|The 2017 Buccaneer draft review|
Click here to review the entire 2017 NFL draft
The Bucs picked from 19th, 18th and 20th through the draft. They traded their 4th and 6th round picks to the NY Jets for an additional 3rd round selection. They traded up in the 7th round with Miami in return for a 2018 7th round selection.
1 - TE - OJ Howard - Alabama
The Bucs parted ways with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins last season, and when Cameron Brate left the Saints Week 16 game in the third quarter with a back injury, the Bucs couldn't deliver in the end zone in a loss that effectively knocked them out of the playoffs. Sources tell ESPN that Brate's back injury was minor and he's been cleared to participate in the offseason program, and the Bucs are thrilled with his eight touchdown receptions last year, which tied for the most TDs by a tight end. But Brate is undersized and has limitations as a blocker. The Bucs will continue to use him as an F tight end and make Howard a Y.
Howard is the most complete tight end in this year's draft class. He ran a 4.51 in the 40 at the combine, second among tight ends; that's an impressive feat for a 6-foot-5, 251-pound athlete. In three years, he averaged 73.5 percent on his 136 targets. He caught a touchdown and had 106 receiving yards in the national title game early this year. He is not only a dynamic receiving weapon but also a strong blocker, and was used significantly in the Crimson Tide's ground game. That's critical for the Bucs' run-first offense, which fell from fifth in the league in 2015 to 24th in 2016.
2 - S - Justin Evans - Texas A&M
The Bucs have needed another game-changing safety who can excel in coverage. They have the highly-versatile Keith Tandy, Chris Conte and run stopper J.J. Wilcox. Evans fills their needs, with great range and terrific ball skills. He recorded four interceptions last season, tied for fourth among Power-5 safeties and first most among safeties in the SEC. According to Pro Football Focus, he gave up just 19 catches on 32 targets for 107 yards. He also had two interceptions and six pass break-ups in his final nine games.
Evansí aggressiveness comes at a cost -- it can get him out of position, resulting in big plays given up. According to PFF, he had 38 missed tackles in two seasons and was ranked 219th in tackling efficiency among FBS safeties in 2016.
3 - WR - Chris Godwin - Penn State
The Bucs might have gotten themselves another steal in this draft in Godwin, whose 11 touchdowns last season were second-most in school history. In three seasons at Penn State, Godwin made 154 receptions for 2,421 yards and 18 touchdowns. He primarily lined up on the outside in college but would likely get his start in the slot for the Bucs, although at 6-foot-1, 209 pounds, he could do both. Tampa Bay's slot wide receivers caught just 55.2 percent of their targets in 2016, third-worst in the NFL.
Godwin does a nice job of adjusting on the fly; when plays break down, he can make something happen. Thatís largely due to having a college quarterback, Trace McSorley, who did a lot of improvising. Jameis Winston does a lot of that, too, with the Bucsí top play on offense being the scramble drill.
Aside from football, Godwinís mature and already seems to have an understanding of what it takes to succeed at the next level, thanks to some time he spent this offseason working one-on-one with Calvin Johnson. His 4.42 speed doesnít always jump out on tape, but his keen understanding of route-running and desire to succeed does.
Godwin always had a knack for coming up big in bowl games. He had two touchdowns and 187 receiving yards in last season's Rose Bowl against USC, 133 against Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl the season before and 140 yards against Boston College in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl.
3 - LB - Kendall Beckwith - LSU
The Bucs used their sixth-round pick to trade back into the third round to select Beckwith. Veteran linebacker Darryl Smith is not returning next season. Beckwith can compete with Devante Bond for the strongside linebacker and backup middle linebacker roles. At 6-foot-2 and 243 pounds, heís the type of physical, downhill player defensive coordinator Mike Smith loves. Beckwith led the Tigers with 91 tackles and six tackles for loss last season.
Beckwith suffered a torn ACL in his left knee late last season and is still on the mend. General manager Jason Licht said the team met with him and is comfortable with his progress. He also gave a reminder that this is a marathon and not a sprint.
5 - RB - Jeremy McNichols - Boise State
The Bucs did, in fact, select a running back, and ironically, he hails from Boise State. But is he capable of replacing Doug Martin? He doesnít have breakaway speed and isnít overwhelming flashy, clocking a 4.49-second 40 (Martin ran a 4.55), but heís certainly been productive. Over the past two seasons, he scored 53 touchdowns (43 rushing and 10 receiving), more than any other FBS player, according to ESPN Stats & Info. He averaged 173.5 all-purpose yards per game, fifth-most in FBS. His ball security needs work.
At 5-9 and 215 pounds, heís got enough size to go north and south between the tackles and moves well laterally, too. Heís more than just a one-trick pony. He can function as a pass-catcher, which can help him separate himself among the Bucs' group of backs. According to Pro Football Focus, he dropped just two of 107 catchable targets in a three-year span. The past two seasons he made 88 catches for 934 yards and 10 touchdowns.
7 - DT - Stevie Tuíkolovatu - USC
As Bucs general manager Jason Licht put it, Tu'kolovatu is "surprisingly quick" for his 6-foot-1, 320-pound frame. In three years at Utah and USC, he had 89 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, three pass deflections and four fumble recoveries. He won the Rose Bowl Defensive Player of the Game after recording a team-leading eight tackles against Penn State.
One of the Bucs' biggest priorities of the draft was physicality on defense. They also began placing more of an emphasis on first and second down last season, as they struggled at times to stop the run. They gave up 4.39 yards per carry, 10th most in the league. The biggest way he can contribute as a run stopper, just like Sealver Siliga.