TAMPA — For the second time in team history and the first time since 1987, the Bucs made three selections in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday night.
Here’s some background on running back Ronald Jones II (No. 38 overall) and defensive backs M.J. Stewart (No. 53) and Carlton Davis (No. 63), as well as third-round pick offensive lineman Alex Cappa (No. 94):
• Jones was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded running back in 2017. "He displays excellent vision, speed, moves and reliability — maximizing the available yardage on every play."
• His ability as a receiver is a question mark. He saw just 14 targets last season, catching 13 of them for 187 yards and a touchdown.
• NDT Scouting identifies Jones' pass protection as his worst trait. "Is not good at standing firm. Fails to use hands to establish a punch on defenders and will give ground with frequency."
• PFF calls Stewart a "classic tweener player … less of a true perimeter cornerback and more of a defensive back whose versatility should lend itself to a hybrid role in an NFL defense."
• Stewart didn't have an interception in 2016 or 2017, but he did have 12 pass breakups in 2017. Quarterbacks completed less than half their passes into his coverage.
• NFL.com's Lance Zierlein says Stewart "has the instincts, ball skills and toughness to transition to safety."
• Davis intercepted one pass over his past two seasons at Auburn. Tall and long, "he challenges at the catch point very well," PFF says, "making receptions hard work but doesn't pick many passes off."
• He had eight games last season in which he allowed fewer than 20 receiving yards.
• NDT Scouting calls Davis "a likeable press cover corner with the ability to start in a scheme that has a lot of reliable safety play on the back end."
• Cappa's the first player drafted from Humboldt State since 1991. That's in California, by the way.
• He's "a better run blocker than pass protector at this stage," Zierlein says. "Because of that, he could be targeted for a move to guard."
The Bucs traded their No. 56 pick to the Patriots for their No. 63 pick (which Tampa Bay used to draft Davis) and No. 117 pick. By the traditional Jimmy Johnson value chart, which assigns point values to draft picks, the trade was a near draw. But according to Football Perspective's chart, the Bucs got $1.39 back for their dollar. The net gain was equivalent to a late fourth-round pick. With the No. 56 pick, the Patriots chose Florida cornerback Duke Dawson.
Around the NFC South
In between the picks of Stewart and Davis in the second round, the Bucs' NFC South division rivals also added depth at defensive back. The Panthers picked LSU's Donte Jackson, who ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, faster than either Stewart or Davis. The Falcons chose Colorado's Isaiah Oliver. His height (6 feet 1) and length are a plus, but draft analysts have questioned his toughness and physicality. After trading up Thursday with the Packers to take defensive end Marcus Davenport at No. 14, the Saints didn't have a pick Friday until No. 91, where they took UCF receiver Tre'Quan Smith.
Ronde Barber, whom the Bucs chose in the third round of the 1997 draft, was the guest announcer for each of Tampa Bay's picks. "I guess I'm not making a comeback," Barber, 43, an All-Pro cornerback, said while announcing the second defensive-back pick.
From Big D to ‘MNF’
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is considering leaving the NFL for Monday Night Football, ESPN reported Friday. Owner Jerry Jones said Witten "has not made any decisions that are definite at this time." If Witten returns for his 16th season, he and the Cowboys will host the Bucs in Week 16. If he retires and gets the MNF gig, he'll be calling the Bucs-Steelers game on Sept. 24.
Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.