The Buccaneers' offense had a historic season in 2015, finishing fifth in the NFL in yards per game, which was the team's highest-ever finish. But Tampa Bay finished in the middle of the league for most defensive stats and found themselves near the bottom in points allowed.
The Bucs were busy in the offseason adding pieces to hopefully improve their defense. The team signed Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes and defensive end Robert Ayers, who earned 9.5 sacks a year ago, as free agents. Tampa Bay continued to add pieces in the draft, picking up cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and defensive end Noah Spence in Rounds 1 and 2 of the draft. The Bucs drafted another defensive back, Ryan Smith, in the fourth round and a linebacker, Devante Bond, in the sixth round.
NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt names 11 rookies who will make an immediate impact on their new team.
The Bucs' draft class has drawn positive reviews, including being selected as the NFL's second-best by ESPN's John Clayton. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein agrees that the Buccaneers had a successful draft; earlier this week, he selected the Bucs as one of the most improved defenses in the league.
"Vernon Hargreaves should step into playing time immediately at one cornerback spot, and he could be a big upgrade at the position," Zierlein wrote. "Noah Spence offers pass-rush potential at the defensive end spot, which is something the Bucs came into the draft hoping to address. Smooth-moving cornerback Ryan Smith has excellent mirror-and-match footwork that should get him noticed in camp."
Other teams to be listed include the Jaguars, Jets and Titans. For a look at Zierlein's full list, click HERE.