Are Bucs’ fans feeling buyer’s remorse after draft?

by Gary Shelton on April 27, 2020

in general

Wirfs still seems like a solid choice./Photo by Stephen Mally/

Monday, 4 a.m.

Now come the doubts.

For five minutes, maybe for 10, they were answers. They were going to plug holes, and they were going to help make the Bucs better, because that's the role of draft picks. For five minutes, maybe for 10, they were golden.

Ah, but the Tampa Bay Bucs have nurtured the doubts of their fans well. They have disappointed so often, and lost so much, and seen draft pick after draft pick fumble their potential, that it's hard to blame fans for being skeptical. A Bucs' fan has earned his doubts. It's a cynical deal, pulling of this team, waiting for better days.

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Understand, then, how quickly Tristan Wirfs went from a steal in this draft to just another guy in a helmet. Understand how fans noticed that Antoine Winfield Jr. is a bit small, and Tyler Johnson is a bit slow, and Ke'Shawn Vaughn is a bit unknown. You can find all the knocks you want on the day three picks (they were, after all, day three picks).

That's our nature. We pick nits. Even now, you can hear that Tom Brady is too old and Rob Gronkowski is too worn. There are a lot of corners where fans have a hard time believing the Bucs will finally win a playoff game this year.

Hey, in the echoes of Jameis Winston and Roberto Aguayo and Noah Spence, it's hard to blame fans. They've been disappointed before. Despite the Bucs' lofty draft grades, players will have to prove there is something different about them.

In a way, it's amusing. I read that there was a split decision in the Giants' front office, that some actually preferred Wirfs to Andrew Thomas. But after the initial rush that the Bucs were able to land him, you read that he's not nasty enough, or that he has trouble with speed rushers, or that he's destined to play guard.

According to the snipers, the Bucs would have been better to have traded for disgruntled Washington tackle Trent Williams. But Williams would have sent them over the salary cap. That's a factor.

We'll see. But there is truth between the lines. Wirfs may not be the next Anthony Munoz, but he'll play tackle for the Bucs for his first few seasons. My guess is that he'll make a lot of starts there, and he'll have some moments. He didn't become Pee-Wee Herman overnight.

Personally, I like the Winfield draft pick. You hope he's big enough to stay in the lineup. But Todd Bowles can do some things with him.

I don't know enough about Vaughn, I'll admit. I was hoping either Cam Akers or J.K. Dobbins would have fallen to the Bucs. But trading up wasn't a consideration after the team dealt both its fourth-round picks.

It's hard not to like the idea of Johnson in the slot for the Bucs. I like production over 40-times, and he was a major player for a very good Minnesota team.

After that, the draft is a crapshoot. Davis had great tests at the combine, but is he big and strong enough? Not much is expected of Chappelle Russell and Raymond Calais; then again, Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers weren't on the board.

You know what the main problem with the Bucs' draft was? The lack of hype. The world falls all over quarterbacks and fast receivers, and the more someone is talked about, the easier it is to believe they're superhuman. Remember Jimmy Clausen, the old Panthers' quarterback.

In 2010, Claussen was a popular choice among the mock drafters, who lavished praise on him. When he fell into the second round, everyone talked about how screwed Carolina was for grabbing Clausen, and the draft grades went up accordingly. But Clausen was just another undelivered promise, and everyone quickly forgot about it.

It'll work that way with the Bucs, too. If the draft picks can play, you'll be the first to say you knew it all the time. And if they can't, you'll be the first to say they couldn't. Hey, I'll be second.

Still, it seemed like we can give them a little time before we do a thumbs-up or a thumb's down. There will be time enough for final grades later.

On the other hand, they didn't draft a kicker.

That's something, at least.

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