Job No. 1 of the Buccaneers in this draft was to beef up protection for new quarterback Tom Brady, a future Hall of Famer, for sure, but a 42-year-old one who lacks mobility and needs to be kept off the turf.
With the selection of Tristan Wirfs, the Bucs accomplished that. They traded up a spot with the 49ers (Tampa had to give up a fourth-rounder to do so) to ensure they got their man but he should be worth it—some considered Wirfs to be the best left tackle in this draft, despite the fact that he went fourth among a group that included Andrew Thomas, Mekhi Becton, and Jedrick Wills.
The Buccaneers signed tackle Joe Haeg as a free agent and he will probably get first crack at the starting spot on the left side. But Wirfs provides depth, athleticism, and, ultimately, more upside.
Tampa Bay was 22nd in the NFL in giving up 2.9 sacks per game last year and Brady is not accustomed to that kind of beating. He was sacked only 1.6 times per game, third in the league. His quick decision-making alone should help reduce Tampa’s sack totals. But he’ll need help from the line, too.
“I would say we would always prioritize that position as one we would want to make sure we solidify,” Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht told reporters. “It doesn’t matter who is playing quarterback, you have to keep them upright. I know the fact that Tom is a little up there in age people are making a little bigger deal of that, so yeah, we want to protect him. But any quarterback that’s back there, we want to protect.”
What’s Next for Buccaneers?
Next up for the Buccaneers likely will be running back. Ronald Jones is the incumbent and he could be part of a decent enough committee of running backs but he is not much of a pass protector or receiver out of the backfield. That’s the kind of guy who thrives with Brady.
It’s likely that D’Andre Swift of Georgia, Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin, or Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins would be the target here. Swift might be the best in the passing game right now, so he might have the edge. But Taylor’s collegiate resume was impressive.
The Bucs could also be tempted to add help in the defensive backfield. There were no true safeties chosen in the first round, which means there will be ample talent—Trevon Diggs (a corner) or Xavier McKinney of Alabama, Antone Winfield of Minnesota, Terrell Burgess of Utah—among the 2nd– and 3rd-round corners and safeties.
Bucs’ Current Draft Board
Here is a 2020 NFL draft pick-by-pick breakdown for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Round 1 — Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa. (No. 13 overall, from Colts through 49ers)
Round 2 (45)
Round 3 (76)
Round 5 (161)
Round 6 (194)
Round 7 (241, from Seahawks through Patriots)
Round 7 (245, from 49ers)