Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers players most affected by draft

You can learn a lot about the Bucs' self-evaluation by examining their draft.

Four of their first five selections were defensive players, no surprise considering Tampa Bay gave up a franchise-worst 494 points, was last in rushing defense and allowed 30 touchdown passes last season.

"We wanted to become a much more physical football team with this draft — that was the main concern, and I think we did that," general manager Mark Dominik said. "We also wanted to become a smarter football team with this draft, and I think we did that. And we wanted to create a lot of competition with this draft, and I think we did that."

Let's focus on the competition that was created by this draft. For each of the seven players selected by the Bucs, there is at least one existing player who potentially will be affected.

Round 1 (seventh pick overall)

Pick: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

Buc affected: Ronde Barber .

Adding a player such as Barron further justifies the release of Tanard Jackson. It might also end the experiment of playing Barber, a five-time Pro Bowl cornerback, at safety, allowing him to return to his natural position. Cody Grimm has performed well at free safety, but season-ending injuries in each of his first two years create questions about his durability. He will get a chance to pair with the Bucs' first-round pick. Larry Asante and Ahmad Black have an uphill climb. Competition for strong safety is over, fellas. All hail the Red Barron.

Round 1 (31st Pick overall)

Pick: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State

Buc affected: LeGarrette Blount

Martin reminds coach Greg Schiano of Ravens and former Rutgers running back Ray Rice for his ability to play all three downs. He is an effective route runner, has good hands and can pass protect. Unless the Bucs missed on Martin, he will be the starting tailback. But he had at least 20 rushing attempts only 13 times in 38 career games at Boise State. It takes two running backs to be effective running the football in the NFL, and the powerful inside running of Blount will be used, especially late in games. This should be a nice tandem.

Round 2 (58th overall)

Pick: Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska

Buc affected: Mason Foster

David is most effective as an outside linebacker, where he can run and hit. That might also be the best spot for Foster, but it's more likely he will either remain at middle linebacker or move to strongside linebacker. Tampa Bay considers David the best linebacker in coverage in the draft, so he'll also remain on the field in nickel passing situations. That means either Foster or Quincy Black will leave the field on third down.

Round 5 (140th overall)

Pick: Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia

Buc affected: Quincy Black

At 6 feet, 244 pounds, Goode is powerful enough to play inside, but coverage is not his strong suit, meaning he's a two-down linebacker. In the Bucs defense, that means he plays either the middle or strong side. Since you would prefer the middle linebacker to remain on the field on passing downs, look for Goode to get a shot to compete with Black, who did not live up to his five-year, $29 million contract last season.

Round 6 (174th overall)

Pick: Keith Tandy, CB West Virginia

E.J. Biggers

Tandy made a big impression on Schiano when his Rutgers team faced West Virginia. Tandy has good skills in zone coverage and could develop into a slot defender. He projects as a possible safety, but the Bucs will give him a shot to compete at cornerback in his first training camp. Biggers has had mixed results as the Bucs' third defensive back and has given up a lot of completions.

Round 7 (212th overall)

Pick: Michael Smith, RB, Utah State

Buc affected: Mossis Madu

Smith is a burner, with legitimate 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash. He's also a productive running back who was stuck behind a better player (Robert Turbin) at Utah State. Smith averaged 7 yards per carry and eclipsed 100 yards rushing his last two games. He's a change-of-pace runner who also could help on special teams and be a No. 3 tailback.

Round 7 (233rd overall)

Pick: Drake Dunsmore, TE, Northwestern

Buc affected: Erik Lorig

Dunsmore is more of a receiving tight end than a blocker, but the Bucs want to work with him as an H-back and in-line blocker. He was the Wildcats' second-leading receiver, so he isn't likely to be used in short-yardage situations as the third tight end initially. But with some work, and the limited snaps the Bucs will be in a two-back, I-formation set, Dunsmore could develop into that fullback role in a pinch.

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