2020 Draft Class Grade

February 18th, 2021

“We’ve drafted two starters, fool.”

If Joe had a draft like this, Joe would be chugging Bud Lights on a boat, too.

(Do not fear, Joe only drinks Big Storm beer now.)

The way Bucs stud right tackle Tristan Wirfs has played, even after being the fourth offensive tackle taken in the draft, is stuff NFL draft dreams are made of.

Wirfs has been nearly perfect. As much as Joe loves Mike Evans and thinks Evans someday should be in the Hall of Fame, Wirfs may be better than Evans at his respective position.

Wirfs very easily could go down as the best draft pick during the tenure of Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht. It sure as hell will be hard to top.

So in looking back at the 2020 draft for NFL.com, Nick Shook gives Licht and his staff an “A-” for landing second-round pick starting safety Antoine Winfield and Wirfs. Joe is guessing Shook didn’t reward Licht with an “A” because the picks after Winfield didn’t make a consistent impact.

Round 1
(No. 13) Tristan Wirfs, OT, 16 starts

Round 2
(45) Antoine Winfield Jr., S, 16 starts

Round 3
(76) Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, 10 games

Round 5
(161) Tyler Johnson, WR, 14 games/3 starts

Round 6
(194) Khalil Davis, DL, 2 games

Round 7
(241) Chapelle Russell, LB, 11 games (now w/ JAX)
(245) Raymond Calais, RB, 4 games (w/ LAR)

…  Winfield was another stud for Tampa Bay, starting all 16 games and showing up against the ground game, recording the third-best run defense grade among safeties. He can improve in coverage, but compiled a very promising first NFL season. Vaughn got lost in a crowded running back room that also included Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy, but if he can hang around long enough, he might be able to prove he was worth the pick. Johnson was another youngster who was buried by more senior teammates at his position, but when Antonio Brown exited in the Divisional Round, Johnson stepped up to make a timely catch on a key possession in the Buccaneers’ upset win at New Orleans. Johnson looks like he might prove to be a great value pick as time progresses and the Bucs need to look down their depth chart for contributors, as he displayed upside in his small windows of opportunity. Davis didn’t see much playing time, but did receive 18 defensive snaps in Tampa Bay’s wild-card win over Washington. Russell played a handful of special teams snaps after a midseason promotion from the practice squad, and was eventually waived, landing with Jacksonville in early January. Calais was a cutdown-day casualty, ending up on the Buccaneers’ practice squad for four days before the Rams signed him.

The keys to this draft being one of the greatest in Bucs history are running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and wide receiver Tyler Johnson.

Vaughn showed flashes of why he was picked on the second day of the draft, but he was way too inconsistent through 26 carries and 10 targets. He started training camp slowly battling The Sickness. Vaughn did have a touchdown catch where he looked smooth as Crown Royal Reserve hauling in a throw from park-violating, home-invading, NFLPA-ignoring, down-forgetting, handshake-stiffing, jet-ski-losing, biscuit-baking, tequila-shooting, trophy-throwing Bucs Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady.

Joe was never told the following, but Joe has a hunch Johnson was drafted in part as insurance in case Chris Godwin leaves in free agency. That way the Bucs are somewhat covered.

Johnson made excellent plays, and his sideline catch against New Orleans in the playoffs is one of the best catches you will ever see. Joe also saw Johnson drop some cans of corn, a couple that would have been touchdowns.

No reason to crucify Johnson here. He got off to a slow, injured at the start of training camp in a weird year when there was no offseason to speak of. So Joe will give the guy a full pass for an inconsistent rookie season.

Besides, Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bruce Arians absolutely loves Johnson. Given what Arians has done for this franchise in two years, Joe believes Arians’ has earned the street cred for us to believe Johnson, given more work, will be just fine.

Joe’s not writing off Khalil Davis. Film watchers saw him get robbed of a forced fumble by the refs, and Joe trusts what defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers had to say.

16 Responses to “2020 Draft Class Grade”

  1. Tampabuscsbro Says:

    I wouldn’t write off anybody. In the limited snaps Davis got he managed to make an impact. Vaughn will be good. Tyler Johnson will be a verifiable stud.

  2. Casual Observer Says:

    I think Vaughn showed a lot. More than RoJo did as a rookie. I suspect he’ll develop into a fine RB. Needs to learn how to catch better – as most of our backs do. But I think he was a fine pick.

  3. SOEbuc Says:

    Vaughn needs to get his chance. He is an all around RB that could turn into a stud RB within a few years so we gotta start sooner than later. If they wanna call RoJo #1 RB and have Fournette playing that position all regular season without much production. Wirfs may be an easy slide to LT to get out of Smiths far from top 10 LT money. Draft a RT or get a good one in FA for cheaper than Smith.

  4. Mitch Says:

    I think the way they used Johnson in the run game showed that they were planning to have him step into Godwin’s role.

  5. tbbucs3 Says:

    The rookies made a huge impact in the playoffs. It could be argued that the Bucs dont get past the Saints if Winfield doesn’t make that play against Jarred Cook, remember the Saints had all the momentum on that drive.

    Tyler Johnson made a number of clutch catches and Wirfs was a brick wall all season. Vaughn is still an unknown we really only saw him in garbage time against the Lions.

    Easily Licht’s best draft class to date.

  6. Beeej Says:

    If they let Fournette go, it will be an indication of their faith in Vaughan

  7. Cobraboy Says:

    Wirfs and Winfield were godsend freaks.

    With the pandemic resulting in *zero* spring camp, a truncated preseason and no PS games, and a staff all-in push, not gonna judge the rest of the class. They never had a developmental prayer. Johnson & Vaughan were lucky to get the reps they did.

    A full off-season program will make those guys productive players, at least Johnson & Vaughan.

    Had to say about Davis unless he can beef up 40 lbs.

  8. Mort Says:

    Show me a better draft.

  9. ArmchairGM Says:


    You talking last draft or in Bucs history? If it’s Bucs history, Licht has been killing it the last 3 drafts.

    2018 – 5 starters, 1 backup
    2019 – 3 starters, 3 backups (2 borderline starters)
    2020 – 2 starters, 2 who aren’t starters because they have amazing players in front of them, and 2 backups

    You could also argue for 1995 with Sapp and Brooks, but the rest of that class didn’t pan out. We’ll have to wait and see how the last 3 classes pan out, but the future is bright.

  10. SlyPirate Says:

    Well said ArmchairGM. Licht is on a roll. They’ve figured out how to evaluate talent. Now he needs to rock the draft from the bottom. This will be interesting and I’m cautiously optimistic.

  11. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Licht has been getting much better, but really guys, Wirfs basically fell to us. The pick was a no brainer, we badly needed a tackle to protect Brady, and surprise surprise, Wirfs was still there, unexpectedly.
    Some feel that Licht needlessly gave up a draft pick to move up one spot to take Wirfs ?

  12. BuucccNASTY Says:

    SOEbuc, nothing you said makes sense. Not vaughn, not Lenny, not even the Smith contract status as top 10 in the league .

  13. ArmchairGM Says:


    Licht was trying to move as high as #9 to get Wirfs. He was always the target. There was a report saying another team was trying to trade for SF’s pick, but Lynch didn’t want to move back that far and miss out on Kinlaw. Licht was lucky Wirfs fell, but he also did what he had to do to guarantee the Bucs drafted him.

  14. ocala Says:

    Crazy to give this draft anything other than an A+ when their 2nd round pick in the middle of the second round is already one of the best safeties in the league and their 1st round pick is arguably the best RT in the NFL.

  15. JimmyJack Says:

    I almost wish that RB Clyde Edwards was on the board when we took Winfield. Im pretty sure the Bucs would of took Winfield over him and all yall would have had meltdowns only to be proven to be asses as the season unfolded.

    Similar to how many Buc fans melted down when we took all them DBs the prior year. And in the end yall railed on Bunting only to see him come up with big pick after big pick and a huge part of why we won the title. And Bunting was no flash in the pan this playoff run. He did the same freaking thing towards the end of his rookie year.

    So this year when the Bucs dont select the player you want take it with a grain of salt. Or do like you always do and kneejerk because they didnt follow Mel Kipers big board.

  16. Tampabuscsbro Says:

    Man remember when one of the Joe’s was mad we didn’t draft Ceedee Lamb or Cam Akers. And was genuinely grumpy about it.

    Sexy picks do not equal smart picks.

    Smart picks win championships.