NFL DRAFT DEEP DIVE: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
By Thomas Willoughby
The NFL Draft is over, and we cannot head into the three-month abyss that is the offseason without looking at what all 262 selections mean for each franchise. Whilst too early to judge just how successful a draft class each team’s was, we can look at how rookies fit within schemes, where they stand on depth charts, and who we can expect to make an impact in 2022. We complete our team by team series with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
|2||57||Luke Goedeke||OT||Central Michigan|
|3||91||Rachaad White||RB||Arizona State|
|5||157||Zyon McCollum||CB||Sam Houston State|
Having been offered a nice haul (2nd, 4th, 6th round picks in this draft) from the Jacksonville Jaguars for their 1st round pick, the Buccaneers draft started on day two. With the 33rd overall pick, the Bucs selected Logan Hall. Having lost Ndamukong Suh to free agency, Tampa Bay were in need of giving Vita Vea a partner in crime on the interior. With Logan Hall, they’re getting someone who can fill that gap day one. Hall has immense power, and, twinned with a wrecking ball like Vea, should cause offensive lines all sorts of trouble. However, he could stand to work on his technique, which probably limits his ceiling in year one. Long term, however, the pick fits like a glove. Especially in the 2nd.
Later in the second round, the Buccaneers opted to bolster the opposite line, picking up Central Michigan offensive tackle; Luke Goedeke. When you’re as talent-rich as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you don’t need to worry too much about finding day one starters in every round. In the 2nd round, however, you might expect a bit more than someone who projects as a long-term backup/primary swing tackle. Which is basically what Goedeke is. With Tristan Wirfs and Donovan Smith at the tackle positions, it’s difficult to see a path for Goedeke into the starting line up. That freedom to grow away from the field might be what he needs to develop into an NFL tackle, however. One for the future, I think.
Down into the third round now, and the Buccaneers selected Arizona State running back Rachaard White. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really like White. And I love the idea of selecting him in the third round. What I question is the spot. At the time of writing, the Buccaneers have Leonard Fournette, Georvani Bernard, Kenjon Barner, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn at running back. Fournette and Bernard seem locked into the RB1 and 2 spots, so he’s one of three guys fighting for RB3. Has Vaughn shown enough over his two seasons in the NFL to warrant sticking with? Maybe not. But, again, you’d like a bit more than a “bubble” prospect out of your third-rounder. If White can see the field, the Bucs really do have a guy. I don’t really understand this one from a roster construction perspective. Good player, though.
Day three, and the Buccaneers came away with five new names to add to their roster. Their two fourth-round selections certainly ought to raise an eyebrow or two. First up: tight end Cade Otton, from Washington. Now, I’m not for a second suggesting that Otton is heir apparent to the Gronkowski throne. He’s not overly quick, and certainly doesn’t have the ability to extend plays beyond the catch. He’s a solid route runner, though, and definitely has the ability to make the tougher catches. If Gronkowski isn’t returning in 2022, Otton would make a reliable foil to de-factor TE1 Cameron Brate.
Their second fourth-rounder? Georgia punter Jake Camarda. Camarda was the second punter to be taken in the draft, and for good reason. Camarda has played excellently for Georgia, was as named in the all-SEC first team in 2020 and 2021. Expect him to be installed as the teams starting punter basically immediately.
Over to the fifth round, then, and the Buccaneers opt to select cornerback Zyon McCollom, from Sam Houston State. McCollom is a bit of an athletic freak. Having smashed the draft so far out of the park they’re finding bits of it washing up on beaches across wester Africa, McCollom was expected to be taken fairly high. He landed in the fifth round, obviously, which suggests teams don’t buy his ability to translate that athleticism into performance. As our man Si noticed, though, McCollom has a bit of playmaking ability about him. This is an interesting pick.
At the back end of the draft, Tampa Bay dip back into the tight end market, and come away with Ko Kieft, from Minnesota. Kieft isn’t Otton, I can tell you that much. Where Otton is more of a sure-handed pass-catcher, Kieft is more in the mold of a blocking tight end. The fact he’s taking on number 41 should tel you everything you need to know, there. That’s not to say he can’t catch the ball. Quite the opposite, really. I can easily see a scenario where he becomes a valuable target for Brady come the season’s middle.
To end the weekend, Tampa Bay select Andre Anthony, outside linebacker from LSU. This one really does feel like they’re taking a bit of a swing. Anthony is a fine enough athlete, but hasn’t really translated that into college production. Granted, no one was productive with LSU towards the end, but that doesn’t absolve him completely. I wouldn’t be at all shocked if he’s been selected with one eye on the practice squad.
One To Watch: Zyon McCollum
Anyone who nabs a 10 RAS should get your attention, and that’s exactly what Zyon McCollum achieved. 6 foot 2, 200 pounds, and a 4.33 40 yard dash. That is a scary, scary combination. He’s also got a really fun collection of highlights in his back pocket, too, which suggests he’s more than just a “tall and fast boi”. The questions becomes whether he has it in him to turn it on at the NFL level. I’ve got to say, he’s got a shot.
With Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carolton Davis headlining the cornerbacks group, McCollum is unlikely to be starting day one. Todd Bowles is a great defensive coach, however, and will no doubt find a few ways for McCollum to get on the field. I think his 2022 role will be situational. I dare say he might be more than than in 2023 and beyond.
|Ben Beise||TE||UW-River Falls|
|Curtis Blackwell||G||Ball State|
|Don Gardner||CB||South Dakota|
|Kaylon Geiger||WR||Texas Tech|
|Kyler McMichael||CB||North Carolina|
|Jojo Ozougwu||OLB||Arkansas State|
|Jerreth Sterns||WR||Western Kentucky|
|Deven Thompkins||WR||Utah State|
|Jordan Young||OLB||Old Dominion|
I’ll be completely honest with you, here, I have next to no insight on any of these guys. I can’t even quip on the excellent names stakes. At a push, I can give you Olakunle Fatakusi, the younger brother Folorunso Fatakusi. The elder Fatakusi just signed a 3 year $30 million deal with Jacksonville, so Tampa Bay will be hoping they’ll have the same sort of production from that particular family tree.
One name to remember is JJ Russell from Memphis – our draft supremo Si interviewed him back in March, and it’s safe to say he intends to put the league on notice. If he can make the same impact as his ferocious tackles did for The Tigers, he has a shot.
Whether any of these lads have what it takes to take on a role larger than “camp body” remains to be seen. I look forward to coming back here in 3 years time to see just how many all-pro’s I slept on, though.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ work for 2022 was done the moment Tom Brady un-retired. They had plenty of talent in 2021, and haven’t really lost a great deal of it. With all that in mind, now’s as good a time as any to start looking to the future, and it’s difficult to argue that they haven’t done that.
They addressed their obvious need with their very first pick, and just about everything after that was with the future in mind. With any draft, you won’t know how successful it was for another 3 or 4 years. With this one, in particular, it feels like it was designed to be just like that. Don’t panic if this group has diminishing returns in 2022, basically.