The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started the process of signing their draft class at the top, getting a deal done with first-round pick O.J. Howard on Monday. On Tuesday, the Buccaneers came at it from the other end, finalizing contracts with their last three selections in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Linebacker Kendell Beckwith, running back Jeremy McNichols and defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu all signed their first NFL contracts on Tuesday, a few hours after the team finished the first of its 10 organized team activity (OTA) practices. Beckwith was the second of two third-round picks by Tampa Bay while McNichols was selected in the fifth round and Tu'ikolovatu came aboard in the seventh round. The Buccaneers traded up to get the selections for both Beckwith and Tu'ikolovatu.
Those two days' worth of contract work leave the Buccaneers with only two unsigned rookies: second-round safety Justin Evans and third-round wide receiver Chris Godwin. Both Evans and Godwin were at One Buccaneer Place for Tuesday's practice, though Evans has not yet been cleared to practice. It likely won't take long for those two to join their fellow draft class members under contract; holdouts by draft picks have become increasingly rare since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement introduced a rookie salary cap.
Beckwith (6-3, 247) was the final player selected in the third round, number 107 overall. He recorded 263 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, one interception, eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 44 games at LSU. Though he is still in the recovery process from a torn ACL suffered last November, Beckwith is expected to compete for the open spot at strongside linebacker and also offer the team depth at middle linebacker.
McNichols (5-9, 214) is the latest ultra-productive Boise State running back to jump to the NFL, following in the footsteps of his new Buccaneer teammate Doug Martin and Miami's Jay Ajayi. In his two seasons as the Broncos' starter (2015-16), McNichols amassed 3,205 rushing yards, 1,089 yards on 103 receptions and 55 total touchdowns. The Buccaneers will be without Martin for the first three games of the 2017 season, so McNichols could fit immediately into the backfield mix.
Tu'ikolovatu (6-1, 320) continued his career as a post-graduate at USC in 2017 after playing two seasons at Utah. For the Trojans, he was considered one of the nation's best interior run-stoppers while collecting 53 tackles and two tackles for loss last fall. The Buccaneers have made an effort to increase the size of the middle of their defense in order to be more stout against the run, so Tu'ikolovatu could find a regular spot in the D-Line rotation on first and second down.