Another draft for Buccaneers GM Jason Licht, and another series of premium picks have been spent trying to retool the Buccaneers secondary. This after Tampa Bay used all three of their Friday second and third round selection on either a defensive back or a safety.
And in continuing to emphasize that position group as a need, Licht simultaneously is admitting his past draft shortcomings exist.
More on that in a moment.
First, the Buccaneers used their second-round pick Friday in Nashville (39th overall) on Central Michigan defensive back Sean Bunting. A 6’0, 195 lbs. player from Central Michigan out of the MAC Conference is apparently exactly what new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is looking for in terms of man-to-man coverage ability.
While that can be debated, what cannot be debated is that Bunting joins last year’s two second round picks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis, along with 2016 first round pick Vernon Hargreaves, as four corners that have been taken in either the first or the second round by Licht in four drafts.
Now, that’s not former Lions GM Mat Millen taking a wide receiver in the top 10 of three consecutive drafts (’03-05), but it’s still something of concern for Bucs fans.
And Licht wasn’t done Friday, because as the third round began, Licht wasted no time/went back to the defensive back position. And, for the second year in a row, he took another one from Auburn.
Jamel Dean, who is a former teammate of Carlton Davis’, was the latest Buccaneer pick at 94th overall. The Bucs had obviously seen Dean while scouting Davis and he is a little bigger than Bunting, plus, obviously played in a much tougher SEC.
Finally, Licht rounded out the most recent reboot of the Buccaneers defensive backfield by taking Kentucky safety Mike Edwards five picks later in the third round. That also means it is the third consecutive year the Buccaneers have drafted a safety going back to taking Justin Evans in the second round of 2017, and then, Jordan Whitehead a year ago in the fifth round.
With the understanding that it is another new coaching staff in Tampa Bay (the third one since Licht became the general manager in 2015) it still has to raise eyebrows the players just repeatedly picked again Friday night were done using premium first, second or third round selections at the same position group.
We wrote earlier this week that Hargreaves had the fifth year option of his rookie contract picked up, but it’s fair to say that he has been an injured bust, as a first-round draft pick. After basically being demoted to “slot corner” during his rookie season, Hargreaves missed the final six games in stretch run of 2017 with a hamstring injury. And then, he went on IR after an injured shoulder in the opening game a year ago.
Maybe, Hargreaves will live up to his first-round draft status under Bowles’ new system this year?
Then again, the draft picks of last year and this year could be an indication the Tampa Bay is ready to move on from the former Gator is he doesn’t perform or has another injury? Then, the fifth year option for Hargreaves valued at $14 million can be rescinded at no salary cap cost next off-season.
Another important point is Tampa Bay is in the pass-happy NFC South that includes the likes of Drew Brees and Matt Ryan throwing the football against you a couple of times each year. Therefore, you have to have a lot of guys that can run and cover downfield.
Still, by continuing to go to the draft and repeatedly take players at the same position group in valuable slots after already draftinh several recently, you make fans and observers alike scratch their head.
Is it an admission that your previous picks were a mistake? Is it a sign that you cannot have enough competition?
Probably some of both.
Time will tell on who gets playing time and who’s on the roster not just this season but next season in Tampa Bay?
Then, we’ll know for sure, which of Licht’s defensive back picks were or weren’t misfires.
We just know now, there’s been a bunch he’s taken.
Bucs-Winston overcome miscues to win third straight
It wasn’t easy and there were plenty of self-inflicted mistakes, but the Bucs found a way to come from behind, and defeat the Colts for a third consecutive victory Sunday.
Tampa Bay turned the ball over four times and found themselves trailing by double-figure twice, but QB Jameis Winston threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman with under four minutes to play and the Buccaneers defense held up to improve their record to 6 – 7.
On a day in which Winston threw for a career-high 456 yards, it actually started horribly This as, he threw an interception, once again, on the opening possession of the game. Darius Leonard’s pick led to a Jacoby Brissett 48 yard touchdown to Marcus Williams and a quick 7-0 lead. It was the third time in five games that Winston has thrown an int on the first Bucs drive.
Winston threw another interception later in the second quarter that was returned by Leonard 80 yards for a score and the Colts led 24-14.
Undaunted, Winston continued to gun-sling finishing 456 yards passing for a career-high yardage and four touchdowns, including a second half score to reserve receiver Justin Watson. And then, he threw the eventual game-winning 12 yarder to Perriman.
#Bucs take the lead!
Jameis connects with Breshad Perriman 🎯#INDvsTB
— PFF (@PFF) December 8, 2019
The Colts gave away two opportunities to potentially put the game away. First, when backup running back Nyheim Hines fumbled inside the Tampa Bay 20 with 10 minutes remaining, and then, later new rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin ,who replaced Adam Vinatieri who’s dealing with an injured knee, hit the right upright on 47 yard field goal that would have put in the Colts up by 7 late in the game.
Winston led the go-ahead drive from there, going 63 yards in eight plays and including converting a fourth down with a pass of 4 yards to Dare Ogunbawale. The touchdown to Perriman came on the very next play.
Tampa Bay stopped Brissett and the Colts on fourth down at midfiled with 1:45 remaining, when DE Jason Pierre Paul hit the QB’s arm. The ball fluttered in the air, Brissett caught it and then desperately and illegally tried to throw it a second time forward to another teammate. That pass was incomplete.
The Bucs ran out the clock for their second win at home this season.
The Buccaneers playoff hopes were all but dashed even in victory, though, as the Minnesota Vikings won their 9th game on Sunday. That means that even if the Buccaneers win out, they can no longer catch the Vikes in a head to head tiebreaker in the NFC race. Tampa Bay could benefit from a multi-team tie at 9-7, but likely not.
Still, first year Bruce Arians team is certainly playing hard, and at the right times with three games to go
Bucs looking for three in row leads our primer
Week 14 of the NFL sees two Florida teams at home and the other one facing a familiar foe in New York. The Bucs try to make it three wins in a row hosting the Colts, the Dolphins travel to play the Jets and the Jaguars have gone back to their rookie QB, while hosting the Chargers.
First in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers come off of back-to-back road wins, where they accumulated 11 sacks and six turnovers defeating Atlanta and Jacksonville. They will take on another AFC South opponent in the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are stumbling with three losses in their last four games and have fallen out of the AFC Wildcard picture for the moment.
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has played better over the course of the last two games, but returns to Raymond James Stadium, where he threw four interceptions it a loss to the Saints three weeks ago. Winston is working with two of the premier receivers in the NFL in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (above) who both have over a thousand yards this season and look to have a big day today.
The Colts have had success this season with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and want to run the ball against what is the best run defense in the NFL, the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay must win to keep slim playoff hopes alive trying to get into a 9 – 7 tiebreaker in the NFC Playoff Picture.
Next, the Dolphins come off a euphoric 37 – 31 win over the Eagles at home for their third win of the season. DeVante Parker had his best game as a Dolphin catching three touchdown passes. And, Miami scored on a trick play that saw punter Matt Haack throw a touchdown pass to kicker Jason Sanders. They now rematch AFC East rival the Jets who were humbled a week ago, as Cincinnati earned their first win of the season at their expense.
The Dolphins also defeated the Jets, and former coach Adam Gase, at home earlier this year
Finally in Jacksonville, the Jaguars have turned back to rookie QB Gardner Minshew. After three dismal offensive showings in a row under free agent Nick Foles, Minshew replaced him in the second half of last week. And, he sparked the Jaguars to a field goal and a touchdown in their 28 – 11 beat down by the Buccaneers.
The rookie did win four games in Foles’ absence due to his broken collarbone earlier this year. Fortunately for Jacksonville, the Chargers come in reeling having lost dramatically in Denver a week ago and questions are swirling whether it is the end of the tenure of Philip Rivers at quarterback.
Jacksonville’s defense is beaten up, including putting Myles Jack on injured reserve earlier this week with an injured kneed.