FAB 2. Early Bucs’ 53-Man Roster Prediction

Tampa Bay’s 2018 training camp is officially over and only two preseason games remain before the Bucs take the field in New Orleans to battle the Saints on September 9. Here is our final 53-man roster prediction ahead of Tampa Bay’s preseason game against Detroit.

QUARTERBACKS – 2
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
QB Ryan Griffin
QB Jameis Winston*
Analysis: All three quarterbacks have shined in the preseason, and that’s good because Winston will miss some time as the result of his three-game suspension as result of an NFL investigation into alleged inappropriate sexual conduct that occurred two years ago. Winston won’t count against the roster for those first three games, so the Bucs will start the year with two QBs on the active roster. Fitzpatrick has been sharp in practice, and Griffin has made great strides in both practice and in the preseason games, which is good as he will be the only backup quarterback on the roster until Winston returns.

RUNNING BACKS – 4
RB Peyton Barber
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
RB Ronald Jones
RB Shaun Wilson
Analysis: Barber is the clear-cut starting running back right now due to his power and decisiveness as a runner. The plan was for Jones to emerge in training camp and the preseason and receive about half the snaps. That has yet to happen, and Jones hasn’t shown trustworthy hands in the passing game. That solidifies Rodgers’ place on the roster because he’s a much better runner and a better special teams player than Charles Sims, who got hurt in the Tennessee game and was placed on IR. The Bucs are high on Wilson, an undrafted free agent, and view him as a kick returner and an eventual third down running back.

Bucs WR DeSean Jackson - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs WR DeSean Jackson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

WIDE RECEIVERS – 6
WR Mike Evans
WR DeSean Jackson
WR Chris Godwin
WR Adam Humphries
WR Justin Watson

WR Sergio Bailey
Analysis: The first four receivers on the depth chart – Evans, Jackson, Godwin and Humphries – are absolute locks to make the roster. Evans seems poised for a monster year, while the quarterbacks have been connecting with Jackson on deep throws this summer. Look for Jackson to play some inside at the slot to make way for Godwin to get more reps on the outside. Godwin has star potential and has had a great camp and preseason. Humphries is a “steady Eddie” in the slot, especially on third downs, while Watson and Bailey have separated themselves from Freddie Martino, Bobo Wilson and others at the wide receiver position and earn a spot. With Jackson and Humphries likely moving on in 2019, the Bucs want to keep the pipeline going with young receivers.

TIGHT ENDS – 4
TE Cameron Brate
TE O.J. Howard
TE Antony Auclair
TE Alan Cross
Analysis: The Bucs brought in several young tight ends to compete with the team’s established stars, but no one came close to unseating Auclair or Cross, aka “Honcho.” Howard is super confident, has had a great training camp and seems poised for a breakout year, while Brate looks as steady as ever and ready to prove he is worth the big contract extension the team bestowed upon him in the offseason. With left tackle Donovan Smith’s status for the season opener in jeopardy, look for a heavy dose of two tight end sets in New Orleans.

Bucs G Caleb Benenoch - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs G Caleb Benenoch – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

OFFENSIVE LINE – 10
LT Donovan Smith
LG Ali Marpet
C Ryan Jensen
RG Caleb Benenoch
RT Demar Dotson
C Evan Smith
G Alex Cappa
OT Mike Liedtke
OT Cole Gardner
OT Brad Seaton
Analysis: Smith’s knee injury and the injuries at offensive tackle during training camp will likely force the Bucs to keep an extra tackle on the roster to start the season. The Bucs are hopeful he will be able to return by Week 1. Marpet and Jensen have been Tampa Bay’s best linemen in camp and offer a big push in the ground game and sound pass protection. Dotson is close to 100 percent from offseason knee surgery. Benenoch has the edge at right guard over Cappa, who has struggled in pass protection. Smith has been a rock steady reserve at center and guard. The Bucs like Gardner’s potential, but he’s missed some training camp with injuries and Liedtke and Seaton are healthier and available.

DEFENSIVE LINE – 9
DE Jason Pierre-Paul
DT Gerald McCoy
DT Beau Allen
DE Vinny Curry
DT Vita Vea
DE Noah Spence
DT Mitch Unrein
DE Will Gholston
DL DaVonte Lambert
Analysis: Tampa Bay’s defensive tackle position has been rocked with injuries with Vea (calf) and Unrein (concussion) missing the preseason. Both reserves are expected back by Week 1, which should help. Thankfully, McCoy has been dominant in camp and seems ready for a big year playing next to Allen, the team’s new nose tackle. Pierre-Paul adds athletic playmaking ability, while Curry forms a bookend and plays with toughness and determination. A bigger and healthier Spence will play the role of designated pass rusher this year, while Gholston and Lambert have proven their worth by being versatile enough to play both defensive end and defensive tackle. Both barely edge out Patrick O’Connor and Will Clarke.

Bucs MLB Riley Bullough - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs MLB Riley Bullough – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

LINEBACKERS – 5
WLB Lavonte David
MLB Kwon Alexander
OLB Adarius Taylor
MLB Riley Bullough
OLB Jack Cichy
*SLB Kendell Beckwith
Analysis: David and Alexander are two of the best linebackers in the NFL and both have had a great camp. Taylor has rebounded from his broken leg last December and has been the current starting SAM linebacker and backup WILL linebacker behind David. Beckwith, who has missed all of the preseason and camp, will likely start the season on the PUP list, so he’ll miss the first six weeks. Bullough has made huge strides since his rookie season and has a good command of the defense as the backup MIKE. Cichy has impressed for a rookie and has played well in both outside linebacker roles. The Bucs keep five linebackers to start the season because the defense will be playing a lot of nickel defense.

CORNERBACKS – 5
CB Brent Grimes
CB Carlton Davis
NCB Vernon Hargreaves
NCB M.J. Stewart
CB Ryan Smith
Analysis: The Bucs hope Grimes has one more good year left in the tank, while rookies Davis and Stewart have made a great first impression as rookies. Davis will likely start at outside cornerback on the right side with Hargreaves in the slot in nickel defense. Hargreaves will be competing with Stewart, who has a knack for forcing turnovers. Smith has struggled mightily in coverage, but has value as a special teams ace as the team’s fifth cornerback.

SAFETIES – 5
FS Justin Evans
SS Chris Conte
FS Keith Tandy
SS Jordan Whitehead
FS Josh Robinson
Analysis: Evans has flashed Pro Bowl ability this offseason and really seems to have a good grasp of the defense as the Bucs’ centerfielder. Whitehead made an impact in the first preseason game and has starter potential if he can stay healthy. He’s competing with Conte, who will likely be the starter at strong safety due to his experience. Tandy and Robinson are valuable special teamers with Tandy having a better aptitude to play defense if called upon.

Bucs K Chandler Catanzaro - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs K Chandler Catanzaro – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

SPECIAL TEAMS – 3
P Bryan Anger
K Chandler Catanzaro
LS Drew Ferris
Analysis: Anger will be the team’s punter again this year and is hoping for a bounce-back year. The Bucs are happy with Ferris, as he has been the lone long snapper on the team right now. Catanzaro has been very good in practice and in the preseason games and the team hopes he is the long-term answer at the kicker position.

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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].com

17 COMMENTS

  1. This is a hopeful Fab 5, Scott. The roster sounds solid across the board. I hope the depth is there to sustain, what seems to be, the constant Achille’s heel for this team. I saw the 5-11 prediction from SI for the Bucs this year. That seems insane to me. I hope that Monken has continued success as the play caller and Koetter can take advantage of that new freedom to hone his HC skills. This team is solid. I suppose it could be 5-11 or 11-5? I’ll feeling 8 or 9 wins at this point.

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  2. I haven’t seen Kwon stand out in preseason games so far. Being a vocal leader is all well, and good but to many times I’ve seen him fill the wrong gap, or completely whiff on a tackle, not to mention he gets completely blown away by any guard who reaches him. Maybe he’s looked better in practice, but he hasn’t had one oh wow play during the last two games, so I don’t know where the A grade is coming from. To me he’s an average MLB. I think he’s to small for the position, and might be better suited to play WILL.

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  3. What about Stevie T? Is he headed to practice squad?

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    • Wasn’t he cut or waived injured?

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      • Waived (injury), I think.

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  4. It seems as though GM Licht has learned his lesson from last moving on from the likes of Chris Baker to absolute workhorses like Allen, Unrein, and Curry. From everything I’ve seen of him so far, JPP was well worth what it cost Licht from the trade with NY. Preseason games don’t always show what we’re going to see during the regular season, but both games have shown me this team is going to play hard every snap – unlike what I saw during last year’s preseason games. What I’ve been most impressed with this season is all three QBs – our 3rd stringer QB looks like he might actually be able to hold his own if called upon this season, which hasn’t been the case since he arrived in Tampa.

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  5. Wester is a better tackle than Seaton or Liedtke

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  6. Hard to disagree with any on that proposed roster, but I would not be surprised if some shuffling or trades happened before NO.

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  7. Really good job with your fab 5 Scott. I like the player grade analysis as well.

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  8. I like everybody on the team as to their personalities and the efforts they are trying to make. I just don’t see Spence and Gholston better than Clark or O’Connor. I would go short at defensive end position rather than keep those two. As of right now I see Ryan Smith not making the team unless he shows something tonight.
    Did I miss injury status as to Safety Evans? Anybody know his injury status?

    This is the best defensive team we’ve had in a long time, and I believe Coach Smith is going to bring nothing to the plate if he continues to play conservative defense. I sure hope I am wrong as to Coach Smith as the way I look at it right now we’ll be lucky if we win 6 games. You just can’t play vanilla defense in the NFL; we’re very predictable on defense. Maybe some of our injuries are due to players trying to do more because of this scheme?

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  9. Baker got closer to that tree in Hard Knocks than any QB’s over the last few years.

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  10. Great Fab Five Scott, and thanks for bringing back the thumbs up and down! You guys have done a great job with the website – and just in time for the season!

    Going to the game tonight and can’t wait! Go Bucs!!!

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  11. Kwon as an A? Ehhhhhhh. Haven’t been impressed. Barely notice him in the few times he played. Hopefully he shows up in the season like he has in the past.

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  12. Loved your roster and comments, Scott. Seaton did have to hold to prevent a sack but every other play he looked solid to me not allowing the first sack. I think he has some potential and glad to see you included him on your roster. I have never seen Wester playing that well. I wish there was a way to keep Ogunbowale because he has the potential to replace Barber if he goes down. I hope Jones gets a good run tonight. Go Bucs. Shoot the canons tonight. Detroit has not gotten a single sack this preseason so Fitz and Jameis should have time to carve them up. I know Detroit can run the ball and our defense needs to show they can stop them!

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  13. Winning this game at the half but the defense is not good. The kicking situation is not acceptable, the coaches and GM are suspect along with this dud of a kicker.

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  14. lol sergio bailey was never going to make the team over bobo wilson maybe not even over martino

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  15. also probably less than 10% chance lambert makes the team over clarke . clarke was being used as the no 3 de in the game last night. that doesn’t just happen spontaneously obviously been showing something in camp to warrent getting those snaps . i thought y’all were supposed to be out there everyday watching practice getting a read on what’s going on. but you come out with a 53 man roster prediction with a guy who’s solidly been in the rotation thus far in preseason not making the cut? makes me wonder just how much cred i can put into those practice analysis yall like to do.

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