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.
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:
Iowa’s Nate Stanley
Florida International’s James Morgan
Princeton’s Kevin Davidson
Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin
Memphis’ Patrick Taylor, Jr.
Miami’s DeeJay Dallas
Maryland’s Anthony McFarland, Jr.
UCF’s Adrian Killins, Jr.
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
Washington’s Nick Harris
Clemson’s John Simpson
Mississippi State’s Darryl Williams
Michigan’s Ben Bredesen
Georgia’s Solomon Kindley
Kentucky’s Logan Stenberg
St. John’s Ben Bartch
South Carolina State’s Alex Taylor
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
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’s Shaquille Quarterman
Miami’s Michael Pinckney
Baylor’s Clay Johnston
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.
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.
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.