The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are two days into the 2019 NFL Draft and have four picks remaining on Day 3, which begins at noon ET on Saturday, April 27. General manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians addressed the defense with the team’s first four picks, adding an additional selection in the third round by trading down with the Los Angeles Rams.
The Bucs drafted LSU inside linebacker Devin White with the fifth overall pick, then began to add more speed and playmaking ability to the secondary with three consecutive picks, beginning with Central Michigan cornerback Sean Bunting in the second round. Licht came back and drafted Auburn cornerback Jamel Dean and Kentucky safety Mike Edwards to continue the overhaul in the secondary.
White and Dean were Bucs’ Best Bets at the inside linebacker and cornerback positions, in addition to being forecast in PewterReport.com’s 2019 FINAL Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft in the first and fourth rounds. Bunting was a fourth-round draft pick in the third edition of PewterReport.com’s Bucs’ Mock Draft in March. Bunting and Dean were also listed as Day 2 Options on Friday by PewterReport.com.
So what positions need to be addressed on Day 3? PewterReport.com has some options for Tampa Bay, and don’t be surprised if Licht tries to trade back in the fourth or fifth round to acquire yet another draft pick.
Demar Dotson will turn 34 this year and is in the final year of his contract. It’s time for the Bucs to draft an heir apparent, as Caleb Benenoch might not be good enough to start.
Elon RT Oli Udoh
Udoh is a big, raw right tackle from a small school that is probably a year away from contending for a starting spot. He’s likely a Day 3 pick, but Tytus Howard going in the first round shows anything is possible, and Udoh could wind up being drafted in the second round.
Wisconsin RT David Edwards
Edwards is a tackle who transitioned from quarterback to tight end before winding up at the offensive tackle spot. With that said, he’ll need to add strength and sure up his technique and quick if he wants to produce at the NFL level, but he shows natural athleticism with quick feet at this point, especially in run blocking.
Ohio State RT Isaiah Prince
Prince started three years at Ohio State and earned first-team All-Big 10 honors in his senior season. He’s strong, got good length that he uses well and shows some of that nastiness you want at the position. He’s strictly a right tackle and made a lot of progression throughout college in pass protection, but Prince is held back by his pad level and lack of flexibility, which costs him leverage.
The Bucs are thin at the five-technique defensive end position where Will Gholston is the current starter. The problem is that Gholston is a one-dimensional run-stuffer and Tampa Bay wants a defensive end that can also rush the passer.
Charleston DE John Cominsky – Bucs’ Best Bet (Rounds 4-7)
Cominsky earned first-team All-League honors as a junior and Mountain East Defensive Player of the Year honors in his senior season, but that’s also against small school production. His athletic metrics are off the charts, running a 4.69 second 40-yard dash, accompanied by a 33.5-inch vertical and a 116-inch broad jump, but he lacks a plan in his pass rush and technique. Cominsky’s footwork, hand usage, balance and functional strength will all be things to work on at the next level, but he also added over 60 pounds in his time in Charleston.
Alabama DE Isaiah Buggs
Buggs is a college defensive end who could be making the move inside due to his pure strength and size. The JUCO transfer entered and immediately started all 13 games as a junior for the Crimson Tide. In 2018, he started all 15 games and led the team with 9.5 sacks while adding 13.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Buggs plays explosive off of the ball with power and agility but lacks the length that many elite prospects naturally posses. He can anchor well, but will need to adjust his handwork if he moves to the interior.
Georgia DE Jonathan Ledbetter
Ledbetter has got good natural size and functional strength, but falls a little small to be a solid presence on the interior defensive line and lacks the speed and bend to be dangerous off of the edge. He’s got technical skill with a strong punch and good hands but will have to develop a better pass-rush or he’ll be limited to early downs where he plays his best attacking the gap. The Bucs had a formal interview with Ledbetter at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Will the Bucs keep 31-year old Gerald McCoy and his $13 million salary, or will he depart with Vita Vea replacing him? That is yet to be determined, but the Bucs could use another three-technique defensive tackle.
Arizona DT P.J. Johnson
Johnson started out at junior college before transferring to Arizona in 2018. In his one year there as a junior, Johnson played in nine games and had 31 tackles with 8.5 for a loss while notching three sacks. He entered the draft a year early after only one season playing against Division I competition to provide for his family, as he has two small children. Johnson has a big body frame and is surprisingly quick moving along side with it. He needs to make sure stays committed to keeping his technique, and continue to work on his pass rush. The Bucs were at Johnson’s Arizona pro day.
Maryland DT Byron Cowart – Bucs’ Best Bet (Rounds 4-7)
Cowart, a Tampa native, was the top high school player when he committed to Auburn, but wound up as a major disappointment. He had just 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in three seasons before transferring to Maryland last year where he lived up to his talent as an impact player. The 6-foot-3, 298-pound Cowart recorded 38 tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumbles. He plays with power and has good pursuit ability. The Bucs interviewed Cowart at the NFL Scouting Combine and was at the team’s local pro day, and could be targeted by Tampa Bay in the fourth or fifth round.
Tampa Bay passed on Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen and opted for White in the first round. There are still a few decent pass rushers left and one could be had in Day 3.
Alabama OLB Christian Miller
Miller can be a little slow off the ball but he makes up for it with his hand technique and arsenal of pass rushing moves. While at Alabama, Miller was primarily a backup before he was going to get his shine as a junior, but he tore his bicep in the season opener and wasn’t able to play until his senior year. Once returning though, he battled through adversity and showed off that pass rushing skills when he finally got a shot to start. Miller had eight sacks and 11 tackles for losses in his senior year on the Crimson Tide.
Georgia OLB D’Andre Walker
Playing in a limited role during his first two seasons, Walker really put it together once becoming a starter for his junior and senior year. This included seasons of 39 and 45 tackles and 5.5 and 7.5 sacks, increasing each year. He stood out most with his tackles for loss, with 13.5 and 11.5, showing a nose for the backfield. Walker is a run stopper that stands his down at the line of scrimmage, but he lacks proper passing rushing skills and must continue to work in that area.
Eastern Michigan OLB Maxx Crosby
Crosby is an interesting prospect. He’s got great height and length, good hands and has long strides to close space quickly when rushing. Crosby had great production in college, earning All-MAC honors his sophomore year with 16.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks before earning first-team All-MAC honors again with 19 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He shows promise but is in severe need of weight gain to add strength and fill out when he gets to the NFL.
Tampa Bay could use competition for Earl Watford and Alex Cappa at right guard and someone to challenge Evan Smith for a roster spot as a reserve.
Oklahoma G Dru Samia – Bucs’ Best Bet (Rounds 4-7)
Like his Oklahoma teammate, Samia was also at the Senior Bowl. How he differs from Powers though is Samia is very athletic and moves quite well around the line. He succeeds in a power run operation where he can use his frame to overthrow his opponent. Samia also has good length, but need stay set in his base more.
Ohio State G Malcolm Pridgeon
Pridegeon spent two years playing at Nassau Community College before transferring to Ohio State. He was a five-star recruit of junior college and the top rated at his position at the time. Pridgeon has massive size at 6-foot-7, giving him the chance to size up any defender coming at him. With that size, it does slow him down on his ability to keep up with the opponent.
Oklahoma G Ben Powers
Powers was very noticeable at the Senior Bowl going against his peers. He performed well during one-on-one pass blocking drills, and that can be attributed to the use of his hand technique. He’s a very smart player that is coachable. Powers isn’t as mobile as the top linemen out there but he makes up for it with proper technique.
The Bucs coaching staff is very high on the current stable of running backs, which includes Peyton Barber, who was only signed to a one-year deal, and Ronald Jones II, who is coming off a disastrous rookie season after being a second-round pick. The Bucs could use a fast running back that can catch the ball in the later rounds.
Memphis RB Tony Pollard – Bucs’ Best Bet (Rounds 4-7)
Pollard was a Swiss Army knife at Memphis, doing everything that was asked of him, from being a kick returner (seven touchdowns) to being used as a traditional running back to lining up out wide as a receiver. He showed the ability to make guys miss when given space with his 4.37 speed. Pollard redshirted his freshman year and played three more years at Memphis, totaling 941 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns on 139 carries for an average of 6.8 yards per carry and added 1,292 receiving yards and nine more touchdowns on 104 receptions.
Utah State RB Darwin Thompson
Thompson was a JUCO transfer who spent just one year at Utah State, but he blew up in that lone season, compiling 1,044 yards and 14 touchdowns on 153 carries while adding 351 yards and two touchdowns on 23 receptions. He’s got good speed, clocking a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day with great athletic measurables. At his pro day, he posted a 39-inch vertical with a 126-inch broad jump and 28 reps on the bench press.
Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams
Williams had a good first two years at Texas A&M, running for 1,057 and 798 yards respectively, but exploded under new head coach Jimbo Fisher for 1,760 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns on 271 carries. He’s small, but strong and fast, and does a little bit of everything. He’s quick and agile with good vision and the speed to beat defenders when he reaches the second level. Williams plays great in pass protection and added 66 receptions for 561 yards throughout his career.
North Dakota State RB Bruce Anderson
Anderson played all four years at NDSU but had limited touches until his junior season where he had 234 carries over 15 games. Anderson finished his career with 24 touchdowns and 2,896 yards on 486 carries. While he wasn’t overly active catching the ball out of the backfield, he racked up seven receiving touchdowns in four years despite only getting 32 receptions and had a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl before getting injured.
The Bucs spent a lot of time researching wide receivers leading up to the draft and there’s a good chance they draft one considering they traded away DeSean Jackson and lost Adam Humphries in free agency. Tampa Bay will either be looking for a speed receiver or a big receiver – preferably both.
Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler
Butler has a great combination of size and speed. At this point in the rankings, he is the tallest and heaviest of all the wide receivers, while clocking in at the third-fastest 40 time. He has long strides and physicality to get him open, he just needs to secure the ball more. Butler has plenty of favorable traits with all his measurements, and could be a real force to reckoned with if he can put it all together. Butler had a career year in his final season for the Cyclones with 60 catches for, 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 22 yards per catch.
Toledo WR Cody Thompson
Thompson quickly went from a special teams standout as freshman to the Rockets’ leading receiving by the time it was all said and done. He had over 3,000 yards receiving at Toledo, with his best season coming in 2016 when he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, accumulating 1,269 yards along with 64 receptions and 11 touchdowns that year. Thompson is really good on vertical routes. What he lacks is the ability get after it on jump balls and fending off physical cornerbacks.
West Virginia WR Gary Jennings
A three-star recruit, Jennings has had to play numerous roles for the Mountaineers, but did well in both. As a junior, Jennings played the slot and caught 97 balls for 1,096 yards, but only had one touchdown. In his senior year he became a vertical threat, averaging 17 yards per catch and racking up 917 yards, and while his receptions went down to 57, his touchdowns spiked up to 13. Jennings has proven that he can thrive in different roles and his versatility will prevail.
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