On Monday, we started our ideal off-season for how we can "Make the Bucs Great Again," by sharing the players who would be cap casualties if I was in control. After releasing those 4 players, I gained an extra $10.5 million in cap space, and now I have the Bucs at $59 million under the projected salary cap.
On Tuesday, we went through all of the Bucs own free agents and told you exactly what I would do with each player. These decisions cost me about $17 million, which brought my cap room down to $42 million dollars to work with. We initially used spotrac.com for all spec9ifications, but according to overthecap.com, Jacquies Smith is an ERFA, which means his cap number is closer to $500,000 than $2.5 million for 2016, giving me an extra $2 million to play with!
On Wednesday, we shared with you our free agent targets and the price tags we would pay for them. We addressed numerous positional needs on defense, and now can head into the draft with the mindset of selecting the best players regardless of position.
1st Round: Noah Spence | Edge Rusher | Eastern Kentucky
If Spence is on the board, and his character was checked thoroughly by the Bucs and came back positive, he should immediately be the Bucs' pick. A combination of Olivier Vernon and Noah Spence could prove to be lethal, and might elevate the game of Gerald McCoy from good to possibly reaching that "great" status.
2nd Round: Jason Spriggs | OT | Indiana
I keep hearing from "media" folks that the Bucs wouldn't take an offensive lineman early. Why the hell not? Demar Dots has one year left on his deal and wants to get overpaid and Gosder Cherilus is an older offensive tackle with bad knees. Spriggs should tickle the fancy of Bucs GM Jason Licht. He is big, physical, nasty, and nimble. Spriggs could either start immediately leading to the departure of Dotson or Cherilus, or sit and develop during his rookie year. Having Spriggs, Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, and Kevin Pamphile (Logan Mankins' successor), gives the Bucs the makings of a young offensive line that could grow for years to come.
3rd Round: Chris Jones | DT | Mississippi State
I could see Jones sneak into the 2nd round, but with there being so much depth at DT this year, he may slip to the 3rd round. Jones has a great frame (6'5'' 308 lbs) and can get bigger. He played all over the defensive line for Mississippi State and would eventually look great next to Gerald McCoy.
4th Round: Deiondre Hall | CB | Northern Iowa
Hall's an interesting corner. He can be arrogant, cocky, and is a big talker. He'll also take, perhaps, too many chances, which can lead to big plays for both his defense and the opposing offense. With the Bucs having Johnthan Banks, Alterraun Verner, and either Trumaine Johnson or Janoris Jenkins throughout the off-season I've put together, Hall can sit and learn before being needed to take over next year when Banks is a free agent and another decision on Verner's status is needed.
5th Round: Mike Thomas | WR | Southern Miss
Mike Thomas might not have been invited to the combine, but the Bucs don't need to see him at the combine to know what he can do. Thomas' college coach, Todd Monken, is now the Bucs' offensive coordinator and receivers' coach. Thomas can play the slot and stretch the field. Oh, he can also be a returner.
6th Round: Dan Vitale | FB | Northwestern
So, JJ Watt's brother and Rob Gronkowski's brother are both in this draft and both play full back. So what? Vitale is a very good full back who played in the physical Northwestern offense. It would not surprise me to see a full back taken by the Bucs late in this year's draft.
6th Round: Peyton Barber | RB | Auburn
Barber entered this year's draft early because his mom is homeless, and he wants to provide for her. It's a great story of motivation. Most likely, the Bucs won't be keeping this pick, since late picks are often traded, but if they do, another RB is not out of the question.
Coming early next week, we will recap our off-season, and share the Bucs new roster heading into the 2016 season.