After Hargreaves, Bucs' draft picks off to quiet start
First-round draft pick Vernon Hargreaves continues to be an every-down player in the Bucs secondary, with another five tackles in Sunday's loss to the Rams, but the rest of Tampa Bay's 2016 draft class is off to a quiet start.
The Bucs' two second-round picks didn't show up much Sunday, as defensive end Noah Spence played only 12 snaps with no tackles, despite starter Robert Ayers being inactive. Kicker Roberto Aguayo had two costly misses, on the extra point on the Bucs' first touchdown and also a 41-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter as the Bucs tried to extend their lead on the Rams.
Even if the Bucs are hesitant to use Spence in the base defense, where he'd have to play against the run as well as the pass, he played in barely a third of the 35 snaps the Bucs lined up in their nickel defense, with two undrafted rookies (DaVonte Lambert and Channing Ward) playing more snaps Sunday. Spence has only one tackle -- a sack against Arizona -- in his three games.
The rest of the draft class has barely made it on the field -- fourth-round safety Ryan Smith made his NFL debut Sunday after being inactive for the first two weeks, but only played six snaps on special teams and none on defense. Fifth-round pick Caleb Benenoch has been inactive for all three games as a backup guard, and neither of the team's sixth-round picks are on the current roster. Linebacker Devante Bond was placed on injured reserve this week with a hamstring injury -- he hasn't played this season and isn't eligible to return until Week 11. Tight end Danny Vitale didn't make the Bucs' initial roster and is currently on the practice squad.
The Bucs have actually gotten more of an impact from undrafted rookies than from their third-day draft picks -- Lambert started Sunday's game and had two tackles, Ward made his NFL debut Sunday and played 14 snaps, tight end Alan Cross made his debut and played 11 snaps, and running back Peyton Barber played 13 snaps on special teams. Of the 10 rookies on the current 53-man roster, as many are undrafted (five, including tackle Leonard Wester) as are draft picks.