There is little that is recognizable in the 2020 sports landscape, but the NFL Draft is still on and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a good position to make the most of it.
The 2020 NFL Draft commences on Thursday evening, with the Cincinnati Bengals first on the clock shortly after 8:00 p.m. ET. The Buccaneers own the 14th-overall pick and, barring a trade, will probably get their chance somewhere around 9:30 p.m.
That is the first of seven picks the Buccaneers possess as the draft begins, including their own in each of the first six rounds and a seventh-rounder obtained on Tuesday in the Rob Gronkowski trade with New England. Tampa Bay does not have its own seventh-round pick, having included it in the 2019 DeSean Jackson trade to Philadelphia.
View pictures from TE Rob Gronkowski's NFL career thus far.
Tampa Bay's placement at number 14 is the result of their 7-9 record in 2019. The Buccaneers were one of six teams to finish 7-9, putting them in a six-team "segment" with the Jets, Raiders, Colts, Broncos and Falcons. Using the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker, the Buccaneers were initially put in the fourth slot of those six tied teams, which will rotate between the 11th and 16th picks from Round to Round. Each team moves up one spot each round, with the team picking 11th dropping back to 16th.
That results in the Buccaneers picking 45th overall in Round Two and 76th overall in Round Three. Those two rounds take place on Friday evening, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. Tampa Bay will likely be on the clock around 8:00 p.m. in the second round and 10:00 p.m. in the third round. The final four rounds take place on Saturday, beginning at noon ET. Tampa Bay is slated to make the 117th pick in the fourth round, the 161st pick in the fifth round and the 194th pick in the sixth round. The selection gained from the Patriots is number 241. The 2020 NFL Draft will likely conclude around 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, though the Buccaneers may be done shortly before 4:00 p.m.
View pictures of QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski through the years.
Here's a look at the Buccaneers' overall draft pick collection heading into Thursday evening
• Round 1, Pick 14 (14th overall)
• Round 2, Pick 13 (45th overall)
• Round 3, Pick 12 (76th overall)
• Round 4, Pick 11 (117th overall)
• Round 5, Pick 15* (161st overall)
• Round 6, Pick 15 (194th overall)
• Round 7, Pick 27 (241st overall)
* Though the Buccaneers are slotted 16th in Round Five it's actually the 15th pick of the round because the Arizona Cardinals exercised their fifth-round pick in the 2019 supplemental draft
Of course, trades will reshape the draft assets for many teams during the three days of the draft, including an inevitable handful of swaps in the first round. Last year, 12 of the 32 first-round picks changed hands before they were executed, including one pick that was swapped three times. Those included trades made before and during the draft. This year, six first-round picks have already been traded.
The Buccaneers have been involved in at least one trade while the draft was in progress in each of the first six drafts conducted by General Manager Jason Licht, including moves down in the first round in 2016 and 2018. Most notably, Licht traded with Buffalo from the seventh pick down to the 12th spot in 2018 before drafting defensive lineman Vita Vea. That netted the Buccaneers two extra second-round selections. Last year, Licht traded down in the third round before selecting cornerback Jamel Dean, netting an extra third-rounder that became safety Mike Edwards.
Of course, while this year's draft will still be conducted on its originally-scheduled dates, it is not unaffected by the restrictions caused by the efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The central gathering in Las Vegas was cancelled and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will run the proceedings from the basement of his own house. NFL general managers will also be drafting from home, with only minimal I.T. help allowed to be on hand.
Licht will still hold his usual press briefings after the team's first-round pick and at the end of the second and third days of the draft via video conferences, which will be carried live on Buccaneers.com. Licht will also conduct an exclusive interview with Buccaneers.com shortly before the beginning of the draft on Thursday night. The team's official website will also provide extensive coverage of all the Buccaneers picks and trades throughout the three days of the draft, as well as the press conference for the player picked in the first round.