The Buccaneers aren’t done adding players yet in free agency, and their roster is far from finalized as the team will have the chance to add seven more players in next month’s NFL Draft. But how and where do the free agent additions general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians have acquired fit into Tampa Bay’s depth chart?
The Bucs won’t release an official depth chart for some time, but here is PewterReport.com’s best stab at one leading up the 2019 NFL Draft.
Quarterback: James Winston / Ryan Griffin / Joe Callahan
Running Back: Peyton Barber / Andre Ellington / Ronald Jones / Shaun Wilson / Dare Ogunbowale
Right Tackle: Demar Dotson / Caleb Benenoch / Cole Boozer
Offense Analysis: The Bucs will likely add another legitimate quarterback to the roster to compete with Griffin for the backup job. If Tampa Bay can’t lure Mike Glennon back to town, the Bucs may wait to see if Drew Stanton, a former Cardinals QB under Arians, gets cut from Cleveland, or the team may turn to the draft and target a player like Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson in the middle rounds. The Bucs really like their running back stable more than I do, yet will likely add another one in the draft – possibly Penn State’s Miles Sanders or Memphis’ Darrell Henderson in the second or third round.
Bucs OL Alex Cappa – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs are fine at tight end, but could add another developmental receiver in the draft after only adding Perriman while losing DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries. Adding another speed receiver in the draft like UMass’s Andy Isabella or Ohio State’s Parris Campell or Terry McLaurin wouldn’t be a shocker.
Tampa Bay needs a long-term answer at right tackle behind Demar Dotson, and will likely turn to the draft with a player like Florida’s Jawaan Taylor or Kansas State’s Dalton Risner to provide competition for Cappa and Benenoch as Dotson’s heir apparent. The Bucs also need to solve the problem at right guard, and hope that Watford, Cappa or Holcomb can be the answer for 2019. Boston College right guard Chris Lindstrom is an option in the second round.
SAM Linebacker: Carl Nassib/ Shaq Barrett / Devante Bond / Hunter Dimick / Farrington Huguenin
MIKE Linebacker: Deone Bucannon/ Kevin Minter / Riley Bullough / Kendell Beckwith (INJ) / Jack Cichy (INJ)
MO Linebacker: Lavonte David / Emmanuel Smith / Corey Nelson /
WILL Linebacker: Jason Pierre-Paul / Noah Spence / Demone Harris
Defensive End: Will Gholston / Patrick O’Connor
Nose Tackle: Vita Vea / Beau Allen / Stevie Tu’ikolvatu
Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves / De’Vante Harris / David Rivers
Free Safety: Justin Evans / Isaiah Johnson
Strong Safety: Kentrell Brice / Jordan Whitehead / M.J. Stewart
Defense Analysis: The Bucs will be in a 3-4 front in base defense with Minter in the MIKE role alongside David, Pierre-Paul and either Nassib or Barrett at the linebacker level. But since the Bucs will be in nickel defense at least 65 percent of the time, Bucannon will get more playing time than Minter will in what becomes the “moneybacker” role in nickel. Nassib and Pierre-Paul shift from 3-4 outside linebackers to 4-3 defensive ends in Tampa Bay’s nickel defense.
Bucs ILB Kevin Minter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs have done a good job of addressing linebacker this offseason with the additions of Minter, Bucannon and Barrett and the re-signing of Bond, while losing Kwon Alexander in free agency. The team could use another inside linebacker from the draft, especially with Beckwith’s career in jeopardy and Cichy still recovering from his ACL tear last October. Tampa Bay could also use another pass-rushing outside linebacker as the contracts for Nassib and Barrett expire in 2020, Pierre-Paul just turned 30 and Spence has yet to prove himself as a pass rusher that can be counted on.
Tampa Bay also needs help at the five-technique defensive end spot where Gholston is just an average player and the three-technique defensive tackle spot as McCoy just turned 31 and is in the twilight of his career. A player like Boston College’s Zach Allen would be an ideal upgrade at defensive end, while Clemson’s Christian Wilkins would be the perfect heir apparent to McCoy.
The Bucs secondary needs a veteran cornerback to start opposite Davis and Hargreaves, who is likely better in the slot. Keep an eye on former Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne, who could be targeted in free agency if the price is right, or perhaps former Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Tampa Bay isn’t done at safety, either and while Eric Berry can’t be ruled out if his price tag is lowered, Washington’s Taylor Rapp might be an option in the second round.
BUCS SPECIAL TEAMS
Kicker: Cairo Santos / Phillip Andersen
Punter: Bradley Pinion / Hayden Hunt
Long Snapper: Zach Triner
Special Teams Analysis: While the Bucs have two kickers currently on the roster, the team is interested in finding a veteran to challenge Santos in training camp. If the price is right, that veteran kicker may be former Buccaneer Matt Bryant, who kicked in Atlanta for the last decade and played for current Tampa Bay special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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