Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2020 NFL Draft Class Recap

Photo: TDN Staff

Since 2011, the Buccaneers have enjoyed just one winning season — a 9-7 finish in 2016 — and placed last in the NFC South in eight of the last 10 seasons. Tampa Bay hasn’t been to the postseason since 2007. 

The Buccaneers landed Tom Brady, who will play under the leadership of a winning coach in Bruce Arians; they are primed to end their losing ways. The 2020 NFL Draft was an important step for general manager Jason Licht to add a few missing pieces to the roster and make sure the Buccaneers were positioned to take advantage of their window to make a run with Brady. 

Tampa Bay's 2020 draft picks:

Best Pick: Tristan Wirfs

The primary need the Buccaneers had entering the draft was at offensive tackle. Armed with a top-15 selection, Tampa Bay was in striking distance to land one of the top tackles in the class. Licht wisely parted with a draft pick to move up one spot and make sure he came away with Wirfs, who was the last of the Big 4 on the board. 

Wirfs is a rare physical talent with 33 starts out of the Iowa offensive line pipeline. He can immediately claim the starting right tackle position and solidify things in front of Brady. Filling the top need with the best player on the board doesn’t happen often but it did for the Buccaneers.

Biggest Surprise: Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Tampa Bay got an outstanding football player with its second-round pick in Winfield, but it came at the expense of passing on the top running backs Cam Akers and J.K. Dobbins. The Buccaneers waited until the third round to find running back help and Vaughn was the pick. 

Vaughn is coming off consecutive seasons of 1,000 yards at Vanderbilt while facing SEC defenses behind an offensive line that was the worst in the conference. He’s a solid athlete with a good build. Vaughn does have shaky vision and decision-making as a runner that could create some challenges replicating his success at the next level. Vaughn’s selection came earlier than expected and felt like a reach for need. 

Day 3 Sleeper: Tyler Johnson

Johnson became a polarizing prospect in the pre-draft process but he's terrific for Tampa Bay, which could use another outside weapon to allow Chris Godwin to feast from the slot. Johnson is a physical wide receiver that dominates in contested situations and has terrific route-running skills. He was highly productive in 2018 and 2019 for Minnesota and improved every year in college. Johnson was lost in a loaded receiver class and found a perfect landing spot in Tampa Bay. 

X-Factor: Raymond Calais 

Calais is the perfect seventh-round pick. While he has size restrictions, Calais is a home-run threat with his blazing speed; he is capable of ripping off chunks of yards as a runner, receiver and returner. Calais’ big-play potential is evidenced by averaging 7.8 yards per rush on 236 career carries and two career kick return touchdowns. He is experienced as a gunner on the punt team. He can contribute to the team in a variety of valuable ways, which is rare to find so late in the draft. 

Summary

The Buccaneers put together a strong draft class that addressed key needs. They landed a starting offensive tackle, impact safety, added running back depth and got a potential steal at wide receiver. Tampa Bay promises to be an exciting team to follow next season and expectations are high for everything to come together. The Buccaneers can make a run with the greatest quarterback of all-time, a proven coaching staff and a roster loaded with talent. 

Written By:

Joe Marino

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Joe Marino is a Senior NFL Draft Analyst at TDN. Marino comes to TDN after serving as a draft analyst for NDT Scouting, FanRag Sports and Draft Breakdown dating back to 2014. In 2017, Marino became a Huddle Report Mock Draft Champion when he produced the most accurate mock draft in the world.

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