Tampa Bay finish the 2017 Draft with a bevy of big strong selections, hoping that they have the keys to get back to the playoffs. The team sought out game changers that will take them to the top of the NFC South.
When Cameron Brate went down with a back injury against the Saints, the Bucs’ playoff hopes limped off the field with him. While Brate was productive last year as a pass catcher, his size will limit his ability to become an elite tight end in the NFL. Though tight end was not seen as a position of need for the Bucs, O. J. Howard was too good to pass up when he was still on the board at the 19th selection of the First Round. At 6-6, running a 4.5 40, Howard will be key in both Tampa Bay’s run and pass games, especially when teamed with Brate in a double tight-end set.
On the second day of the draft, the Bucs picked Justin Evans of Texas with the 50th pick. Evans may have gone earlier in the draft in another year. However, 2017 turned out to offer a deep class of defensive backs allowing Evans to still be around in the Second Round. Tampa Bay continued to improve the middle of the defense by trading the 125th and the 205th pick to get Kendall Beckwith of LSU in the Third Round. Beckwith, while talented, is seen as future addition to the rotation as he is presently recovering from a torn ACL he suffered late last season.
In between the two defensive picks on the second day, Tampa Bay took Chris Goodwin from Penn State with the 84th pick. Goodwin was a standout wide receiver who fueled the Nittany Lions resurgence last year and is known being able to go and get the ball. His addition to the receiving corps gives Bucs’ quarterback, Winston, added choices and gives Tampa Bay insurance at the wide out.
Tampa Bay used their pick in the Fifth Round to take a running back, Jeremy McNichols from Boise State. McNichols was college football’s most prolific touchdown scorer over the last two season and gives the Bucs another receiver coming out of the backfield. Rounding out the draft, Tampa Bay took Stevie Tu’kolovatu from USC, a 6-1, 310 pound tank who was named the Rose Bowl’s defensive player of the game.