In this week’s Bucs Briefing, let’s take a look at the current state of the Tampa Bay roster. After 10 days of free agency, everything has changed. The Bucs have legitimately gone from playoff long-shot to Super Bowl favorite. I don’t know how many times that has ever happened before in NFL history during the month of March. Let’s rewind for a look at the Bucs’ wild offseason.

Everything Coming Up Bucs

It’s crazy to think about how many things have gone the Bucs way in recent days.

• Tom Brady returns
• Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio gets obliterated by real journalists everywhere. The Bucs’ Super Bowl odds skyrocket.
• Bucs re-sign C Ryan Jensen, WR Chris Godwin, CB Carlton Davis III, RB Leonard Fournette, DE Will Gholston and G Aaron Stinnie. Also brought back WR Breshad Perriman.
• Signed WR Russell Gage from the Falcons. Then picked up DB Logan Ryan from the Giants.
• Trade just a fifth round pick for RG Shaq Mason.
• Lose only SS Jordan Whitehead and RG Alex Cappa in free agency.

And then there were the moves away from the Advent Health Training Center.

• QB Deshaun Watson stays in AFC
• WR Davante Adams traded to AFC. Packers also lose Za’Darius Smith in free agency.
• QB Russell Wilson traded to AFC.
• EDGE Von Miller leaves Rams for AFC. Rams also trade WR Robert Woods, a serious Bucs killer.
• Cowboys lose out on edge rushers Miller, Smith and Randy Gregory. Also, Dallas trades WR Amari Cooper and cuts RT La’El Collins.
• Falcons trade QB Matt Ryan to AFC. Also, the Falcons forgot to sign wide receivers.
• Saints lose LT Terron Armstead and FS Marcus Williams.

Still, the Bucs roster isn’t perfect. But it’s getting there. Here is where the team currently stands as free agency moves into its’ final stages.

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady
Kyle Trask

Analysis: Trask could be the Bucs No. 2 quarterback this season, but I still think the team tries to bring Blaine Gabbert back. What’s the harm? If Trask can’t beat Gabbert out for the No. 2 job this offseason, you know everything you need to know about him. And you didn’t have to waste real season to find it out.

Prediction: I think Gabbert re-signs for cheap. Where else is he going to go?

Running Backs

Leonard Fournette
Ke’Shawn Vaughn
Kenjon Barner

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Analysis: Re-signing Fournette was big. That takes the running back position from a high priority to just a normal one. Fournette was an every down back for the Bucs last season, and likely will be one again. Vaughn could be ready to step into Ronald Jones’ role from last year as a change-of-pace back for two drives a game.

Prediction: I think Tampa Bay will sign a traditional third down back in free agency over the coming days. Darrel Williams, Jerick McKinnon and Giovani Bernard all remain free agents. Any of the three would be great in Tampa Bay. But McKinnon looked like a difference-maker last year in Kansas City in the playoffs. I’m not sure which of the three the Bucs will sign, but I bet they draft a running back in the middle rounds regardless.

Wide Receivers

Mike Evans
Chris Godwin
Russell Gage
Breshad Perriman
Tyler Johnson
Jaelon Darden
Scotty Miller
Cyril Grayson

Analysis: Evans, Godwin and Gage have the top three spots locked down heading into camp. Perriman is the leader in the clubhouse for the No. 4 job, but the Bucs could draft someone that would push him for time. Right now, Johnson and Miller shouldn’t be considered locks for roster spots. In fact, both could be cut eventually. Darden could be too, but he has the inside track as the youngest player and the team’s kick/punt returner.

Prediction: I think the Bucs will draft a wide receiver in the mid-late rounds amidst a fairly deep class. But I’m less confident about that than I was a week ago. They spent a lot of money on Gage. Whoever they draft likely won’t play much over at least the next two seasons. That doesn’t mean they won’t draft anyone, but it’ll just likely be with a lower pick.

Tight Ends

Cam Brate
Codey McElroy

TE Rob Gronkowski and Saints SS Malcolm Jenkins

Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski and Saints SS Malcolm Jenkins – Photo by: USA Today

Analysis: Brate is the only real tight end on the roster, and he’s not a No. 1 option for sure. Chances remain high that Rob Gronkowski will eventually re-sign with the team. But that still leaves a third spot open, and the Bucs need to get younger at the position.

Prediction: I will be floored if the Bucs don’t draft a tight end this year. Now, I doubt it will be with their first-round pick. Tampa Bay doesn’t value tight ends like that unless they could be special. There are no tight ends like that in this class. However, I think the Bucs could use their second-, third- or fourth-round pick on the position. It’s a deep class of solid options, and even a few blocking tight ends for a change.

Offensive Line

Donovan Smith
Aaron Stinnie
Ryan Jensen
Shaq Mason
Tristan Wirfs
Robert Hainsey
Nick Leverett
Sadarius Hutcherson
John Molchon

Analysis: It feels like the Bucs might be done on the offensive line? Four of five starters are set in stone and under contract until at least the 2024 offseason. Stinnie will compete with Hainsey, Leverett and Hutcherson for the left guard spot. That’s four young players the Bucs like for one spot. Of course, if they get the chance to draft Zion Johnson they should take it. But if he’s off the board, Tampa Bay could ride with this group for 2022.

Prediction: The Bucs will likely eventually re-sign swing tackle Josh Wells to be the team’s reserve swing tackle again.

Interior Defensive Line

Vita Vea
Will Gholston
Rakeem Nunez-Roches
Benning Potoa’e

Bucs DT Will Gholston

Bucs DT Will Gholston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Analysis: Re-signing Gholston was big, as it ensures the Bucs will bring back at least two-thirds of their starting interior defensive line. Now will Ndamukong Suh return as well? The outlook seems positive. But even if he does, the Bucs need to get younger up front. They also need more pass rush ability, even if it comes in the form of a hybrid player in the draft.

Prediction: I think the Bucs will re-sign Suh for another year. But I also think they’ll pour resources into their defensive line during the draft. I could see the team draft an edge rusher who has the versatility to kick inside, too. Minnesota’s Boye Mafe, Houston’s Logan Hall, South Carolina’s Kingsley Enagbare or UAB’s Alex Wright could be options at various stages of the draft.

And the team could still draft a true defensive tackle at some point too. If Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt is off the board at No. 27, the Bucs could target developmental linemen later in the draft. Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey, Iowa State’s Eyioma Uwazurike and Tennessee’s Matthew Butler should all be names on your radar.

Outside Linebackers

Shaq Barrett
Joe Tryon-Shoyinka
Anthony Nelson
Cam Gill

Analysis: So much is riding on the development of Tryon-Shoyinka this offseason. If he makes a leap in 2022, the Bucs’ edge pass rush will be the best it has been since 2019. Nelson clearly took a step forward last year with five sacks, and Gill has impressed in limited snaps. It’s a good enough group to roll into Week 1 with, but will the Bucs want even more depth.

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Prediction: I have no prediction that I feel strongly about when it comes to Tampa Bay’s edge defender group. If I had to guess, the team won’t draft a traditional outside linebacker type with their first three round picks. But could a player like Mafe, who can move around, be on their radar? That makes sense to me.

Listening to Bruce Arians and Jason Licht at the Combine, it sure sounded like the Bucs wanted to improve their four-man pass rush. They blitzed far more than any other defense last season, and they know they have to pull the reins back in 2022. If the draft doesn’t fall their way on the defensive line, look for a late offseason veteran signing. Melvin Ingram, Justin Houston or even a reunion with a (healthy) Jason Pierre-Paul are all possibilities.

Inside Linebackers

Lavonte David
Devin White
K.J. Britt
Grant Stuard

ILB K.J. Britt

Bucs ILB K.J. Britt – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Analysis: Kevin Minter remains a free agent, and he’ll probably stay that way. The Bucs seem interested to find out what they have in Britt as a No. 3 linebacker. That’s not an experiment I want to see, personally.

Prediction: Maybe I’ll be wrong, but I don’t expect the Bucs to draft a linebacker. They seem to be all in for 2022, and there are simply greater needs elsewhere. David is expected to be a free agent next offseason, but if he wants to keep playing, he’ll almost certainly be back in Tampa Bay. The Bucs will at least bring another veteran to camp as competition for Britt. But I think this might be your foursome for the season.

Cornerbacks

Carlton Davis III
Jamel Dean
Sean Murphy-Bunting
Ross Cockrell
Dee Delaney
Rashard Robinson

Analysis: Like linebacker, the Bucs could be pretty settled at cornerback. Their top four are entering their third season together, and the addition of Logan Ryan give them another slot option if something happens to any of the team’s top three corners.

Prediction: Nothing would shock me, but I won’t be predicting a meaningful addition at cornerback. More or less, this is probably the team’s 2022 group. After the season they’ll evaluate whether to sign Dean or Murphy-Bunting to a new contract.

Safeties

Antoine Winfield, Jr.
Logan Ryan
Mike Edwards
Chris Cooper
Troy Warner

New Bucs S Logan Ryan

New Bucs S Logan Ryan – Photo by: USA Today

Analysis: The Bucs could probably roll into 2022 with this group and be okay, but I still have questions. Is Ryan really a strong safety? He’s never predominantly occupied a role like Jordan Whitehead’s in his career. And I doubt Winfield is switching positions. Ryan could make the Bucs better at slot cornerback, but the team may use him at safety early on. Also, Mike Edwards is at his best at free safety, so how he fits alongside Winfield remain to be seen.

Prediction: Ryan and Edwards will be free agents next offseason, and there is no guarantee either is back. I also think there could be a path to 2022 playing time for a safety if the Bucs took one early in the draft. Ryan can play in the slot, and Edwards could fulfill his ideal third safety duties. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Bucs add Georgia’s Lewis Cine or Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker with one of their first two draft picks.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Bradley Smith
Bradley Smith
2 months ago

I think the team should draft a DB and LB with their first two picks. Depth was a problem last year with injuries and the pass defense was atrocious at times.

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  Bradley Smith
2 months ago

You armchairGM’s drive me absolutely nuts. When the pass defense was atrocious it was usually because of an ineffective pass rush. If you are talking about an edge rushing OLB fine. Despite the fact SMB is only average in coverage and a poor tackler, the greater need is getting a better pass rush to harass the QB.

CrackerBall
CrackerBall
Reply to  drdneast
1 month ago

Yeah, that… or we are really thin at CB. I agree with armchair.

Pete Wood
Pete Wood
2 months ago

The Atlanta Falcons remind me of the Seinfeld episode where George did hte opposite of his instincts. I swear, since blosing a huge lead in the Super Bowl, Atlanta has done the opposite of what they should have done. Trading away Ryan is one of the sutpidest moves I have seen any franchise make in recent memory.

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  Pete Wood
2 months ago

I said the same thing. Getting Ryan with a third round pick was the biggesst steal since we got Brady for nothing. Brady totally gutted this team by coming from behind to beat them in the SB.He would have done the same thing to the Rams last year if we didn’t have :27 seconds of stupid on the sidelines.

Templeton Davis
Templeton Davis
Reply to  drdneast
2 months ago

#TRUFF

fredster
fredster
2 months ago

To me the Bucs are fairly set on offense and need mostly a defensive draft. I mean if Gronk signs maybe another late rd TE. They will find another RB in free agency. The CB’s all hurt and stinking when on the field was one of biggest issues last year. They also had no pass rush with hurt JPP. Now Tryon will replace JPP? I’m not sold he’s going to be as impactful as a healthy JPP. Nelson looks to be solid. Honestly pass rush on paper still is my biggest concern. If they blitz again that much with these… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  fredster
2 months ago

I strongly concur. Well said.

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
Reply to  fredster
2 months ago

Yup.
DL, edge, LB, and DB all look to be draft choices.

Dude
Dude
2 months ago

I thought Cyril Grayson really started to come into his own last season, and it will be interesting to see if he can take over that #4 WR position.

fredster
fredster
Reply to  Dude
2 months ago

Yeah the knee injury was a bummer he was starting to develop a connection with Brady it seemed. Has speed too. I wonder if they tried him as returner? Darden is a lost cause to me. Too small too.

Last edited 2 months ago by fredster
drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  Dude
2 months ago

Good call. I wanted to cut Grayson when he let that easy TD catch boink off his face mask two years ago but he has shown a lot of improvement.

fredster
fredster
2 months ago

Also looking at this roster I sure hope Bucs can upgrade kick off and punt returner. Darden is a bust imo. Horrible last year at everything.

Charlie
Charlie
2 months ago

Call me crazy but I’m still really tentative on Devin White having a locked in starting role with the team this year. His reckless play simply cannot be tolerated this year, I would love for the team to draft a LB to compete with 45 this year and provide depth incase Lavonte goes down again. Would also love to see another DB picked early as well. I think this is gonna be a defensive draft early and offensive draft later…

fredster
fredster
Reply to  Charlie
2 months ago

I don’t think your crazy at all. I love Devin Whites attitude. Hell I have a White jersey. He is one of fastest ILB in the NFL of not the fastest. His ceiling is sky high. That said His play was just garbage lot of last year. It needs to improve a lot.

plopes808
plopes808
2 months ago

I feel the only pieces missing on offense would be a young TE and IOL. The rest of the draft and FA should be on the defensive side of the ball. Need to get younger in the front 7 and get a more consistent pass rush going without blitzing.

Eddie
Eddie
Reply to  plopes808
2 months ago

Agreed. I think we need a road grader type IOL, can give Brady one or two yards for the first down when needed. Kind of like when Brady had Trent Brown, 6’8″ and 360 pound at left guard

Eddie
Eddie
Reply to  Eddie
2 months ago

Left tackle

replica
replica
2 months ago

Seems like Florio pissed someone off..good article though

Eddie
Eddie
2 months ago

“Evans, Godwin and Gage have the top three spots locked down heading into camp”
So Godwin will be ready by camp? I think we will be lucky if Godwin is full strength by late second half of the season.

Dave
Dave
2 months ago

In no particular order, they need OG, an athletic 3 technique. An edge rusher who can get to the QB, an OLB who can get to the QB, a really good blocking TE, and a solid pass catching back

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
2 months ago

Bruce Arians values players with speed and those in the trenches. Bucs will draft trench players but also LB, CB and WR IMVHO.

Horse
Horse
2 months ago

Good thought Jon.

BUC FOR LIFE
BUC FOR LIFE
2 months ago

I’m surprised we have that depth at on the O Line. To me that is a less of a priority. I agree that we need DL and Pass Rush first and foremost. Also, I think our depth at LB is thin. White needs to improve/ settle down, competition here wouldn’t hurt. Our special teams NEEDS WORK. Darden is a lost cause to me. How about the CB from Houston Marcus Jones. Then a Blocking TE, I also haven’t heard much on Bradley Pinion, will he be back at 2.5 Million…. Haters hate, we may need a punter late….