The much anticipated first night of the NFL Draft has come and gone with the unprecedented event going off without a hitch. For the Bucs, they DID move up in the draft, albeit for the 49ers pick one spot ahead of them. “Why”, you ask? The belief is there was another team or teams looking to move up and the Bucs could not afford to risk that biscuit.
So, with the 13th pick, the Buccaneers were able to land the last of the four top offensive tackles in Tristan Wirfs out of Iowa. At 6-foot-5, 322 pounds, Wirfs projects to be the teams starting right tackle in Week One. A huge upgrade for a team that also added tight end Rob Gronkowski who is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league.
At the moment, the Bucs hold the 45th and 76th selection on day two. Here are some of the players to keep an eye on for the Bucs on Friday:
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Josh Jones OT, Houston
Despite picking up Wirfs in the first round, don’t sleep on Josh Jones. The offensive tackle out of Houston presents a team with a wonderful blend of strength and athleticism with an incredibly high ceiling. The Buccaneers have done a lot to upgrade their blocking in the last few days and adding Jones gives them depth and the potential to have another high quality starting tackle in this league for years to come. He will likely not make it past Denver at 46 so the Bucs would need to use their first selection of the day.
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Antoine Winfield Jr S/ Xavier McKinney S/ Grant Delpit S
Surprisingly, not a single safety was selected in the first round. Teams like the Raiders and the Cowboys chose to go in a different direction so the top safeties still remain. Of course, the Buccaneers still need running back help, however, if given the chance to draft Antoine Winfield Jr, Xavier McKinney, or Grant Delpit the Buccaneers would be smart to consider it. Ideally, that safety would be Winfield Jr, son of former Vikings safety Antoine Winfield. The addition of Winfield or any of the top safeties would add a much-needed boost of talent to the Bucs secondary. Perhaps their weakest position unit on the team.
D’Andre Swift RB/ Cam Akers RB/ Jonathon Taylor RB
In a bit of a shock, it was Clyde Edwards-Helaire, not D’Andre Swift or Jonathon Taylor that was the first running back off the board and the only first-round pick. Edwards-Helaire landed with the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. With that said, there is a better chance today than there was yesterday that one of Swift or Taylor falls to the Bucs at 45. I would say there is even an outside chance that one will fall to 76 but that may be a bit of wishful thinking. That is where Cam Akers comes into play. He will likely be available with the 76th overall pick and would be a nice compliment to Ronald Jones. This would be an option if the Bucs decide to go safety or another position at 45.
Tee Higgins WR/ Van Jefferson WR
Lost in the acquisition of Rob Gronkowski, the Bucs could still be looking to add to their pass-catching group. Tee Higgins will need to fine-tune his game but he offers a down-the-field weapon for Brady and could be a fine complement to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Gronkowski, and Cameron Brate in year one. Van Jefferson is another receiver to watch in round three for the Bucs. Jefferson has terrific hands and does his best work in the intermediate game. A perfect receiver type for a Tom Brady led offense. He would likely be available for the Bucs in the fourth, however, after the deal to move up to 13 and the Gronk trade, the Buccaneers aren’t set to pick again until 161 overall.