The draft, which had been scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, was successfully completed virtually from the homes of coaches, GMs and other front-office staff because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here's a pick-by-pick look at how each player the Buccaneers have selected will fit.
Round 1, No. 13 overall: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
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My take: The Bucs were hoping one of the four top-tier offensive tackles would fall to them at No. 14, but decided to jump one spot to grab Wirfs -- a small price to pay when considering how paramount protection is for 42-year-old Tom Brady, and that there was a talent drop-off between Wirfs and the next-best tackle, USC's Austin Jackson. In Wirfs, they have a plug-and-play, day one starter. "We're just thrilled to death, that we got Tristan," general manager Jason Licht said.
Just how big of a need was this? Licht said that the Bucs would have taken Wirfs even if they had another QB. "It doesn't matter who's playing quarterback. You want good tackles. We would always prioritize that position as one we'd want to make sure we solidify," Licht said. But make no mistake about it: This was a need. Aside from his age and lack of mobility, Brady completed just 32% of his passes when pressured last season -- 30th in the NFL.
According to ESPN’s pass block win rate using NFL Next Gen Stats, the Bucs sustained their blocks through 2.5 seconds 58.3% of the time last season, just slightly better than the Patriots at 57.7% (ranked 17th and 18th). The Bucs also surrendered 47 sacks last year. While Brady's quicker release and proficiency in the screen game should help mask some of the problems they ran into with Jameis Winston last year, Brady will still need to execute Bruce Arians' long-developing pass plays downfield, and Arians doesn't believe in deploying extra linemen for protection.
Off-the-charts athleticism: Licht doesn't put a lot of stock in workouts, but it's hard to ignore Wirfs' stellar performance at the NFL combine. He posted a 36.5-inch vertical, a modern record for offensive linemen, and tied Kolton Miller's 10-foot-1 broad jump record for offensive linemen. Then he clocked a 4.85 40-yard dash at 320 pounds, the fastest time by a 320-pound-plus player since at least 2006. “My 6-year-old son Theo, the first thing he asks me is, ‘Is he faster than Devin White?'" Licht said, adding that he doesn't believe Wirfs has reached his ceiling yet. One area of improvement will be his vertical pass sets, as he has a tendency to open up, in addition to finishing more with his blocks. Offensive line coaches Harold Goodwin and Joe Gilbert will be able to get that out of him.
Round 2, No. 45 overall: Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
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My take: The Bucs had a need for a dynamic safety given the concerns about Justin Evans’ health -- he missed all of last season and six games in 2018 with foot injuries. They could also use some more ball-hawking in their secondary. Winfield, whose father Antoine Winfield, Sr. played 14 seasons in the NFL, fits the ball. He’s versatile, he’s a ball hawk (he tied Minnesota’s single‐season record in the modern era with seven interceptions in 2019) and he’s tough, with excellent instincts for the game. He doesn’t have the range of Evans, but he can cover, he’s solid in run support and he can blitz, which Todd Bowles loves to do with his defensive backs. This is the second year in a row that the Bucs have selected a safety on Day 2, selecting Mike Edwards out of Kentucky in 2019.
Round 3, No. 76 overall: Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt
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My take: While the Bucs have been happy with the progress of Ronald Jones on first and second down, they needed a pass-catching running back for Tom Brady, who has completed 364 passes to running backs since 2017, trailing only Philip Rivers in yards (3,008) and touchdowns (23) to backs in that time. Vaughn is capable of filling that role, catching 67 passes for 664 receiving yards in four seasons (two at Illinois and two at Vanderbilt) but there’s something lacking in his tape, and it’s not just that he didn’t have a varied route tree in college (that’s a function of the offense he played in and not his fault). The Bucs believe he can be a three-down back but, he’s very stiff in the hips and lacks ideal speed. He clocked a 4.51 at the NFL combine, but it didn’t necessarily show on film.
He was, however, one of just two running backs to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons in the SEC along with D’Andre Swift, so he was productive -- but doesn’t scream "threat" at the next level. He does do a nice job of remaining upright after contact and he’s got some lateral agility. I don’t see an upgrade over recently departed Peyton Barber or Dare Ogunbowale, though. I also don’t see someone who can really push Jones on all three downs, although he is a much better pass protector. I think this pick was a reach after many other running backs had already come off the board.
Round 5, No. 161 overall: Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
My take: The Bucs had a need for a third receiver following the departure of Breshad Perriman in free agency. The talent and production drop-off after Mike Evans and Chris Godwin was also very apparent after both went down with hamstring injuries last season. Johnson’s not necessarily a burner -- although speed training has been a focus for him this offseason -- but at 6-1 and 206 pounds, he has the flexibility to line up inside and outside, similar to Godwin. He could also play Godwin’s big slot role and do it well.
Johnson’s best attribute is his ability to compete for the ball, making a spectacular one-handed end zone grab at the 2020 Outback Bowl in Tampa. In addition to leading all Power 5 schools in receiving yards over the last four combined seasons, Johnson led Power 5 schools in red zone catches, red zone receiving yards (320 yards) and red zone touchdowns (23). He doesn’t have great separation, but he has consistent hands and excellent concentration and body control, so while it doesn’t exactly fill the ‘speed’ void left by Perriman, Johnson could be a red zone asset, an area the Bucs struggled in before last season.
Round 6, No. 194 overall: Khalil Davis, DT, Nebraska
My take: I had the Bucs taking Davis in my mock draft but in the seventh round. He gives the Bucs some depth at defensive tackle to offset the loss of Beau Allen in free agency. Davis has actually drawn comparisons to new teammate Rakeem Nunez-Roches, who he'll push for a rotational role. What Davis lacks in frame and with his 31 1/2-inch arm length (by comparison, Javon Kinlaw is nearly 35 inches), he makes up for with high effort and a quick first step. He had eight sacks as a senior.
Davis, who was named Nebraska's defensive lineman of the year for 2019 and 2018, was suspended this past season for one game for striking Ohio State center Josh Myers. The 308-pound Davis was actually clocked at 4.75 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, and he put up 32 reps in the bench press. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles loves to move guys around along the defensive line, and Davis' versatility, having lined up outside and at both defensive tackle spots at Nebraska, will help. But Davis sees himself primarily as a 3-technique in the NFL.
Round 7, No. 241 overall: Chapelle Russell, LB, Temple
My take: Russell played weakside linebacker in Temple’s 4-3 scheme but will be an inside linebacker in Tampa’s 3-4 defense. He overcame two torn ACLs in the same knee in 2016 and 2017, but finished his college career healthy in 2019, recording 72 tackles, nine tackles for a loss and three pass breakups in 13 games.
At 6-foot-2 and 236 pounds, he ran a 4.69 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine although he looks faster on tape than his timed speed. His ability to shoot gaps and get into the backfield is perfect for Todd Bowles’ blitz packages, although he’s played a ton of snaps in coverage too. Like Lavonte David, he has a knack for getting his hands on the football. His five fumble recoveries were tied for 11th most in college football over the last four seasons. The Bucs believe he’s got a lot of qualities that can bolster their special teams and contribute to depth in their linebacking room.
Round 7, No. 245 overall: Raymond Calais, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette
My take: The Bucs doubled up on running backs so they could get two different styles of players -- one that is more of a complete back in Vaughn, whom the Bucs selected in the third round, and then Calais, who’s a former All-State sprinter and was the Louisiana Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year as a high school senior in 2016. "[He’s] a joystick,” coach Bruce Arians said of Calais. “He’s one of those guys who runs a 4.33. He’s a running back/receiver/kick returner that’s just one of those guys I love to play with. I think both of those guys are gonna find a role in our ballclub.”
At 5-foot-8 and 188 pounds, Calais isn’t an "in between the tackle" punishing runner -- he’ll function best in space. He also hasn’t done much as a receiver, catching 17 total passes in college. Special teams will ultimately be where he can shine. He had 2,493 kickoff return yards in the last four years -- fourth-most in college football -- and he averaged 25.18 yards per return. He's also served as a gunner on punt returns.