The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be finalizing their 2018 opening day roster this weekend after taking a look at the waiver wire on Sunday. Expect the Bucs to place defensive tackle Mitch Unrein on injured reserve with a designation to return after eight games, and use that open roster spot to sign a long snapper – either Drew Ferris or Garrison Sanborn.

The Bucs could also shuffle the roster a bit through the waiver claims process by picking up a player or two. Prior to any more transactions, PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds takes a look at the Bucs’ team strengths and weaknesses after Saturday’s roster cuts.

TEAM STRENGTHS
1. Wide Receiver
The Buccaneers may have the best and deepest wide receiver corps in the league with what head coach Dirk Koetter calls “four starters” in Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, the emerging Chris Godwin and the reliable Adam Humphries. Add in Freddie Martino, who has earned the trust of the coaches over the years, along with play-making rookie Justin Watson and this group from 1-6 is as talented as any in the NFL. With Jackson and Humphries likely moving on next year due to salary cap reasons, it was important for the Bucs to keep six receivers as Martino and Watson may be in store for even bigger roles and more playing time next year.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin and TE O.J. Howard - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs WR Chris Godwin and TE O.J. Howard – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

2. Tight End
Like wide receiver, the Bucs tight end group may be the envy of the league. Tampa Bay has two quality starters in O.J. Howard, who is a star in the making, and red zone weapon Cameron Brate, while many teams only have one. Third-string Antony Auclair has made huge strides as both a blocker and a receiver and he would be a No. 2 tight end in many offenses around the NFL. He’ll see a good deal of playing time in Koetter’s two-tight end set. Alan Cross is a jack-of-all trades “glue guy” that can play fullback and lead block, as well as catch passes as an H-back “move” tight end.

3. Defensive Line
This unit was a glaring weakness last year and was completely overhauled this offseason, starting with new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner. Three of the Bucs starters from a year ago – defensive tackles Chris Baker and Clinton McDonald and defensive end Robert Ayers, Jr. – are currently not on any NFL roster, which is quite telling. Defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry and nose tackle Beau Allen are all upgrades and will make Gerald McCoy’s life easier. The Bucs have quality depth with Will Gholston, Will Clarke, Vita Vea, Noah Spence and Unrein, who is destined for injured reserve with a designation to return.

TEAM WEAKNESSES
Safety
1. The Bucs moved on from Keith Tandy, a quality reserve and special teams contributor, in favor of Isaiah Johnson, whom the team believes has more upside on defense and special teams. You might remember Johnson scoring a key touchdown on a fumbled punt return against New Orleans in Week 17 last year, but he has little experience playing on defense. While free safety Justin Evans has Pro Bowl potential and Chris Conte has the trust of the coaches at strong safety, Jordan Whitehead is a rookie with zero experience. An injury or two at this position and a pair of novices in Johnson and Whitehead and starting and that’s far from ideal.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs CB Carlton Davis – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

2. Cornerback
Brent Grimes had a disappointing training camp, but the coaches are hoping he can flip the switch and revert back to his old form for one more season. What’s scary is that aside from the 35-year old Grimes, the only other cornerback on the roster with an interception is Vernon Hargreaves III, who has just one. Rookie cornerbacks Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart are talented and show promise, but simply lack experience. The Bucs need Grimes to stay healthy and play at a high level this season or it could be a long year for the secondary.

3. Linebacker
Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David are two of the best linebackers in the NFL and have Pro Bowl credentials. The Bucs play nickel defense 70 percent of the time, so as long as this dynamic duo stays healthy the team is in great shape. An injury to either one would be a disaster. With Kendell Beckwith on PUP and set to miss the first five games, there is little experienced depth behind Alexander and David outside of Adarius Taylor, especially at middle linebacker as Beckwith serves as the starting SAM and backup MIKE linebacker. Cameron Lynch and rookie Jack Cichy are unknown commodities on defense.

Share On Socials

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]
Subscribe
Notify of
57 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pete Wood
Pete Wood
3 years ago

I think they definitely have the best receivers and tight ends in the league.

I think the Bucs beat the Saints for their first win. Call me crazy.

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
3 years ago

I totally disagree with 2 players cut. GO BUCS

makski
makski
Reply to  Buc 1976
3 years ago

Which 2 ??

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
Reply to  makski
3 years ago

Tandy and Shepard. Particularly Tandy.

drdneast
drdneast
3 years ago

I won’t call you crazy. The Bucs have won in NO plenty of time before. If the running game gets going and the defense can hold Brewer to 24 points, they have a damn good chance of winning.

drdneast
drdneast
3 years ago

Brees not Brewer. Damn auto spell on phone.

BadgerW4
BadgerW4
Reply to  drdneast
3 years ago

Darn… Because I was pretty sure we’d keep Brewer from scoring 24 points. I’m not so sure about Brees. ;)

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
3 years ago

Sorry totally disagree, the only way we win in NO is if Brees, Lattimore, Jordan and Kamara get injured early. Saints have GREAT O-line which we dominate our rebuilt D-line. On defense, Saints will stop run, force us to throw and dare Fitz to beat them, which he can’t. Sorry Bucs fans, IMO we are in for another VERY long season. We’ll likely be talking draft in the middle of October.

Borkdog
Borkdog
Reply to  Bucnut2
3 years ago

Think your on money and being real. Hopefully this time, our coach will realize winning a meaningless game at end of year will drop us multiple draft spots, and really we could of had OG Nelson or DE Chubb!!! If Koetter doesn’t change his timid play calling and… NO GUTS, (be aggressive, go for it on 4th down occasionally), then he is gone! Hope keep going BIGS early in draft, already thinking 2019 draft, still D-line and O-line with first 3 pics, (DE, OT, and OG), then as many DB’s as possible. Still huge holes in secondary, DL did NOTHING… Read more »

Horse
Horse
3 years ago

Scott said 4-2-5 is 70% of the time on Defense so I see no reason why Cameron Lynch is there. I don’t see the necessity for the 5th LB right now as we could call up one from the PS if required.
I feel the same way as above as to DL Spence; so far he has way under achieved.

surferdudes
3 years ago

Yes the D line has been revamped but to call them a team strength is a bit premature. Unrein is a 30 something year old with a history of concussions who may never play a snap for us. Vea, a rookie missed all preseason, and most of training camp, still not sure if he’ll even be ready for the opener. I didn’t exactly see the D line do anything special this preseason. Most of our D line from last year are unemployed, so yes we should be be better, but a team strength? Scott, come on man!

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

Combination of wishful thinking and rank homerism.

I really don’t see this year’s team as any better than last year’s team … at least until some games are played to prove different.

surferdudes
3 years ago

Forgot to mention Spence our designated pass rusher can’t get to the passer!

fredster
fredster
3 years ago

Agree Surferdudes D line is not a strength until they prove it period. Hope they are but remains to be see. On paper they have more depth. That’s about all you can’t at this point. Bucs can beat New Orleans. Saints D is still average even with Lattimore. We will need to have great game on offense and run ball. I’m excited to see Barber this year. He looks primed ready to explode. Fitz can play well and has all pre season. His consistency scares me a little but if he plays well we can beat Saints. They are missing… Read more »

Dman
Dman
3 years ago

Strengths: Not buying into the hype on the D line. They showed nothing in the preseason. Until I see sacks, pressures and the ability to force mistakes, this is unit has a lot to prove.

Weaknesses.: Foolish to put LB’s on this list, really? How about O-line or RB depth?

makski
makski
Reply to  Dman
3 years ago

500 Thumbs up for this one! Our O-line is average even when they are healthy, throw in a BUNCH of injuries and this HAS to be a weakness! How are they not even at #1 or #2? And talk about no depth, if our starters are still out, who will be playing that has any experience outside of E Smith? Also, you can’t tell me that E Smith puts fear into any D-Lineman in the NFL either.

fredster
fredster
3 years ago

Agree with ya but when he says LB he’s talking about depth. With Beckwith out of Kwon or David get hurt we are likely done. Be starting guys with no experience. So it is a weakness in terms of depth. If they stay healthy be ok. Look at history too Kwon been hurt lot kind of.

makski
makski
Reply to  fredster
3 years ago

Taylor has played before as a back-up, hasn’t he? I still believe we have much better potential depth, especially when Beckwith returns at LB, at the LB position than at O-Line. I would much rather see a back-up in at LB than anywhere on the O-Line right now.

TheTruth
TheTruth
3 years ago

Let’s state the obvious we whiffed at the 2018 draft, our 1st round pick is hurt and is buried on the depth chart and your 1st round pick should be a starter and an impact player, our 2nd round pick can’t even average a yard per carry in the diluted pre-season that he should have owned, I will not go on down the list, but at first glance this draft class does nothing to help our team now or in the future. We did some upgrades, but it will be another long season with me not watching the games as… Read more »

makski
makski
Reply to  TheTruth
3 years ago

Why don’t you just go and switch teams then?? We don’t want your comments here. Do you think S Barkley is a great pick? I have seen plenty of “lowlight” clips of him in the pre-season where he is getting killed in the backfield also. You have to take into account the blocking they are receiving on each particular carry. No one can help an injury. Everyone has the potential to get hurt, so you can’t blame that on the Bucs. Would you rather have had the Bucs win the outrageous sweepstakes to get J McKinnion?? I’ll bet you did,… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  makski
3 years ago

Citing facts is your excuse to invite someone to un-fan the Bucs???

WTF apointed you as te fan keeper. Buzz off!!!

TheTruth
TheTruth
Reply to  Naplesfan
3 years ago

maksi………did somebody piss in your cornflakes today, just stating the obvious facts that we don’t draft good, point blank. All the draft picks have potential until they go out there and either prove it or not, take Beckwith, was great last year then gets hurt again albeit a car accident, but sometimes things are not meant to be. The fact that we have to rely on late round draft picks at corner shows how bad the secondary is and I don’t care how much you beef up the D-line we still fall short in our division and will not make… Read more »

GrayBalls
GrayBalls
Reply to  TheTruth
3 years ago

Which “late round picks at corner” might you be referring to?

BUC-ASS-BOB
BUC-ASS-BOB
Reply to  TheTruth
3 years ago

TheTruth any time you criticize this team the same head in sand guys tell you to switch teams
that because you want to win and you can’t believe the moron moves this GM makes in their mind make you not a true fan!
You are correct GM picked like he was trying to lose in this draft.
This team will be in a trivia quiz as the team that traded away pick that gave Josh Allen to Buffalo.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
3 years ago

The weakness is the defense. Until it is able to prove that this fifth reincarnation of Licht’s attempt at building a halfway decent defense is not failure just like nos. 1 thru 4 were failures, it does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. The passing offense looks great. The offensive line is a mixed bag, and the running game does not impress. Lots of non performing new additions to the team so far. If what what we’ve seen so far is what we get, winning 5 games might even be a stretch. If the real 2018 Bucs have not… Read more »

Buc76
Buc76
3 years ago

Here we go Homer central back in action. This team sucks folks. The season is over. 0 and 3 start. Koetter is gone. He’s not an NFL head coach. Wake up!

Horse
Horse
3 years ago

When we play New Orleans our offense should throw short and middle range passes and then run. Their defense is going to press us I’m not sure defense can stop Brees. If Mike Smith normal scheme is to play 5-10 yards off the WR, we’re doomed! Strongly suggest Koetter remains strictly as the Head Coach and help Smith by identifying what the Saints offense is doing.

Dman
Dman
Reply to  Horse
3 years ago

No one at One Buc seems to be listening….

DonkeyHunter
DonkeyHunter
3 years ago

Did SR just refer to Kwon as one of the best linebackers in the NFL?

Lolz…

TheTruth
TheTruth
3 years ago

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampa_Bay_Buccaneers_draft_history#2014_Draft Lavonte David – excellent pick, still on team Mike Evans – excellent pick, still on team Jameis Winston – still on team, franchise QB not Donovan Smith – still on team, overrate LT Ali Marpet – still on team, better than average G Kwon Alexander – excellent pick, still on team 2016 Draft – Sucks top to bottom OJ Howard – excellent pick, still on team, drafter best available not what we needed Justin Evans – excellent pick, still on team Chris Godwin – potential, still on team Kendall Beckwith, – still on team, will be a bust due… Read more »

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
Reply to  TheTruth
3 years ago

Well I’m no Licht fan, but I don’t totally agree with your analysis. First, LaVonte was a Dom pick. Second, What GM hits on their 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks every year? The best might get one of those right plus another addition somewhere (in fairness the draft is hard). Licht has got us Brate too and I’m excited to see JPP alongside GMC. My angst with Licht is more about the strategy he follows – like it or not (and I don’t) he sticks to it like a glove: 1) get rid of guys in the Belichikian view… Read more »

buddah
buddah
3 years ago

Why do we have to play these games? Can’t we just throw in the towel? Some of these comments are just crazy. We have a much better roster than the team that went 9-7. We have a better wide receiving corp; a better defensive line; better tight ends; a better field goal kicker; a better center; and more experienced quarterbacks. The linebacking and safeties are about a wash; the cornerbacks are the same. In football as the saying goes, you either get better or worse. Our roster is better but yes we have weaknesses.But so do all the other teams… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  buddah
3 years ago

How can it be crazy to not be slobberingly in love with a Bucs team that was the biggest under-achievers in the league last year, picked by virtually everybody in the business to finish last again this year, with the first and second round draft picks both MIA in the preseason, along with two of the members of the so called revamped D line that also was missing in action the preseason. And a starting quarterback who will miss a minimum of three games. You are letting your homerism get the best of you. This team has not shown it… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Naplesfan
3 years ago

Of course fans of the home team are “homers”. Duh! You even criticize a fan for being a…..fan.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
3 years ago

Being a homer is simply dumb, period. Being a fan of a team does not require turning off one’s brain.

Devasher
Devasher
Reply to  buddah
3 years ago

Potential means you haven’t done it. The Bucs haven’t done it and until they prove otherwise, it makes more sense to look at recent or 10 year history as a guide than fantastical dreams where everything clicks in spite of critical holes on the line, the defensive backfield with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for 3 games handing off to Peyton Barber and a weak o-line. If you told me Fitz and Barber are the starting QB and RB going into last season and both lines had a string of injuries with significant depth problems with the o-line I’d say the… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Devasher
3 years ago

Neither does being a fan mean you find fault with virtually everything and predict gloom and doom before the season even starts. None of us “homers” are foolish enough to be blind to some of the obvious weaknesses, but we also see the strengths.

I’ve always believed NFL teams are all basically the same physically. It’s the mental aspect that wins games. Here in Bucville, the fans who believe themselves to be more “realistic” are beaten before the season even begins.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
3 years ago

Hey, Mr. Self Righteous, fans don’t win or lose the games, or cause the team to win or lose games. Fans cannot cause a defeat or a victory.

Being realistic means not being stupid.

The Bucs are the second worst team in the NFL throughout the entire tenure of the current ownership as well as the current management and coaching regime the owners hired. None of that bunch or the Bucs as a team deserve the benefit of the doubt or unswerving fan homerism.

Sorry, the truth definitely hurts but it is still the truth.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Naplesfan
3 years ago

“self righteous” for being a fan of the home town team and questioning why a supposed fan hates virtually everything the team does? Since apparently you live in Naples, perhaps you should switch allegiances to that team in south Florida orrrrrrrrrr the Eagles.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Devasher
3 years ago

The homers have convinced themselves that if they just wish hard enough their Bucs dreams will come true. True Believers, they are. And being True Believers, they cannot tolerate any who dare to point out the realities. So they don their gowns of self righteousness and attempt to cast out any who are heretics, labeling them as Untrue Fans and Non Believers. Hey, people, football is just a game, and some teams are good most of the time and some teams are bad most of the time. Being a fan of one of the latter like the Bucs is tough… Read more »

Jlog
Jlog
Reply to  buddah
3 years ago

Here is why the Bucs aren’t likely to win more than a handful of games this year. We might have the worst secondary in league this year. We have a powerful passing offense but it’s far from unstoppable. Plus we will be one dimensional because we also have a weak offensive line. That going to lead to lots of turn overs so we will lose most shootouts.

The preseason skewed expectation because we kept the starting offensive line out there for Fitz and Winston making us look much better than we really are.

Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983
3 years ago

Safety was a major weakness before the draft. I’m so glad Licht took Vita Vea over Derwin James. SMH!!

Borkdog
Borkdog
3 years ago

Hey at least we didn’t get Gruden!!! He is busy killing the Raiders team, losing Mack, are u kidding me. Damn, if he was here, he would of had to cut Mccoy, Winston, David, and JPP to match that loss for Oakland. I really love the Bucs, but man we are hurting for stars, NO involvement for Mack trade for Bucs???, hats off to Chicago! Come on BUCS, go get Thomas from Seahawks, hell maybe Reid from SanFran, kneel, whatever… but need to upgrade secondary fast. Saints grabbing everyone, off waiver got RB-Gillislee from UF/Patriots last year, definitely better RB… Read more »

matador
matador
Reply to  Borkdog
3 years ago

I disagree with a lot of the negatives that have been posted but that’s probably because I came into this season with more modest expectations. We were wafer thin all over the place, OL being my biggest concern (if that was better I’d be downright optimistic given weapons we have) but also thin at Corner, Safety, RB. This was never going to be the magic fix it year but hopefully we’re better (7-9 or dare I dream 9-7 I Winston maintains his cool & accuracy). We’ll need a few of the current draft picks to round into form and some… Read more »

Devasher
Devasher
3 years ago

The o-line is the weakest part of this team and I don’t think its particularly close. I get that corner and safety are also weak spots but I have no idea how Scott can cover this team as closely as he does and think that the o-line will be even functional given the holes (RG/LT) injury history of some of the players (Dotson) and lack of depth. I’m willing to bet it becomes clear the o-line is going to prevent the offense from keeping sustained drives as you’ll see free defenders on the QB and RB’s get stuffed which keep… Read more »

MrThrityTwo
MrThrityTwo
Reply to  Devasher
3 years ago

Absolutely agree. Our OLINE impacts eveything, QB protection, Running game, Time of possession, keeping the D off the field etc… Ask the Eagles

MrThrityTwo
MrThrityTwo
Reply to  Devasher
3 years ago

The 2018 draft started so promising! Trading down for for 2 that’s 2 second rounders! We get Vita Vea and looked good – Ron Jones – at the time OK, but why not trade up and get O-Line help!!!! Then they spend 2 more 2nd rounders on secondary – MJ Stewart??? Not good. Division 2 Cappa in third? Whitehead secondary from Pitt? Watson from Penn in 5th? Both Cappa and Watson were going to be there in later rounds or UDFAs Look at Jax draft – 4/7 SEC 2/7 Big10 1/7 ACC – We should have hire coughlin This was… Read more »

GoldsonAges
GoldsonAges
3 years ago

Sorry SR but the weaknesses are Safety, RB, and OL. Justin Evans has Pro Bowl potential…….thanks for the laugh.

Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983
Reply to  GoldsonAges
3 years ago

Yeah that’s it. One good young player with lots of potential. The Bucs needed to pair someone with Evans for the long term. Keith Tandy was nothing special, but he was a good, smart player. By cutting him, they made an already weak position worse. It was a no brainier to go with Derwin James in round 1, and Licht blew it.

Now we’ll have to hope and pray, that Jordan Whitehead develops similar to Evans last year.

buddah
buddah
3 years ago

I acknowledge I’m a fan but I’m not a homer. Nobody has convinced me with arguments that this team is worse on paper than the team that went 9-7 in 2016. They are not. I have no idea what record the Buccaneers will have this year. Talentwise, I believe they can compete and I don’t see any world beaters out there. I don’t see any team in the league that is a lock to win more than 11 games and neither does Las Vegas. The salary cap insures this. It comes down largely to injuries, coaching, quarterbacking, and motivation. I’m… Read more »

ScottC543
ScottC543
Reply to  buddah
3 years ago

I’m gonna agree with buddah here. We definitely have more talent than last year, and Winston, although out the first three, has looked exceptional in the preseason. If he can stay healthy, and we get better play-calling (effective quick passing can completely negate a withering pass rush if you have the receivers, which we do), I’m convinced we can score enough to keep up with anyone. Then it comes down to our D line and the pass rush. We have certainly upgraded across the board there, and while they haven’t looked great early, we haven’t had them all on the… Read more »

XpfcWintergreen2
XpfcWintergreen2
3 years ago

Good comments, buddah, you have much wisdom.

While it is great fun to analyze and discuss all things football, in the end you’re either a true fan, as in “a fanatic Buccaneer supporter”, or you are not.

Getting bogged down in a lot negatives can ruin everything for you. I recommend listening to the latest podcast from The Commish on JoeBucsFan to put things back into perspective.
_____________
Go Bucs!!!!!

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  XpfcWintergreen2
3 years ago

So God appointed you to rule that there are “True Fans”, who must be homers, and fake famd who are fake because we use our brains and aren’t homers.

Sorry, no such power exists.

surferdudes
3 years ago

You have to wonder why we didn’t make any waiver claims. I guess the Bucs feel there are no better safeties, DL, OL, out there, then the players we have. With question marks on the roster, not even a trade for an up grade? I see where Carolina made a trade for a O.T., shouldn’t we have? Gillislee wouldn’t have been an upgrade over Quizz, and the rookie who could’ve went to the P.S.? I don’t care if he stands on his head for the anthem, Reid is better then any safety on our roster. I’d rather win games then… Read more »

Deborah Hall
Deborah Hall
3 years ago

I try not to make comments on here, but when it comes to the comment of Brent not having a good training camp, if you play professional FB, you will get hurt at some point and being a 13 yr. veteran it happens. If you know Brent he dislikes being on the sidelines. Do you know any player that wants to have a bad day? I can’t understand how you can not have clue about what is really going on but write about it. Enjoy the se

Deborah Hall
Deborah Hall
3 years ago

I wanted to say enjoy the season🤔

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
3 years ago

I think RB group is underrated on this.

Barber/Wilson/ROJO/Rodgers is going to prove to be a huge boost to this teams chance of winning a lot of games.

LB group I would say falls into the overrated group because I saw too much inconsistency in pre season. But I do have confidence that Taylor, David and Alexander can pull it together.