Since mini-camps and OTA’s are over and we have a long 7 weeks until Buccaneer football comes back, I thought I would go ahead and take a look at the players the Bucs should be heading into training camp with to see if I can predict who will make the Bucs 53-man roster. While we’re at it, I may as well predict the 10-man practice squad too. So, let’s do this!
I think Bruce Arians has already made his mind up about Blaine Gabbert being Jameis Winston’s backup, so the real competition here might be for that third QB spot (if they keep 3 QB’s). Ryan Griffin has looked good so far and I’m sure he’ll have a strong training camp as usual. However, Nick Fitzgerald offers a different skill set being a true dual threat quarterback. If Arians wants to get creative on offense, he could use Fitzgerald in certain situations and formations in a similar way that the Saints use Taysom Hill. If Arians sees some potential there, then they’ll keep three quarterbacks. If not, they’ll roll with Winston and Gabbert.
PREDICTION: Jameis Winston, Blaine Gabbert, Nick Fitzgerald (R)
RUNNING BACKS (4)
This will be an interesting position battle to watch during training camp. I think they’ll keep four backs with Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones being the obvious frontrunners. The last two spots will be up for grabs between the other four backs on the roster (rookie Bruce Anderson, Andre Ellington, Dare Ogunbawale and Shaun Wilson). I think Ellington’s experience in the system and Anderson’s talent and potential win out while Wilson rejoins the practice squad.
PREDICTION: Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones Jr, Andre Ellington, Bruce Anderson (R)
TIGHT ENDS (4)
This should be a no-brainer unless one of them gets injured during training camp. Arians sounds very pleased with this group, especially with the addition of Jordan Leggett recently and the development of Antony Auclair as a pass catcher and not just an inline blocker.
PREDICTION: OJ Howard, Cameron Brate, Antony Auclair, Jordan Leggett
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
With Arians offense, I see them keeping six receivers. The top five spots seem fairly safe barring injury, so the real battle here will be for that sixth and final spot. Of the remaining seven receivers on the current roster, I think the undrafted rookie DaMarkus Lodge beats out the rest for that spot, but don’t count out Bobo Wilson either.
PREDICTION: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson, Scotty Miller (R), DeMarkus Lodge (R)
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
The Bucs could go with seven guys here, but I doubt it. From what I can tell, the starting right guard spot is still up for grabs between Alex Cappa and Earl Watford but the other four starters are solidified. That only leaves two more spots to fill. If Watford ends up as the starter, then Cappa can play center, right guard or right tackle. Caleb Benenoch should be the reserve at right tackle and can also play guard (kind of). And Mike Liedtke can play both guard and tackle. Evan Smith might be the odd man out here for multiple reasons. First, he’s the oldest of the bunch by a mile. Second, he’s due to make $2M this season. And third, the Bucs have plenty of younger guard/centers with more potential.
PREDICTION: Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen, Earl Watford, Demar Dotson, Alex Cappa, Caleb Benenoch, Mike Liedtke
DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
In Todd Bowles defense, the “defensive line” means the interior d-linemen. Six seems like a logical number here in order to keep a steady rotation inside and keep guys fresh. Even though I like Jeremiah Ledbetter, I think he’s the odd man out in this group.
PREDICTION: Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, Beau Allen, Will Gholston, Terry Beckner Jr (R), Rakeem Nunez-Roches
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
They could go with five here and five interior defensive linemen, but for the sake of this roster I’m going with just four for right now. Jason Pierre-Paul will likely end up on IR until Week 9 so these guys are the best edge rushers on the roster at the moment. When or if he does come back, they’ll decide how to open up a roster spot which could be when they drop someone from that interior d-line group.
PREDICTION: Carl Nassib, Anthony Nelson (R), Shaq Barrett, Noah Spence
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
Deone Bucannon is the wildcard here. He plays more of a hybrid role in Bowles defense with his “moneybacker” position, so I put him with the inside linebackers even though he will end up playing some safety as well.
PREDICTION: Lavonte David, Devin White (R), Kevin Minter, Jack Cichy, Deone Bucannon
This is a really young bunch with Ryan Smith being the “elder” at just 25 years-old. But they’re also talented. Arians seems awfully impressed with them so far and they could be a fun group to watch this season. No real surprises here.
PREDICTION: Vernon Hargreaves, Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting (R), Jamel Dean (R), Ryan Smith
This position went from pretty thin to fairly deep this offseason. Moving M.J. Stewart over from corner, bringing in Kentrell Brice in free agency and drafting Mike Edwards to go along with Justin Evans and Jordan Whitehead gives this position pretty solid depth that it hasn’t had in quite some time. Rookie Orion Stewart and veteran Isaiah Johnson will be in the mix as well, so don’t count them out.
PREDICTION: Justin Evans, Jordan Whitehead, Mike Edwards (R), MJ Stewart, Kentrell Brice
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
There’s no competition at longsnapper or punter on this roster, but there is at kicker. Rookie Matt Gay and veteran Cairo Santos will be dueling it out all camp, but I see the rookie winning the kicking position in the end. If the competition is even close, he’ll get the edge because he’s much cheaper and because the Bucs spent a draft pick on him.
PREDICTION: Matt Gay (R), Bradley Pinion, Zach Triner
PRACTICE SQUAD (10)
Based on the remaining players left on the roster, here’s my practice squad players. I did go a little heavy on the offensive line with three players out of the ten, but that’s just how it fell.
Shaun Wilson (RB), Xavier Ubosi (WR), Tanner Hudson (TE), Cole Boozer (OT), Nate Trewyn (C), Zach Bailey (G), Dare Odeyingbo (DE), Kahzin Daniels (OLB), Orion Stewart (DB), Lukas Denis (S)
Well, there you have it…my WAY TOO EARLY 53-man/practice squad roster prediction for the 2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What do you think?
The next seven weeks are going to be brutal for all of us, but at least we have something to look forward to in this 2019 season. I don’t know about you, but I have a different feeling about this year. I go into every season with high hopes, but this season just feels different. This new coaching staff has me optimistic. The new schemes have me intrigued. The new players have me excited. The new attitude around One Buc has me pumped. And the new culture surrounding this team has me looking forward to the future. I can’t wait for training camp to start so we can see this team in action!
Until then, as always…