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Evaluating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Free Agents and Draft  Picks

With key veteran players likely leaving the roster, will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will turn to this year’s NFL Draft picks to help fill starting and reserve positions?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have big shoes to fill heading into training camp. They have held a strong veteran presence on their roster but there is doubt and questions regarding whether these players are looking to make a return. In order to be a dominant team this upcoming season, there has been emphasis on finding players that can compete or fill up some of these positions held by veterans.

Tampa is hungry to still improve their defense from 2021, even though they ranked seventh in defense-adjusted value over average based on ranking fourth against the run and eleventh against the pass. To accomplish that, more defensive talent is needed with uncertainty among the potential returning veterans.

Newly hired Head Coach Todd Bowles is looking to add more young talent to the defensive line since veterans Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Steve McLendon may look to sign elsewhere. One of the Buccaneers’ 2022 NFL Draft might be able to help do just that.

Logan Hall from University of Houston, The Bucs second round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, was looking impressive during Rookie Mini Camp. He is up to 290-pounds, in comparison to 270-pounds from last year. Hall has the length, power, and explosiveness that gives him the ability to have an impact in the NFL. Not only does Hall have the physical attributes, but he also has the skills to play multiple positions. Hall is excited to work as he will likely take on a starting role and will receive the honor wearing #90, which was formerly worn by Jason Pierre-Paul.

Tampa also selected Offensive Guard Luke Goedeke from Central Michigan with the last pick in Day 2 of the NFL Draft. Goedeke grew up in Wisconsin, but he has expressed that he has always liked the Patriots more than the Packers because of his Hall of Fame Teammate Tom Brady that will be running the Tampa Offense after coming back out of retirement.

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Goedeke was originally a tight end at DIII UW-Stevens Point before transferring to Central Michigan as an offensive guard/tackle. One of the prominent concerns regarding Goedeke is his ability to stay healthy, but if he is able to keep his body right he has potential to provide a lot of production for the Bucs. Considering he was only able to start two years at Central Michigan, he was able to show great technique and athletic ability. He played all 14 games in 2019, tore his ACl, and then had a monster year in 2021. He ended up starting 10 games and earned a first-team All-MAC selection.

He was even invited to show his talents on a national level at the Senior Bowl, but he was unfortunately sidelined due to a hamstring injury. His draft stock was affected by not playing on the national stage. Regardless, the Tampa coaching staff is confident he has the physical tools to make an impact on the offensive line this season. There is also some doubt on whether Future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski will suit up with the Bucs again.

At the moment, Cameron Brate is the only tight end on the roster with any experience. In the case that Gronkowski doesn’t return, the Buccaneers have added two new tight ends in Cade Otton, a fourth round pick from the University of Washington, and Ko Kieft, a sixth round pick from the University of Minnesota. As Brate is still a viable option for the Buccaneers, the Draft served as an opportunity to develop these young players. Otton has lots of potential due to this explosive athleticism and his ability to run routes.

Otton has a great eye for defenses when it comes to blocking, but he needs to work on his strength in blocking situations. Although there is some concern in his frame and muscle as a Tight End, Otton displayed that he is an energetic and competitive player at Washington that will shine at the next level. On the other hand, Kieft is known for his aggressive blocking, but he is more likely to see a role in the special teams this upcoming season due to his abilities and experience.

What’s next for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Much depends on how the emerging young players develop around the veterans, and of course which specific free agents come back and/or are added to the roster from other NFL teams. For now, know that Tampa has draft picks that should help improve the roster, at the very least