While on-field drills just started last night, the NFL Scouting Combine has been in full swing all week. We got the opportunity to hear from both Head Coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Jason Licht for the first time in a few months, as well as talk to the top draft prospects, some of which could end up as a Buccaneer come April.
-The 2020 offensive line class is thought to be very deep this year, which is good news for the Buccaneers, who have a need there. Whether or not that need is addressed in the draft or not remains to be seen, but both Arians and Licht did quite a bit of work in evaluating offensive line prospects coming into Indianapolis.
The big four offensive tackles will take the field for drills Friday, but in the meantime, they impressed at the podium during media availability. Georgia's Andrew Thomas said he had a formal interview with the Bucs the next day. Though he played a majority of his time at Georgia at left tackle, he said he's up for playing either side at the next level. He's also being touted as the best and most complete tackle in this class. Iowa's Tristan Wirfs talked about being a former wrestler and how that's helped his physicality – a trait that others who have played against him have picked up on, too.
-Talking to both Licht and Arians on Tuesday provided some insight into their thought process as free agency quickly approaches. The domino effect of free agency will play a major role in who the Bucs will target in the draft and what their priorities end up being. Something that has been said since the season ended and then reinforced in Indianapolis was the Bucs' emphasis on re-signing as many of their defensive front seven as possible. Outside linebackers Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib are all pending free agents. Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Beau Allen will need new deals. And with the success the defense had last year, especially at the tail end, Tampa Bay will want to keep that momentum. Though Licht said that the situation is 'fluid' and no decisions have been made on any of the Bucs' free agents.
-One of those impending free agents is quarterback Jameis Winston. Both Licht and Arians insisted there was no decision made on whether to let Winston test free agency or not, specifically. Winston was the first overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft and is the only quarterback Licht and his staff have drafted for the Bucs. Winston's fifth-year option was picked up for 2019 by the Bucs but now a decision must be made as he becomes an unrestricted free agent. In turn, that meant they are doing their due diligence on the quarterbacks in the 2020 draft class and are 'open' to drafting one.
"If it's the right guy at the right time, I don't think we want one that's going to be sitting on the bench for three years, but if he is he's got to come at the right time in the draft," said Arians. "And I think there are some guys like that, with big upsides."