Ethan Hewett | May 1st, 2020
After an incredible free agency period acquiring their new star quarterback in Tom Brady along with Rob Gronkowski coming out of retirement, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were looking to draft the few remaining holes on their team. The Bucs were able to retain most of their defensive talent but still needed help on the offensive line. How did the Bucs fare in the 2020 NFL Draft? Let’s dig into these picks and find out.
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Round 1, Pick 13: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Bucs traded up one spot to pick up their guy in Wirfs. The team was in desperate need of a solid offensive tackle with Brady in the pocket, and nobody felt comfortable with Donovan Smith and Brad Seaton as the starting tackles. Several scouts regarded Wirfs as one of the most athletic players in this year’s draft class and somehow fell to the 13th pick. He will be an instant starter, and if he continues to develop, he will be an all-pro tackle in the NFL.
Some argued that the trade-up was unnecessary. However, Joe Staley was potentially retiring at that point, so the San Francisco 49ers were likely mulling about taking an offensive tackle. Also, the NFL world knew for most of that week that the 49ers were looking to trade back. This move makes sense when looking back on the draft.
Round 2, Pick 45: Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
It baffles me that a first-round talent in Winfield fell to the Buccaneers here. While they did pass on J.K. Dobbins, Winfield seemed like a no-brainer pick. Football runs in his blood with his father having a successful NFL career. While he had injury problems early in his college career, he produced in his final season with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Bucs secondary had a great last half of 2019, but adding a player like Winfield takes this team to a different level.
Round 3, Pick 76: Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt
The Bucs reached a bit here with this pick. Vaughn probably would have been available in later rounds. Still, the team seems to believe that they have found their third-down running back, and there’s no denying that Vaughn put up substantial receiving numbers in college. While this seemed early for him, Vaughn has the playmaking ability to thrive in the Bucs system. Vaughn also put up two straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons in the SEC and will be a good compliment to running back Ronald Jones II.
Round 5, Pick 161: Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
The Bucs doubled-down on the Minnesota talent and picked up Johnson in the fifth round. Johnson completes the trio of receivers in this Bucs receiving room and can thrive from the slot position with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the boundaries. Johnson was one of the better route runners in this class, and despite lacking some long-distance speed, he is a playmaker and has some solid hands. Love this day three pick for the Bucs.
Round 6, Pick 194: Khalil Davis, DL, Nebraska
Davis was one of the better defensive tackles left on the board at this spot and he has the potential upside to be a starting defensive tackle. Despite that upside, Davis is a raw prospect and needs time to develop. Luckily he has players like Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea ahead of him to allow that. Davis will serve well as a rotational player for now and replace the recently departed Beau Allen.
Round 7, Pick 241: Chapelle Russell, LB, Temple
Russell isn’t going to be seeing a lot of reps on defense anytime soon. Still, he does provide some depth at the linebacker position. Russell has also dealt with several injuries in college, including two ACL injuries. However, if he develops a lot in the run game, he is an excellent athlete with some decent abilities in coverage. For now, Russell will likely see a lot of snaps on special teams.
Round 7, Pick 245: Raymond Calais, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette
With their final pick in the draft, the Bucs decided to double-down on the running back position drafting the Rajun Cajan Calais. Calais will certainly serve as a change of pace for the Bucs offense out of the backfield. However, he will be competing for the final spot on the depth chart this season and could find himself on the practice squad for the 2020 season. Hopefully, he proves me wrong.
The 2020 NFL draft was a good one for the Buccaneers. They filled their needs and got solid value. The top end of their draft was great picking up Wirfs and Winfield, who will both make an impact instantly. Vaughn was a bit of a reach value-wise, but Johnson and Davis were solid pickups. However, their late-round picks in Russell and Calais were a couple of head-scratchers to me. Despite that, for the first time in a while, there aren’t any glaring holes on this Tampa Bay team.
Final Grade: B+
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