The Buccaneers have made quite a few headlines this offseason. They’ve done that in the past, but not to this extent. In the last two months, they’ve signed Tom Brady and traded for Rob Gronkowski in addition to bringing back their key defensive free agents.
The re-signing of the key defensive pieces—Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh—and the addition of Brady was enough to put Tampa Bay in the top 10 of ESPN’s post-free agency power rankings. That came after a No. 19 ranking in February’s “way-too-early” power rankings.
But now? After adding Gronkowski and having what feels like a pretty successful few days with the NFL Draft, the Bucs made another jump. In ESPN’s post-draft power rankings, which were released on Monday, they came in at No. 7.
Each of ESPN’s NFL Nation writers had to pick a “player who benefited” from their team’s draft, and here’s what the network’s Bucs reporter, Jenna Laine, had to say:
“Player who benefited: QB Tom Brady. The Bucs got the 42-year-old quarterback one of the top tackles in the draft, Tristan Wirfs; he can start at right tackle from Day 1. They also added Ke’Shawn Vaughn, a complete back and strong pass-blocker; dynamic receiver Tyler Johnson, who was a steal in the fifth round; and speedy running back Raymond Calais. And they did all this without neglecting their defense. Plus, they used their fourth-round pick to trade for Rob Gronkowski on the eve of the draft, so that counts, right?”
That had to be the pick, surely, as Brady benefited big during draft week. First, it was the trade for Gronk, his longtime tight end and future Hall of Famer. That was big enough. But then, the Bucs went and added a first-round tackle and some more weapons for No. 12 to distribute the ball to. Plus, as Laine points out, they did all of that without completely ignoring the defense. Adding safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and a potential rotational piece for the defensive line in Khalil Davis shouldn’t be overlooked.
As far as the ranking itself goes, that’s a considerable amount of hype for a team who hasn’t seen the playoffs since the 2007 season. Of course, adding who they’ve added was bound to build hype, but it’s definitely a lot to live up to. In just a few short months, the Bucs have gone from No. 19 to No. 10 to No. 7. That’s quite a leap.
As far as the six teams in front of Tampa Bay, it’s about who you would expect it to be. The defending champion Chiefs are on top, followed by the Ravens, 49ers, Saints, Seahawks and Packers. Of those six teams, the Bucs will face three of them—the Chiefs, Saints (twice) and Packers—in 2020. This season’s schedule is set to be released later this week.
Do you think the Brady-led Bucs will live up to the hype? We’ll (hopefully) start to find out in just a few months.