The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic that involves the Bucs.

This week’s topic: Which Bucs Draft Pick Excites You The Most?

Scott Reynolds: Winfield Is The Playmaking Safety The Bucs Need

Tampa Bay needs a playmaking safety in the worst way, as a defensive-minded guy, the team’s selection of Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield, Jr. excites me the most. The fact that Iowa right tackle Tristan Wirfs fell to within reach of the Buccaneers was a surprise, but so was the fact that Winfield lasted until the 45th overall pick. I thought for sure he would be gone by the top of the second round.

If Winfield was 5-foot-11 instead of 5-foot-9, I think the 203-pounder would have been a late first-round pick for sure. The unanimous All-American ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash and was very productive when healthy, totaling 172 tackles, seven tackles for loss, nine interceptions, six pass breakups, four sacks, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and two defensive scores in his four years with the Golden Gophers. Winfield missed eight games in each of the 2017 and 2018 campaigns, but played in 12 games last year.

Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr.
Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr. – Photo courtesy of Minnesota

Winfield’s seven interceptions were the third-most in the FBS last year, and including two forced fumbles, the son of NFL cornerback Antoine Winfield, Sr., had a hand in creating nine takeaways. The Bucs only had 12 interceptions last year, including just nine from the secondary. Tampa Bay used four different players at safety last year, including Jordan Whitehead, Andrew Adams, Mike Edwards and Darian Stewart and only recorded two interceptions.

The Bucs are being talked about as a playoff team and a potential Super Bowl contender in 2020 with the addition of quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. But the last time Tampa Bay made it to the Super Bowl the Bucs had a franchise-record 31 interceptions from the defense. They won’t necessarily need that many INTs this year, as Tampa Bay recorded 21 in 1999 and had 16 in 2007, which was the last year the team made the playoffs. Stick the instinctive Winfield in the secondary as a starter at safety and my guess is that he’ll get two to four picks as a rookie and help get the Bucs around 20 interceptions this season.

Mark Cook: Vaughn Could Be The Surprise Of This Class

Tampa Bay did a solid job of addressing its needs in this year’s draft. I love the Tristan Wirfs pick, and was impressed with Antoine Winfield, Jr. as well. I think most Bucs fans, and even some media members, would have preferred to see one of the more household names at running back be drafted, but the team obviously felt the need to add help at tackle and safety were more important pieces to the puzzle. That tells me two things – Tampa Bay is still going to be a pass heavy team in 2020, but also that the team really likes Ronald Jones II.

Bucs RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn
Bucs RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

With that said, Ke’Shawn Vaughn is no slouch. And the Buccaneers really believe he can contribute, and do so right away.

The former Vandy standout rushed for 1,244 yards as a junior in 2018 with 12 touchdowns and averaged a whopping 7.9 yards per carry – in the SEC. Not the Pac-12, nor the ACC, but in the best conference in college football – the SEC. While his numbers dropped last season (1,028 yards, nine touchdowns and 5.3 yards per carry) that is still not an easy feat considering the competition Vaughn faced week in and week out. And he did this playing for Vanderbilt, the doormat of the conference. Put Vaughn behind Alabama’s, Wisconsin’s or Clemson’s offensive line and the nation would know the name Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

Getting up to speed without what looks to be be an offseason program before training camp won’t be easy. Vaughn will have to come in and earn head coach Bruce Arians’ trust early to see the field, but from listening to some former players and coaches – and even Vaughn himself – work ethic and dedication aren’t an issue. The Bucs are all in for making a Super Bowl run for the next two years with Tom Brady. Now fingers crossed we get a football season and can see how good Vaughn and this draft class actually are.

Jon Ledyard: Wirfs’ Potential Is Sky-High

Acting like Tampa Bay’s new right tackle, Tristan Wirfs, is a sure thing would be a mistake, but the same can be said for almost every draft prospect. Yes, he needs to find consistency in his set points, strike timing and finishing at the next level. He isn’t your typical Iowa offensive line prospect, but in this case I’m fine with that.

Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs – Photo by: Getty Images

With the exception of a few elites over the years, most of Iowa’s recent top offensive line prospects have had good tape, but limited physical and athletic ceilings for the NFL. That’s not the case with Wirfs, who starred at the NFL Scouting Combine and blazed a 4.85 in the 40-yard dash at 320 pounds. With good coaching and a rigorous commitment to his craft, the Iowa right tackle has the ability to match up with speed and power in the NFL, something he showed on tape against top college competition. With Wirfs, the Bucs are getting all the ability in the world at the position, and he already started showing signs of stringing together dominant play during the second half of his junior season.

It’s important to be realistic with Wirfs’ expectations. Almost every rookie tackle in the league struggles, and Bruce Arians’ offense may not protect him much compared to his rookie counterparts at the same position. But the nice thing about Wirfs is that even if he struggles at offensive tackle, it’s hard not to see him at least becoming a real quality starter at guard in the NFL. That might be worst case scenario for the 13th overall pick, which is a nice option to have with an investment that high.

It’s easy to be excited about Wirfs when you’ve seen the high-end reps on tape and you know what he’s capable of doing if his technique continues to improve. He was able to play at a high level as a college true freshman in one of the most physical conferences in college football, and I have no doubt his traits will aid his transition to the NFL as well, so long as he continues to perfect the details that matter so much at his position.

Taylor Jenkins: Vaughn Will See A Big Role In Bucs’ Backfield

Tampa Bay addressed its biggest need in the first round of the draft by selecting Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs to step in at right tackle, and added a play-making safety in the second round with Antoine Winfield, Jr. But the surprise of the Bucs’ draft was when they selected Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round.

After transferring to Vanderbilt following two years with Illinois, Vaughn would go on to produce back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and totaled 21 rushing touchdowns with 2,272 rushing yards on 355 attempts (6.4 yards per carry) with the Commodores. In addition to his work in the run game, Vaughn finished as Vanderbilt’s third-highest producing receiver with 286 receiving yards out of the backfield in 2019.

Bucs RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn
Bucs RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Photo by: Buccaneers

Standing 5-foot-10 with a 4.51 time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, Vaughn is a versatile back who can compliment Ronald Jones II and give the Bucs’ a three-down option. He had great production in two years against SEC competition and per Pro Football Focus, 2,208 of his career rushing yards came after contact which highlights his ability to effectively produce when running between the tackles, not just outside on zone runs and catching the ball out of the backfield.

In pass protection, Dare Ogunbowale handled much of the third down work for Tampa Bay last season, and Vaughn now proves to be a threat to take over that role. Per Graham Barfield of FantasyPoints, Vaughn finished third in the 2019 draft class of running backs with a pass protection execution rate of 85 percent, trailing only D’Andre Swift and Zack Moss. While many fans had eyes on running backs like Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor or LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Tampa Bay added a do-it-all option in Vaughn, and he may ultimately prove to be the most underrated selection from the Bucs’ draft class this year.

Matt Matera: Johnson Can Stand Out As Bucs’ Third Receiver

Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson was an excellent value pick for the Bucs, selecting him in the fifth round of a very talented wide receiver class. Fifth-round picks don’t often have an impact on the starting lineup all the time, but Johnson will get the opportunity to have a key role in the Bucs’ offense as the third receiver, competing with Scotty Miller and Justin Watson for playing time. What’s so exciting about Johnson is that one of his best skills is his ability to fight for the ball and win one-on-one battles for contested catches. He’s great at making the catch on a deep ball and has good vertical skills, often adjusting to the ball in-air and completing the reception at its highest trajectory.

Bucs WR Tyler Johnson
Bucs WR Tyler Johnson – Photo courtesy of Minnesota Athletics

Johnson joins a group of stud wide receivers with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin that are also pass catchers that thrive in “playing above the rim” as they say. I’m not saying Johnson is in Evans and Godwin’s class right now, but there are similar traits to love about the comparison. With Godwin having a breakout year in the slot, the Bucs can put Johnson outside and allow him to excel on vertical routes. Between Evans, Godwin and Rob Gronkowski, Johnson should get a lot of one-on-one looks.

Another enjoyable trait about Johnson is that he’s a big-game player. Look no further than his clutch performance in the The Outback Bowl, which happened to take place in a little old place called Raymond James Stadium. In his final college football game, Johnson put up monster numbers with 12 receptions for 204 yards and two touchdowns, while making one of the best catches in college football last year for a key touchdown in a win over Auburn. His tremendous outing earned him the Outback Bowl MVP.

It’s performances such as that in the biggest moments that make me believe he can bring it to the next level. When speaking to Johnson after he was selected by the Bucs, he had a business-like approach to entering the NFL. He took a moment to enjoy the accomplishment, but quickly said it was back to business as he went straight to working towards next season already. Johnson is a player that works hard, has the right mentality, and can fit in with the Bucs immediately as a rookie.

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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surferdudes

I’m looking forward to see what Calais brings to the table. His speed brings a different element to the backfield. I was hoping the Bucs would bring in Killins JR as an UDFA who is very similar to Calais. A back like that you can line up anywhere with that speed is hard to defend. Him running a jerk out on a LB, or safety, good bye!

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Theerealdiehl

I agree man! I hope he can win the return job. This team has desperately needed a kick returner for YEARS. I’d love to see how he performs in BA’s screen game too. Think he makes the roster as the 4th RB.

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magoobee

Normally, I would say Calais would not make the team. But the lack of depth the Bucs have at RB and not picking up an UDFA makes his chances look very good.

I just can’t see 5’8″ 188lb being able to pass protect.

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BUC-ASS-BOB

OT Wirfs is great pick will be there for years at a top level, I like the big RB that can catch and block much used in a TB 12 Offense Great Draft over all Bruce Arians ere is here.

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dbenn2012

I also think we over-look the fact he does in fact progress as a Tackle he has as high of ceiling as any of the top four. With proper coaching he also has proven he can play on the left side as well as the right which should put even more motivation in DSmith – with no guaranteed money next year and he continues to take a play off and gets TB12 hurt, he might as well be looking a NFL minimum next year – if he can even find a team. It will also be interesting to see how… Read more »

Bucsfan1983

Top 3 I’m excited about,

Wirfs
Johnson
Winfield Jr

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Dman

Gonna go with Wirfs because of what he can bring Day1 solidifying the OL. My second is Davis from Nebraska – 4.75 40 and 32 reps at 225. At 6″1′ 308 he’s undersized, but really can’t wait so see how he meshes in the rotation and next to Vea.

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awwdembucs

The more I read about Vaughn, is impressive. He put up good numbers against some good SEC oppents.

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Wausa

Per the nfl.com the Bucs are expected to receive a 6th round compensatory pick in the 2021 draft.

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Spitfire

Pretty sure that’s all gonna depend on playing time by who we lost.

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Alldaway 2.0

I am hearing conflicting things about Vaughn’s pass pro. Some are saying he was one of the top in the nation while others are saying the polar opposite. Time will tell. Johnson, Winfield, Wirfs, Vaughn and Calais are all exciting. But my heart is always defense in the trenches first and I am really excited about Khalil Davis. Pass rushing juice from the DT position is going to potentially be a great addition to what the Bucs already have on defense and how Bowles schemes pressure. For third down situations you put Khalil Davis on the field with JPP and… Read more »

Dman

Completely agree on trench emphasis [I wanted Andrew Thomas RD1, Marlon Davidson RD2], but I like the guys we got on both sides of the line. I just wanted one more of each! I reacted negatively to the Vaughn pick, but what do I know. He’s a Buc now and I’m in his corner. I love the Johnson pick – Day1 WR3 potential. Same with Winfield. [I just wanted DL in RD2.] The roster isn’t finished yet and I agree we drafted guys to fill gaps across the board. Can’t wait to see ’em on the field. Rate this item:Thumb… Read more »

drdneast

Leyard writes about Wirtz, “But the nice thing about Wirfs is that even if he struggles at offensive tackle, it’s hard not to see him at least becoming a real quality starter at guard in the NFL.”
WTF.
That’s like saying even if Mark Baron can’t work out as safety he can make a good OLB.
Where does that kind of thinking come from, have you been spending to much time with Jason Licht?

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FLBoy84

Maybe I’m missing something, but don’t see your point. If Wirfs developed into an All-Pro G or Barron an All-Pro OLB, how is that not a win? Granted you’d still need to address OT or S, but you still ended up drafting a All-Pro player. Even if they’re just a top-10 guy at their position, still a win imo. Rather that than a bust any day.

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Wirfs, we need him to have the biggest impact this year. My favorite personally is Johnson he may have starting job after Brady, but could get playing time this year. I also like the ragin cajun joystick as a threat out of backfield. He is tuff & plays like he bigger than 180lbs. We will be hard to stop on both sides of the ball. Barring major injuries @ key positions. Kicker needs to get better

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blind melon

I think the team did really well in this draft, far better than I’ve seen in many years. They pulled the trigger at the right time and got the best at a position of need nearly every pick.

I also think the 3rd day picks will impress – and I like rooting for the underdog.

Johnson and Vaughn are equally exciting to me see what they do –

Johnson seems like a very cerebral type of player.

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German Buc

We all like rooting for the underdog. Otherwise we wouldn’t be Bucs fans 😉

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jrwilson85

I look at risk vs reward value and I think Khalil Davis could be the steal of the draft. The big IF is can he keep his nose clean. He was suspended 6 games his senior year at Nebraska for God knows what? Frost, being the prince that he is, didn’t even list Khalil on the Husker roster. He could even play a 5 tech in the 3 man front. The Bucs have only invested a 6th round pick in Davis vs 1-1 in the 2015 draft for Jameis.

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CrackerBall

Gotta like the Tristan Wirfs pick – but would have stayed at Pick 14 and not made that trade. As it turns out, if we kept that 4th Rounder (Pick 117), could have had DT Rashard Lawrence, QB Jacob Eason or my choice, C Tyler Biadasz for free.

Don’t like giving away draft capital.

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Spitfire

No one likes to give up picks, sometimes it’s just what it takes. Jacob season would have been a wasted pick anyways, someone who cowers under pressure should not be playing QB, or football even.

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Dman

I hated giving up that pick as well, but I don’t think we were worried about the 49ers. The Dolphins needed a tackle and had the draft capital to jump in front of us. Just think it had to be done.

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magoobee

The Bucs got snookered. SF was never going to trade that pick. Kinlaw was Buckner’s replacement. Actually, besides being cheaper, I think Kinlaw will be better than Buckner.

If SF traded back to Miami’s pick at 18, they would have never gotten Kinlaw. Either the Bucs or Falcons would have taken him.

There was a huge drop off in DT after Kinlaw. Next DT was Blacklock who was selected at 40.

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Hockey Duckie

@CrackerBall, You should check out the message boards on Pewter Report. In the Red Board, I went at length about Licht pysching himself out by trading up with no one bidding against us. But you got a lot of Licht-apologists here. 1. Video admission with Casey Phillips: No “actual” other teams were bidding to trade up. Licht stated he thought there would be “potential” teams bidding. 2. The transcript shows that Licht wasn’t bidding against any team trading up, but he was scared the 49ers would select OT Wirfs b/c he had insight that SF’s LT was retiring. 3. The… Read more »

FLBoy84

In fairness though, what would we be saying right now if a team HAD leapfrogged us and we missed out on Wirfs? Personally would have been OK with Kinlaw, but seems obvious the FO felt there was a big drop off between the top-4 vs the 2nd tier OT’s. Lots of pressure there that none of us feel sitting on our couches. Lynch played it well and we lost a semi-valuable pick, though we’ll never know who that might’ve been/how it would’ve turned out. Personally glad we went Winfield over Delpit though. Delpit has a Hargreaves feel to me for… Read more »

magoobee

I would have been fine drafting Kinlaw or trading back if Wirfs went at 13. The Bucs would have had an extra pick and could have added an extra OL.

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Theerealdiehl

I gotta go with Tyler Johnson. He reminds me so much of Chris Godwin (but slightly less measurable athleticism and inconsistent hands (double catches)) coming out of college. From what I’ve seen, he just seems like such a competitor and I think it’ll be hard to keep him out of that WR3 spot and off the field.

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Dman

I love Johnson pick as well, but not sure I’d compare him to Godwin. Johnson isn’t as fast, but is more of a fighter for the ball and really clean route runner. His coach at MN was PJ Fleck – spent time as our WR coach in Tampa and has been a winner at MN and WMU.

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FLBoy84

Agreed. Saw a few reports projecting him as a good possession receiver and solid WR2. Hellu’va value for a 5th round pick if it proves to be accurate.

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magoobee

If he can block like Godwin, then the Bucs got a steal. Godwin’s blocking is what really makes him special.

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Dave

100% dude. Godwin is special. You ever want a good laugh. Google Chris Godwin nfl draft scout and check out the scouting report on him going into the draft. The overview, weaknesses, and player comp are hilarious. That’s why you can’t put much stock into predictions on mock drafts or what draft analysts think of a player.

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Theerealdiehl

Reynolds – Thoroughly enjoyed the read! I’d love to see you post an article with round tables of the past to see who has been the best at predicting the rookie with the biggest impact.

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Hockey Duckie

@Scott_Reynolds wrote:
If Winfield was 5-foot-11 instead of 5-foot-9, I think the 203-pounder would have been a late first-round pick for sure.

This is false. The safeties in the 2020 class all dropped. Delpit, who stands at 6’2″, ran a 4.39, consistent as well as played for all three years, and won the Jim Thorpe award got selected one pick ahead of us. The only knock on Delpit is tackling, but he’s the best coverage safety in the draft.

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Spitfire

Wirfs the most because we finally got a 1st round OL, been waiting a while. He will either lock down the RT, compete at LT next year, or worst case he is a Pro Bowl RG. Vaughn, Winfield and Johnson are the exact types of guys that aren’t considered first because they are missing one piece from being elite, but they work hard and come in under the radar, but the ones that study them know and they just might take off. I think it was a solid Draft and I’m excited. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes… Read more »

Dave

For me it’s Winfield. If not for injury concerns, and some concerns over his size(which are ridiculous), he’s a mid to late 1st rounder, and the 1st safety off the board. He’s without a doubt the most complete safety in the draft. Sure and willing tackler, playmaker and ball hawk, and very high football IQ. He’s the exact type of safety we need. He will instantly make this defense better. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a home run pick

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magoobee

Winfield and Johnson were the Bucs best value picks.

What I really like about the Winfield pick is I expect him to be football smart having had a father play DB in the NFL, at a high level. The problem the Buc secondary had last year was inexperience. I believe Winfield will pick up Bowles scheme much quicker.

This was a deep WR draft class which allowed a talent like Johnson to fall to the 5th round. Nuff said.

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scubog

Well it’s awful hard to get excited about OT Tristan Wirfs, when we really don’t want to notice him at all. The safety Antoine Winfield, might just be that Ronde Barber type DB who makes plays when needed the most, so I’m looking forward to that. The running back, Ke’Shawn Vaughn has a chance to excite if he gets used like “Hey Alvin”. The wide receiver, Tyler Johnson will likely be used sparingly, but I’m hoping it will be Scotty who “beams” into the end-zone after taking a quick slant. The DT/DE, Khalil Davis looks like he might have the… Read more »

Buc-Up

The 4th rounder we used to trade for Rob Gronkowsi because well he’s GRONK!

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SOXX

Wirfs, Johnson and Russell.

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