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The Final Cut: Projecting the Bucs’ 53-man roster

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Who makes the team and who doesn’t?

NFL: Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

I am the furthest thing from an NFL head coach, but it doesn’t take much to realize that final roster cuts are one of the toughest parts of the offseason.

Fortunately, the NFL changed the deadline a few years back and now coaching staffs are able to evaluate a 90-man roster for an entire preseason instead of making periodic cuts based off limited evaluations.

For the Bucs, injuries and a suspension have added a few wrinkles in evaluating this year’s roster.

Who do you think makes the team? Let us know in the comments!

Quarterback

  • Jameis Winston
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick
  • Ryan Griffin

Austin Allen doesn’t make the cut. If Fitzpatrick goes down during Winston’s suspension then the Bucs would probably bring him back until Winston is ready to play. Griffin showed enough in the preseason plus the Bucs need him for depth.

Running back

  • Peyton Barber
  • Ronald Jones II
  • Jacquizz Rodgers
  • Shaun Wilson

Charles Sims’ injury opened up the door for Wilson and it looks like he just about has a lock on the fourth spot. Rodgers could be released, but his experience and dependability will keep him in Tampa Bay.

Wide receiver

  • Mike Evans
  • Chris Godwin
  • DeSean Jackson
  • Adam Humphries
  • Justin Watson

Yep, the Bucs carry five receivers into the season and one of them isn’t Bobo Wilson. Watson showed why the Bucs took him in the fifth round of the draft during the preseason and looks the part of a Tampa Bay receiver as well. Fans shouldn’t be disappointed that Watson won the fifth spot in what was the most contested battle in camp.

Tight end

  • Cameron Brate
  • O.J. Howard
  • Antony Auclair
  • Alan Cross

Probably the easiest position to figure out, the Bucs have two stud tight ends in Brate and Howard, while they are fans of what Auclair can bring to the table. All four make the team.

Offensive line

  • Donovan Smith
  • Ali Marpet
  • Ryan Jensen
  • Caleb Benenoch
  • Demar Dotson
  • Alex Cappa
  • Evan Smith
  • Leonard Wester
  • Brad Seaton
  • Michael Liedtke

This is a tough one. Wester made his preseason debut against the Jags and has started 11 games for the Bucs over the past couple of years, so he should be fine. Smith’s and Marpet’s versatility allows Tampa Bay to carry an extra tackle and I believe Seaton and Liedtke have played well enough to make the roster.

Defensive line:

  • Jason Pierre-Paul
  • Beau Allen
  • Gerald McCoy
  • Vinny Curry
  • Noah Spence
  • Vita Vea
  • Mitch Unrein
  • William Gholston
  • Will Clarke

I was oh-so close to leaving Gholston off this list. He has been awful during camp, but unfortunately if the Bucs decide to cut him, it will cost them $6.5 million. The rest of the lineup is pretty easy to predict, considering the overhaul of talent brought in via the draft and free agency.

As our own staff has noted, Spence hasn’t performed well at all and could be a surprise cut.

Linebacker

  • Lavonte David
  • Kwon Alexander
  • Kendell Beckwith
  • Adarius Taylor
  • Devante Bond
  • Riley Bullough

There is a chance Beckwith goes to the NFI, which would mean he is out for the first six games. This could cause the Bucs to take an extra linebacker and that wouldn’t be a bad idea considering who they have available. Regardless, Bullough should carry over the momentum from 2017 onto the active roster.

Cornerback

  • Brent Grimes
  • Vernon Hargreaves III
  • Ryan Smith
  • M.J. Stewart
  • Carlton Davis

It’s pretty much the same scenario here as with the defensive line. Entrenched starters mixed with high-draft picks. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Bucs cut Smith, though.

Safety

  • Justin Evans
  • Chris Conte
  • Jordan Whitehead
  • Keith Tandy

Another easy one. Evans and Conte are the starters with the rookie Whitehead and the vet Tandy backing them up.

Special Teams

  • Drew Ferris (long snapper)
  • Bryan Anger (punter)
  • Chandler Catanzaro (kicker)

The easiest of them all. Money.