By Matthew Vandenburgh
Now that the Super Bowl is behind us, it is time to focus on the NFL offseason and what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can do to improve on their 5-11 outing. Let’s take a look at the NFL Draft.
The Bucs have the fifth pick in the draft, which is good in that they should be getting a big-time impact player. With needs all over the field, finding a player to fill a hole should not be difficult. The challenge comes in what hole to fill.
Should they go with an offensive lineman? Between the two quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bucs led the NFL with 5125 passing yards, while being middle of the pack in allowing 41 sacks, tied with the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Tigers for 14th in the league. Rushing, however, was a different story. Finishing with 1523 yards on the ground, the Bucs ranked 29th in the league, something that absolutely must change in order to take pressure off their QB’s and allow their defense to get some rest on the sidelines. This is why WalterFootball.com’s senior draft analyst Charlie Campbell has the Bucs taking Jawaan Taylor, an offensive tackle from the University of Florida with the fifth pick.
With the rushing attack being so weak, could there actually be a need for a new running back? NFL.com’s draft analyst Chad Reuter thinks so, concluding that Tampa Bay would take Alabama running back Josh Jacobs. The fifth pick would be a reach for Jacobs, but Reuter things the Bucs would trade down, acquiring more picks to help fill other holes while still getting a star runner.
Trading down might actually be the smartest option, building up a wealth of draft picks will help get more impact players than standing pat. This would especially help the team’s woeful defense, one that allowed 4151 passing yards, seventh worst in the league. Tampa Bay also only sacked the opposing quarterback 38 times, tied for 19th in the NFL.
These stats explain the prediction of Ed Oliver from Houston by Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. Oliver, a potential game-breaking player, can pretty much line up anywhere on the defense’s front seven and will give whatever team that takes him a big boost for their defense.
The 2019 NFL Draft starts Thursday, April 25 though, so there will be plenty of predictions to come, and even more changes after that. We will see more with the NFL Scouting Combine, starting Tuesday, Feb. 26. Until then, speculate away.