Pro Football Focus has re-graded the 2018 NFL Draft and the Bucs have earned an “A” in hindsight. It was a draft that produced four legit, full-time starters in nose tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis III, right guard Alex Cappa and strong safety Jordan Whitehead.
Vea became a Pro Bowler in 2020, while Davis and Cappa became among the highest-paid players at their positions this offseason. Davis stayed in Tampa Bay, while Cappa left for Cincinnati. Whitehead signed a decent-sized contract with the New York Jets.
Bucs NT Vita Vea – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Yet, PFF regarded Davis as the best pick, not Vea, and said Ronald Jones II was the worst pick. The Bucs’ worst pick that year was clearly fellow second-round pick M.J. Stewart, who was a complete bust. Jones nearly ran for 1,000 yards in 2020.
Here’s what PFF had to say about Tampa Bay’s 2018 draft class.
“The Bucs’ Super Bowl run was a tremendous example of why we say teams should continue to invest in their secondary. No one is always going to get the evaluation part correct — as evidenced by the Bucs’ second-rounders back in 2018 — but when a team hits, the payoff can be massive.
Davis was a key piece to their championship team while the man picked in front of him wasn’t even on the roster anymore. If they stopped drafting after taking Stewart, however, they may not have a Lombardi trophy.
Vea is the other headliner, as he’s been arguably the best nose tackle in the NFL over the past couple of seasons. He’s racked up 99 pressures in his previous two fully healthy seasons.”
Other Teams Getting An “A” Grade – Or Better – From PFF
The Bucs were one of seven teams getting an “A” grade or higher. Four teams got “A+” grades, while two earned an “A-” and another team earned an “A” alongside Tampa Bay.
Buffalo got an “A+” for drafting Pro Bowl quarterback Josh Allen, but PFF admits it’s just for the Allen pick.
Baltimore also received an “A+” for trading up to No. 32 to grab quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has already won an NFL MVP award. The Ravens also drafted a pair of Pro Bowlers in the third round in tackle Orlando Brown and tight end Mark Andrews.
Bucs WR Mike Evans and Panthers CB Donte Jackson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
PFF also gave the Colts an “A+” for drafting All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson, All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard and tackle Braden Smith with their first three picks.
In the NFC, the Eagles got an “A+” despite having just five picks and none in the first round. Philadelphia wound up drafting five starters, including tight end Dallas Goedert with its second-round pick and tackle Jordan Mailata with its seventh-rounder.
Carolina earned an “A-” grade thanks to drafting receiver D.J. Moore in the first round and cornerback Donte Jackson in the second round.
San Francisco was also awarded an “A-” for selecting Pro Bowl linebacker Fred Warner in the third round and tackle Mike McGlinchey in the first round.
The Rams received an “A” for drafting back-to-back starting offensive linemen in the third and fourth rounds in tackle Joseph Noteboom and center Brian Allen. Sixth-round defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day was also a Day 3 steal.