The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded up one spot with San Francisco to take Iowa right tackle Tristan Wirfs with the No. 13 overall pick on Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft. The Bucs surrendered their fourth-round pick to move up, but have both of their Day 2 picks – No. 45 in the second round, and No. 76 in the third round.
The Bucs were shocked that Wirfs was the fourth tackle taken in the first round, as the team had a much higher grade on him than No. 13, and were thrilled to see him slide down the draft board.
While some fans might be fretting over the Bucs losing their fourth-round pick in the trade for Wirfs, keep in mind that only 28 percent of NFL fourth-rounders even reach their second contract in the league. Having said that, let’s preview what Bucs general manager Jason Licht might do on Day 2.
Howard Still Might Be Traded
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The trade for Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski does make tight end O.J. Howard expendable, but Licht has indicated that he doesn’t have to move Howard, and that a trio of Gronkowski, Howard and Cameron Brate gives Tampa Bay the best tight end group in the NFL.
Bucs TE O.J. Howard – Photo by: Getty Images
Keep in mind that Howard is in the final year of his rookie contract and the Bucs could still pick up his fifth-year option for 2021. Gronkowski turns 31 in May and hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2011. He missed eight games in 2016, two games in 2017 and three games in 2018, which was his last year in the NFL before retiring for the 2019 campaign. The Bucs may view Howard as the team’s long-term starter once Gronkowski retires again in a year or two.
Licht didn’t trade Howard on Day 1 of the NFL Draft, and if a deal is going to happen it would happen on Day 2 or likely not at all because the G.M. believes he’s worth a second-round pick – or perhaps a collection of high Day 3 picks. The New England Patriots, which have a need at tight end and attempted to trade for Howard before the trade deadline last year, have the 37th overall pick as their second-rounder, in addition to having four picks in the third round (Nos. 71, 87, 98 and 100).
Tampa Bay could use Howard in an attempt to trade up from No. 45 to No. 37 by dealing him and their second-rounder for the Patriots’ second-round pick to grab a premier running back, or could deal Howard for multiple third-round picks. The Bucs have their own third-round pick (No. 76), but traded away their two fourth-rounders to San Francisco to move up one spot to select Tristan Wirfs in the first round, and to New England for Gronkowski earlier in the week.
Skill Position Players Might Entice Bucs On Day 2
Tampa Bay’s offense already has some serious firepower with Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady, Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, a Pro Bowl tight end in Gronkowski, in addition to tight ends like Howard and Brate and running back Ronald Jones II. So what will the Bucs do with their remaining six draft picks?
Add more firepower.
The Bucs got a glimpse at what life was like without Evans and Godwin down the stretch when both were sidelined with hamstring injuries in Week 16 and 17. Tampa Bay’s point production went down and the team lost two winnable home games to Houston and Atlanta to finish 7-9 instead of 9-7. Licht and head coach Bruce Arians need to replace Breshad Perriman, the team’s third receiver last year, and get a player that can step in and make an impact in case Evans or Godwin – or both – gets injured again.
Colorado WR Laviska Shenault – Photo courtesy of Colorado
Baylor’s Denzel Mims, USC’s Michael Pittman, Jr., Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, Jr., Penn State’s K.J. Hamler, Boise State’s John Hightower and Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool are some names to keep an eye on in the second and third rounds. Hamler and Hightower are undersized speedsters that can take the top off a defense, while Mims, Pittman, Shenault and Claypool are bigger, more physical playmakers.
This is a deep wide receiver class, so the Bucs don’t have to take one on Day 2, but if the right player is there in the second or third round and represents good value don’t be surprised if they pull the trigger.
Will A RB Fall To Tampa Bay At No. 45?
The Bucs want to upgrade their ground game with the selection of another running back to pair with Jones, and that could come on Day 2 as early as the second round. LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire was one of the running backs that Tampa Bay was targeting, but several other quality backs remain.
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, Florida State’s Cam Akers and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins are still on the draft board. There is a good chance one of those backs could fall to Tampa Bay at No. 45 due to the lack of teams currently picking ahead of the Bucs not needing a running back.
Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor – Photo by: Getty Images
Taylor and Akers appear to be the backs the team covets the most. If the Bucs are going to try to trade up for a running back, it will be Taylor.
Barring a trade, Cincinnati and Indianapolis have the first two picks and are set at running back with Joe Mixon and Marlon Mack, respectively. The Lions select next at No. 35 and have Kerryon Johnson, but could use an upgrade. The next two teams – the Giants and Patriots – have former first-round picks in Saquon Barkley and Sony Michel, respectively, so they won’t have a need for a running back in the second round.
Carolina, which has the 38th overall pick, just signed former first-round pick Christian McCaffrey to a huge contract extension, so they’ll likely pass on a running back. Miami picks next and they passed on a running back with their first three picks, so it seems like the second round is where the Dolphins would target a runner at No. 39. Houston just traded for David Johnson and has Duke Johnson, while Cleveland has Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in its backfield.
Jacksonville currently has Leonard Fournette, but might look to upgrade the backfield, as it’s not a lock that Fournette will remain a Jaguar for much longer. Chicago, which has the No. 43 pick, could use help in the backfield and are a threat to take a running back. The Colts have another pick at No. 44 ahead of the Bucs.
So there are currently four teams that could draft a running back – Detroit, Miami, Jacksonville and Chicago – ahead of Tampa Bay in the second round. The least likely of which are the Jaguars at No. 42. If they pass on a running back, one of the top four remaining backs could very well slide down to Licht and Arians without Tampa Bay having to make a trade up to get one.
If the Bucs go in a different direction in the second round, Tampa Bay could look at Memphis’ Antonio Gibson, Miami’s DeeJay Dallas or Illinois State’s James Robinson as early as the third round.
Other Day 2 Options For The Bucs
Licht could very well stick with his draft board and draft best player available rather than chasing needs at wide receiver and running back on Day 2.
Minnesota S Antoine Winfield – Photo courtesy of Minnesota
Some names to keep an eye on in the second and third round are Alabama safety Xavier McKinney, Cal safety Ashtyn Davis, Minnesota safety Antonie Winfield, Jr., Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger, TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, Missouri defensive tackle Jordan Elliott, Auburn defensive lineman Marlon Davidson, Ohio State defensive tackle Davon Hamilton, Penn State outside linebacker Yetur Gross-Matos, Michigan outside linebacker Josh Uche, Utah outside linebacker and Bradlee Anae on the defensive side of the ball.
LSU guard Damien Lewis, Louisiana-Lafayette lineman Robert Hunt, Michigan guard Ben Bredesen, Washington center Nick Harris, Clemson guard Jonah Jackson and Ohio State guard Jonah Jackson are names to keep in mind on offense. And if Houston tackle Josh Jones somehow slides down to No. 45, the Bucs may be tempted to double up at the tackle position in this draft and kick either Jones or Wirfs inside to right guard to compete with Alex Cappa. Stranger things have happened.
PewterReport.com’s Remaining Bucs’ Best Bets
Some of PewterReport.com’s Bucs’ Best Bets were selected in the first round, including Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III and LSU outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson.
Here is list of the remaining Bucs’ Best Bets in the 2020 NFL Draft:
QB – Iowa’s Nate Stanley RB – Florida State’s Cam Akers WR – Memphis’ Antonio Gibson TE – Dayton’s Adam Trautman / Georgia’s Charlie Woerner OT – Houston’s Josh Jones / Louisiana-Lafayette’s Robert Hunt G – LSU’s Damien Lewis / Clemson’s John Simpson C – LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III / Washington’s Nick Harris DT – Ohio State’s Davon Hamilton / LSU’s Rashard Lawrence OLB – Utah’s Bradlee Anae ILB – Mississippi State’s Willie Gay / Miami’s Shaquille Quarterman CB – Virginia’s Bryce Hall / Louisiana Tech’s L’Jarius Sneed S – Cal’s Ashtyn Davis / Georgia’s J.R. Reed
And here is where things stand with the latest PewterReport.com 2020 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft:
Round 1 – No. 14 – Louisville OT Mekhi Becton (Drafted by Jets in Round 1) Round 2 – No. 45 – LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Drafted by Chiefs in Round 1) Round 3 – No. 76 – LSU G Damien Lewis Round 4 – No. 117 – Memphis WR-RB Antonio Gibson Round 5 – No. 162 – Arkansas DT McTelvin Agim Round 6 – No. 195 – Iowa QB Nate Stanley Round 7 – No. 242 – Tulane WR Darnell Mooney
PewterReport.com’s Live Draft Videocast Starts At 6:00 PM ET
Watch Pewter Reporters Scott Reynolds and Jon Ledyard, PewterReport.com’s newest draft expert and Bucs beat writer, live on-air on Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft Friday, April 24 at 6:00 p.m. ET – one hour before the draft officially starts.
The Draft Videocast, which is sponsored by Edmonson Electric • AC • Security, will be available for viewing on PewterReport.com, so watch from your phone, tablet or laptop for over 15 hours of Bucs draft coverage from April 23-25.
The PewterReport.com Draft Videocast is the only place to turn for immediate expert analysis on each Tampa Bay draft pick, while keeping viewers informed on players the Bucs are targeting with their next pick, plus instant reaction from the PR staff as they conduct interviews with recently drafted players via conference calls as well as conference calls with Licht and Arians following the draft selections.
The PewterReport.com staff will also be able to take questions submitted by Bucs fans and NFL fans throughout the 3-day NFL Draft on the @PewterReport Twitter account using the hashtag #PRDraftQ – so it’s a great way to interact with Ledyard and Reynolds.
Here is PewterReport.com’s Draft Videocast remaining schedule:
Friday, April 24
6:00 pm ET: Draft Videocast coverage begins
7:00 pm ET: Day 2 of the NFL Draft begins – Rounds 2-3
Saturday, April 25
11:00 am ET: Draft Videocast coverage begins
12:00 pm ET: Day 3 of the NFL Draft begins – Rounds 4-7
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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@example.com
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