The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had quite the haul during the 2018 NFL Draft, selecting eight players after general manager Jason Licht traded down twice – once in the first round and again in the second round. Now it’s time for PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds to review the 2018 Bucs draft class and assign some initial grades based on the players’ attributes and value based on the round they were selected.

Strong safety Jordan Whitehead, the team’s fourth-round pick, is up next, followed by wide receiver Justin Watson, who was Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick.

Round 4: Pittsburgh S Jordan Whitehead

Whitehead was an interesting draft pick because he was not one of the more prominent names in this draft at the safety position. Originally a top-20 cornerback prospect coming out of high school, Whitehead was moved to safety as a freshman due to his toughness and he led Pitt with 109 tackles to go along with six pass breakups and an interception. He would finish with just three career interceptions in three years, including a pick six, and 12 pass breakups.

Pitt S Jordan Whitehead - Photo courtesy of Pitt

Pitt S Jordan Whitehead – Photo courtesy of Pitt

Whitehead is not afraid of contact, evidenced by 235 career tackles, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown in his Panthers career. The Aliquippa, Pa. native has a cornerback’s build at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds and good ability to cover tight ends and slot receivers, although he bites too often on play-action, and hasn’t shown much improvement in terms of production over the last two years. In fact, some scouts suggest his best year was his freshman season.

In addition to being a hard-hitting, undersized strong safety, Whitehead’s athleticism was also used on offense at Pitt where he rushed for 362 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries (8.4 avg.), in addition to catching four passes for 17 yards. If the Bucs get into a pinch at running back from an injury standpoint as the team has over the past two years, it’s good to know that Whitehead could provide some emergency depth. A football team can never have enough good football players.

The Question Marks

Bucs free safety Justin Evans was not known as a consistent tackler coming out of Texas A&M and Whitehead has the same struggles. He needs to be more consistent, especially for being undersized a safety. While Whitehead has the athleticism to cover, he made very few plays on the ball during his time at Pitt, evidenced by just three interceptions. Does he have any star potential, or is he just another player that can happen to start a la Chris Conte or Keith Tandy? With West Virginia’s Kyzir White and Texas A&M’s Armani Watts going later in the fourth round, did the Bucs pick the right strong safety?

The Rookie Season Expectations

Whitehead has 4.5 speed and good athleticism. He’ll be in the mix for the starting strong safety position because of his draft status and the fact that neither Conte nor Tandy are the future at the position. If Whitehead performs well in camp and the preseason he could eventually start at some point during his rookie year, or it might take him a year to develop behind the scenes and his rookie season is relegated to special teams play.

The Grade: C+

While he likely won’t be cut due to his draft status and the fact that the Bucs needed another safety to compete with Conte and Tandy for the right to start opposite Evans, Whitehead needs to look out for undrafted strong safety Godwin Igwebuike, who had a draftable grade by Tampa Bay. Igwebuike is faster and is a good athlete and it should be fun to watch these two rookies battle it out for a spot on the depth chart.

Up Next: WR Justin Watson

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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JustaBuc
JustaBuc
4 years ago

Don’t you guys see the plan here? We needed RBs, and we got three in this draft! Vea did some RB in high school and now Whitehead did some RB in college. We got like 6 RBs on our roster now. WE STACKED.

Anyway, hope Whitehead the best!

shuster
shuster
Reply to  JustaBuc
4 years ago

Funny you say that because I was wondering if we might see Vea in as a blocker in goal line situations. But if he was a RB in H.S., hell give him the ball.

nybuccguy
nybuccguy
4 years ago

This draft pick made the last sense to me. Nothing about this guy stands out at all.

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  nybuccguy
4 years ago

Huh? He’s got good speed, decent size, was a two way player, was as productive as many other safeties, and the Bucs drafted him in the 4th round not the 1st. He looks like a great addition to me.

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
4 years ago

*Godwin, not Gordon.

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
4 years ago

This year’s McNichols??????

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  EastEndBoy
4 years ago

Why so many question marks? Are you wondering, wondering, wondering, wondering, wondering, wondering if Whitehead is a player who doesn’t care about football and is trading off of his Coach/Uncle Snoop Dogg’s name?

Let me answer that for you. No.

Like all 4th round draft picks he has a chance to make the team, but has plenty of aspects of his game to work on to make it. It seems apparent that he loves football as evidenced by his participation on offense and defense.

skyrider
skyrider
4 years ago

After the first pick in the draft I was lost, so much talent, in my book, got overlooked. The bad part about it is that there is still talent in free agency that is being overlooked, like RB, Roc Thomas…I’d bring him in immediatetly.

Sneedy16
Sneedy16
Reply to  skyrider
4 years ago

Roc Thomas already signed with the Vikings.

Brandonges
Brandonges
4 years ago

Seems like a wasted pick. The guy is too small to play Safety in the NFL and didn’t have enough splash plays or production in college. Hopefully he’s good on Special Teams.

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
Reply to  Brandonges
4 years ago

He’s 195 lbs… There are plenty of safeties that weight. He could add 10 lbs… And he apparently plays bigger — can really lay the wood. Earl Thomas is 5’10” and 200 lbs… not much difference.

Schwifty9
Schwifty9
4 years ago

Worst pick of the entire draft. His film at running back is decent, his film at safety is awful.

Don’t see what made Licht pass over a stud like Shaquem Griffin for this guy.

makski
makski
Reply to  Schwifty9
4 years ago

PLEASE!!! Can everyone just drop the S. Griffin talk already. He is not on our team, so let’s all just get over it and concentrate on our players. I’m sure if Griffin lasted to the 6th round, Light would have taken him. These picks were just too early to waste on a LB. LB just may be our strongest position and one of our deepest. I think the only reason we took Chichy in the 6th was because we had him rated much, much higher and couldn’t believe he was still on the board. Kind of like Beckwith last year.… Read more »

Schwifty9
Schwifty9
Reply to  makski
4 years ago

Ok, just because you find it easy to just be a blind optimist and accept every pick Licht made as being the right decision, doesn’t mean I have to be. I think Licht screwed up by passing on a dawg who would at the very least have been an absolute monster on special teams, and excellent depth. And I’m not going to just let that sentiment go. All in all I think that Licht had a very solid draft, but I think he also had some major oversights and could have had an amazing draft. Hope I’m wrong about the… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Schwifty9
4 years ago

Some might say you have “blind pessimism”. You’re like Mikey the Life Cereal kid who “hates everything.”

Romp9480
Romp9480
Reply to  scubog
4 years ago

Take this guys comments with a grain of salt. He was swearing up and down that Chris Conte was our starting free safety all last year. LOL

Schwifty9
Schwifty9
Reply to  scubog
4 years ago

How could you read what I said and accuse me of being a blind pessimist that hates everything?

“All in all I think that Licht had a very solid draft,”

did you miss that part or something?

scubog
scubog
Reply to  makski
4 years ago

While it’s a great story and he’s a great person……he’s a Seahawk. Enough already.

Devasher
Devasher
Reply to  scubog
4 years ago

The third day of the draft when these picks were made was 4 days ago. The idea that people shouldn’t talk about the players selected and the players not selected on a post specifically about this pick is silly.

The majority of the Pewter Nation podcast this week was devoted to Vea vs Derwin James etc. So I guess you can send PR your complaints to them as well. Also, feel free to let me know the next time you are appointed the thought/message board police Scubog.

makski
makski
Reply to  Devasher
4 years ago

At least Derwin was a potential pick at 7 and 12. Griffin seemed to never be in our plans because of his position. It would be like drafting a QB in round 2 or 3 just because he has talent when we obviously didn’t need a QB. That’s all we are saying.

Schwifty9
Schwifty9
Reply to  Devasher
4 years ago

Makski, obviously Licht had zero qualms about selecting a linebacker, seeing that we did indeed draft a linebacker.

All I’m saying is that if we were going to take a linebacker, it should have been the one with incredible athleticism and tape that hasn’t missed a year and half of football due to injuries.

Devasher
Devasher
Reply to  Devasher
4 years ago

😂 In addition to the fact that we drafted LB Cichy a round after Griffin was selected, he was literally PR Bucs Best Bet for Rds 1-3.

So it’s ok to talk about who someone feels team should’ve taken if they were “a potential pick” just not if you believe they weren’t, even though they were in fact linked to the Bucs by our very own PR. Wow, impressive train of thought there, makski.

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
Reply to  Schwifty9
4 years ago

I’ll take my chances with Licht’s judgement. Outside of that idiocy of the Aguayo fiasco, he’s been excellent. By the way, every other team in the league had multiple chances to draft Shaquem Griffin until Seattle pulled the trigger. So apparently, you and John Schneider are the only experts who have a clue on this one. I think they saw Whitehead’s athleticism and toughness and felt they could coach him up on his positional skills. I’ll trust their judgement until they’re proven wrong. Might wanna consider that their scouts have a lot more time to study film and get to… Read more »

Schwifty9
Schwifty9
Reply to  buccaneerNW
4 years ago

I’m fairly confident that the reason Griffin fell as far as he did, should be blatantly obvious and not even worth mentioning.

Shaquem Griffin was an electric play-maker at UCF, and the heart and soul of his unit. Based on his tape and athleticism alone, he should have been at the very minimum a 2nd round pick.

Seattle had a very stupid draft over all, didn’t show even the slightest concern about improving their O-line to make life easier on Russel Wilson, but they are getting a steal in Griffin.

Schwifty9
Schwifty9
Reply to  buccaneerNW
4 years ago

Side note on Seattle, another player I wanted a great deal that the PeeHawks got, would be Rashaad Penny.

I actually don’t think that they are crazy for taking him in Round 1 either, he was my RB2 behind Barkley, in front of Guice and Michel. Ronald Jones being the 5th.

Here’s hoping that Jordon Whitehead can be better than Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James, or at the very least become a competent starter . And that RoJo is the best RB drafted in 2018.

Go Bucs.

Devasher
Devasher
Reply to  buccaneerNW
4 years ago

22-42 is not excellent.
ASJ was not excellent.
Charles Sims was not excellent (over Trai Turner, Gabe Jackson and Devonta Freeman).
The entire 2016 NFL Draft (VHIII, Spence, Aguayo, Smith) was not excellent.

I would say there is room for criticism beyond just Aguayo NW.

Schwifty9
Schwifty9
Reply to  Devasher
4 years ago

While I hesitate to judge Licht strictly on the W/L record during his tenure, due to what I feel was blatant incompetence under Lovie, you are other wise correct.

Jason Licht has proven himself capable of making mistakes, just like any person, I always qualify my statements by saying that I hope I’m wrong and these players perform, my gut feeling right now is that Licht made some mistakes.

e
e
4 years ago

Is Gordon the son of Donald?

makski
makski
Reply to  e
4 years ago

Nephew, I believe. Also related to the “Nigerian Nightmare,” Christian Okoye.

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
Reply to  e
4 years ago

It’s Godwin. Donald is his father’s cousin.

Devasher
Devasher
4 years ago

Unfortunately I think Licht and Co focused on their guys in positions of need at the exclusion of the draft board. There were better football players available (White, Watts, Averett, Hurst, Griffin), but they went fishing for targeted players. Not the pick I would’ve made (Griffin) but we’ll see.

makski
makski
Reply to  Devasher
4 years ago

I’m glad you said, I think. That is the problem, most of us are just guessing and pretending that we know what the Bucs draft board looked like, or that we know more than them. For all we know, Whitehead was one of the highest rated players left on the Bucs board when they picked him. I too, liked White, but is he that much better than Whithead, not sure. I didn’t like Watts at all, and Averett is around the same talent level too. Hurst was no longer needed with free agency and Vea, and I hear MOST teams… Read more »

Devasher
Devasher
Reply to  makski
4 years ago

In Basketball there is a term VORP for ‘Value Over Replacement Player’ the idea is, ‘Is this guy a replacement level player, better or worse.’ At the end of the draft you are taking a bunch of replacement level or worse players so you ideally find someone with traits or production that give you a shot they can develop into something in 3 years. Otherwise, you can find a host of people waiting for the phone to ring who are Josh Robinson types, with plenty of ST experience and or time on a PS or offseason programs. Hurst has a… Read more »

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
4 years ago

Whitehead is going to surprise people as he is a good tackler and takes good angles because he keeps everything in front of him.

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

Good ass pick as any and that round. I’m glad the CB and Safety issues we’re addressed.

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

Good as pick as any and that round. I’m glad the CB and Safety issues we’re addressed.

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

in not and

Matt Barker
Matt Barker
4 years ago

I think Licht killed it in this draft. His moves up and down the board were so fluid. He put himself in position to get the players that he wanted where he wanted them. His board was different than yours in mine. He had a thousand times more information on the players than we did. He also knows what direction he wants to take the team. You might not like the picks but they are now part of the Buccaneers family. Either get on board and support our players on our team or go find another team.

destinjohnny
destinjohnny
4 years ago

Nobody will remember me saying this but take it to the bank, Anthony Averitt the Bama corner taken after this pick will be a pro bowler after 3 seasons and this guy will struggle to be in the league.

Freeman Strickland
Freeman Strickland
4 years ago

I watched the Pitt-Miami game. Miami mostly avoided throwing at him. He got beat for a TD late in the game when the guy running down the seam faked to the flag and took it to the post. He bit too hard on the fake and got turned around. But, he mostly looked pretty good. The Hurricanes were ranked number 2, and Pitt upset them. He was not a liability that second ranked Miami could exploit except on that one late play. Miami ended up 13.

Romp9480
Romp9480
4 years ago

At least we now have someone else to start at SS than CHRIS CONTE now.

Romp9480
Romp9480
4 years ago

This is is Darrell Revis’ cousin.

plopes808
plopes808
4 years ago

This seems to be the least popular pick of the draft. Also, Conte seems to be the least favorite Buc on the roster. It seems a lot of people here are “glass half-empty” types who aren’t happy with the current player, but also complain about the new one is brought in to compete. Licht and co…despite what some may think, know a lot more about these guys than all of us armchair GMs do. While he’s had his misses, he’s also had some really good hits. I for one am looking forward to seeing how this master plan plays out.… Read more »

GoldsonAges
GoldsonAges
4 years ago

I was just watching him vs Clemson last year. I’m finding it hard to evaluate him. They’re playing all cover two zone vs 4 WR. It’s a mess. Blown assigments by everyone in the secondary. 4 secondary players playing zone vs 4 WR with only the occassional help from the LB’s just doesn’t work. My guess is he will have quite a long transitional period before he will be ready to get on the field. He’s going to have to learn how to play in a competent defense. Not his fault, but he’s going to be a project. Possibly a… Read more »

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
4 years ago

Whitehead is going to have to do a lot of work to prove skeptics wrong. But he is a type of player that will really surprise people on game days. If people think he is a CB playing safety for fun and giggles think again. This guy is 100% a downhill, fill the gap safety who can also cover like a CB deep down the pipe.

Godwin Igwebuik can play downhill too but he hasn’t shown he can be the also a down feld coverage safety for the NFL game.