-BIG news coming out of the Draft Room at AdventHealth Training Center this week. It was the Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge draft! Nine fans joined Scott Smith, Casey Phillips and me for a live draft inside the actual Buccaneers war room where General Manager Jason Licht and his staff do the real thing every year.
The draft order was determined by pulling envelopes out of a Buccaneer helmet and away we went. Personally, I had the eighth pick in the draft and with my first pick overall, went Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas. Now, I'm just as fond of New Orleans as a team as you probably are reading this, but emotional attachments are a no-go in fantasy football – pick the player that's probably going to get you the most points. Period.
There were some curveballs thrown. There were some picks stolen - I think I took Justin B's pick more than once – but all in all, it was efficient and I feel great about my team, The Bowles-room Blitz.
Midway through the draft, we even got a visit from a surprise guest.
Imagine drafting Mike Evans and then have him walk in the room. Congratulations to Becky, that was a special moment.
Scott is commissioner of the Bucs FANtasy Challenge league and as such, will be writing a weekly recap in which 'the gloves are coming off' according to him. Look out for all the trash talk once the regular season starts.
-The Bucs will be taking on the much-talked-about Cleveland Browns tonight for their third preseason contest. Across the league, this third preseason game is known as the 'dress rehearsal' because it's when starters will play the most snaps. It serves as an evaluation for the coaching staff and for the Bucs, who learned an entirely new system this offseason under Coach Arians, this opportunity is invaluable. It provides just enough time to see if players have grasped the concepts and make any necessary tweaks before the start of the regular season in a couple of weeks.
The challenge will come against a familiar opponent, too. Cleveland Head Coach Freddie Kitchens was once an assistant under Bruce Arians. He was there for all of Arians' tenure in Arizona. He also was on the same Dallas Cowboys staff with Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles back in 2006. The Buccaneers also have two former recent Browns in Breshad Perriman and Carl Nassib. Perriman was signed by Tampa Bay this offseason from Cleveland and Nassib was signed by the Bucs immediately before the 2018 regular season. Nassib had his best game of the season against the Browns, registered two sacks and a broken up pass. We'll see if he can have a similar impact in the snaps he plays tonight.
-A brand new episode of The Bay aired last night with Casey going fishing with quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The veteran quarterback is a country boy at heart and you'll enjoy getting to see that side of him.
-Another episode of In the Current also premiered this week – this time, recapping joint practices and the subsequent game against the Miami Dolphins. We also got to pick cornerback Vernon Hargreaves' brain a little bit. At 24 years old, Hargreaves is the veteran in the cornerbacks room. He and a lot of young players are being called on to lead the Bucs' defense this year. But judging from Hargreaves words (and play) so far this preseason, it seems like they're up for the challenge.
-Head Coach Bruce Arians' infamous hat is now in stock! Get yours and do some good for the Arians Family Foundation all at the same time.
The countdown to season kickoff is on! The Bucs are kicking off the NFL's 100th season with a FREE Tim McGraw pregame concert for all fans with a ticket to the home opener on Sept. 8! Get your tickets today.