FAB 4. Bucs’ 53-Man Roster Prediction

There are two preseason games left before the start of Tampa Bay’s 2017 regular season, but only one SR’s Fab 5 before the final roster cuts were down. So it’s time to play the guessing game with the Bucs’ final 53-man roster and offer up my prediction as I see it going down.

Of course a standout a game by an unheralded backup player, especially in the final preseason game when the starters will sit and the reserves will play, could change everything. Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries won a roster spot as an undrafted free agent in 2014 with a great preseason finale at Miami.

With that said, here’s my best guess as to which 53 players Bucs general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter will keep on September 2, which is when the one – and only – roster cut down will occur this year.

Quarterbacks – 3
QB Jameis Winston
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
QB Ryan Griffin

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Analysis: Winston is one of the best young talents in the position in the league. The Bucs wanted a preseason battle for the backup quarterback job, but Griffin’s shoulder injury derailed that contest after the Cincinnati game and handed that job to Fitzpatrick. The big question will be whether the Bucs want to keep three quarterbacks again this season. Griffin will be a free agent next year and Fitzpatrick will turn 35 in November. Tampa Bay would like to have a player serve as a long-term backup to Winston.

Running Backs – 4
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
RB Charles Sims
RB Peyton Barber
RB Jeremy McNichols
Analysis: Doug Martin will start the season with a three-game suspension and won’t count against the 53-man roster until he returns for the New York Giants game in Week 4. Rodgers has been steady in practice and figures to start in Martin’s place. Sims and Barber have shown a good deal of improvement in training camp and will vie for playing time. McNichols, the team’s fifth-round pick, has underwhelmed this August and will need to really step it up in the final two preseason games as he’s not an automatic lock to make the team.

Wide Receivers – 5
WR Mike Evans
WR DeSean Jackson
WR Adam Humphries
WR Chris Godwin
WR Josh Huff
Analysis: The Bucs only go with five wide receivers because of Koetter’s plans for using the two-tight end set with great regularity this season. Evans and Jackson may be the most dynamic duo in the league from a playmaking perspective. Humphries is a reliable slot receiver and the team’s punt returner, while Godwin, the Bucs’ third-round pick, will push for playing time as an outside receiver after a sensational training camp. The Bucs are trying to force Huff onto the roster due to his intriguing athleticism. His inconsistent hands will keep him off the field offensively, outside of some end-arounds, but Huff has kick return ability and the size to play on all special teams, which is what the fifth wide receiver does.

Tight Ends – 5
TE Cameron Brate
TE O.J. Howard
TE Luke Stocker
TE Alan Cross
TE Antony Auclair

Bucs TE Cameron Brate - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs TE Cameron Brate – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Analysis: Howard, Tampa Bay’s first-round pick, would be the starting tight end on most any other team, but the Bucs have Brate, a clutch play-maker, as the starter. Howard and Brate will see the field together quite a bit in “12” personnel (one back, two tight ends, two receivers). Stocker is the best in-line blocking tight end, while Cross is a special teams ace and a fullback-tight end hybrid. Auclair makes the team as a developmental prospect because he can play special teams, block and catch.

Offensive Line – 9
LT Donovan Smith
LG Kevin Pamphile
C Ali Marpet
RG J.R. Sweezy
RT Demar Dotson
G-C Evan Smith
C Joe Hawley
OT Caleb Benenoch
OT Leonard Wester
Analysis: Pamphile is in a contract year, and Smith must show he’s the left tackle of the future this season, too. Marpet has fared well in his move to center, and Sweezy has been the physical force the Bucs expected he would be at right guard. Dotson is getting up there in age, but the team has some potential and eventual heir apparents on the team in Pamphile, Benenoch and Wester. Smith can back up center or guard, which makes him valuable, Hawley may be expendable because he is viewed strictly a center.

Defensive Line – 9
DE Robert Ayers, Jr.
DT Gerald McCoy
DT Chris Baker
DE Will Gholston
DT Clinton McDonald
DE Noah Spence
DE Ryan Russell
DE DaVonte Lambert
DT Sealver Siliga
Analysis: The Bucs need McCoy, Ayers and Spence to pile up the sacks this year, because outside of those players there isn’t much pass rush. Both McCoy and Spence are capable of reaching double-digit sacks. Baker and McDonald will split time at nose tackle and that, along with Gholston’s presence, should help the defensive line improve in stopping the run. Russell adds depth as a pass-rushing defensive end while Jacquies Smith is sidelined, and Lambert is a run-stuffing reserve end. Siliga, a mammoth, run-stuffing defensive tackle, barely beats out Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, the team’s sixth-round pick, for the last spot on the depth chart.

Linebackers – 5
WLB Lavonte David
MLB Kwon Alexander
SLB Devante Bond
MLB Kendell Beckwith
OLB Adarius Glanton

Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Analysis: Because the Bucs play so much nickel defense, which deploys only two linebackers, the team can still get away with keeping only five linebackers. David and Alexander are among the league’s best, while youngsters Bond and Beckwith, the team’s third-round pick, will compete for the starting strongside linebacker role vacated by Daryl Smith’s retirement. Glanton is a special teams star and has improved enough as a defender to step in to any of the three linebacker roles and edges undrafted free agent and Hard Knocks star Riley Bullough for the last spot on the depth chart.

Cornerbacks – 5
CB Brent Grimes
CB Vernon Hargreaves III
CB Javien Elliott
CB Ryan Smith
CB Robert McClain
Analysis: The injury to Jude Adjei-Barimah hurts the Bucs’ depth at cornerback as there are only five worthy of keeping on the existing roster unless an unheralded rookie steps up in the final two preseason games. Grimes is an ageless wonder and Hargreaves is improved from his rookie season in 2016. Elliott and McClain will vie for the nickel cornerback role in the slot, while Smith, a former safety, is perhaps the most improved player in camp and a potential replacement for Grimes in time as an outside cornerback.

Safeties – 5
FS Chris Conte
SS Keith Tandy
SS J.J. Wilcox
FS Justin Evans
FS Josh Robinson
Analysis: Conte and Tandy have held on to their starting jobs heading into the 2017 season with Conte, a free safety, having the better training camp. Wilcox, a free agent newcomer, has made plenty of splash plays in camp and could challenge Tandy, who is in a contract year, for playing time at strong safety. The athletic Evans will contribute on special teams while he continues to learn the defense. The team views him as the eventual replacement for Conte. Robinson is the Bucs’ special teams ace and has Pro Bowl coverage ability on punts.

Bucs P Bryan Anger – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Bucs P Bryan Anger – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Specialists – 3
LS Andrew DePaola
K Nick Folk
P Bryan Anger
Analysis: DePaola has returned to challenge Garrison Sanborn and has a veteran presence, as does Folk, who beat out Roberto Aguayo, for Tampa Bay’s kicking duties this year. Anger is a Pro Bowl-caliber punter, whose specialty is nailing kicks inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

PUP List
DE Jacquies Smith

Suspended List
RB Doug Martin

What do you think of my 53-man roster? Would you have kept Bullough? Is five tight ends too many? Is five wide receivers or five cornerbacks not enough? Sound off below in the article comments section.

1
2
3
4
5
Previous articleConte’s Bucs Training Camp Diary: You See The Finish Line In Camp
Next articleKoetter Addresses Anthem Protests With Team Behind Closed Doors
Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

26 COMMENTS

  1. Scott, thanks for all the STATS. I your 53 man roster..

    +4
    0
    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
    Please wait...
  2. Great job! Barring injury this is likely our 53.

    RB Martin’s suspension gives the rookie RB three more weeks to prove he belongs. Really like your TE list as well as Glanton being in the LB group.

    Go Bucs!

    +4
    0
    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
    Please wait...
  3. I think the Bucs keep 8 DL and look for a reserve pass rusher to add from the final cuts around the league. The reason why is the Bucs have more than enough DL that can play the run, but as far as pass rushers are concerned they are very thing and J. Smith’s injury history should indicate Bucs should plan to groom a player as a plan B to develop.

    +4
    0
    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
    Please wait...
  4. I believe the red zone touchdowns will come once Jameis stops forcing the ball into double and triple coverage. One Jameis gets it going throwing to the open receiver, the touchdowns will come in bunches. Then he will be on the road to greatness. I thought Coach Koetter using the word “greedy” was significant. Sometimes, you have to say something in a different way to get someone’s attention.

    The roster looks pretty good. I wonder if they bucs keep three qb’s during the season once Griffin gets healthy.

    Joe Thomas reminds me of Paul Gruber. A great left tackle who played on bad teams.

    TGIF, the Fab 5 is here. Thanks Scott and go Bucs!

    +4
    0
    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
    Please wait...
  5. On paper we’re built to be a great red-zone offense. With our capable big receiver in Evans, our big play man Jackson, our highly capable tight ends in Brate and Howard, and our RBs with very good hands and big-play capability (Martin and Sims), and of course a quarterback Winston who does what he does.

    Does paper translate into TDs in the regular season? We can only hope. It hasn’t showed up yet in the preaseason, where our RZ percentage is even less than the crappy performance last season. Why hasn’t it shown up yet in pre-season? Who knows.

    Tom me even 60% is not enough .. the offenses in the upper 1/3 of the league are well into mid 60s. That’s where we need to be.

    In which case, in most games it won’t matter if our kicker is an 80% guy or a 90% guy.

    +4
    -1
    Rating: +3. From 5 votes.
    Please wait...
    • I forgot to mention that our offensive line is also built for the red zone, with a couple of real bruisers surrounding a very promising new starting center.

      +1
      -1
      Rating: 0. From 2 votes.
      Please wait...
  6. I like you 53 man roster except I don’t think we need to carry 5 TEs. I think they cut Stocker. Yes he is a good blocking TE but so is Howard and he is a playmaker. I believe that spot would be better used at another position.

    +6
    -2
    Rating: +4. From 8 votes.
    Please wait...
    • I can definitely see where Stocker is the odd man out.
      Auclair’s potential could definitely outweigh Stocker’s production.
      Auclair can do what Stocker can and he can still develop into an even better version of what Stocker was expected to be when he was drafted.

      +2
      -1
      Rating: +1. From 3 votes.
      Please wait...
  7. Based on the number of each position kept, your 53 is solid. There are two Wild Cards: position numbers and what happens when Martin returns.

    IMO, McNichols has not impressed at all. He could be the odd man out when Martin returns.

    +2
    0
    Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
    Please wait...
  8. As usual, great Fab 5 Scott. Re the projected final 53 roster, I agree with it but will offer an opinion on the 3rd QB Ryan Griffin, the LB affectionately known as Joe Dirt and carrying 5 TEs.

    If the Bucs medical staff clears Griffin the Bucs will have no choice but to keep him as a 3rd QB or lose him from waivers. There are several teams that will welcome him with open arms as a back-up QB. If he is not cleared, I think he will go to IR to return, eligible to practice after 6 weeks and can be activated after 8 weeks. Reserve PUP is not an option because he has practiced during the preseason.

    I agree that LB Riley Bullough will be a victim of the numbers game and the requirement for that last LB to be a ST contributor. I almost feel like Coach Koetter has forewarned us of this when speaking about Riley in his pressers. However, if he is waived expecting to sneak him onto the practice squad is wishful thinking. Joe Dirt has the distinction of being recognized in FanRag network as one of the best 5 UDFAs in the NFL. LB needy Miami is just waiting for that to happen. My opinion, if waived, just say goodbye!

    Carrying 5 TEs is OK if you consider hybrid Alan Cross to be a HB (pass catching FB). It could end up being a hard choice between him and Luke Stocker. For now, with 2 preseason games left, I think they keep both.

    This is going to be a tough cut down process. Koetter says we have more quality depth than he’s seen in the 3 years he’s been here. Good problem to have, but not everybody will be happy. Go Bucs!

    +13
    0
    Rating: +13. From 13 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Everybody seems to love Riley … but whom do you cut to make room for him on the roster? To me there are no obvious answers. Even some of the third string offensive and linemen who may not be fan favorites or big personalities, we still need depth in the trenches. Who wants to give up depth at the offensive skill positions, thinking our receivers, tight ends, and running backs are going to make it unscathed throoughout a 16 game season?

      Not saying Riley Bullough doesn’t deserve to make the roster … I’m just saying I am glad I don’t have to make the very tough decision. That’s why they pay Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter to make those decisions.

      +2
      -1
      Rating: +1. From 3 votes.
      Please wait...
  9. Wasn’t that Super Bowl season playoff win against San Fran a Divisional game? Bucs were #2 seed and had a Wild Card bye.

    +3
    0
    Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Yes. I believe that was the year that the Giants had a botched snap on the field goal try. They then threw into the end zone but no pi was called. Obviously, the 49ers won only to be destroyed by the Bucs next week.

      +2
      0
      Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
      Please wait...
  10. Swap out Hawley for Riley and I think that would do it for me. Hawley is strictly a center with no special teams ability. I love Joe, but it’s time to move on. If Ali suffers an injury, Evans can be the center.

    +7
    -3
    Rating: +4. From 10 votes.
    Please wait...
  11. Well thought out 53 man roster Scott. I think you are spot on with your predictions. I would rather the Bucs keep Bernard Reedy over Josh Huff though. Also with Devante Bond being banged up that may cause the Bucs to keep another line backer.

    Just for Fun here is my Bucs 10 man practice squad:

    CB Player from another team
    OT Player from another team
    CB Jonathan Moxey
    OL Michael Liedtke
    DE Channing Ward
    DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu
    LB Richie Brown
    LB Riley Bullough
    WR Bernard Reedy
    WR Jesus Wilson

    +1
    0
    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
    Please wait...
  12. I want Stevie Tu’ikolovatu to make the team just so I can hear Dick Stockton try to pronounce it.

    +4
    0
    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
    Please wait...
  13. Reading that OL lineup makes me queasy. Dotson the only proven OT in the bunch, hopefully he and Sweezy can hold up or we’ll have a collection of swing/backup/needs to step up players surrounding our Center who could be the best OL we’ve had since Gruber.

    On the flip side this is the best set of pass catchers (WR + TE) we’ve had at one time by a mile. I, too, wonder about keeping Stocker given his relatively low ceiling but can live with it.

    Still not a fan of Sims, we need capable runners vs another pass catcher and he’s one dimensional, but we can afford to keep him and McNichols until the Dougernaut returns and cut the least productive. Liked what Barber has shown but it’s preseason and I still wish we had a bigger rock pounder to finish games late.

    The lack of proven talent at the DB position also jumps off the page. VH3 needs to put it all together, which I’d feel bad about expecting so soon if not for where we drafted him. If he can’t or if Grimes goes down, Houston we have a Problem.

    If given the choice I’d IR Griffin (if him not being able to play before week 8 is a problem the season is likelynshot anyway) and keep J. Dirt, or try to trad JD for a 6-7th round pick to a team that needs LB help and isn’t willing to risk him making it to them via waivers.

    All in, this is a pretty darn talented team that needs a little more depth to separate from the pack. But if a few guys step up as we’re hoping AND we get lucky with injuries look out it could be an exciting season, you wouldn’t want to face JW and those pass catchers in the playoffs…

    +2
    -1
    Rating: +1. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...
  14. Can’t make the club in the tub! While Riley can also play M.B., Bond better show up. I’ve seen more from Joe Dirt in two weeks, then I’ve seen out of Bond in two Years!

    +4
    -1
    Rating: +3. From 5 votes.
    Please wait...
  15. I think we have to keep Riley or another team will scoop him off waivers before he makes it to our practice squad. If Griffin starts the season on IR, that would make it very easy to keep Riley. If not, then one of Stocker/Cross/Auclair gets cut to keep Riley. I think Stocker would be the one who gets cut because he is a one-trick pony and injury-prone.

    The big question is what happens when Dougie Fresh gets back Week 4. That’s going to be a tough decision! Personally I think cut Ryan Fitzpatrick. If he is our QB the Bucs immediately lose any chance of winning big. At least Ryan Griffin is enough of an unknown that he may be able to do enough not to lose.

    +2
    -3
    Rating: -1. From 5 votes.
    Please wait...
  16. I think we keep Riley Bullough on the 53 man roster and not carry 5 tight ends! Our LB’s are going to get banged up over the season and we need the depth. No way Bullough clears waivers and makes it to the practice squad. And seriously, 5 tight ends!

    +2
    -1
    Rating: +1. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...
  17. Watching other teams this preseason I have seen third string QBs that are better than our third string QB who is injured to boot; so cut him and don’t carry three QBs. If our second QB goes down, pick up one of those superior third string QBs off their practice squad. That way you can add Bullough to our roster. I am yet to be sold on this week’s starting MLB. He lacks speed and has trouble getting off blocks. Otherwise, Scott, you have done well on all the rest of your roster predictions.

    +1
    0
    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
    Please wait...
  18. i say cut griffin. I think glennon will be available after this season for cheaper than we were willing to pay this offseason. Would rather have bullough or another kick returner with that roster spot.

    +1
    0
    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
    Please wait...
  19. I think Scott’s predicted 53 man roster is probably spot on if based solely on the current 90. However, history shows that there will likely be someone added from another team’s victims of the Turk. The back-up tackle spot is a concern.

    It’s hysterical that there is so much over-hyping of the player known as “Joe Dirt”. I too love his personality and obvious love for the game. It’s sure easy to root for that type of player. Without his co-starring role on Hard Knocks, most of us would be oblivious of him. The challenge he faces is that, at this point, he’s probably not as valuable as the players in front of him. Perhaps he can make it to the Practice Squad.

    I’ve seen enough of Ryan Fitzpatrick to hope Ryan Griffin is a fast healer. The guy with an obvious inflated opinion of himself leading up to his hold-out with the J-E-T-S last year certainly doesn’t make me think the team is in good hands with him holding the clip board. Just need someone who can come in and not lose the game.

    Looking forward to tonight’s game. After 40+ seasons on the east side, I switched to basically the same spot on the west side. I’m sure it will be an adjustment for me. Sun was never an issue for me. It was the fact that so many season ticket holders on the east side apparently purchased them for the sole purpose of selling them to the higher paying enemy fans. That’s akin to your best friend inviting you to a party while secretly inviting your ex girlfriend and her new beau. I’m grateful to the Bucs, and in particular Brittany, for accommodating my request.

    0
    0
    No votes yet.
    Please wait...
  20. My grandson and I were at practice on the 23rd. The team was in full pads,but the defense did not tackle. My question is that the norm?
    We had a great time although my grandson was not able to get Jamis Winstons autograph. Go Bucs !

    0
    0
    No votes yet.
    Please wait...
    • Yes, it’s common that Koetter’s team doesn’t tackle in practice.

      +1
      0
      Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
      Please wait...
  21. Personally I’m hoping they go with Bernard Reedy over Josh Huff. I think he’s equal as a receiver, but much better on special teams. I also don’t see us keeping 5 TE’s personally. I think the Bucs have a better chance of sneaking Cross onto the PS than they do Auclair, some due in part to his presence on Hard Knocks.

    I really want Riley to make this team as a 6th LB. That said, the fact that he has only played MLB and not played the outside at all limits him. I feel he’ll be the favorite that’s playing for another team. That said with Bond out a few weeks, they could keep 6 LBs until he is completely healthy. If he does, Glanton could be the backup to Beckwith with Riley making the team as a backup to Kwon.

    0
    0
    No votes yet.
    Please wait...