FAB 2. The 2019 Bucs Season Pewter Predictions
Tampa Bay will be an improved team in 2019 under new head coach Bruce Arians. Who will lead the way for the Bucs to have a better record this year? Let’s find out in PewterReport.com’s 2019 Bucs Season Pewter Predictions.
2019 BUCCANEERS OFFENSIVE MVP
WR Mike Evans
I tipped my hand in Wednesday’s PR Roundtable that I thought Evans would be the Bucs’ MVP this season. I think Chris Godwin will lead the team in catches, but Evans would have another 1,500-yard season to tie Randy Moss with six straight 1,000-yard seasons to begin his NFL career. Evans has always been an underrated deep threat and he’ll post another 17-yard per catch season in Tampa Bay while making another trip to Orlando for the Pro Bowl.
2019 BUCCANEERS DEFENSIVE MVP
LB Lavonte David
David is the Mike Evans of the Bucs defense – the most talented player and best performer. Now that he’s healthy, expect defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to use him as a blitzer in the way that Greg Schiano did in 2013 when David had a career-high seven sacks in his All-Pro season. David is a ballhawk and a playmaker and will be featured in Bowles defense as the MO linebacker. Look for him to join Evans in the Pro Bowl at the end of the 2019 campaign.
2019 BUCCANEERS SPECIAL TEAMS MVP
K Matt Gay
I am on this kid’s bandwagon after seeing him nail two kicks from beyond 50 yards in the preseason, including his first ever NFL kick of 55 yards in the opener at Pittsburgh. Gay also proved to be great under pressure, kicking game-winners against Miami and Cleveland. Did Jason Licht finally find his kicker? Yeah, I think so. If I’m right and the Bucs are right, he’s a real difference-maker and the easy pick for Tampa Bay’s Special Teams MVP.
MOST IMPROVED OFFENSIVE PLAYER
RB Dare Ogunbowale
There are a lot of options here, including quarterback Jameis Winston, who really needs to be improved from a turnover-reduction standpoint, as well as right guard Alex Cappa and running back Ronald Jones II. Both Cappa and Jones really struggled last year and have an awful lot of room for improvement as a result. Yet Ogunbowale was strictly a special teams player last year and has been named the special teams captain this year. Yet the reason for his captainship is also because he proved himself as the team’s third-down back and he’ll get plenty of snaps on offense this year. Don’t be surprised if he’s more productive than RoJo.
MOST IMPROVED DEFENSIVE PLAYER
SS Jordan Whitehead
Whitehead edges nose tackle Vita Vea for this honor. Both should have very good years in red and pewter this year, but Whitehead, last year’s fourth-round pick, looks like a brand new player this season. He’s added 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason and is now 205 pounds. Whitehead has always been physical against the run, but he’s really improved his coverage technique this year and earned a starting spot. Don’t be surprised if he has two or three picks this season.
OLB Shaquil Barrett
The Bucs’ 11-year streak without a double-digit sacker ended last year when Jason Pierre-Paul notched 12.5. With Pierre-Paul out with a neck injury to start the year, who will step up? I originally thought that strongside outside linebacker Carl Nassib would lead Tampa Bay in sacks this year, but I’ve waffled and flipped my pick to Barrett, who is lightning quick and has a great inside spin move from the weak side. In some packages Barrett will line up over the guard and try to win one-on-ones inside. I think Barrett winds up with a career-high eight sacks, but he could reach double digits.
CB Vernon Hargreaves
Hargreaves is finally healthy and he’s in a big contract year this season. The Bucs picked up his fifth-year option for 2020, but that’s not guaranteed, which means Hargreaves needs to step up and prove he can be a shutdown cornerback to earn over $9 million next year. The good news is that he’s playing in a scheme that is very similar to what he played in college at Florida. Look for VH3 to come up with four picks to lead Tampa Bay this year with rookie safety Mike Edwards coming in a close second with three.
ILB Devin White
The actual rookie of the year could be Gay, who gets the nod for Special Teams MVP, but I’ll go with White instead as he will make his mark on the Bucs defense in time. White didn’t make any splash plays in the preseason, but they’re coming. He’s too talented of a player not to come up with some sacks and takeaways as this year’s fifth overall pick, and White might edge out David for the lead in tackles this year, too. Edwards, the Bucs’ third-round pick, will give White a run for his money for this honor, too.
BEST FREE AGENT ACQUISITION
DT Ndamukong Suh
Suh squeaks by Barrett and wide receiver Breshad Perriman for this honor. Barrett and Perriman might make more splash plays and put up the stats, but look for Suh to make a real impact on Tampa Bay’s defense by pushing the pocket and stuffing the run. Now playing his more natural three-technique defensive tackle position again after playing nose tackle and defensive end out in Los Angeles with the Rams last year, Suh could get between six to eight sacks this year in Bowles’ scheme while bringing a nasty edge that will rub off on the other Bucs defenders.