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Bucs Nation Roundtable: Grading Tampa Bay’s 2020 Draft

Going around the table to see how the staff feels about the last three days.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Outback Bowl - Minnesota v Auburn
There are a lot of people who loved the Tyler Johnson pick in the fifth round.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2020 NFL Draft is over, so naturally, that means it’s time to hand out some grades.

We over here at Bucs Nation decided to get a roundtable going in order to gauge what each staff member thinks about the Bucs’ 2020 draft.

Will we love it, like it, or hate it? Be sure to keep reading to find out!

Bailey Adams

Final Grade: A-
Why: The Bucs hit on every remaining need they had in this year’s draft. Starting with the Tristan Wirfs selection on Thursday night, they got right down to business. I know there have been some folks who don’t like trading up one spot to take him, but it’s clear by now that it was necessary in order for them to get their guy. Coming in, Tampa Bay needed to land one of the top four tackles in the class. Things fell the right way for the most part and allowed Jason Licht and his staff to end up with Wirfs, a guy who some had rated as one of the top two in the class. He can start from day one and should become a staple of the offensive line for years to come.

Day two was just as successful in my eyes, as the Bucs didn’t go the expected route with pick No. 45. They didn’t take a running back, which has some people upset, but I love the addition of Antoine Winfield Jr. to the secondary. I think he makes a major difference for this team as early as this year, plus he should develop even more under a defensive coordinator like Todd Bowles. Tampa Bay went and got itself a new running back with pick No. 76, and you know what? I’m not nearly as low on Ke’Shawn Vaughn as a lot of people seem to be. No, he won’t start over Ronald Jones II, but he doesn’t need to. Jones is more than capable of being the lead back, and Vaughn can mix in just fine. Without a fourth-round pick, the Bucs surely didn’t want to wait things out and potentially settle in the fifth. If I could get on my soap box for a quick second, let me just say this: give Vaughn a chance. I think he could bring a lot to the table.

Plus, not waiting until the fifth round for a running back set the Bucs up for an absolute steal with their first pick of day three. Getting Minnesota wide receiver Tyler Johnson in the fifth is in contention for my favorite of the team’s moves in this year’s draft. Beyond the fifth, I like the potential of Khalil Davis to develop under fellow Husker Ndamukong Suh, and both Chapelle Russell and Raymond Calais could add some value and nice depth to this team. Overall, I’m a massive fan of what the Bucs did in this year’s draft.

Best Pick: Tristan Wirfs, No. 13 overall

Ben Hall

Final Grade : A-
Why: In such a deep draft class, I think the Bucs had one of the best drafts in the NFL. In the first round, they filled their biggest area of need with Tristan Wirfs. Although they traded up one pick to draft Wirfs, he was the best tackle available and they wanted to ensure that nobody else would be trading up to get him.

In the second round, taking Winfield was a steal. Coming into the draft, he was one of my favorite players. Winfield is a big time playmaker who will have an immediate impact for the Bucs at free safety. I think he was the best safety in the draft and he was the fourth one drafted. He is first round talent but in such a deep draft fell to the second. I also think the fifth round pick with Tyler Johnson from Minnesota was a great pick as well. Many film guys aren't a huge fan of his, but I’m not quite sure why. His separation skills impress me. With Brady as his quarterback, when he gets open he will get the ball. A close second in my favorite pick was linebacker Chapelle Russell from Temple. His aggressiveness and ability to stop the run really impresses me. Russell will start far down on the depth char, however he learning from Devin White and Lavonte David will be important for him. His upside is huge and in the 6th round it’s a great pick.

As most other people have viewed the Ke’Shawn Vaughn as the worst pick, I have picked him as mine as well. However, it is not a bad pick, I just think that it may have been a little too early for him. But without a fourth round pick, the Bucs made sure they filled an area of need and picked the best running back from their board. With Zack Moss still available, I was a bit surprised they went with Vaughn. But I think Vaughn will be a great asset to the Bucs offense this year and may shock some fans by the end of the season.

Best Pick: Antoine Winfield Jr., No. 45 overall

Chris Schoenherr

Final Grade: A-
Why: With the 14th pick, the Buccaneers were potentially looking to work through the worst-case scenario options which entailed missing out on one of the top 4 tackles this draft had to offer. While it did cost them a 4th round pick, I think that it was a smart move so that they didn’t get leap-frogged and lose out on the tackle with arguably the most upside. In the second round, they pulled in one of the top safeties available and someone who I expect to really shine in this Todd Bowles defense. So, why didn’t they get the A+? Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Before you tell me that he isn’t bad, I already know that. My issue is that they used a third round selection to get him. Now, I ended up looking at his tape and I can comfortably say that this pick will not be as bad as everyone initially thought it was. Could he have made it to the 5th round? Maybe. However, when teams really want someone, sometimes they reach on it and without a 4th round pick maybe they felt like they had to take him when they did. As for the other guys, I think they did well to round out depth in positions where they really needed it, especially on the defensive side with Chapelle Russel and Khalil Davis. Out of these later round selections, the most exciting pick for me is Tyler Johnson. Watching him lineup alongside Evans and Godwin on Sundays is going to be fun.

Best Pick: Tristan Wirfs, No. 13 overall

David Harrison

Final Grade: A
Why: How else can you grade a draft like this one before seeing it on the field? Bottom line, the Buccaneers came into Thursday night with a handful of real needs for their 2020 roster. They needed an offensive line upgrade, specifically at right tackle. They also needed to determine if they had a starting free-safety, or if they needed to continue looking. A second running back, or even two more if they couldn’t find the right combination of pass blocking and receiving ability in just one prospect. A wide receiver to come in and either compliment Scotty miller and Justin Watson behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, or come in and form a strong trio with the two All-Pros. Linebacker, and defensive line depth. Those were the needs. Show me where they failed to draft those exact players. You can’t. You might disagree with the players they picked to satisfy the needs, but that’s like preferring the Whopper to the Big Mac when all you need is a hamburger.

Best Pick: Tyler Johnson, No. 161 overall

Evan Winter

Final Grade: B+
Why: I really, really liked what the Bucs did in this year’s draft. They were smart, sensible, and addressed positions of need with (usually) the best player available. I loved how they showed the tenacity and desire to make sure they got their guy in Tristan Wirfs during the first round of the draft.

Missing out on the fourth round wasn’t ideal, but the good news is potential picks such as Leki Fotu and John Simpson were off the board by pick No. 117, so the Bucs really didn’t miss out on much when it came to trading their fourth-rounder to San Francisco.

The only pick that keeps this grade from a full “A” is Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the running back out of Vanderbilt in the third round. I like the pick overall, but I definitely think he would’ve been available in the later rounds. However, you can understand the sense of urgency when considering the fact that the Bucs didn’t have a fourth round pick.

Best pick: Antoine Winfield, Jr., No. 45 overall

Gil Arcia

Final Grade: B+
Why: General Manager Jason Licht is no stranger to acquiring additional draft picks to then move around in the draft. He did so right off the bat to make sure he moved up a spot to get an offensive tackle they were targeting in Tristan Wirfs. Now I am a firm believer that no matter who you in the draft has a shot at making a name for themselves but also fall flat on their faces. Same goes for UDFAs. But Tampa Bay moving up and drafting Wifs was a very good decision.

They also made a great decision by draft Antoine Winfield, Jr. 45th overall. The Bucs have been carrying some uncertainty in the defensive backfield for several seasons now. Last season ended with some promise from that unit but the safety position was still a concern. Winfield should undoubtedly provide a breath of fresh air, especially when he is called upon to add an extra man in the box.

Overall, the draft went well for the Bucs when you factor in guys like the previous two as well as Tyler Johnson. While Tampa Bay may not have “hit it out of the park” with other draft picks, there’s still an opportunity that their other selections will play a much bigger role than what the generalized opinion presently is on them.

Best Pick: Tristan Wirfs, No. 13 overall

James Yarcho

Final Grade: B+
Why: The Buccaneers went into the draft and did exactly what they needed to do. They were aggressive in ensuring they got a right tackle - the team’s biggest need - in the first round. They addressed their weakest position on the defensive side by getting a ball hawk safety who can play all over the field. They got a complimentary back to Ronald Jones and they took a replacement for Breshad Perriman in the fifth round who led the Big Ten in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.

You couldn’t have asked them to do a better job of taking care of every one of their remaining off-season needs than exactly what they did in the draft. The biggest question, in my opinion, is did they get the right guy for the backfield? I admittedly have not been able to watch much of Ke’Shawn Vaughn since the pick was made but he seems to be the guy everyone is pointing to as the “meh” pick of the draft. Many were disappointed the Bucs opted to pass on running back Zack Moss out of Utah in favor of the Vanderbilt back.

Time will tell for sure and to be honest all drafts should be graded as “incomplete” until three years later, but on the surface the Buccaneers took the right approach this year and their board fell to them exactly the way they wanted. It’s just a matter of these players panning out and contributing in 2020.

Best Pick: Tyler Johnson, No. 161 overall

Jon Marchant

Final Grade: B-
Why: I think overall this was a fine draft for the Bucs. The obvious star of the class is Tristan Wirfs, and the Bucs have to be elated. They had to make sure they didn’t get jumped like they did last year with Cody Ford and the Bills. Wirfs has some things to clean up but he’s a phenomenal athlete. OT was their biggest need, other teams knew it, and the Bucs still got one of the top four, after which there was a huge drop in talent.

The Bucs also filled big needs at WR and in the secondary with Tyler Johnson and Antoine Winfield, Jr. Johnson will battle it out with Justin Watson and Scotty Miller for that No. 3 WR spot, while Winfield addresses badly needed depth in the secondary. Winfield’s versatility, intelligence, and playmaking instincts makes him a great fit for Todd Bowles’ defense. Arians views Winfield as a cross between Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker, and I expect Winfield to play that same kind of overhang safety/robber role.

But I have to ding this draft for what I thought were some missteps. First, the Bucs gave away both of their 4th round picks. They got Rob Gronkowski and ensured Wirfs. But it’s unclear how much Gronk has left or how long it will be before he gets hurt again. They also waited too long for DL depth. They lost Carl Nassib and Beau Allen — more than 700 snaps — and there’s no clear replacement that’s a lock to make the roster.

Third, in the NFL talent (read: athleticism) is king. Drafts are a lottery, the goal is two starters per year, and the odds are long for any player past the fourth round. Outside of Wirfs, this class in rounds 1-4 lacks top end athleticism and seems maxed out on potential. Johnson and Winfield are good players and I like them, but their relative lack of athleticism will limit their ceilings at the next level. I’m also not a fan of the Ke’Shawn Vaughn pick. He’s not a good complement to Ronald Jones’ skillset and his ceiling projects as a rotational back. He’s not a better pass blocker than Jones, which is Jones’ main weakness, and he doesn’t add that short-yardage punch.

With being in #WinNow mode, I get the Bucs going after plug and play guys. But Wirfs is the only lock to be a starter, not to mention the only one with a chance to be a high-level NFL player. The rest will battle for being role players. For a team that still needs impact talent to raise their ceiling to match their Super Bowl aspirations, that’s not what you’d hope for.

Best Pick: Tristan Wirfs, No. 13 overall

You’ve read what we think, but what grade would you assign to the Bucs’ 2020 draft? Let us know via the poll/comments below!


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