sure what that means since they also had Amani Oruwariye from Penn State ranked 2nd behind Washington’s Byron Murphy and he didn’t get drafted until the fifth round by the Detroit Lions. Murphy-Bunting is 6’1″/195lbs, ran a 4.42 forty, a 10’6″ broad jump and had a 41.5″ vertical and his 1.51 ten yard split was second fastest in the 2019 Combine behind Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf. He had 104 tackles, 9 interceptions and 24 passes defensed as a three year starter. He only allowed a 41.5 passer rating when targeted and never allowed a touchdown in 2018. “Size, speed and athleticism with great ball skills” is how Jason Licht described him. The Bucs secondary could use all of that it can get after allowing 259.4 passing yards per game good for 25th in the league and a 110.9 passer rating for opposing quarterbacks. Murphy-Bunting will give the Bucs options both inside at nickel and as an outside corner. Versatility/Speed/Athleticism
CB JAMEL DEAN
Jamel Dean is 6’2″/215lbs, ran 4.3 forty, had a 10’8″ broad jump and a 41″ vertical. He suffered an ACL and meniscus tear in his junior year of high school right after committing to Ohio State. He recovered, but tore his meniscus again at the end of his senior season. Ohio State wouldn’t medically clear him to play as a freshman, so he transferred to Auburn. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he could not play as a freshman. Then just before his sophomore season, he suffered another tear in the other knee. Through all of that, he persevered and finally got his chance as a junior. In his two years playing for the Tigers, he totaled 73 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions and 17 passes defensed while allowing just 40.2% completions of the 92 passes thrown his way. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, he also ran the fastest forty time of any cornerback and the second fastest of all players at the entire Combine. He also had the second highest Combine score of all cornerbacks tested according to NFL NextGen Stats and he was ranked 10th on The Athletics list of the Top 50 College Football Freaks after the 2017 season. He was a teammate of the Bucs second year cornerback Carlton Davis at Auburn, so now he has an opportunity to rejoin his former partner in the Bucs secondary. Speed/Athleticism
S MIKE EDWARDS
At 5’10″/205lbs, Edwards ran a 4.5 forty, had a 9’8″ broad jump and a 37″ vertical. According to ProFootballFocus.com, he had 33 total stops in 2018, which was 10 more than the player with the next highest amount. That player was Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram who was the second safety taken in the first round by the Raiders with the 27th pick. Over the last three years, he has totaled 278 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 9 interceptions and 21 passes defensed. He’s one of only two defensive backs in Kentucky’s 300 tackle club. He can play deep centerfield, up at the line of scrimmage as a safety in run support or a nickel covering the slot. In fact, he had the most run stops of any SEC safety in 2018. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said that “Edwards might be the safest pick outside of the first two rounds in this draft” which is a good thing for the Buccaneers. He is another player that gives the Bucs options in their secondary with both safety positions and at nickel. Versatility/Speed/Athleticism
DE ANTHONY NELSON
At 6’7″/275lbs, Nelson ran a blistering 4.8 forty, had a 35.5″ vertical and a 9’10” broad jump. His 6.95 in the 3-cone drill was faster than Nick Bosa, Montez Sweat and Brian Burns. His Combine numbers are comparable to the Cardinals stud defensive end Chandler Jones. He had a faster forty time, a faster 3-cone, a faster shuttle and a higher vertical than Chandler while being 2″ taller and 5lbs heavier. In 2018, he had almost twice as many total pressures (53) than Michigan’s Rashan Gary (29) who was the 12th pick of the draft to the Packers. His pass rush win percentage of 23.5% was better than that of Michigan’s Chase Winovich’s 21.7% who was the 77th pick in the third round by the Patriots. In fact, the only player with a higher pass rush win percentage than Nelson was Nick Bosa with 28% of his snaps. ProFootballFocus.com had him ranked as the 3rd best edge defender in this draft behind Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Michigan’s Rashan Gary. He’s a nearly identical size to Bucs defensive end Carl Nassib. In fact, Buccaneers Director of Player Personnel John Spytek said that Nelson is a “Carl Nassib 2.0”. As a three year starter, Nelson totaled 119 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, 23 sacks and 24 passes batted down. His unique combination of size, speed and athleticism will give Todd Bowles the option of playing him at multiple positions on the defensive line. Versatility/Speed/Athleticism
K MATT GAY
Yes, Jason Licht drafted another kicker. I know that he said it’s just like drafting any other position, but he’s got some set of stones to pull this again after the Aguayo debacle. Gay was one of only two kickers drafted last weekend. The other was Oklahoma’s Austin Seibert who was drafted with the 170th pick by the Browns. At 6’/230lbs, Gay has some weight to him, but so does his leg. He was 85 for 85 on extra points and 56 of 65 on field goals hitting 86% of his career kicks. He was 16 for 16 on field goals between 40-50 yards and 10 for 15 on field goals of 50+ yards. And three of those five misses were blocks. He made 21 straight field goals at one point. He won the Lou Groza award for being the nation’s top kicker in 2017 and was a finalist for the same award last season. He was seen drilling 60+ yard field goals at the East/West Shrine game and his coaches swear that he has the leg to make it from 70 yards. He says that he’s “comfortable from 65 yards out”. Bleacher Report’s Mike Lanier called Gay “one of the best kept secrets in the 2019 Draft”. He should give Cairo Santos some real competition in training camp and may even end the Bucs kicking curse once and for all.
WR SCOTTY MILLER
Even at 5’11″/170lbs, Miller had a very productive career at Bowling Green. In his three seasons as a starter, he totaled 208 catches for 2,836 yards and 23 touchdowns while averaging 13.8 yards per catch. He finished with the third most receiving yards in school history…and didn’t even start as a freshman. In 2018, he logged six 100 yard games in 11 starts, including a 206 yard/2 touchdown game against Western Michigan. He torched the Oregon Ducks with 13 catches for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns. He wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine and wasn’t getting much interest from many NFL teams. At least not until Bowling Green’s Pro Day when he ran a 4.38 forty and put up 15 reps on the 225lb bench press. He may draw some comparisons to Adam Humphries from Bucs fans because of the “short and white” thing, but the truth is that he might be more comparable to DeSean Jackson in size and speed. Not only could he end up being the Bucs new deep threat receiver, but he could be the early favorite to handle punt and kick return duties as well. Speed/Versatility/Athleticism
DT TERRY BECKNER JR.
At 6’4″/300lbs, Beckner performed decently at the Combine running a 5.19 forty and putting up 28 reps on the 225lb bench press. As a freshman, he tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee. He then tore the ACL in his left knee midway through his sophomore year. However, after playing just 16 games in his first two seasons, he played all 26 games in his final two and finished his four year college career with 120 tackles, 32 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks which shows that he is disruptive and knows how to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah had a fifth round grade on Beckner. SB Nation projected him to be a third or fourth round pick. Had it not been for his injury history he probably would’ve been. Instead, he fell all the way into the seventh round. He could end up being a guy that can play all three interior positions on the Bucs defensive line in Todd Bowles defense. Versatility
Now I don’t like giving teams “draft grades” immediately after a draft. I think it’s premature. In my opinion, the best way to judge a draft is to wait at least a year to see how the draft class performs in their rookie season. I’d even go so far as to wait two years before forming an opinion on a draft class because of the rookie learning curve. For example, the Bucs second round pick from the 2018 Draft running back Ronald Jones had a terribly unproductive rookie season and some fans are calling him a bust. But the new coaching staff seems to think that Jones will have a bounce back year with Bruce Arians offense in his second season. We’ll see if it happens or not soon enough. With this draft, I liked the first four picks and thought they made sense considering the scheme that Bowles likes to play. But once Licht drafted a kicker in the fifth round, he lost me. I despise using a draft pick on a kicker, even if it is a mid round pick. I know it’s an important position and that the Bucs have had a rough go of it lately trying to find a reliable one…but a kicker? I hope the kid beats out Santos and ends up being the best Buccaneer kicker of all time, but it still strikes a nerve with me. Other than that, I think this draft was a decent one for the Bucs. Only time will tell.
After the Draft
Now after the draft is where Jason Licht and his staff have shown their talent for finding players. Peyton Barber, Isaiah Johnson, Leonard Wester, Cole Gardner, Riley Bullough, Bobo Wilson, Alan Cross, Adam Humphries, Cameron Brate and Antony Auclair were all undrafted free agents. This year is no exception as the Bucs were able to bring in some pretty solid UDFA’s to compete in camp. Here is the full list of all the players either signed after the draft or invited to tryout at the rookie camp so far.
DL Anthony Johnson, Florida International: 6’3″/290lbs (Invited)
After becoming a full time starter, he totaled 83 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks over his last 2 seasons. Has the ability to play all across the d-line.
OT Israel Helms, Wayne State: 6’4″/305lbs (Signed)
Started final 21 games at left tackle for the Warriors
QB Vincent Testaverde, Albany: 6’1″/210lbs (Invited)
The son of former Bucs quarterback Vinny Testaverde
QB David Pindell, Connecticut: 6’/200lbs (Invited)
In 19 games as the Huskies starting QB, he totaled 2,900 passing yards, 1,428 rushing yards, 39 combined touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
WR Spencer Schnell, Illinois State: 5’9″/180lbs (Invited)
Totaled 161 catches for 1,837 yards and 9 touchdowns in 34 games. Ran a 4.55 forty, had a 36.5″ vertical, a 10’1″ broad and put up 13 reps on the 225lb bench press.
DE Ricky Holmes, Benedict: 6’8″/280lbs (Invited)
Led his team with 7 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 2018.
LB Judah Davis, Clemson: 6’2″/235lbs (Invited)
Had 40 tackles with limited action in 23 games. Ran a 4.92 forty and put up 26 reps on the 225lb bench.
CB Mazzi Wilkins, South Florida: 6’/185lbs (Invited)
In 2 seasons as a full time starter, he totaled 79 tackles, 3 interceptions and 19 passes defensed. Ran a 4.62 forty and had a 30″ vertical.
P Mac Poudermilk, Central Florida: 6’1″/235lbs (Invited)
Spent final 2 seasons as the starting punter and averaged 41.5 yards per punt with a long of 69 yards. Dropped 16 of 47 punts inside the 20-yard line with just three touchbacks.
CB Jalen Allison, North Dakota State: 6’/185lbs (Signed)
Played in 55 games totaling 156 tackles, 38 passes defensed and 8 interceptions. Ran a 4.51 forty and had a 35.5″ vertical.
RB Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State: 5’11″/220lbs (Signed)
Played 52 games totaling 2,896 rushing yards, 448 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns. Ran a 4.58 forty, had a 31″ vertical and put up 22 reps on the 225lb bench.
DE Dare Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt: 6’2″/285lbs (Signed)
In his last 3 seasons, totaled 88 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 35 games. Ran a 4.85 forty, 7.2 second 3-cone drill and put up 22 reps on the bench.
QB Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State: 6’5″/230lbs (Signed)
As a three year starter totaled about 6,000 passing yards, 3,500 rushing yards, 95 combined touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Finished as the all-time rushing leader for SEC quarterbacks. Could be used in a similar fashion as the Saints backup QB Taysom Hill.
WR Malik Taylor, Ferris State: 6’2″/215lbs (Signed)
Missed most of senior season with an injury, but totaled 1,923 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 18 yards per catch over his sophomore and junior seasons. He added 17 kickoff returns for 489 yards and a 25.8 yard average. Ran a 4.5 forty, had a 36″ vertical, a 10’6″ broad, a 6.81 second 3-cone drill and a 4.02 shuttle.
WR Cortrelle Simpson, Richmond: 6’/185lbs (Signed)
In 19 games, he had 96 catches for 1,670 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 17.4 yards per catch. Ran a 4.45 forty at Richmond’s Pro Day.
WR DaMarkus Lodge, Ole Miss: 6’2″/200lbs (Signed)
As a two year starter, he finished with 106 catches for 1,575 yards and 11 touchdowns averaging 15.3 yards per catch. He ran a 4.55 forty, had a 33.5″ vertical, a 9’9″ broad and put up 11 reps on the bench.
TE Isaiah Searight, Fordham: 6’4″/250lbs (Signed)
As a three year starter, he finished with 89 catches for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ran a 4.8 forty, had a 34.5″ vertical, a 10’5″ broad and put up 27 reps on the bench.
C Nate Trewyn, Wisconsin-White Water: 6’4″/315lbs (Signed)
Three year starter at center. Rimington Award winner as the top center in D-3. Ran a 5.46 forty and put up 26 reps on the bench.
G Zack Bailey, South Carolina: 6’6″/315lbs (Signed)
A leg injury suffered late in his senior season probably kept him from being drafted. Started 46 games over his career playing guard, center and tackle. Put up 24 reps on the bench press. Best suited for guard in the NFL.
DE Kahzin Daniels, Charleston: 6’4″/240lbs (Signed)
In 2016, finished with 43 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. In 2018, totaled 55 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Had 34.5 sacks in four years. Ran a 4.8 forty and had a 29.5″ vertical during Charleston’s Pro Day. Oh and he’s completely blind in one eye.
S Lukas Denis, Boston College: 5’11″/190lbs (Signed)
As a two year full time starter, he totaled 132 tackles and 16 passes defensed with 9 career interceptions. Ran a 4.64 forty, had a 33.5″ vertical, a 9’7″ broad and put up 16 reps on the bench.
LS Dan Godsil, Indiana: 6’4″/240lbs (Signed)
First Hoosier to start all 50 games of his career. Only longsnapper invited to 2019 NFL Combine. Set Combine records for highest vertical (34.5″) and longest broad jump (9’8″) by a longsnapper. Ran a 5.0 forty and put up 16 reps on the bench press. Received All-American and All-Big 10 honors in 2018.
OL Brock Ruble, Toledo: 6’8″/325lbs (Signed)
Appeared in 28 games with 13 starts at Florida State before transferring to Toledo. Started all 12 games as a senior at right tackle.
After not taking an offensive lineman in the draft, the Bucs have signed or invited four of them. That’s not to say they weren’t looking for one. Apparently, they had their eyes on a couple in the second and third rounds but other teams took them just prior to the Bucs pick. Instead of reaching for one, they stayed true to their draft board. As much as we fans may disagree with it, you have to admire that. They’re also bringing in 4 defensive linemen, 3 defensive backs, a linebacker, a running back, a tight end, 2 quarterbacks, 4 wide receivers and 2 specialists.
One thing I’m beginning to realize about this coaching staff is that they’re all experienced and they all know what they’re doing. They know what kinds of players they need for their systems and they know how to use them. This offseason, they haven’t gone after the “best players” available. They’ve gone after the right ones. The ones that they know will succeed on this team and that will help this team succeed. Speed, athleticism and versatility. That’s what almost every 2019 offseason addition brings to this Buccaneers football team. And I can’t wait to see how it pays off this season.
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!