This is another spot where the team drafting will have a choice between two high-quality players. With this selection, the Buccaneers will probably consider Quenton Nelson or Derwin James, and it won’t be an easy decision. That said, going with James probably makes more sense for a couple of reasons.
The first is that the Buccaneers already have a setup on the interior of their offensive line that should work out well. They paid center Ryan Jensen big bucks to come to Tampa, and he is going to take over for the excellent Ali Marpet at center. Marpet is shifting over to guard with the solid Evan Smith returning to be his counterpart. While it’s possible that Nelson could upgrade over Smith, the Bucs may not necessarily need him.
But at safety, the Bucs unquestionable need some help. Second round pick Justin Evans flashed as a rookie in 2017, but the team needs some better play across from him. Keith Tandy is a solid rotational player and has good coverage skills, but the team needs a do-it-all safety to play next to Evans and shore up the secondary.
That’s where James would come in. At Florida State, James was an excellent coverage safety and he will have the versatility to play multiple spots in the secondary. In addition to his nice athleticism, James is a very good tackler and has the instincts necessary to react quickly on run plays and make stops. He will be an immediate impact player at the next level, and thus, spending a top 10 pick on him is warranted.
Also, it’s worth noting that James well could go in front of Minkah Fitzpatrick in the draft. While many have hyped up Fitzpatrick as the better player, the truth is that they are about equal and in this scenario, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. All it will take is one team to like James more than Fitzpatrick, and he will come off the board. The Bucs could well be that team.