Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2017 draft class: Kiper's grades, McShay's best pick, more
NFL Draft Insiders
Posted: 2017-05-01

The 2017 NFL draft is over, and it's time to review how your favorite team fared. Where did it reach? Did it get a potential steal in Round 5? Is there a bust waiting to happen?

ESPN Insider's draft experts break down each draft class, starting with Mel Kiper Jr.'s grade, Todd McShay's favorite pick, and Scouts Inc.'s analysis on how each player fits into his new team.



Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mel Kiper's Draft Grade: A-

Kiper: O.J. Howard at 19 is in the running for best pick of the entire draft. I can't believe he made it there -- I thought he might go as high as No. 4. He wasn't a prolific pass-catcher at Alabama, including only 37 catches last season, but he has all the tools scouts look for in an NFL tight end. And he's already an above-average blocker. This is a value pick at Tampa's No. 1 position of need.

I liked Chris Godwin in the third round. His 4.42 40 at 6-foot-1, 209 at the combine turned some heads, and his tape is solid. The receiving corps of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Godwin -- plus Howard and Cameron Brate -- has to be one of the most improved units in the league since the season ended. Justin Evans was picked about 50 spots too high based on my board, especially with Josh Jones and Obi Melifonwu still on the board. The junior college transfer is more of a center fielder. Kendell Beckwith, on the other hand, was picked 40 spots lower than where I had him. He's coming off a torn ACL suffered in late November, but he should be ready for training camp. Jeremy McNichols is my ninth-ranked rusher, and so getting him in the fifth round qualifies as a nice pick. He had 88 catches over the past two seasons.

I'm betting Jameis Winston is the person most thrilled with this Bucs draft.

ROUND/PICK NAME POS COLLEGE
1/19 O.J. Howard TE ALABAMA
2/50 Justin Evans S TEXAS A&M
3/84 Chris Godwin WR PENN STATE
3/107 Kendell Beckwith ILB LSU
5/162 Jeremy McNichols RB BOISE STATE
7/223 Stevie Tu'Ikolovatu DT USC



Todd McShay's favorite pick

O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (pick No. 19)

I thought tight end would be in play for the Buccaneers early in the draft, but I never believed the best player at the position would fall all the way to pick No. 19. He was the seventh overall player on my board. Jameis Winston should be thrilled with this pick: Howard gives the QB a legit game-breaker down the season. The Buccaneers have done a great job of upgrading their passing game this offseason by drafting Howard and signing free-agent WR DeSean Jackson.

Scouts Inc. on 2017 class

1 (19) O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama | Highlights

What he brings: The most complete tight end in the class. Howard is a big and athletic pass-catching tight end with the speed to stretch the vertical seams. In addition, he brings quality value as an inline blocker. He's got room to improve route awareness. -- Kevin Weidl

How he fits: After signing DeSean Jackson in free agency, the Bucs continue to help out quarterback Jameis Winston and surround him with offensive weapons. Howard adds a big-play element down the middle of the field when flanked by Jackson and Mike Evans on the outside. Howard's ability as an inline blocker also will help improve a rushing offense that ranked 24th last year. -- Kevin Weidl



2 (18) Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M | Highlights

What he brings: Evans gambles and gets caught out of position, but his aggressiveness and above-average ball skills also lead to big plays. Plus, he plays faster than his timed top-end speed, he has above-average short area cover skills, and he's tough against the run. -- Steve Muench

How he fits: Tampa Bay has some depth at safety and it signed J.J. Wilcox, but Bradley McDougald signed with Seattle and the Bucs need a safety capable of pushing for a starting job. Evans is an instinctive safety who fits the bill. He is a bit of a reach here, though, especially with Connecticut's Obi Melifonwu still on the board. -- Steve Muench



3 (20) Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State | Highlights

What he brings: Godwin is a physical route runner with an above-average blend of height, weight and top-end speed, and he helped himself with a strong showing at the combine. He's also sure-handed with the body control, leaping ability and focus to make tough catches. -- Steve Muench

How he fits: The Buccaneers continue to build an arsenal for quarterback Jameis Winston. Godwin has a chance to do some damage in one-on-one matchups with the attention DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans will command. -- Kevin Weidl



3 (43) Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU

What he brings: Beckwith is coming off a season-ending torn ACL and hasn't been able to work out for teams as a result. He's a physical run-stuffing inside linebacker who is serviceable in underneath zone coverage and flashes as a pass-rusher on tape. -- Steve Muench

How he fits: As long as Beckwith makes a full recovery from a torn ACL, he has the tools to win the starting strongside linebacker job and help bolster a run defense that finished 22nd in yards allowed per game last year. -- Steve Muench



5 (18) Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State | Highlights

What he brings: There are concerns about McNichols' injury history and ball security, but he's a versatile weapon with the burst and versatility to develop into an effective complementary back. He figures to make substantial contributions on third down. -- Steve Muench



7 (5) Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, DT, USC | Highlights

What he brings: Tu'ikolovatu is a massive and powerful two-down space-eater who will instantly upgrade a team's interior run defense. His weight and diet will need to be monitored. -- Kevin Weidl



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