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NFL Draft 2017: The Buccaneers’ biggest need

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Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are heading toward the 2017 NFL draft now that free agency is well and truly over, which means it’s also time to talk about the team’s remaining needs. After all, that’ll be one part of how they’ll decide on who to draft.

Third-party perspectives can be valuable there, too. You know, from the folks who don’t spend every day analyzing the Bucs and therefore might see something we would otherwise miss—or get things horribly wrong.

In the case of SB Nation’s Adam Stites, it’s mostly getting things right, though. He thinks the team’s biggest need is safety.

Adding J.J. Wilcox, formerly of the Cowboys, was a help for the Buccaneers at the position, but he was mostly a special teamer for Dallas who filled in as a backup safety. Chris Conte and Keith Tandy aren’t better options at strong safety either, leaving Tampa Bay with a spot that could certainly use an upgrade before the beginning of the 2017 season.

That’s exactly right. The Bucs could go into the season starting two of those three players and rotating in a third, but that’s a fairly mediocre and limited group overall. It particularly lacks a player who can man the deep middle.

Thankfully, this draft is filled with solid and/or very talented safeties who would represent either instant or very near-term upgrades for the Bucs. Which is probably why the Bucs didn’t go all-out to address this need in free agency (that and the limited safety market, of course).

Of course, the Bucs do have a few other needs. Safety is probably the most pressing, but tight end might give it a run for its money. Both positions are good enough to go into the season with, but could really do with some added depth and starting quality. Similarly, running back is a potential, depending on how the team sees Doug Martin. And they could add some players at either linebacker or defensive end, if necessary. Plenty of options there.

Still, safety as the most pressing need is probably about right. We’ll see what the Bucs do about that in this year’s draft.