2018 NFL Draft: Tampa Bay Buccaneers team needs, draft picks, prospects to watch
With their 2017 season basically over, it's time for Buccaneers fans to turn their attention to the draft
The Buccaneers have been a trendy playoff pick for what feels like forever, but time and again they fall short. Whether it's Jameis Winston dealing with an injury, the offensive line not gelling or the defense failing to live up to its upside, the Bucs just haven't found the winning formula to climb the hump. Will this offseason be different? Let's dive into it.
2018 draft picks
- Round 1: Tampa Bay
- Round 2: Tampa Bay
- Round 3: Tampa Bay
- Round 4: Tampa Bay
- Round 5: Tampa Bay
- Round 6: Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh
- Round 7: Detroit*
The Buccaneers own Pittsburgh's sixth-round pick in 2018, a selection that went from Pittsburgh to Cleveland then back to Pittsburgh before being sent to Tampa Bay in the J.J. Wilcox trade prior to the 2017 season. Tampa Bay traded its 2018 seventh-round pick to the Dolphins in order to move up in the seventh round of the 2017 draft and select Stevie Tu'ikolovatu. They also traded Johnthan Banks to the Lions back in 2016 for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2018.
Biggest offseason needs
- Running back
- Offensive line
- Defensive end
The Bucs have done a lot of work on offense, drafting O.J. Howard and bringing in DeSean Jackson to give Jameis Winston even more options in the passing game, but one place they still need to find a workable solution is at running back, where Doug Martin has disappointed. The team could clear $6.75 million by cutting him this offseason.
Like most teams, the Bucs have spots on the offensive line that need to be addressed. Right tackle Demar Dotson and center Ali Marpet are two keepers, but the team must find an upgrade on Donovan Smith with the third-year player failing to make any progress. Both guard spots could use an injection of talent as well.
On defense, the Bucs have three-quarters of a quality front but need an upgrade on William Gholston, whose $6.5 million salary for 2018 can be shed with no penalty in the offseason. Vernon Hargreaves is one long-term option at cornerback, but the team still needs to go out and find a couple more.
Prospects to watch
Ronald Jones, RB, USC
Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice, and Bryce Love are the headliners of a tremendous running back class, but Jones has legitimate feature back skills with a dose a home-run hitting ability down the field.
The 6-foot-5, 322-pounder is fun to watch in pass protection as his hands and feet are almost always in unison, which leads to him punching from a balanced base. He'd be an ideal replacement for Donovan Smith in the Buccaneers' pass-happy offense.
Lawler has a constantly humming motor and some of the best pass-rushing moves among edge-rushers in the 2018 class. He likely will be available beyond Round 2 or Round 3, so there'll be value in his selection. At 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, the SMU star can fit into Tampa's 4-3 defense.
If the Buccaneers want to inject size and length into their secondary, Kelly should be considered. He's a former safety who stands 6-foot-2 and is a force against the run. He has nine interceptions and 15 pass breakups in his last three years with the Aztecs.
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