Not everyone enjoys or agrees with Pro Football Focus’ grading system, but there is no question they’ve created a nationally recognized process to evaluating players. However, PFF’s process isn’t gospel and it should be critiqued at times. In the ranking of several Bucs players, I offer varying degrees of disagreement, predicting which Tampa Bay starters will out-play PFF’s ranking this season. I also think they nailed it in several instances, accurately listing Bucs players where they should be ranked.

Here are the rankings of every Bucs player to appear in PFF’s top 32 players at each position. PFF compiled these lists with a level of projection for how they believe a player will perform in 2021, not just how they played in 2020. Offensive tackles and offensive guards were all ranked together.

QB Tom Brady – 2nd
RB Ronald Jones – 25th
WR Mike Evans – 12th
WR Chris Godwin – 13th
TE Rob Gronkowski – 9th
WR Antonio Brown – 24th
TE O.J. Howard – 23rd
TE Cam Brate – 32nd
RT Tristan Wirfs – 6th
LT Donovan Smith – NR
LG Ali Marpet – 6th
RG Alex Cappa – 27th
C Ryan Jensen – 11th

DT Vita Vea – 7th
DT Ndamukong Suh – 25th
EDGE Shaq Barrett – 9th
EDGE Jason Pierre-Paul – NR
LB Lavonte David – 4th
LB Devin White – 25th
CB Carlton Davis – 15th
CB Jamel Dean – 19th
S Antoine Winfield Jr. – 21st

QB Tom Brady – 2nd

In my opinion, ranking Brady anywhere from No. 2-No. 6 is hard to argue with. Depending on the year, Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson are in the same tier, with Josh Allen and Dak Prescott in the conversation as well. Patrick Mahomes would be first, of course. When you take into account the context of what Brady did in 2020, turning the Bucs around and posting crazy numbers despite a new offense, no offseason and a system that asks for a ton of big-time plays from the quarterback position, ranking him second isn’t crazy at all.

RB Ronald Jones – 25th

Clearly Jones is the most talented back on the Bucs’ roster, but it’s difficult for me to consider him for this list due to how last year ended. Looking at the backs ahead of him on the list, it becomes easier though. It’s hard to make an argument that J.K. Dobbins or Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Nyheim Hines are better than Jones right now. Jones is a frustrating evaluation because his struggles in the passing game have led the Bucs to bench him, but there is no denying he’s an exciting rusher when he’s running with confidence.

Wide Receiver

Mike Evans – 12th
Chris Godwin – 13th
Antonio Brown – 24th

Wide receiver is one of the deepest position groups in the NFL, and there should be no shame in being ranked outside of the top ten. But I definitely take exception to Evans and Godwin being ranked behind Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Calvin Ridley. Thielen is a great receiver, but 9th in the NFL? What does he do better than Evans or Godwin? Jefferson was awesome as a rookie, but I still don’t see a superior skill set than the Bucs’ duo, and longevity has to matter a little more here.

I agree with keeping Evans and Godwin out of the top five receivers in the league, as I think Davante Adams, Deandre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs and Julio Jones are the top tier. But after that, anywhere from 6-10 is fair game. I think this is one of the lowest rankings you’ll ever see for Evans and Godwin. Also, there is a strong argument to be made that Antonio Brown is still better than Corey Davis, Jarvis Landry and Cole Beasley. We just need to see him in action for a full season again.

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski – 9th
O.J. Howard – 23rd
Cam Brate – 32nd

Nice to see Brate included on this list, as I’ve said several times over the past year that there are a few teams he would start on. Howard is difficult to rank, as the list admits, but he could be a few spots higher in 2022. I would have Gronkowski higher up the list than this, as I don’t believe his physical skill set has diminished much at all. But with PFF looking to the future, it’s understandable that they would be a little lower on him.

RT Tristan Wirfs – 6th
LT Donovan Smith – NR
LG Ali Marpet – 6th
RG Alex Cappa – 27th
C Ryan Jensen – 11th

Wirfs was the best right tackle in the NFL last season, but I’m not going to squabble over a 6th-place finish for a rookie. Wirfs and Marpet were fairly ranked, while Cappa rightfully cracked the top 32 guards in the NFL. Should Smith have been ranked? Maybe, but looking at the list, there are only a couple spots where an argument could be made.

The biggest issue by far is with Jensen’s ranking outside the top ten, an egregious mistake. OL guru Brandon Thorn recently appeared on the Pewter Report Podcast to discuss why he believes Jensen is the best center in the NFL. We are not exactly in a golden age of center play in the league right now. Ranking outside the top 10 essentially means you’re an average center. I don’t know anyone on the planet who believes Jensen is an average center. The way he plays the game may eventually take a toll on his body and cause a drop in play, but Jensen was excellent in 2020 and should be a top five lock at his position.

DT Vita Vea – 7th
DT Ndamukong Suh – 25th

Not much to squabble about here. PFF continues to herald Vea as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, while Suh remains a force despite his age. Could Vea crack the top 5 next season? That’s a pretty dominant top six ahead of him.

I was surprised to see Suh ranked this high at first, then I looked at some of the names ahead of him and realized there’s an argument for him to be even higher. What hurts Suh is his lack of impact as a pass rusher, but he’s still a premier run defender.

EDGE Shaq Barrett – 9th
EDGE Jason Pierre-Paul – NR

I’m not the biggest Pierre-Paul advocate, but not being ranked at all here is curious. Pierre-Paul isn’t better than Trey Hendrickson? Leonard Floyd? Josh Allen? Clelin Ferrell? Pierre-Paul is not an elite player and has always been a little overrated in my mind, but he’s clearly better than most of the bottom 7-8 players on this list. Not ranking him at all is very confusing to me.

In the same breath, I think a top ten ranking for Barrett is a little rich. He’s certainly a very good player, but he’s not better than Von Miller or Danielle Hunter. Recency bias seems to have crept into that ranking a little bit. Barrett wasn’t dominant this past regular season, but erupted in the playoffs for four sacks. It’s a big year for him to build on last season’s finish even after inking a massive contract this offseason.

LB Lavonte David – 4th
LB Devin White – 25th

PFF continues to be enamored with Bobby Wagner, their top linebacker once again heading into 2021. I’ll take David due to his superiority in coverage, the most distinctive skill a linebacker can bring to the table. Still, it’s a strong ranking for David, who will attempt to stave off age for at least two more seasons.

The ranking that has already incensed Bucs fans is White’s, and understandably so. PFF is down on White’s 2020 performance compared to the common narrative that he’s among the top 3-5 linebackers in the league, but 25th? In a projection of the position for the 2021 season? It’s hard for me to understand how one could watch the way White closed out last season, almost single-handedly destroying the Saints offense in the divisional round of the playoffs, and not think he’s on pace to be at least a top 10 linebacker in the NFL next season.

White was always going to take a little while to fully develop, and the fact that he looks like he’s arriving coming out of last season should be given more attention here. Instead White is sitting behind Josey Jewell, Benardrick McKinney, Jaylon Smith, Cory Littleton, Kenneth Murray and Tremaine Edmunds. We might need to have Sam Monson, one of PFF’s best analysts and the author of this ranking, on the Pewter Report Podcast to discuss White’s placement.

CB Carlton Davis – 15th
CB Jamel Dean – 19th

PFF ranks Davis lower than I would have, but I also understand that he’s only played like a top 32 cornerback for one season. It’s ok to be skeptical about a fairly volatile position, and recognition as a top 15 cornerback in the NFL is still a big deal. Two cornerbacks ahead of Davis on this list, Richard Sherman and Steven Nelson, are not currently on a roster. That will change in the coming months, but I believe the door is wide open for Davis to solidify himself as a top 10 cornerback in the league this season. Not sure Bucs fans saw that coming back in 2019.

PFF loves Dean, so I wasn’t stunned by the ranking. However, some of the players behind Dean on this list, particularly Kyle Fuller, Darious Williams, Darius Slay, Kendall Fuller and others, are far better players right now. Perhaps PFF is bumping Dean’s rank due to how they believe he’ll play in 2021. The upside is certainly there for Dean to fly up cornerback rankings, but right now he hasn’t played like a top 20 cornerback in the NFL. The consistency is still lacking in his game as he heads into year three.

S Antoine Winfield Jr. – 21st

Quietly, safety is one of the more loaded position groups in the NFL. Winfield Jr.’s rank is a fair one, as he impressed during his rookie season, but wasn’t dominant. I believe there is still another level for Winfield to reach as a free safety, which could springboard him into the top ten next year. But if you look at the names ahead of him on this list, there are only a couple I would say are worse than Winfield. And a few behind him might still be better. So No. 21 seems like a pretty accurate spot for him…for now.

Although I understand why Jordan Whitehead didn’t make the list, 2021 was a nice breakout season for him. If the fourth-year pro posts a similar campaign in 2020, he should crack the top 32. Mike Edwards has some potential to join the list too, if the Bucs can get his ball-hawking skill set on the field more often this year.

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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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Horse
22 days ago

Why would that be a surprise? It’s based on the full season, not the last part of the season where there was mass improvement. Next year I hope you waited much higher. Go Bucs!

Horse
Reply to  Horse
22 days ago

Rated not weighted.

DerLutz
Reply to  Horse
22 days ago

The problem is that there are players in front of White that are in the same situation as White. Players like Edmunds, Smith, or Bush are predictions as well but the only player that showed the progression was White. So there is no reason to rank him 8 spots behind Bush

toofamiliar17
Reply to  DerLutz
21 days ago

I think it’s defensible. Bush was a better player than White was when they were both rookies in 2019, and he missed most of last season with an injury. Given their eerily similar physical skillsets (although from a pure athletic standpoint, it’s plenty fair to take Bush over White right now. Not saying it’s a slam dunk, but it’s plenty reasonable. At the times they’ve both been playing healthy, Bush was just better. White certainly showed what he COULD be long term to close the year last year, but Bush has similar potential, and White has already shown his floor… Read more »

Alldaway 2.0
22 days ago

Mike Evans is way too low.
PFF was down on Suh for a long time but I think they are finally grading him fairly based on his responsibilities with the Bucs defense.
JPP is just a freak of nature. Should easily be ranked.
As for RoJo I am impressed he is that high and I think if he shows more improvement he might enter the top 15 conversation.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Alldaway 2.0
21 days ago

Yea, I get what Ledyard means when he says JPP is somewhat overrated by some, but there’s no doubt in my mind he’s better than plenty of the guys ranked here. Without question, I’d take JPP over Clelin Ferrell, Trey Hendrickson, Leonard Floyd, Bud Dupree, Marcus Davenport, Melvin Ingram, and Yannick Ngakoue. So that would put him in the area of the mid-20’s, although there could be some other unranked edge rushers I’m not thinking of who would beat him out for a spot.

fredster
22 days ago

These ratings don’t mean much to me or most fans that are more than casual fans.

FLBoy84
Reply to  fredster
22 days ago

Other than being one site’s opinion, they mean absolutely nothing actually. Fodder for conversation and clicks is their only use.

M4X
M4X
22 days ago

Brady > Mahomes

Every day of the week.

drdneast
22 days ago

All of the QB’s mentioned above have a combined three SB’s while Brady has 7. You can put up all the stats up you want but when it comes right down to it, the only thing that matters at the end of the season is if you and your teammates put a ring on your finger. Until Brady retires, he is still No. 1 and the GOAT until someone gets more rings than him. That’s just the way it is.

fredster
Reply to  drdneast
22 days ago

You actually make lots of sense on football comments when you aren’t talking crazy politics.
I agree with your comments on Brady and White. Brady is the GOAT period. White is a game changing stud. Elite speed for LB and huge splash plays. He’s getting better in coverage too.

Last edited 22 days ago by fredster
drdneast
22 days ago

These guys must have been passing around a big bottle of cheap scotch while smoking some bad weed when they did these rankings. Now Devin White certainly had problems in pass coverage at the beginning of the season but they were vastly improved by the end of the season and his sack total was off the chart for an ILB. And I guess there was no way to rank JPP with two INT’s and nine sacks since there was no one to compare him to. And Suh at 25th is a laugh. The guy had six or seven sacks last… Read more »

bucballer
22 days ago

Opinions r like azz holes, everyone has one. Who cares where they r ranked. It’s all subjective anyways. Who is the defending World Champs? That’s what I’m talking about! Haters gonna hate!

SaskBucs
22 days ago

The disrespect for Evans is crazy. I thought him getting that record would solidify his top 10 spot for a few years.
I have no problem with Shaq’s ranking. Von and Hunter haven’t been healthy and that’s 2 years in a row now as a full starter that Shaq has been top 10 in pressures. Shaq has proved to be a top 10 edge rusher in this league.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  SaskBucs
21 days ago

I’m with you on all of this. Evans just put up 1,000 yards and 13 TD while playing the entire season on a grade 2 sprained ankle. That’s pretty insane. Just strictly from a skills standpoint, there are plenty of WRs ranked ahead of him who I’d easily take him over – Calvin Ridley, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Michael Thomas (he’s good, but he’s incredibly reliant on extreme volume to produce), and Allen Robinson without even a second thought. I appreciate all the Allen Robinson love due to his having played with so many bad QBs, but I still… Read more »

aredsoxfan1
Reply to  toofamiliar17
21 days ago

“Michael Thomas (he’s good, but he’s incredibly reliant on extreme volume to produce)”
Wtf is this supposed to mean? lol
incredibly reliant on extreme volume? So he relies on catching 15 passes a game? Or he’s only good when he catches 15 passes, when he merely grabs 10 for 150 he’s no good, didn’t “produce”?
Because Thomas broke the record for catches he’s now reliant on that volume? I would say he caught 150 passes because he’s effing awesome. That’s gotta be the most foolish line I’ve seen yet on here. lmao

toofamiliar17
Reply to  aredsoxfan1
21 days ago

The primary determinants of raw statistical production for any WRs over a certain ability level are volume of opportunities, the extent to which the scheme generates easy opportunities for said player, and quality of QB. Mike Evans has spent the last few seasons sharing the field with guys like Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, Scotty Miller, OJ Howard, and Cam Brate. Literally every single one of those players is better than the SECOND best receiving option the Saints had when Thomas put up his career best season. Had he had even ONE decent secondary option to command significant targets… Read more »

toofamiliar17
Reply to  SaskBucs
21 days ago

Oh, and for Shaq – also agree. He leads the league in total pressures since 2019. He’s third in the league in sacks over that time. He’s a sound run defender who makes plays in that phase of the game, too. He’s not an elite edge rusher (for me, that has just TJ Watt, Joey Bosa, Myles Garrett, and Khalil Mack in it), but he’s right there in that second tier with guys like Nick Bosa and Cam Jordan, and likely a few others. He’s one of the most fearsome pass rushers in the league, a guy almost all opposing… Read more »

76Buc
22 days ago

JJP is always on the field and has lots of sacks wherever he plays. He brings tremendous leadership, energy, and intensity. He has the better ability than most Bucs past or present (except Lavonte David) that being availability. We need more JPP’s on this team. Brady should be #1. As an original season i will always follow the Bucs. I don’t follow the NFL anymore because they brought politics into a sport, so I only saw the Mahomes kid play once (Super Bowl). He sucks.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  76Buc
21 days ago

lol Mahomes was BRILLIANT in the Super Bowl. The plays he continuously put his team in position to make despite running for his life the entire night was one of the more impressive athletic performances I’ve seen.

hamilton
22 days ago

Wants the problem with jpp,it’s sound personal.

SoberInSac
22 days ago

Seems to me to be a bunch of number dorks trying to rank players with a biased algorithm. I believe what my eyes tell me and David is a top 5 line backer period as well as David. As far as the other rankings that’s why to they play on Sundays. The cream will rise to the top and skew thier algorithm up in all kinds of ways.

Barnz1
22 days ago

“Recency bias seems to have crept into that ranking a little bit. Barrett wasn’t dominant this past regular season, but erupted in the playoffs for four sacks” This is not the first time I’ve seen you talk down on Shaq Jon. Mid season you were saying he hadn’t been good which was wrong IMO. Based off these statements you put too much weight into total sack numbers. He was never backing up 19 sacks. Sacks are volatile year to year for many different reasons such as schemes, unblocked sacks etc. His pressure rate was basically the same as his 19… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Barnz1
PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  Barnz1
21 days ago

Don’t question Jon, for he’s the most amazing writer this sport has ever seen.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Barnz1
21 days ago

Yea, Von at his best was the best or second best edge rusher in the league. Von at the age of 32, coming off a brutal ankle injury with his season before that being far and away the worst and most human of his career (career lows in sacks, QB hits, hurries, pressures, and FF outside of his injury shortened 2013), I’ll easily take the much younger, healthier, recently better player in Shaq. If you want a headliner for the 2010’s all star team, Miller is your guy. If you want an edge rusher in 2021, I’m actually surprised he’s… Read more »

aredsoxfan1
21 days ago

You lost me when you mentioned Sam Monson was the analyst. Tom Brady is no longer a top-5 QBJun 2, 2014 Sam Monson Special to ESPN.com It reminded me of Monson’s “article” from seven years ago about Tom Brady’s decline. Brady, since Monson first observed his decline……. 82-26 record, 222TD/57Int, 100.4 rating, 5 pro-bowls, 1 MVP 16-3 post-season, 40TD/16Int, 93.8 rating, 4 SB wins, 3 SB MVP Monson nailed this one! I am hoping to see Brady throw 50TD this year and I really think he can, considering he threw 40 last year while he was trying to learn the… Read more »

toofamiliar17
Reply to  aredsoxfan1
21 days ago

The upside for this offense is virtually limitless. We had some injuries in the WR and TE rooms last year that also hurt things. Evans was at 70-80% all seasons at best, Godwin smashed up his finger, OJ missed almost the whole season, AB was only here for the last half of the year. I keep saying it – Brady came back because the one goal he’s never checked off a list is to finish an undefeated season. He’s looking at this team with a defense and OL that should only be better with another year under their belts and… Read more »

Captain Sly
21 days ago

The article headlined “Devin White’s low pff ranking” but what’s impressive to me is how many Bucs are actually ranked on their list! Nothing for me to get mad about because just 2 years ago maybe two players make this list. Now nearly the entire roster is ranked. Bucs are Loaded!

scubog
Reply to  Captain Sly
20 days ago

I too remember the days when if the question were asked, “Who on the Bucs would start on another team?” there might be but one or two names offered. I still find it comical that many folks refer to these dubious rankings as if they were carved on a stone tablet with lightning bolts flashing. As someone remarked, “I watch the actual games live and in color” to determine my own opinion. It’s the same with all of these awards and evaluations. Just opinions with no real absolute. Heck, I’m sure there are some who see the Chiefs, Packers, Bills,… Read more »

eaustinyoung
21 days ago

JPP was picking QB’s off with 1 hand. Goodness.

Dave
20 days ago

sometimes I agree with pff rankings. Sometimes, I think they’re way off. agree with Brady. As much as I like Rojo as a pure runner, I agree as a whole where he’s ranked. Gronk should be a smidge higher because of his blocking ability, which is probably overlooked in his ranking. Evans and Godwin both outside the top 12, is borderline laughable. Both are undoubtedly top 12 WR’s(easily top 10 IMO). Not a big Smith fan, but it’s bizarre he’s unranked. Jensen outside the top 10 is also laughable. I think Winfield should be slightly higher, but no major gripe… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Dave