You've heard things here and there and probably read articles galore following the week in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine. Here, I give you some snippets and not-quite-complete thoughts on the most important things we learned as they pertain to the Bucs and the upcoming 2020 season.
-No decision has been made on quarterback Jameis Winston on whether or not to let him test free agency. You heard it from Bucs General Manager Jason Licht. You heard it from Head Coach Bruce Arians. They are doing their 'due diligence' as is the responsible thing to do and trying to decipher what is best for the franchise. They'll know more, and therefore you'll know more, in about a week or so. The deadline to tag a player is March 12. Free agency opens March 18.
-Tight end Antony Auclair is a 'big part' of the Bucs' offensive plans for 2020. "He's one of the best blocking tight ends in the league and he's really improved as a receiver, so he's a big part of our plans," Arians said during media availability. Auclair provides that 'Y' tight end, where he's usually used as an extension of the offensive line. But he's improved to the point where you can't exactly count him out in the passing game either and will regularly release into routes.
-Both BA and Licht have spent a significant amount of time evaluating offensive tackles coming into the Combine. But that doesn't mean they're all in on letting vested veteran right tackle Demar Dotson go. In fact, it would certainly help in the development of any new offensive tackle talent, should they acquire some in the draft.
"We haven't closed the door on any of our impending free agents," said Licht. "Demar has done a fantastic job for us for a very long time and I've got a lot of respect for him."
-The 'Big Four' offensive tackle prospects could very well be gone by pick 14. From all the chatter around the Combine, it would surprise no one to see Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton and Andrew Thomas all gone before the Bucs get their shot.
-Iowa's Tristan Wirfs almost single-handedly made sure of that when he posted one of the best Combine performances ever by an offensive lineman. He ran a 4.85 40-yard dash at 320 pounds on top of a record 36.5-inch vertical and a 121.0-inch broad jump (which ties an OL Combine record). I had mocked Wirfs to the Bucs at No. 14 in our first Mock Draft a few weeks ago, but now, this just further reinforces the above sentiment and the fact that Wirfs will most likely be long gone by the time pick 14 rolls around.
-LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson may have changed some minds in Indianapolis, thereby solidifying himself as a first-round, if not Top 15, pick. He was extremely impressive at the podium when speaking to media. He has a ton of confidence in himself but doesn't think he's even scratched the surface of his potential.
"I've gotten some coaching, but on a scale of 1-10 I'm probably like a three right now," Chaisson said at the podium during media availability. "There's so much more I can get better at. I feel like right now, I've gotten this far just on raw talent."
-Clemson's Isaiah Simmons is a defensive cheat code. He played five different positions in college, ranging from cover corner to outside linebacker. And he is effective in all of them. How that translates at the NFL level will be up to his coaches and I'm not sure you could think of a better coach for him than someone as imaginative as Bucs Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles. He's a chess piece that could be used all over. But, after posting insane numbers like his 4.39 40-yard dash and 11-foot broad jump at nearly 6-4, 238 pounds, he's likely to go within the top 10.
-The process in which the coaching and personnel staffs work together in the pre-draft process is very collaborative. Licht said coaches and scouts are constantly in each other's offices and bouncing things back and forth.
-Neither BA nor Licht see a big need at safety for the Buccaneers. They think the Bucs can win with the current room they have. Licht said Justin Evans is progressing slowly in his rehab but getting him back would just be a 'bonus' and even Arians said they really like D'Cota Dixon. The UDFA out of Wisconsin in 2019 had a promising training camp before getting injured before the start of the season, undergoing shoulder surgery that would keep him out for the year.
-The Bucs may not have an immediate need at receiver, but the 2020 class is stacked. Henry Ruggs III, who wasn't even the highest profile wideout coming out of Alabama ran the best 40-time at the Combine with a 4.27. Denzel Mims from Baylor had the best three-cone drill time with 6.66 seconds. Donovan Peoples-Jones from Michigan had the best vertical, jumping an insane 44.5 inches. Tampa Bay's third receiver, Breshad Perriman, is a pending free agent. Should he be too expensive to keep after he lit it up towards the back end of the 2019 season, the Bucs would have no trouble nabbing a quality receiver to compete with Justin Watson and Scotty Miller in the draft.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah breaks down this year's draft.