The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their annual draft-day trade yesterday, moving up into the end of the third round to take LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith, a big, run-stuffer who’s coming off a torn ACL and may miss part of the 2017 season.
Surprisingly, the Bucs actually got good value in this trade up. That is, if we can go by Football Perspective’s draft trade calculator, which bases its draft pick values on historical results, and not the vague feelings Jimmy Johnson had in the early 90s which some folks still think are a good guideline.
The Bucs gave up their fourth- and sixth-round picks to acquire the final pick of the third round, the New York Jets’ compensatory draft pick. That meant trading the 125th and 204th overall picks for the 107th overall pick. The former two are worth 3.9 and 0.7 points, while the latter’s worth 4.8 points, giving the Bucs a tiny gain of 0.2 points in value.
For what it’s worth, Jimmy Johnson’s chart actually thinks the Bucs got an even bigger steal, getting 80 points of trade value by giving up 56.8 points. Basically, regardless of which measure you use, the Bucs got a pretty good deal here.
One caveat, of course: every draft is different and specific to its circumstances, and we can only talk about average pick values here. It’s entirely possible that a sixth-round pick in this specific draft is more valuable than in an average draft, or the other way around. But we can’t really know that in advance, because teams tell themselves every year that this time, they got a special deal on a special player—and often, they don’t turn out to be right.
Of course, that terrific value won’t matter much if Beckwith doesn’t turn out to be a quality player. For what it’s worth, draftniks almost universally give this pick a high rating and Beckwith is widely considered to be outstanding at what he does.
But what he does is still of somewhat limited value: he’s a big, somewhat sluggish run-stuffing inside linebacker. Someone who probably can’t do much on passing downs, which means that even if he wins a starting job on the strong side (he won’t replace Kwon Alexander in the middle), he probably won’t be on the field for more than 40% of all defensive plays.
On the other hand, the Bucs do have very little depth at linebacker, and Beckwith does fit what Mike Smith wants: big guys. He can be a productive player, assuming he gets healthy, and will at minimum be a valuable special teamer. There just isn’t a ton of room for him to become a big impact player.