Over the weekend, we got to know the Buccaneers’ new rookies. But what about the newcomers to the NFL that will suit up against Tampa Bay during the 2019 season? Here, we take a look at some of the draft picks that will be on the other sideline come fall.
Let’s go opponent by opponent, shall we?
Week 1: vs. San Francisco 49ers
Right off the bat, the Bucs will see one of the top picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Former Ohio State star defensive end Nick Bosa, the No. 2 overall pick, will come to Raymond James Stadium with the 49ers in the season’s first week. Tampa Bay didn’t do a whole lot to change its offensive line in the offseason. That group will immediately be tested by one of the best pass-rushing prospects in a while.
Other notable 49ers rookies: wide receiver Deebo Samuel (No. 36 overall), wide receiver Jalen Hurd (No. 67)
Week 2/Week 6: at Carolina Panthers/vs. Carolina Panthers (London)
When Tampa Bay travels to Bank of America Stadium in week two to face Carolina (and when the two teams face off again across the pond in week six), the Bucs will get a close look at one of the pass rushers they passed on. Former Florida State defensive end Brian Burns was talked about as a potential target for Tampa Bay if the team traded down in the first round. Of course, the Bucs made Devin White the selection at No. 5. With the No. 16 pick, the Panthers selected Burns, which ensured that Bruce Arians and his staff were going to see the former Seminole two times a year for the foreseeable future.
On top of Burns, Tampa Bay could see a quarterback who is familiar with the state of Florida. Depending on the health of Cam Newton, the Bucs might get a look at former Florida Gator and eventual West Virginia Mountaineer Will Grier (No. 100 overall) under center for Carolina.
Other notable Panthers rookies: offensive tackle Greg Little (No. 37 overall), running back Jordan Scarlett (No. 154)
Week 3: vs. New York Giants
One of the more scrutinized draft picks of the first round will visit Tampa in week three with the Giants. Quarterback Daniel Jones out of Duke will be there, though it seems like the plan right now is for him to back up Eli Manning. So, barring injury, Bucs fans might not see Jones in action. But he isn’t the only first-rounder New York had. The team had two others, with both being on the defensive side of the ball. At pick No. 17, the Giants took Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. Then, at No. 30, they drafted Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker. It’s likely that the Bucs will see both of those guys on the field for that week three matchup.
Other notable Giants rookies: cornerback Julian Love (No. 108 overall), wide receiver Darius Slayton (No. 171)
Week 4: at Los Angeles Rams
Considering the Rams were in the Super Bowl last year, they didn’t have a ton of holes to fill in this year’s draft. They didn’t have a selection until pick No. 61, which ended up being Washington safety Taylor Rapp. Shortly after Los Angeles took Rapp, the team used the No. 70 pick on some help for Todd Gurley. Memphis running back Darrell Henderson, who was mocked to the Bucs at times throughout the spring, figures to be the Rams’ No. 2 back. He has the ability to break off big runs, so the new-look Bucs defense will have to be on their toes with him AND Gurley splitting time in the backfield.
Other notable Rams rookies: cornerback David Long (No. 79 overall), offensive tackle Bobby Evans (No. 97)
Week 5/Week 11: at New Orleans Saints/vs. New Orleans Saints
In weeks five and 11, the Bucs will get their first looks at the Saints’ rookies. Of course, these will be guys that Tampa Bay sees twice a year for the next few years, so familiarity will start to build. New Orleans’ first selection wasn’t until No. 48 overall, which was used on Texas A&M center Erik McCoy. The interior of the Buccaneer defensive line will see him a ton over the next few years, and those guys will get their first shot at the rookie at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in week five.
Other notable Saints rookies: safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (No. 105 overall)
Week 8: at Tennessee Titans
After Tampa Bay’s bye in week seven, the team remains on the road. Another head-to-head between Jameis Winston and Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will likely dominate the news, but Tennessee has some intriguing rookies to see as well. The Titans used the No. 19 overall pick on Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, so Ryan Jensen, Ali Marpet and whoever is at right guard could have their hands full. First-round talent doesn’t always translate right away, but by week eight, there’s a good chance Simmons is making a difference.
Other notable Titans rookies: wide receiver A.J. Brown (No. 51 overall), safety Amani Hooker (No. 116)
Week 9: at Seattle Seahawks
When it comes to Seattle’s 2019 rookie class, it feels like the headliner is a guy that wasn’t picked until No. 64 overall. That would be former Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf. Metcalf dominated the headlines during the NFL Scouting Combine, which made him feel like a first-round pick. Some had him going in the first half of the first round. But when it came to draft weekend, he started falling. For whatever reason, he didn’t go until that No. 64 pick. But there aren’t many more intriguing places that he could have landed. With the Seahawks, Metcalf will get to catch passes from the recently-extended Russell Wilson. With Doug Baldwin possibly headed for retirement, Metcalf should make a quick impact. Seeing how Tampa Bay’s young secondary fares against such a hyped-up rookie receiver should make week nine even more fun.
Other notable Seahawks rookies: defensive end L.J. Collier (No. 29 overall), safety Marquise Blair (No. 47)
Week 10: vs. Arizona Cardinals
It’s always a big deal when you’re facing the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and that’s exactly what the Bucs will be doing when they return home after a tough stretch away from Ray Jay. When Arizona comes to town, the top pick will, barring injury, be under center. Kyler Murray became the new golden boy for the Cardinals immediately, as the team quickly traded 2018 first-rounder Josh Rosen to Miami. Murray, of course, publicly dragged out his NFL decision earlier this spring. As a top-10 pick in the MLB, he finally decided he was sticking with football. Now, the latest Heisman Trophy winner is set to be the starter in Arizona. As if Bruce Arians matching up against his former team wasn’t already going to be a big game, the presence of Murray raises the stakes even higher.
Other notable Cardinals rookies: cornerback Byron Murphy (No. 33 overall), defensive end Zach Allen (No. 65)
Week 12/Week 17: at Atlanta Falcons/vs. Atlanta Falcons
The third division rival Tampa Bay will see in 2019 had two first-round picks themselves. The Falcons’ top pick — No. 14 overall — was spent on Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom. Adding protection for Matt Ryan was apparently a priority for Atlanta, as a trade back into the first round netted Washington offensive tackle Kaleb McGary at No. 31 overall. Neither names are flashy, but both guys will surely make a difference in both games against the Bucs this year, as well as the next four to five years. With Tampa Bay’s defense going through some changes, it should be interesting to see how the new-look front seven attacks Atlanta’s rebuilt offensive line. With the quarterback and accompanying weapons that the Falcons have, beefing up that protection was smart.
Other notable Falcons rookies: cornerback Kendall Sheffield (No. 111)
Week 13: at Jacksonville Jaguars
One of the rookies that has the most potential to frustrate Buccaneer fans can be seen in week 13. When the Bucs go up north in Florida to face the Jaguars, they’ll see the No. 7 overall pick, which was Kentucky defensive end Josh Allen. Many fans in Tampa Bay wanted their team to draft Allen over Devin White at No. 5, so if Allen so much as touches Jameis Winston in that game, Twitter itself might explode. If you thought hearing the complaints about Derwin James — who has never lined up against the Bucs — were bad enough, get ready for a lot worse if Allen shows out against the Tampa Bay offense this season.
Other notable Jaguars rookies: offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (No. 35 overall), tight end Josh Oliver (No. 69)
Week 14: vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts had a pretty low-key draft, but still managed to add some serious talent to their roster. Former Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin was a name tossed around for the Bucs to pick in the second round, but he was gone when Indianapolis picked him at No. 34. Seeing him line up against one of Tampa Bay’s many talented receivers should be a treat in week 14. Of course, there’s a chance that this turns into a feeling of “what could’ve been.” Had Ya-Sin slid just a few more picks, maybe the Bucs would’ve grabbed him at No. 39. We can’t know for sure that they valued him over eventual second-round pick Sean Bunting. But in week 14, we’ll get a chance to see what the Bucs missed out on.
Other notable Colts rookies: linebacker Ben Banogu (No. 49 overall), wide receiver Parris Campbell (No. 59)
Week 15: at Detroit Lions
Tampa Bay’s final road trip of the season is to Detroit in week 15. There aren’t necessarily any notable storylines involved at this point, but the No. 8 overall pick will be present on the Lions’ offense. Former Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson will look to be a significant weapon for quarterback Matthew Stafford immediately, and by week 15, the Buccaneer defense should hopefully be a transformed, cohesive unit under coordinator Todd Bowles. If anything, watching how the Bucs’ linebackers handle the 6-foot-5 Hockenson will be fun to watch.
Other notable Lions rookies: linebacker Jahlani Tavai (No. 43 overall), safety Will Harris (No. 81)
Week 16: vs. Houston Texans
The final team we’re looking at here is the Texans, who come to town in week 16. The Bucs will see three top-60 picks on the other sideline, including No. 23 overall pick Tytus Howard. The former Alabama State offensive tackle will have his hands full with Tampa Bay’s defensive front, but he won’t be the only new offensive tackle in the mix for Houston. No. 55 overall pick Max Scharping, out of Northern Illinois, is also someone that will be tasked with protecting quarterback Deshaun Watson. If both guys are starting on the Texans’ offensive line, the already-aggressive Tampa Bay defense could get even more aggressive in hopes of exposing some inexperience.
Other notable Texans rookies: cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. (No. 54 overall), tight end Kahale Warring (No. 86)
Which rookie are you most looking forward to seeing on the other side of the field this fall, Bucs fans? Kyler Murray? Josh Allen? Sound off in the comments below.