Let’s admit it, the Bucs had an important draft in front of them. They had a plethora of needs with safety and tight end being two of the biggest ones. Did I forget to mention weapons for Winston? All of the above was accomplished in this year’s NFL draft.
Let’s take a look at some of the newest Buccaneers, shall we?
Round 1, The Pick: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! Please tell me this was a dream. Oh, wait it’s not. That is exactly what GM Jason Licht and Coach Koetter were thinking when they saw that this man was still on the board. Howard is as clean as it gets, many people around the league have said he is a top 5 prospect in this class, the Bucs were picking 19th…. That is correct, the Bucs chose a top 5 overall player with the 19th pick! No, Howard did not have any off-field issues, he was one of the safest players in the draft. This move will change the offense immediately and in a good way. Overall grade for this is an A. Well done Mr. Licht, well done.
Round 2, The Pick: Justin Evans, Safety, Texas A&M
As I mentioned earlier, safety was one of the biggest needs the Bucs had going into this draft. The safety play was awful last year and it needs to improve. The team let starter Bradley Mcdougald go and brought back fan favorite Chris Conte while also signing JJ Wilcox from the Cowboys. That still was not enough though. We all knew it and so did the Bucs as they went put and drafted a safety in the second round. Evans is hard hitter, many Buc fans will be scared to hear that because we all know who the last hard hitting safeties on the team were and how that worked out (Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson) but fear not as those two guys were also major liabilities in coverage and Evans is a good player in coverage. He will, however, frustrate some fans at times because there will be a flag or two called on him every now and then because of the way he plays. I will give this pick a solid B+. I gave it that because I felt the Bucs could have traded down 5-6 spots and still get him, but I trust this front office with my life.
Round 3, The Pick: Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State
If you want me honest here, this is probably my favorite pick of the entire class. Yes, I think Howard is great but I just love the way Godwin plays. He is not the fastest guy in the world but can still run when you let him, he wins the 50/50 ball most of the time and has the size to match up well in the NFL. I have watched a ton of Penn State and I have to say, Godwin is a freak. If you have not already, look up his game against USC in the rose bowl. He dominated that game and who was covering him a lot of the time? Adoree Jackson, the Titans 18th overall pick. It’s not just that game, every game he played for PSU he made an impact. My final grade for this pick was an A. The value they also got with the Godwin selection was great, He should have never been there at 84.
Round 3, The Pick: Kendall Beckwith, LB, LSU
I have to admit, I was a tad disappointed with this pick. I felt this pick should have been either Marlon Mack or Samje Perine. However, the Bucs must feel really good about this guy considering they traded up to get him. That will take a hit on his grade from me. I did not see the reason to trade up but I support what they did. Now, enough about that. Well, Kwon Alexander must be happy, his LSU guy is coming to play with him in Tampa. Beckwith is a strong run defender and has a big frame for a LB. The only downfall is that he suffered an ACL injury early in LSU’s season which ended his season. If he can come back fully healthy for training camp, expect him to be the Bucs starting SAM Linebacker. My overall grade for this is a B. Would have been higher if they would have not traded up for him but like I said, I trust Jason Licht.
Round 5, The Pick: Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State
There is our RB! This is certainly not the first time the team has gone to Boise State for a RB. Does anyone remember the last one? A guy by the name of Doug Martin. Well, what I see with McNichols is Doug Martin 2.0, just much healthier. He is also a bit faster than Doug Martin. What can I say? Solid pick, I think they were set on picking the best player available in the 5th and that player just so happened to be a RB. I will give this pick a solid B+. He has some work to do regarding ball security but if that improves there is no reason he can’t succeed in the NFL.
Round 7, The Pick: Stevie Tu’ikolovatu DT, USC
Yeah, we are all going to have a tough time pronouncing that one so here I will call him big Steve. He is a rookie at 26 years old, but that should not stop you from liking what he brings to the table. There is a reason I did not call him Steve, I put the word Big in there because the dude is a monster. With the keeping of Sealver Siligia and addition of Chris Baker, it seems the Bucs are trying to get stronger up the middle. I will give this pick a B. I fully expect him to make the 53 man roster and add more depth to a d line that needs it.
So that’s all, folks. I really liked what Licht was able to do in this year’s draft and this offseason as a whole. He identified the need, got his target list, and went out and got those guys. I will give the overall draft Haul an A-. Licht really hit this draft out of the pick with the Howard and Godwin selections. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to report that Weapons For Winston has been accomplished. GO BUCS!