football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium
NFL Draft

Did Buccaneers’ 2020 NFL Draft Class Meet All-In Goal?

  • The Draft Network
  • April 29, 2020
  • Share

When the Buccaneers and six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady joined forces during free agency, it put the rest of the NFL on notice.

In a way, it also put Tampa Bay’s decision-makers on notice too.

Brady, at 42 years old, signed a two-year deal; given how not many athletes play professionally into their 40s, these next two seasons might be all the Buccaneers get with the greatest quarterback of all time. The moment the link dried on Brady’s contract, Tampa Bay was on the clock to go all in to create the best roster it can around the aging passer.

With the 2020 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, we now ask: Did the Buccaneers’ draft class meet their all-in goal?

Let's first look at Tampa Bay’s pre-draft needs.

During the free-agency period, the Buccaneers were able to do most, if not all, of what they wanted. Their main goals going into the offseason were to upgrade at quarterback and bring back as many players from their 2019 defense as they could. With Brady on board, Tampa Bay secured Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh for at least another year; the Buccaneers’ dreams were being realized.

It set them up nicely for the draft, but there was still some uncertainty whether or not they would be able to fill the rest of their needs.

Tampa Bay’s biggest weakness was at right tackle. Veteran Demar Dotson has not re-signed; although the Buccaneers added former Colts offensive tackle Joe Haeg, they are likely hoping he is more of a depth piece than a full-time starter.

The Buccaneers were armed with a 14th-overall selection and teetering on the edge of the range to select one of the top four offensive tackles in the draft. Andrew Thomas, Mekhi Becton, Jedrick Wills and Tristan Wirfs were considered starting-caliber players, and Tampa Bay wasn’t the only team that knew that — everyone did.

There was talk of a trade up. The Buccaneers likely had preliminary talks with the likes of the Cardinals and Jaguars, who picked Nos. 8 and 9, respectively; such a jump from No. 14 would have given Tampa Bay a good chance to get the offensive lineman it needed. But the cost wouldn't be ideal.

The Buccaneers were able to stay patient, move up just one spot and get one of the Big 4 tackles, Wirfs, who has arguably the highest ceiling of them all due to his rare athletic ability. Wirfs has also played most of his snaps at right tackle, the exact position the Buccaneers needed to fill.

When it came to the second round, most people only talked about one position for Tampa Bay: running back. But, in reality, there were two positions on the table to consider: running back and safety. The Buccaneers were fine in the secondary last year and had some promise going forward. Starters Jordan Whitehead and Mike Edwards were both young and gain valuable experience, and Tampa Bay still hopes Justin Evans can recover from an Achilles injury enough to get back in the fold. But the Buccaneers didn't have that difference-maker on the back end.

What they needed was an assassin, a general, someone who could control and manage the defense on the back end while making plays with high football IQ and anticipation.

I haven't seen the Tampa Bay’s draft board, but Antoine Winfield Jr., who was selected at No. 45, meets that description. Winfield was likely the only player who could have swayed the Buccaneers away from a running back at the top of the second round and the right choice over said running backs. What Winfield brings to the roster is something the Buccaneers don't have; something they were truly missing.

Tampa Bay also needed some offensive weapons. The Buccaneers still have third-year rusher Ronald Jones, who they drafted in the second round out of USC, but he hasn't performed quite in the way they hoped. Jones can still be their RB1, but they needed new blood. That opened the door for Vanderbilt’s Ke'Shawn Vaughn in the third round.

Vaughn’s tape can be uninspiring at times. In 2019, he was a running back who didn't impress much outside of the LSU game. Vaughn was held back by the offense around him. The passing game was simply not enough of a threat to thin the box, and not only did Vaughn's production halt but his development did as well. Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said after the draft the Buccaneers were getting a player with a "Richard Sherman-type edge.” Vaughn is a natural pass-catcher and willing blocker. He's slated to be that third-down rusher to complement Jones.

The Buccaneers were also on the prowl for a WR3 behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Breshad Perriman left in free agency, and Tampa Bay could not have dreamed Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson be available in the fifth round to fill that void.

Johnson was a polarizing player throughout the pre-draft process. He has plenty of 100-yard games, but his production comes in unorthodox ways. Johnson isn't the best separator or the most fundamentally sound route runner. He does things his own way, but it works; so much so that Pro Football Focus gave Johnson the highest grade of any receiver for the 2019 season. As a slot player, he's exactly what the Buccaneers are looking for as a third option to their already established stars. Throw in the tight end room of Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, and they likely have the best offensive arsenal in football.

The Buccaneers signed a potential contributor in the middle of their defensive line with Khalil Davis, an explosive linebacker off the edge in Chapelle Russell and a change-of-pace running back in Raymond Calais. They are all valuable depth players at positions that needed some new life.

Did the Buccaneers’ draft class meet their all-in goal for Brady's two-year tenure? If you ask me, absolutely, and you'll see that come to fruition soon enough.

Filed In

Related Articles

Written By

The Draft Network