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Will the Bucs be the haunted or the haunters?

The possible fallout from NFL draft dots Tampa Bay’s schedule.
The Bucs could get their chance to chase Kyler Murray around on Nov. 10 when the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft visits Raymond James Stadium for Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians' first meeting with his old team, the Arizona Cardinals. [Associated Press]
The Bucs could get their chance to chase Kyler Murray around on Nov. 10 when the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft visits Raymond James Stadium for Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians' first meeting with his old team, the Arizona Cardinals. [Associated Press]
Published Apr. 30, 2019

TAMPA – The NFL Draft ended last Saturday and we’re still wondering who won. The winners and losers won’t emerge for a while, maybe even years.

But, wouldn’t you know it, the Bucs and their top five draft picks, all on defense, led by Devin White, might be a test case.

I can’t say the Bucs will be haunted by other teams’ draft picks, but it doesn’t feel like they’re going to be the haunters, either.

The draft is that inexact a science, especially in the hands of Professor Backwards, Bucs GM Jason Licht, who, mark my words, is going to hit on a kicker in our lifetime, or maybe our children’s lifetimes.

A look at the Bucs schedule raises questions, chief among them: How will this team even go 5-11 again? How will it win more than one game in its own division, or one game during a five-game, 49-day stretch away from Raymond James Stadium, or not whiff against the AFC South?

And draft picks might rear their heads.

There’s the season-opener against the 49ers and No. 2 pick defensive lineman Nick Bosa, Joey’s brother, who might be the first in a long line of pass rushers to pile drive Jameis Winston, unless he tears the 49ers locker room apart with his political rants dropped down in Nancy Pelosi’s backyard.

Related: RELATED: A game-by-game guide to the 2019 Bucs schedule

Carolina, up there or in London, could bring former Florida quarterback and screw-up Will Grier, who went to the Panthers later in the draft, but who could vault into a significant role should Cam Newton go down with an injury, entirely possible. Could Grier be the new Derek Anderson, a back-up who always seemed to beat the Bucs? Stay tuned.

The Bucs will play the Giants in Week 3, so don’t expect quarterback Daniel Jones, drafted by New York, to make a dent in the Bucs. Eli Manning should be on the job through the season.

The Saints? They moved up to draft Erik McCoy, the best center available in the draft. That’s what they needed, all they needed with Max Unger’s retirement. Centers never haunt you, but don’t underestimate the Bucs. The games with the Saints will be fascinating, as we get to see Bucs first-round pick Devin White get his sea legs trying to cover Alvin Kamara and the tight end, and new defensive backs like Sean Bunting against Drew Brees as we ask, “Who did he cover in the MAC again?”

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The Bucs play Arizona here. Kyler Murray was the No. 1 pick, but he still doesn’t have an offensive line. The Bucs should beat the Cardinals in Tampa in the Bruce Arians reunion game. Repeating: Should.

The Bucs didn’t set themselves up for what could have been the big turnaround draft. This was the draft for it, too. They could have picked up four or five starters on defense, but probably didn’t, because they took the hook at 3-3 last year.

The Bucs aren’t beating anyone in the AFC South, least of all Jacksonville, with a new quarterback (Nick Foles) and this draft’s best edge rusher, Josh Allen, who the Bucs could have taken, but didn’t. Prime haunting territory. This has second guessing written all over it, again with Winston on his back.

The Bucs aren’t beating the Colts. The Colts didn’t need anyone in this draft, having killed it in 2018, picking up eventual All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson on offense and tackle Darius Leonard on defense. Every year, one team has a draft that changes its franchise. Last year it was the Colts. It should have been the Bucs this time, but no.

The Bucs, if you ask me, drafted several NFL players, an improvement. But they were still simply replacing what they had lost — White for Kwon Alexander, a new sea of defensive backs, second-, third- and fourth-round picks, to make up for secondary swings and misses, and, of course, another kicker, the legacy of Roberto Aguayo. Other teams picked guys who will start for them. If you can’t find a kicker on any soccer field, you’ve got problems.

Maybe this draft doesn’t come back to bite the Bucs. Teams like the Rams didn’t have to draft a soul to beat the Bucs this season. Atlanta tried to improve its offensive line and that might not help them beat the Bucs. You never know with the draft. It could be a springboard or a dive off a cliff.

By the way, the Lions, who the Bucs play this season, went with tight end T.J. Hockenson in the first round. Devin White will try and cover him. White might do it. Or he might not. Maybe the weak right side of the Bucs offensive line, the one that might not have gotten better through the draft, can hold off Watt and Clowney when Houston comes to town. Or it might not. Like I said, you never know with the draft, what it will bring or won’t bring.

We’ll know soon enough.

Contact Martin Fennelly at or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly