Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There were a lot of issues with the Bucs coming off of a 5-11 season, their tenth in a row that ended without a playoff berth. But no concern was as big as their overarching softness as a team. Something had to change to get the Bucs back to a team that valued physicality and aggression in its schemes and their play temperament.
So GM Jason Licht started in the trenches, adding a center with a nasty mean streak in Ryan Jensen, before selecting Alex Cappa in Round Three, one of the best finishers in the draft. Cappa should push for time at left guard right away, while Jensen will plug in next to Ali Marpet to give the Bucs a much improved interior offensive line.
On defense, the changes were even more needed. After jettisoning Chris Baker’s apathetic 2017 presence, the Bucs added high motor, powerful run defenders to their front line in Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Mitch Unrein and Beau Allen. All four would be described by any coach as relentless workers and dogged in their playing style, an identity first-round pick Vita Vea also brings to the table. Add those five to a group that already offered Gerald McCoy and a bigger, healthier Noah Spence, and the Bucs offer the most improved defensive line in the NFL.
Tampa also needed some of that nasty in the secondary, where rookies M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis should be the future at the position. With Brent Grimes hitting 35 before the season ends, that future may come sooner than expected if Vernon Hargreaves can’t step up this year.
The Bucs mandate was to get better in the trenches, find a running back (enter Ronald Jones), improve the cornerback position and get more physical overall. They’ve checked all of those boxes, and while it may not be enough in the currently loaded NFC, Tampa will be much more competitive in 2018.