FAB 2. Bucs’ No. 5 Overall Pick Is For Sale
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht made it pretty clear in Indianapolis that Tampa Bay’s No. 5 overall pick is for sale. With the Bucs having just six picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and the team likely being one of the least active teams in free agency this year, Licht and new head coach Bruce Arians will want to acquire more players through the draft. That means possibly moving down in the first and/or second round and stockpiling more selections.
“I guess it’s a nice place to be in if anybody wants it,” Licht said. “We’d certainly listen and we did that last year. It had to be the right amount of capital that we wanted. We’re not just going to give it away. I do feel like there are five players I would like to pick right now. A lot goes into it. We’ll have to evaluate each player and decide together – ultimately Bruce and I – which player is worth not moving back [for] and which players are worth moving back [for] and gambling.”
Licht said there were five players he would draft right now in the draft, which was an indication that Tampa Bay could stay put, and would only move down if the Bucs got the right trade offer.
If I had to guess I would suggest that the five players that Licht would be interested in drafting at No. 5 would be Ohio State DE Nick Bosa, Alabama DT Quinnen Williams, Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen, LSU linebacker Devin White and Michigan’s Rashan Gary, who hasn’t gotten a lot of publicity or attention by the Tampa Bay media yet. Here’s a little profile on Gary to familiarize yourself with his game.
Michigan DL Rashaan Gary – 6-5, 283 – Junior
Gary gets dinged by scouts because he production dropped from 2017 when he had 58 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble to 38 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, but Michigan had a stacked defensive front with defensive end Chase Winovich and linebacker Devin Bush also chasing the quarterbacks and competing for stats. Gary has tremendous size and athleticism, as well as the versatility to play inside or outside. Some scouts believe he could be a monster at the three-technique spot if he put on 10 pounds. Is he a better athlete than football player at this stage of the game? Perhaps, but he’s only 21 and has a huge upside. He should go inside the Top 10 – and maybe even in the Top 5.
Tied with Gary I suppose would be Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams, although I believe the Bucs might actually prefer Florida’s Jawaan Taylor, a right tackle, over Williams, who may have to move inside to guard at the next level due to his frame and arm length. So if Tampa Bay does trade down in the first round, which Licht did in 2016 before drafting cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and last year prior to drafting defensive tackle Vita Vea, let’s take a look at the next five players – and we’ll include Gary on this list to increase your familiarity with him – that could make up a larger first-round draft pool for the Bucs to consider.
Washington CB Byron Murphy – 5-11, 182 – Redshirt Sophomore
Murphy ahead of LSU’s Greedy Williams? Possibly. The redshirt sophomore is fast, smooth and physical despite being under 6-foot. Under Jimmy Lake with the Huskies defensive backs that have made it to the NFL lately, Washington is every bit as much as DBU as LSU is. In two years with the Huskies, Murphy has recorded 74 tackles, 20 passes defensed, seven tackles for loss, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, one sack and one pick-six, which was the game-winning score in a 10-3 win over Utah in the PAC 12 Championship Game last year. Murphy had four interceptions and 13 pass breakups last year, and is just starting to show how dominant he can be as a shutdown corner. He’s a Top 15 pick.
Clemson DT Christian Wilkins – 6-4, 315 – Senior
I had the Bucs drafting Wilkins in the first round of my Bucs Battle Plan because he’s a tremendous athlete capable of playing the three-technique defensive tackle spot, nose tackle or even the five-technique defensive end position. Wilkins was a team captain and the heartbeat of the Tigers defense that won two national championships against Alabama while recording 192 tackles, 40.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, 15 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his career. Wilkins is a tremendous leader with great athleticism, evidenced by two touchdown rushes and a receiving touchdown when Dabo Swinney put him Clemson’s goal line package on offense. Wilkins is regarded as a Top 15 selection.
Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat – 6-6, 260 – Senior
Sweat produced back-to-back seasons with double digit sacks in his two years at Mississippi State. The long, strong pass rusher used his an enormous wing span to record 22 sacks, 30 tackles for loss and 101 tackles for the Bulldogs, and had an impressive senior season with 53 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and a career-high sacks. He needs to work on getting the ball out of quarterbacks’ hands as he had just one forced fumble and one fumble recovery at Mississippi State. Sweat dominated at the Senior Bowl and that solidified his standing as a mid-first-round pick.
Florida OLB Jachai Polite – 6-2, 242 – Junior
Polite is bigger than Brian Burns, and does a better job of converting speed to power, which is why he’s on this list and the Florida State edge rusher is not. Polite emerged as a full-time starter as a junior after racking up 33 tackles, nine sacks, four sacks and two forced fumbles in his first two years. Last year, Polite was turned loose in Todd Grantham’s defense and recorded 45 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, six forced fumbles and four passes defensed. Polite isn’t the biggest edge rusher – in fact he’s similar in size to Tampa Bay’s Noah Spence. But he brings speed off the edge and can bend the corner and get to the quarterback, and those players are always in demand. With Jason Pierre-Paul now at age 30, the Bucs will need to find an heir apparent. Polite should go in the Top 20.
Michigan ILB Devin Bush – 5-11, 233 – Junior
This is not a good linebacker draft in terms of depth, and by linebackers I mean pure inside linebackers – not outside edge rushers. White is the best, and Bush – the other Devin – is the second best, and will likely be drafted in the middle to the end of the first round, depending on how fast he runs in the 40-yard dash. He certainly looks fast on tape where the All-American racked up 172 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 11 passes defensed, 10 sacks and one interception as a three-year starter for the Wolverines. His best season came in 2017 with 95 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and 5.5 sacks, but last year wasn’t bad either with 66 stops, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and four pass breakups. If Bush was 6-foot-2 instead of 5-foot-11, he would be a Top 10 pick.
There will be some more players that we uncover on Tampa Bay’s radar as we get closer to the draft, and perhaps guys like LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, Washington safety Taylor Rapp and others expand this list. But not many folks knew the Bucs were targeting Vea last year – except of course our loyal PewterReport.com readers.