2020 Draft Wrap: Big Offseason Gets Bigger (2023)

In some teams' NFL offseasons, the draft is by far the biggest news. But that's hard to say about a team that signs the most successful quarterback in league history, trades in for their all-time favorite target, and somehow manages to keep all three would-be free agents on their loaded defensive line.

That team is the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose offense is now emergingTom Bradyand welcomed back Rob Gronkowski and his up-and-coming defenseShaquil Barett, Jason Pierre-Pauland Ndamukong Suh. Brady and the defensive signings were priorities 1A and 1B for a team that thinks it's on the cusp of the Super Bowl, and the Gronkowski trade was a tasty bit of pre-draft icing. But that's not to say the 2020 draft lacked meaning for the Buccaneers.OneDraft is vital to the development of a team and it was needed to address some very specific issues in the roster.

The Bucs believe they've succeeded, and welcome the expectations arising from that string of previous moves and this weekend's drafting efforts.

"I love them," said head coach Bruce Arians. "I suppose so. I want our boys to feel like we're a team to beat. Everyone who walked out of our dressing room at that last meeting knew we should have been in the playoffs, and we beat ourselves if we could correct the sales ratio we have a chance so yes I think everyone who walks into our building expects to win.

(Video) 10 Winners & Losers from the 2020 NFL Draft | #NFLRT

Of course, the immediate post-draft emotions are always positive every year in 32 different NFL venues, but Arians and general manager Jason Licht have a special affinity for the seven players they added over the weekend.

"We felt like we had the board set up really well and the players that we were getting, they all have some redeeming qualities that we loved and they really stood out," Licht said. "One thing they all had in common is that they love football, are ballers and are very passionate about the game."

Here's the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft class:

2020 Draft Wrap: Big Offseason Gets Bigger (1)
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The biggest draft news for the Buccaneers came quickly in the form of big and fast offensive tacklesTristan Wirfs. Just managing to get into the early draft run with top-notch tackle prospects, Tampa Bay landed the super-athletic Iowa tackle they had coveted for some time. Wirfs filled what was clearly the most important need on the depth chart: a proper tackle to take on the late Demar Dotson and help Brady stay upright so he can utilize the team's extensive weapon arsenal.

And that arsenal only got bigger when Vanderbilt ran backKe’Shawn Vaughnin round three, Minnesota wide receiver Tyler Johnson in round five and Louisiana-Lafayette RB Raymond Calais in round seven. Vaughn joins Ronald Jones in the Bucs backfield and is expected to be a versatile threat who can make a difference in the passing game. Johnson was a prolific receiver for the Gophers with a natural ability to open up. he will join the Pro Bowl duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin for a chance to win third place. Calais averaged 7.8 yards per carry throughout his collegiate career and was also a prolific kickoff returner.


(Video) The draft reaches of the 2020 AFL Draft.

Arians said it came as no surprise to call for the draft with two new plays for the attacking backfield.

"It was kind of the plan. It's just that we like two different styles. [Vaughn] kind of does everything and the other one is kind of a joystick. He's one of those guys - he drives 4.33 and he's a running back/receiver/kick returner - just one of those guys that I enjoy playing with and I think both guys will find a role in our ball club.

"I think Ke'Shawn Vaughn is a guy who can play anything. I don't consider him David Johnson. I think Raymond [Calais] is a very smaller version but a much faster version of David Johnson. He's a devil I wouldn't say he's Tarik Cohen but he's such a style guy, that joystick guy that can go out and play wide receiver and be a mismatch.

The defense also received important assistance. Before the Bucs met Johnson, they dove into the Minnesota well for the first time in the second round and secured the playmaker's safetyAntoine Winfield jr.with the 45th overall pick. Winfield had a school record of seven interceptions last year, but he can also help out on run assists, cover pass catchers in the slot and even blitz the quarterback. In the sixth round, the Bucs reinforced their inside line of defense with the selection of Nebraska's Khalil Davis, another versatile player who has impressive movement skills for his 308-pound frame. And with the first of two late picks in the seventh round, Tampa Bay added Temple linebacker Chapelle Russell, who overcame two ACL tears to accumulate 238 career tackles and 19.5 tackles for losses.

As you may have noticed, the Buccaneers' 2020 draft had a decidedly Big Ten flavor. Each of their top five picks spent time in that conference; Vaughn played in Illinois for two years before joining Vandy. Licht is a former Nebraska player himself (before he was in the Big Ten), but the Bucs haven't specifically tried to improve the Big Ten's content on the Bucs' roster. They were simply looking for good players who had excelled against the top competition.

"It's just one of those things, you know," Arians said. “The board was set – I thought Jason did a great job with the board and we kept coming down and the guys fitted the needs and were right there to pick them. I can't say enough about each one. I think it's just like last year's draft, I think every single one of these guys could play a role on our team."

(Video) The Top 10 Wide Receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft

The Buccaneers' draft for 2020 was affected by two trades, but none of the mid-round maneuvers that Licht has repeatedly successfully executed. In this case, Gronkowski's New England trade the day before the draft cost Tampa Bay the first of his two fourth-round picks and returned a seventh-rounder. To ensure no team jumped over the Buccaneers to nab Werfs on Thursday night after Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Willis and Mekhi Becton were all off the board, Licht sent the team's other fourth-rounder to San Francisco to move up a spot and take his place man with the 13th pick. This tradeAlsoreturned a seventh-round pick, leaving Tampa Bay with two picks near the end of the draft. This marked the first time in seven Buccaneer drafts that light had risen in the first round. After that maneuver, Tampa Bay just stayed put and made picks at all of their original spots.

Licht also switched between offensive and defensive picks extensively, and ended up getting more offensive help after the team's last two drafts were very defensive-heavy. Still, the additions of Winfield, Davis and Russell should also have an impact on a defense that was among the league's best in the second half of the season after its fledgling runner-up began to gel.

Winfield's selection addresses a security position that was probably the most troubled part of the defensive depth chart. The team is still hoping to bail out 2017 second-round Justin Evans of the foot problems that have plagued his last two seasons and also have recent draftees Jordan Whitehead and Mike Edwards. But Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles also likes to get creative with their safes and has a very versatile arrow in Winfield.

"He's an extremely bright football player with great bloodlines," said Arians. “He's so positionally flexible — halffield, deepfield, midfield, nickel, dime, linebacker — he has so many positions to play. We love mixing it with our Safeties when they are interchangeable. He's part 'Honey Badger' [Tyrant Mathieu] and part Budda Baker - he's that type of player that we can use in a different kind of role along with our other safeties, which are interchangeable."

Davis joins a group led by fellow Nebraska resident Ndamukong Suh and 2019 first-round pick Vita Vea. These two helped the Bucs lead the NFL in rush defense and created one-on-one opportunities for an edge rush that produced 44 sacks. Davis can learn from Suh while also keeping the Bucs strong in the middle when he comes on. His 4.75-second, 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, where he also weighed 308 pounds, points to a later round that could develop into an impact player.

"He's a very sporty guy, not only in his 40s, all other tests were very good too," said Licht. “He has a good advantage so we'll see how it goes with him. In these late rounds, you want to pick up a flyer about guys who have those traits — on top of being a great kid and all that Nebraska stuff didn't hurt him."

Like many late-round players on both sides of the ball, Russell will likely get his early chances on special teams.

"Well, first of all, he's an aggressive player," said Licht. "He has an aggressive mindset and he's an instinctive player. He Is hard. He was a guy that we were targeting, he fits what we're trying to do and we're trying to strengthen our special teams. We think he can do that in the first place, but we see a big advantage in him."

(Video) Derek Stingley Jr, Bailey Zappe, Evan Neal Journey from Offseason Prep to the NFL Draft | Hey Rookie

There has never been an NFL roster, and the Buccaneers still have a lot of work to do, on the field and in the briefing rooms, to turn their heightened expectations into actual victories. But a newsworthy offseason has raised hopes and the 2020 draft has only boosted them. Hopefully the whole team can get together soon.


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