Day 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft is here and the Bucs enter Saturday with four draft picks, but none in the fourth round due to trading with San Francisco to move up to No. 13 for Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs and trading with New England for Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski. Tampa Bay has a pick in the fifth round (161), sixth round (194) and two picks in the seventh round (241, 245). Let’s preview Day 3 for the Bucs.

Remaining Bucs’ Best Bets

Several of PewterReport.com’s Bucs’ Best Bets have already been drafted through the first three rounds. Let’s take a look at which players are still available on Day 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Quarterback: Iowa’s Nate Stanley
Tight End: Georgia’s Charlie Woerner
Guard: Clemson’s John Simpson
Center: Washington’s Nick Harris
Defensive Tackle: LSU’s Rashard Lawrence
Outside Linebacker: Utah’s Bradlee Anae
Inside Linebacker: Miami’s Shaquille Quarterman
Cornerback: Virginia’s Bryce Hall / Louisiana Tech’s L’Jarius Sneed
Safety: Georgia’s J.R. Reed

Potential Day 3 Bucs Targets

With the Bucs addressing needs at right tackle, safety and running back, Tampa Bay enters Day 3 looking for depth along the offensive and defensive lines, depth at outside, inside linebacker and wide receiver, and perhaps even a developmental quarterback and another running back, too.

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

The selection of Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round essentially replaced Peyton Barber, who wasn’t re-signed in free agency. But the Bucs might want to draft another running back on Day 3 to flood the position and have another guy to compete with Dare Ogunbowale for the third-down back role this year.

Here are some names connected to the Bucs and some players that would fit in Tampa Bay’s offensive and defensive schemes to keep an eye on:

Quarterback
Iowa’s Nate Stanley
Florida International’s James Morgan
Princeton’s Kevin Davidson

Running Back
Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin
Memphis’ Patrick Taylor, Jr.
Miami’s DeeJay Dallas
Maryland’s Anthony McFarland, Jr.
UCF’s Adrian Killins, Jr.

Tulane WR Darnell Mooney
Tulane WR Darnell Mooney – Photo courtesy of Tulane

Wide Receiver
Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson
Boise State’s John Hightower
Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones
Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden
Tulane’s Darnell Mooney
Viginia’s Joe Reed
UCF’s Gabriel Davis
Southern Mississippi’s Quez Watkins
Rhode Island’s Aaron Parker
Tennessee’s Jauan Jennings

Guard-Center
Washington’s Nick Harris
Clemson’s John Simpson
Mississippi State’s Darryl Williams
Michigan’s Ben Bredesen
Michigan’s Onwenu
Georgia’s Solomon Kindley
Kentucky’s Logan Stenberg

Offensive Tackle
St. John’s Ben Bartch
South Carolina State’s Alex Taylor

LSU DT Rashard Lawrence
LSU DT Rashard Lawrence – Photo by: Getty Images

Defensive Line
LSU’s Rashard Lawrence
Baylor’s James Lynch
North Carolina’s Jason Strowbridge
NC State’s James Smith-Williams
Utah’s John Penisini
Baylor’s Bravvion Roy

Outside Linebacker
Syracuse’s Alton Robinson
Utah’s Bradlee Anae
Tulsa’s Trevis Gibson
Notre Dame’s Khalid Kareem
Minnesota’s Carter Coughlin
Kansas’ Azur Kamara

Miami ILB Shaquille Quarterman
Miami ILB Shaquille Quarterman – Photo courtesy of Miami

Inside Linebacker
Miami’s Shaquille Quarterman
Miami’s Michael Pinckney
Baylor’s Clay Johnston

Cornerback
Virginia’s Bryce Hall
Auburn’s Javaris Davis
Tulane’s Reggie Robinson
Louisiana Tech’s L’Jarius Sneed
Florida State’s Stanford Samuels
Penn State’s John Reid
Michigan State’s Josiah Scott

Was Vaughn A Reach In Round 3?

The Bucs surprised many with the selection of Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round. Team sources indicate that Vaughn was ranked higher in the NFL scouting community than he was by the media and in mock drafts.

But keep one thing in mind. The Bucs didn’t have a fourth round pick and won’t pick again until the fifth round. Perhaps the reach was justified because Vaughn likely would have been drafted before Tampa Bay picks at No. 161.

Could the team have traded down in the third round and gotten Vaughn later? Perhaps, but the Bucs would have needed a willing partner to trade with and it’s unknown if Tampa Bay was actually attempting to trade down and if there was even a team that wanted to trade up.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht waited too long to select a running back in the RB-rich class in the 2017 NFL Draft and got stuck with Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round when he could have had the likes of Kareem Hunt or Marlon Mack among others. It’s apparent that Licht didn’t want to get stuck in that situation again, especially without the Bucs having a fourth-round pick. And it’s hard to blame him, especially when Tampa Bay was addressing a need with the Vaughn pick.

Despite being a bit over-drafted, Vaughn is a good player who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Vanderbilt where he posted 21 touchdown runs and caught 41 passes for 440 yards (10.7 avg.) and three touchdowns. Vaughn, who transferred to Vanderbilt after two years at Illinois, had 11 100-yard games in his college career.

Vaughn had impressive performances against LSU (130 rushing yards, 2 TDs), Missouri (96 rushing yards, 80 receiving yards, 2 TDs) and UNLV (140 rushing yards, 53 receiving yards, TD) as a senior, and against Baylor (243 yards rushing, 2 TDs), Florida (56 yards rushing, 75 yards receiving, TD) and Missouri (182 rushing yards, 14 receiving yards, 2 TDs) as a junior.

Bucs Won’t Trade Howard

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make. That appears to be the case with Tampa Bay’s decision not to trade tight end O.J. Howard.

If Licht was going to trade Howard it would have been on the first or second day of the draft from a compensation standpoint – not on Day 3 where the draft picks are in rounds 4-7. Giving up a former first-round pick for Day 3 picks is bad value. Howard is worth more to the Bucs on the field in 2020 than that, and in fact, it’s doubtful that Licht was even shopping him.

Bucs TE O.J. Howard
Bucs TE O.J. Howard – Photo by: Getty Images

The trade for New England Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is coming out of retirement to reunite with quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, might have made Howard expendable, but Gronkowski, who turns 31 in May, has had problems staying healthy throughout his career. In fact, the last time Gronkowski suited up for all 16 regular season games was back in 2011. Since then, the three-time Super Bowl champ has missed 29 games from 2012-18. Gronkowski missed three games during the 2018 season, which was his last with the Patriots, due to injury.

Tampa Bay would rather have a tight end trio of Howard, Cameron Brate and Antony Auclair available in case Gronkowski were to get hurt this year and miss some time, rather than a trio of Brate, Auclair and either Tanner Hudson or Codey McElroy. Gronkowski said he is excited to work with Howard, and personnel packages that includes having Gronk, Howard and Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the field together at the same time could really result in some favorable match-ups for the team’s first-rounder in 2017.

Contrary to a report on JoeBucsFan.com, which stated that Howard wants out of Tampa Bay, multiple team sources tell PewterReport.com that report isn’t true and that Howard is excited to play with Brady and alongside Rob Gronkowski. The Bucs haven’t picked up O.J. Howard’s fifth-year option yet, but could do so as early as this week.

Bucs Won’t Be Trading For Fournette

Don’t expect Tampa Bay to be interested in trading for Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette. The Bucs have high draft picks invested in Ronald Jones II (second) and Ke’Shawn Vaughn (third), and don’t want a similar headache from Fournette that he brought to Jacksonville.

Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette – Photo by: Getty Images
Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette – Photo by: Getty Images

Fournette is also in the final year of his rookie deal and is slated to make $4.167 million in 2020, which is nearly how much salary cap space the Bucs have to work with right now – and the team will have to restructure a contract or two to create some more cap room to sign its rookie draft class and have a few million dollars available to sign injury replacements during the season.

Additionally, Fournette is a one-dimensional power back, and the Bucs are in the market for pass-catching running backs. With only four Day 3 picks – a fifth-rounder, a sixth-rounder and two seventh-rounders – Tampa Bay doesn’t even have enough draft compensation to make a trade for Fournette if the team wanted to.

If the Bucs don’t select another running back on Day 3, the team might explore signing a veteran after the draft. Carlos Hyde, Devonta Freeman and Chris Thompson are all pass-catching running backs that would fit what Tampa Bay is looking for, and could be low-cost additions.

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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drdneast

I like the third round pick a lot better than the second. Watching Licht blunder his way around the draft is like watching a drunk chasing a kite on the edge of a cliff.
Another safety. Geeeeeesh.
No wonder the guy is called a meathead.
Year after year defenses prove the only way to stop an NFL QB is with steady and unrelenting pressure yet year after year Licht keeps drafting DB’s instead of DL.

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chefboho

Could be worse. Did you see the packers or Eagles draft?

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geno711

I am a broken record on this but year after year New England invests in defensive backs way more than Defensive line guys. They play a 3-4. We play a similar 3-4 defense. New England has pretty good defenses without unrelenting pressure. They prefer outstanding coverage guys as their main way to stop teams. In 2018, they won the Super Bowl. Their defense was a big part. They were 2nd of last in sacks that year. They were 16th in pressures. Last year, the Buc’s were 4th in pressures. We were also the best run defense. New England was 13th… Read more »

SaskBucs

I reacted poorly to the 3rd round selection but should obviously wait and see. Vaughn just wasn’t a name I was familiar with, don’t know anything about his game and hope he is great for the Bucs!

Would be nice to hit on some solid depth and special teams players today.

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rocko23

We still need D line depth but overall I like our draft . Go Bucs

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e

I hope the Bucs look at WR Jeff Thomas out of Miami today.

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chefboho

Him or deejay Dallas. Both would be late round gems

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Handiman1031

Bad take on Leonard Fournette. The guy caught 76 passes last year. Top five in receptions for all running backs. Only 10 less receptions than Chris Godwin had in 2019.

Definitely doesn’t make sense to spend a ton of money on an RB, but to say he’s one dimensional is a stretch.

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BucRy

Yeah, how does a guy who caught 76 catches for over 500 yards in receiving warrant him the one dimensional power back label?

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Dave

I agree he’s not one dimensional. But catching 76 balls doesn’t mean he’s a great receiver. It means the offense lacked playmakers and they checked down too much. If Sony Michel caught 76 passes next year, that doesn’t mean he’s a great receiver all of a sudden. It means the offense lacked imagination and they checked down too much. Not saying he’s a bad receiver, or one dimensional, but don’t let 76 catches fool you into thinking he’s some elite pass catching back, because he’s far from that.

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hamilton

quarterman and wr jeff Thomas from Miami will be good late round picks.

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destinjohnny

Usually when Jason overdrafts a player, he trades up to do it…… so there is a silver lining. This guy cannot play poker.

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Devasher

“Perhaps the reach was justified” are words fans of any franchise dread to hear in draft day. The Vaughn selection reminds me of the Charles Sims selection in so many ways. You had a senior who transferred to cap out his college career and looked better than his peers at times in part because he was one of the older players on the field. Like Sims, Vaughn was selected to fill a specific role for the offense and while we won’t know for some time if Licht passed on much better players for this 3rd round selection, we know that… Read more »