So now that we’ve been over the good elements of Tampa’s draft, let’s take a look at the bad.
Vita Vea instead of Derwin James?
It’s hard for me to like a pick, but also wonder what could’ve been at the same time - yet here we are.
For the record, I do in fact like the pick. It makes total sense and if Vea performs up to expectations, the Bucs will have arguably their best defensive line since 2002.
But many fans still wonder whether or not the Bucs should’ve selected Derwin James instead. James is regarded by many as a future Pro Bowler while Vea is looked at more as a complimentary piece to the Bucs defensive line.
The fact that the Bucs have my mind tangled worse than a Game of Thrones plot concerning their first round pick is enough to make me hate them for putting me (or us) through another cluster that exhausts my mental makeup.
Does defensive coordinator Mike Smith have too much on his plate?
Smith has been surprisingly ineffective as Tampa’s defensive coordinator. His units have been terrible during his two years in Tampa. Neither unit has been ranked outside of the bottom-ten in total defense.
Although he has a lot more weapons at his disposal this season, the question remains if he can put it all together like his days in Jacksonville.
Tampa may have done Smith a disservice with all of the new faces on defense. Will Smith be able to sort through the roster and find his best players come Sunday? Or will he languish for the third straight season and waste the insane amount of talent that the Bucs’ defense currently holds?
Smith will have to make some decisions this offseason in regards to the defense and whether or not he makes the correct choice(s) remains to be seen.
This one is different than the Vea pick. While selecting Vea has the obvious reasons and advantages, the selection of Stewart is different. Automatically assuming he will start off at nickelback for the Bucs - why wouldn’t you wait and see what Hargreaves can do in a full year at the position?
The likes of Donte Jackson, Isaiah Oliver, and Justin Reid were all still available and all three of those players seem like they can/will have more of an immediate impact than Stewart.
Another final thought is that Stewart eventually makes the transition to safety, but again that raises the question of “why not take Derwin James instead?“ The future duo of Justin Evans and Stewart in the defensive backfield is enticing, but will it be worrh investing such a high pick?
No interior offensive lineman?
Sure, the Bucs still have questions on the outside. Donovan Smith regressed last season and Demar Dotson is toward the end of his career, but Tampa’s woes are clearly on the inside of the offensive line.
Tampa would have chosen Quenton Nelson with no questions asked if he were available at seven, but alas, this is the NFL and you have to work for what you have.
The Bucs did draft Alex Cappa as mentioned earlier, but he will be considered more of a transitional player as Tampa develops him. It was a bit surprising that the Bucs didn’t select another lineman, but we are talking about the team that has spent the least amount of picks on the position in the past ten years.
The signing of free-agent Ryan Jensen will certainly help, but if he or Marpet misses any extended time due to an injury, the Bucs will be in trouble.
What about linebacker?
The rotation on the defensive line is stellar, but what about the guys making the plays behind them? All three linebackers have battled through injuries since their time in Tampa, with Kendall Beckwith becoming the latest victim.
The trio of Beckwith, Kwon Alexander, and Lavonte David is one of the best corps in the league, but behind them there isn’t much help. Devante Bond and Adarius Glanton are good fill-in pieces, but if the Bucs really want to improve on defense then they will need all three starters healthy and ready to go.
Beckwith’s injury could force him to miss the start of the season. Whether that’s only one game or more is beyond me, but it’s not good news for the Bucs.
#Bucs GM Jason Licht says both G JR Sweezy and T Demar Dotson will be held out of OTAs. LB Kendall Beckwith was injured in a One car accident and had surgery on his ankle Tuesday. Could miss start of the season.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) April 19, 2018
The Bucs could’ve used an earlier pick on the position - they took oft-injured Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy in the sixth - just in case Beckwith misses significant time, but with the defensive line rotation, Beckwith’s absence may not hurt the team as originally thought.