2020 NFL Draft: Perfect Fit for Bucs at Every Position
We're nearly three weeks away from the 2020 NFL draft, and though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a big splash in free agency by signing Tom Brady and retaining some of their most important defenders, there are still a few big needs to fill.
The Bucs have seven picks, so they won't be able to address every position with rookie help. That said, here's our list of prospects who would be perfect fits for what the Bucs need, taking into consideration how early they're likely to target that position.
Jacob Eason, Washington
Eason has all the physical tools typically associated with Bruce Arians quarterbacks, starting with a rocket for a right arm. After transferring from Georgia, Eason put together a solid 2019 campaign for the Huskies, showing all the traits necessary to develop into a franchise quarterback at the next level. If the Bucs want to spend a Day 2 pick investing in in the future beyond Brady, Eason is the man for the job.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
Ronald Jones II bounced back from a dismal rookie season with a strong 2019 season, but he's still not the complete back Tampa Bay needs. Arians admitted recently that one of the team's biggest needs is a pass-catching back, and Edwards-Helaire has the complete skill set to not just be an improvement in that area, but to challenge Jones for the full-time starting role on every down. He's a Day 2 talent the Bucs should go after hard.
John Hightower, Boise State
With two Pro Bowl wide receivers already in place, the Bucs aren't exactly hurting for a pass-catcher. That said, Breshad Perriman is gone, giving the Bucs little in terms of proven depth behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, something that was evident when both were sidelined by hamstring injuries late last season. Hightower's skill set is similar to Perriman's and he could contribute in the return game, as well. He should still be on the board early on Day 3.
Mitchell Wilcox, USF
This isn't a position of need in the slightest for Tampa Bay, as they return not just the two-headed monster of Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, but also their best blocking tight end in Antony Auclair. If the Bucs want to target an undrafted free agent who can compete for a roster spot, though, Wilcox is a local product who wasn't used as well as he should have been over the past two seasons.
Jedrick Wills, Alabama
Any of the top four offensive tackle would be ideal for Tampa Bay to land in the first round, but Wills would be the best fit for what they need right now. Donovan Smith is still locked in on the left side for at least another season or two, but the right tackle spot is empty after Demar Dotson's departure. Wills played the right side opposite Alex Leatherwood at Alabama, facing off against some of the nation's top talent.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE
Darryl Williams, Mississippi State
Ali Marpet is one of the league's best left guards, and Ryan Jensen has the center spot locked down. Alex Cappa made a huge jump last year, and should get even better in his third NFL season. Depth and versatility is the name of the game for the Bucs here, which makes Williams a great option. He's got experience at both center and guard, and against SEC competition. He should be a Day 3 target for Tampa Bay.
Josh Uche, Michigan
NFL sack leader Shaq Barrett is proof that you don't have to have ideal size to make a big impact as an edge defender. Uche isn't the biggest guy in this class, but he's athletic and versatile, with the ability to rush the passer, set the edge against the run, and drop back in coverage when necessary. With Carl Nassib gone, the Bucs could target a prospect like him in the middle rounds.
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE
Jordan Elliott, Missouri
The band is back together for the most part here, as Tampa Bay's league-leading rushing defense returns all four starters. Todd Bowles needs versatility and athleticism for his scheme, and some young depth on Day 3 could be needed. Elliott fits the bill in every way as a big, athletic defender who can line up anywhere on the defensive line and create problems.
Mykal Walker, Fresno State
Lavonte David and Devin White make one of the NFL's best linebacker tandems, and with NFL defenses spending most of their time in nickel and other sub-packages, a third off-ball linebacker isn't much of a starter anymore, regardless of scheme. Still, if the Bucs want to find depth in the later rounds, Walker is an athletic defender with tons of potential who could make an immediate impact on special teams.
Stanford Samuels III, Florida State
Tampa Bay has loaded up on young corners in recent drafts, so they shouldn't be targeting one early this year. If they want one in the late rounds or after the draft though, they'll be looking for one with size, length and physicality that would fit well in Bowles' press-man scheme. Samuels has NFL bloodlines, and brings all the physical tools the Bucs are looking for at the position.
Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
There's still plenty of promise among the Bucs' safeties, but injuries have held the unit back for multiple years now. Jordan Whitehead was playing the best football of his young career before a hamstring injury ended his season, and if the Bucs want a similar player in this draft, Hudson is the guy. He's an undersized linebacker/safety hybrid who loves to get his hands dirty in the run game, but also has the athleticism to be effective in coverage.