Where can the new faces help the Bucs?

by Gary Shelton on May 1, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Okay, now they have them, what are they going to do

with them?

Except try to get better.

And, really, isn't that the point?

The Tampa Bay Bucs, like all NFL teams, seem thrilled with their draft class from this year and, golly, who knew that guy would still be available? It's hard to argue that the Bucs had the holes to fill. Hey, last year, Tampa Bay won five games including early-season upsets over New Orleans and Philadelphia and an overtime win over Cleveland on a 59-yard field goal by a kicker who would soon be released. This team had some improving to do.

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So what should they do with their newcomers?

A guess:

No. 1, Devin White: The Bucs don't have an official depth chart yet, but no. 1 draft pick Devin White became the starter before his name was announced. Put it this way: If he doesn't start opposite Lavonte David, the Bucs made a bad, bad pick. The question is how much better an inside linebacker can make a team in the current league structure. Average will not do. For this to work, White needs to be the best inside linebacker the Bucs have had since Hardy Nickerson.

No. 2, Sean Bunting: Most of us hadn't heard of Bunting. That's forgivable. The guy played at tiny Central Michigan. Still, Tampa Bay liked him over Greedy Williams. Not everyone did. Analyst Mel Kiper said there were eight corners on the board that he liked better, including Williams. Maybe after Brent Grimes last year, the Bucs simply weren't interested in a cornerback who didn't care enough to tackle. Bunting is a fast guy, and he should compete with Carlton Davis to start opposite Vernon Hargreaves.

No.3A, Jamel Dean. Dean can run, but he wasn't as dominating in college as his numbers should say he is. Dean might make it in the nickel for the Bucs, which isn't bad. Nickel backs play a lot, the Bucs were burned there often a year ago. If Bunting doesn't win a starting job outside, he could compete with Dean here.

No. 3B: Mike Edwards: Edwards is a feisty player who should work his way into the team's safety rotation. But is he an upgrade over Jordan Whitehead?At this point, who knows? But the Bucs needed help at safety. Justin Evans will start at one spot, and Whitehead, Edwards, Ryan Smith and M.J. Stewart will try to win the other.

No. 4: Anthony Nelson. Nelson has length, which was one of the key ingredients to the career of Simeon Rice. But Nelson lacks Rice's amazing burst. Still, he should get into a playing rotation with Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib and mayb William Gholston.

No. 5: Matt Gay. Gay was the first kicker taken. Which means that unless he turns up as the second coming of Roberto Aguayo, he should go into the season as the Bucs' kicker. Cairo Santos is still around if Gay bursts into flames.

No. 6: Scott Miller. The Bucs haven't fared well with their third-day draft picks. Miller has an opportunity to be different. The departures of DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries have left a hole for a slot receiver. We'll see if Miller can fill it. He'll compete for time with free agent signing Breshad Perriman.

No. 7. Terry Breckner. No, it doesn't matter if the Bucs' cut or keep Gerald McCoy. Terry Breckner isn't going to replace McCoy, an underappreciated (and overpaid) player. Breckner will try to hang onto a roster spot, but he'll probably end up on the practice squad.

Free agent: Kahzin Daniels. Daniels was one of the nice stories of the draft weekend, a player who is trying to make it despite partial blindness. He'll probably get enough notice to make the practice squad.

Free agent: Bruce Anderson. No matter how many times they say they're happy, the Bucs desperately need running backs and they didn't draft one. Anderson may make a run at a roster spot before ending up on the practice squad. A lot depends on if Ronald Jones is a factor this year. Last year, he wasn't.

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