The 2019 NFL Draft will commence on Thursday evening, with the Arizona Cardinals going on the clock shortly after 8:00 p.m. ET. Barring a trade, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make their first pick less than an hour later.
The Buccaneers enter the draft in possession of seven total picks, one in each round though not all their own original selections. Draft order is determined by the previous year's win-loss records, and the Buccaneers finished the 2018 season with a 5-11 mark putting them in a tied segment with Jacksonville and the New York Giants. Tampa Bay will pick fifth overall, first among those group of three, drop down to seventh in the second round and then rotate back up in subsequent rounds.
The Buccaneers own their own picks in each of the first five rounds. In January, they traded their sixth-round pick to Arizona and received the Cardinals' seventh-round choice back to facilitate the hiring of Head Coach Bruce Arians. In March, the Bucs traded wide receiver DeSean Jackson and a 2020 seventh-round pick for Philadelphia's sixth-round pick in this draft. In September of 2017, Tampa Bay traded safety J.J. Wilcox and their 2019 seventh-round pick to Pittsburgh for the Steelers' sixth-round pick in 2018, which was used to select linebacker Jack Cichy.
As a result of all of this, the Buccaneers are armed with these 2019 draft picks:
· Round 1, Pick 5 (5th overall)
· Round 2, Pick 7 (39th overall)
· Round 3, Pick 6 (70th overall)
· Round 4, Pick 5 (107th overall)
· Round 5, Pick 7 (145th overall)
· Round 6, Pick 36* (208th overall)
· Round 7, Pick 1 (215th overall)
* Originally a compensatory pick awarded to Philadelphia
Because they own high picks in each of the first three rounds, the Buccaneers are in good position to add significant talent to their roster in this year's draft. Using the Chase Stuart Draft Value chart, which assigns a point value to each of the first 224 picks based on empirical evidence from former drafts, Tampa Bay has the fifth-highest amount of "draft capital" this year. Picks 225 through 254 are assigned no value. Here are the top 10 teams in terms of draft capital heading into Thursday night:
Of course, teams will swap some of that capital after the draft has begun, and that will almost certainly start on Thursday night. Last year, for instance, seven trades took place while the first round was being conducted; the Baltimore Ravens alone moved around the board three times. Some were relatively small moves, like the Titans jumping up three spots from #25 to #22 to get linebacker Rashaan Evans. Others were much bigger, like the Saints surrendering a 2019 first-round pick to move all the way from #27 to #14 and secure defensive end Marcus Davenport. The Packers were on the other end of that deal, and that's the main reason they rank high in the chart above.
Could the Buccaneers be one of those teams involved in draft-pick swaps on Thursday night? General Manager Jason Licht has said that he would listen if any team calls with an offer to move up to the fifth spot, but there is probably a limit as to how far down the Bucs would go. Licht has certainly not been shy about dealing picks in his first five drafts with the Buccaneers, including trades in the first round in both 2018 and 2016. In both cases, those were relatively small moves down, prior to the selections of Vernon Hargreaves and Vita Vea, respectively.
Last year's trade was a slide of five spots but it netted the Bucs some serious assets: A pair of second-round picks. Licht made a couple other deals during the weekend and by the end of the proceedings the Buccaneers had increased their available assets more than any other team during the draft.
Draft Schedule, Time Limits, Special Announcers, Media Coverage
As noted above, the draft is scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday night, though NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell generally starts with an introduction before the clock actually starts ticking. Once it does, the Cardinals (barring a trade) will have up to 10 minutes to make a selection. They do so by communicating their pick to a team representative at draft headquarters, who writes the name on a card and hands it over to an NFL official. Goodell then takes the card to the podium and announces the pick.
That's not exactly how it will go when it's the Buccaneers' time to choose, however. Tampa Bay's first-round pick on Thursday night will be announced by Kacey Reynolds, a 19-year-old diehard Buccaneers fan from Maysville, Georgia. Reynolds, who is battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma, was granted this opportunity through Make-A-Wish, and he will join Goodell on the stage for the big moment. Reynolds found out that he was headed for Nashville through a video message sent by Mike Evans, the Buccaneers' first-round pick in 2014.
As they are currently scheduled to pick fifth, the Buccaneers will be on the clock no later than 40 minutes after the draft begins. Each team gets 10 minutes in the first round, and then the time limits shrink as the weekend progresses. Here are the time limits for each round:
Round 1: 10 minutes
Round 2: 7 minutes
Rounds 3-6: 5 minutes
Round 7: 4 minutes
The second and third rounds will be conducted on Friday night, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET, and the final four rounds will take place on Saturday, beginning at noon ET. All three days of the draft will be broadcast on NFL Network, ESPN and ABC.
Given the time limits noted above, the Buccaneers should be on the clock within the first hour on Friday night, too, assuming they do not trade from the 39th spot. Trent Dilfer, the Buccaneers' first-round pick in 1994, will announce that selection. In the third round, Tampa Bay's pick will be revealed by Dexter Jackson, a fourth-round pick by the franchise in 1999 and the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII, in which the Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders.
Buccaneers.com will provide thorough coverage and analysis of Tampa Bay's selections throughout the weekend and will also provide live streams of all the team's press conferences. That will include Jason Licht's meeting with the media shortly after the Bucs' first-round pick is announced, end-of-the day press conferences on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the introduction of the team's first pick on Friday afternoon. Buccaneers.com will also have an exclusive one-on-one interview with Jason Licht shortly before the first-round begins and immediately after the first pick is made.