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2019 NFC South draft review: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

An overview of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2019 draft class:
Round 1, No. 5 overall: Devin White, LB, LSU
Round 2, No. 39 overall: Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan
Round 3, No. 94 overall: Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn
Round 3, No. 99 overall: Mike Edwards, DB, Kentucky
Round 4, No. 107 overall: Anthony Nelson, DE, Iowa
Round 5, No. 145 overall: Matt Gay, K, Utah
Round 6, No. 208 overall: Scott Miller, WR, Bowling Green
Round 7, No. 215 overall: Terry Beckner Jr., DT, Missouri

Tampa Bay possessed eight draft picks, including at least one selection in each round of the 2019 NFL Draft. After selecting LSU standout linebacker Devin White fifth overall, day two of the draft was all about the secondary for the Buccaneers. Cornerback Sean Bunting was selected in the second round, while cornerback Jamel Dean was taken with their first pick in the third round. The Bucs went to the defensive back pool once again at No. 99 overall, selecting Kentucky safety Mike Edwards. Tampa Bay made it clear that defense was a priority in this year’s draft, as six of its eight selections came from the defensive side of the ball.

Prior to the Bucs selecting White with their top-five pick, the last time an inside linebacker was taken in the top five occurred when the Green Bay Packers selected A.J. Hawk fifth overall in 2006. White, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound first team All-American enjoyed a productive collegiate career. In his sophomore season at LSU, White led the SEC in tackles with 133, the fourth most tackles in a single season in school history. He was the 2018 Butkus Award winner, team MVP, and permanent team captain. With the departure of Kwon Alexander, White has an opportunity to play right away and help a Bucs defense that allowed the highest completion percentage in the NFL last season (72.5 percent), according to ESPN stats and information.

Named to the All-Mid-American Conference first team defense, Sean Bunting appeared in 12 games, starting 11, recorded 37 tackles, three tackles for loss and two interceptions for Central Michigan in 2018. The 6-1, 181-pound cornerback ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. Once rated a 2-star wide receiver recruit coming out of high school, Bunting notes that his best attribute is being able to take the ball out of the air. “I’m a ball hawk. I consider myself a receiving defensive back," Bunting said. "That’s something I take pride in, being able to take the ball away and give it back to the offense.”

The Bucs’ first pick in the third round was Jamel Dean, cornerback out of Auburn. Tampa Bay General Manager Jason Licht said that drafting back-to-back corners was a function of the way the draft board fell. With Vernon Hargraves and Carlton Davis already on the roster at that position, Licht says he wasn’t happy with the defensive back play last season and that he believes they need more competition. Dean is 6-1 and ran a 4.30 40-yard dash time.

Mike Edwards was selected with the 35th pick in the third round. Edwards never missed a game in his four-year career at Kentucky, playing in 51 games with 44 consecutive starts, totaling 318 tackles, just the 19th player in school history with 300 or more tackles. The 6-foot, 200-pound safety from Cincinnati, Ohio, tallied 23 pass breakups and 10 interceptions during his collegiate career.

Defensive end was a position of need for the Bucs and they addressed it on Day 3. Anthony Nelson ranked second in the Big Ten and 17th nationally in sacks (9.5) in 2018. His 6-7, 275-pound frame is something Tampa Bay hopes to develop.

Matt Gay became the second kicker drafted by Tampa Bay in the last four drafts. The Bucs selected kicker Roberto Aguayo out of Florida State with the 59th overall pick in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Aguayo was waived by the Buccaneers on Aug. 12, 2017 after missing a 47-yard field goal in a preseason contest. Gay has been consistent from 40-plus yards and made 72 percent of his kicks from 50-plus yards during his career at Utah.

After losing receiver Adam Humphries in free agency, the Bucs selected Scott Miller, a slot receiver out of Bowling Green. The 5-11, 166-pound target started 11 games his senior season, leading the team in receiving yards with 1,148 and hauling in a team leading nine touchdown receptions. Miller was selected first team All-MAC by sportswriter Phil Steele.

Lastly, taken as the first pick in the seventh round was defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. out of Missouri. Beckner Jr. headlined a dominant group of defensive tackles as he led all Mizzou interior defenders with 34 tackles, including a team-high 11.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, five QB hurries and a pass deflection. Before suffering a torn ACL in his right knee as a high school prospect in 2015, ESPN had Beckner ranked as the No. 2 high school prep player in the country.

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