TAMPA, Fla. (AP) If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted as well as they think they will, Tom Brady’s supporting cast will be better next season.
With the defending NFC South champions once again presenting themselves as a team made up of veterans without relying on rookies to fill in their glaring weaknesses, vice president of player personnel John Spytek believes the draft class of this year can help make a difference.
“They’re going to have every chance to do that,” Spytek said Saturday, but added that, for the second straight year, it’s good to be in a position where the Bucs don’t rely on draft picks for fill in the gaps in attack and defense. .
In 2021, the Bucs fired all 22 starters from a roster that won the Super Bowl the previous season. They haven’t been able to replicate that this offseason, but most of the roster remains intact as the team — and Brady — prepare to chase another championship.
After trading the first round Thursday night, the Bucs selected Houston defensive tackle Logan Hall and Michigan center guard Luke Goedeke in the second round. Arizona State all-around running back Rachaad White was the third-round pick.
The team added five selections in the last four rounds on Saturday, taking Washington tight end Cade Otton and Georgian punter Jake Camarda in fourth; Sam Houston State defensive back Zyon McCollum in the fifth; Minnesota tight end Ko Kieft at sixth and LSU rusher Andre Anthony at seventh.
Depending on whether general manager Jason Licht eventually re-signs free agents Ndamukong Suh and/or Rob Gronkowski, there could be some interesting competition for a few jobs in training camp. Hall could challenge Suh for the starting defensive line spot he’s held for the past three seasons and Otton could be in line for tight end game time.
Gronkowski, drawn to retirement and secured in a trade after Brady signed with the Bucs two years ago, said he would take his time deciding whether to return to the field.
Licht said Friday that the status of Brady’s longtime teammate will not affect Tampa Bay’s draft strategy.
“I still give him that time. We are still talking. I think it didn’t matter if we drafted two tight ends. It wouldn’t matter,” Licht said. “I think Rob is happy about that. The more the merrier, the better for him. So it’s not showing our hand or predicting what’s going to happen in the future.
Camarda, meanwhile, may have as much of a chance as any of the newcomers to make an immediate impact. His selection as the second of two Round 4 picks indicates veteran punter Bradley Pinion’s days with the Bucs could be numbered.
Along with averaging 42.5 yards per punt last season, Pinion’s projected salary of $2.9 million next season is not guaranteed.
The Bucs have added eight players – four on offense, three on defense and a punter. While they didn’t necessarily have urgent needs to get into the draft, they were able to build depth on the defensive and offensive lines, as well as running back and in the secondary.
Camarda was one of three bettors drafted in the first six rounds.
“He fits a lot of what we’re looking for,” Spytek said, adding that the fourth-round pick has an incredibly strong leg that was a game-changer in Georgia.
Camarda won the starting pitching job as a rookie and last season helped the Bulldogs win the national championship. He thinks all the big games he’s been in during his college career will help him transition to the NFL.
“I think it definitely prepared me for the next level, playing at Georgia for four years, playing in all the biggest games you could imagine,” Camarda said.
KEEP THEIR WORD
McCollum impressed the Bucs at the Senior Bowl and said one of the team’s scouts told him that if he was able to run in under 4.45 seconds for 40 yards at the combine, “then we’ll draft you.”
“The interview went really well. They liked me and the way I spoke – my intelligence and what I did in terms of production. But there were just a few things I had to do on my own to prove myself,” McCollum said.
“I think the night I had that performance at the combine, they texted my agent and said, ‘Zyon McCollum is going to be a Buccaneer. There was so much going on in terms of Zoom meetings and meetings (draft prospect) and stuff, so I just took it with a grain of salt,” he added. “But it came true. They weren’t lying.
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