Pre-Draft Needs: CB, RB, DE, LB, FS, SS
Round 1-Mark Barron/S
Round 1-Doug Martin/RB
Round 2-Lavonte David/LB
Round 5-Najee Goode/LB
Round 6-Keith Tandy/CB
Round 7-Michael Smith/RB
Round 7-Drake Dunsmore/FB
The Buccaneers, coming off a strong signing period in free agency, set their sights on the draft in the next progression of getting themselves back to the playoffs.
And they continued their aggressive approach by selecting SS Mark Barron in the first round. Barron is a true impact player, who is not just a box safety—meaning he’s capable of being moved around in order to create better matchups for the defense. Most teams aren't in favor of selecting a safety early in the first round, but Barron is worth it when you examine his overall game and talent.
The Buccaneers traded up from early in the second round to the back of the first round in order to select RB Doug Martin, who might be the most versatile back available for this year’s draft. Martin should easily beat out third-year RB LeGarrette Blount for the starting job. Martin blocks better than Blount in the passing game and is also a more decisive runner.
Second-round pick Lavonte David is penciled in at WLB this season. The Buccaneers have been looking for more consistency out of that position for a while. And he’s a perfect fit for that position based on his size and speed.
Fifth-round pick LB Najee Goode projects to play either MLB or SLB in the Buccaneers’ 4-3 defensive scheme. Goode doesn’t have elite speed or athleticism, but he’s known for his physical play, which is why he should fit in well at either position.
Sixth-round pick CB Keith Tandy, a teammate of Goode’s at West Virginia, could see time at safety as a rookie. Despite being a late-round pick, his chances of making the team out of the preseason should be strong if he performs well since they are not deep at cornerback.
The first of their two seventh-rounders, RB Mike Smith, is known in scouting circles as a change-of-pace back. Despite being a late-round pick, Smith could seriously push for a roster spot because of his speed. And both of their projected top backs – Martin and Blount – aren’t known for possessing great speed or elusiveness. Fellow seventh-rounder FB/TE Drake Dunsmore is a long-shot to make the team. However, because of his versatility, he could push for the third TE job in training camp.
The Buccaneers followed their excellent offseason with an aggressive draft. And they were able to continue to fill some holes on both sides of the ball—even without picks in the third and fourth rounds. We have to see how all of these new players fit in, but it’s certainly going to be an interesting team to watch in August and heading into the regular season.