Mel Kiper made a way-too-early list of the top 20 rookies in the NFL, and a whopping three Buccaneers made the list after two games: Jameis Winston at number four, Kwon Alexander at number six and Ali Marpet at number 13. The only Bucs starter not to make the list is Donovan Smith -- which is understandable given his struggles so far this year.
The Bucs' heavy presence isn't entirely unexpected given the fact that they're starting more rookies than any other team -- but having both Kwon Alexander and Ali Marpet recognized early in the season is pretty gratifying. Both have had some rookie struggles, which is understandable given that they're...well...rookies, but they also look like they'll be quality long-term starters. Alexander and Marpet both made a big leap from game one to game two, as they looked more comfortable with the speed of the game -- though neither was tested as much as they were against the Tennessee Titans.
Smith may be a longer-term project -- or he might not make it at all. His preseason performance was encouraging, but he's been anything but encouraging in the regular season. Smith seems slow-footed and regularly over-sets in pass protection, leading to wide-open lanes for pass-rushers making inside moves. That's going to have to change if Smith wants to be a long-term starter in Tampa, or anywhere else in the NFL.
Still, with three of the first four draft picks looking pretty successful so far, the Bucs' early returns on this draft are promising.