How will the Bucs use their picks in the 2018 NFL draft? We’re breaking down every selection below.

By Tim Hackett
April 26, 2018

A 5-11 record in Dirk Koetter's second year sunk the Buccaneers to their tenth straight season outside of the playoffs. Tampa had one of the league's best passing offenses last season, but also one of the league's worst rushing attacks. Embattled ball carrier Doug Martin is gone, but the backfield looks a little thin without him.

The defense wasn't good either: The Bucs allowed the ninth-most points per game and most yards per game, despite Pro Bowl-caliber seasons from Kwon Alexander and Gerald McCoy. They've brought in Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry to potentially help the defense, while Chandler Catanzaro could be the next kicker through that revolving door. It's fair to say that this draft will be important if Tampa wants to contend any time soon under Jameis Winston's rookie deal.

Tampa was involved in the first big trade of draft day, moving down five spots to allow the Bills to select Josh Allen at No. 7, picking up two second-round picks in exchange.

How will they use their picks in the NFL draft? We’re listing every selection below.

Here's the full list of picks the Bucs hold in the 2018 draft, which will be updated as each selection is made.

Round 1, Pick 12 (No. 12 overall) [via Buffalo]

Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Andy Benoit's grade: C-

Tampa Bay must really love the massive defensive tackle, because they didn’t need him. The Bucs fell apart in pass defense last year, thanks to an inept four-man rush and underperforming secondary, but the pass rush was addressed by the trade for ex-Giant Jason Pierre-Paul and signing of ex-Eagle Vinny Curry. Still, it doesn’t hurt to add one more piece. But the secondary? That’s still an issue, particularly at safety. Vea can be a special run defender, and that augments what you get with terrific chase linebackers like Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander. But the NFL is a passing league. Being iffy in aerial D and not drafting players who can theoretically help (like, say Derwin James), is dicey.

Scouting Report: The measurables didn’t always add up to dominance, and he’ll need to be rotated out more often than you might like, but Vea has a Dontari Poe-like blend of size and movement skill that rarely come into the league.

Round 2, Pick 6 (No. 38 overall): Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

Andy Benoit's grade: B

Jones has home-run hitting speed, though that can be overrated in pro football. What matters is the ability to create your own space in confined areas, and that stems from vision and agility—traits that Jones showed at USC. The Bucs are a deep dropback passing team, and deeper passes stem from your running game. If Tampa Bay doesn’t feel that Jones can provide a foundational rushing attack, they may address this position again in the later rounds.

Round 2, Pick 21 (No. 53 overall, via Buffalo): M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina

Andy Benoit's grade: B

The Bucs needed help at corner, both for right now and for when 35-year-old Brent Grimes washes up (which should have been a few years ago, but Tampa Bay just re-signed him for $10 million this offseason). Spatial awareness is mandatory for playing in what is pro football’s most zone-intensive scheme, and Stewart has that.

Round 2, Pick 31 (No. 63 overall): Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Andy Benoit's grade: B

Taking a second corner in Round 2 looks like the Bucs are sending a message to up-and-down 2016 first-rounder Vernon Hargreaves. Really, it’s just an acknowledgement that teams need three corners in today’s NFL.

Round 3, Pick 30 (No. 94 overall) [Via Minnesota]: Alex Cappa, G, Humboldt State

Andy Benoit's grade: B

This suggests the JR Sweezy experiment won’t last much longer, as the Bucs take an intriguing developmental guard they hope can one day start opposite Ali Marpet. Some see Cappa as a tackle, which would make this pick REALLY interesting given that 2015 second-round left tackle Donovan Smith is in a contract year.

Round 4, Pick 17 (No. 117 overall): Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh

Round 5, Pick 7 (No. 144 overall): Justin Watson, WR, Pennsylvania 

NFL
NFL Draft 2018: Defensive Back Rankings and Analysis

Round 6, Pick 28 (No. 202 overall): Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin

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