When you’re the best team in the league it isn’t always obvious what you should do in the draft. There aren’t any weaknesses to speak of and there’s no clear picture at the end of the first round. That’s the position the Tampa Bay Buccaneers find themselves in for the coming NFL draft. This is why it’s important to look through a wide scope while developing the Bucs big board.
While there aren’t any glaring holes on the roster now, it’s never too early to start looking for the future. Some key players on this championship team are approaching their mid and late 30s and probably won’t be able to sustain a high level of play for much longer. General manager Jason Licht has often paired a rookie with a strong veteran presence at the same position and I would expect this year to be no different.
One candidate who comes to mind for this is outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul. The Bucs pass rusher is now 32 years old and entering the last year on his contract. This time to bring in his future replacement is now. One man who could eventually fill those shoes is Oklahoma defensive end Ronnie Perkins.
Perkins is extremely explosive. He flashes a jump off the line of scrimmage that is second to none in this draft. At 6’3 and about 250 lbs, he has the athletic ability to play with his hand in the dirt or as a stand-up pass rushing linebacker. I terms of his physical gifts, he has the potential to be a great rusher around the edge.
However, this isn’t his strength at this time. Right now he is more of a power player who wins with physicality. Perkins shocks blockers with the impact of his hands and has no problem running through anyone who isn’t ready for it. He is stout at the point of attack and has the makings of a very good run defender.
So how can this seemingly perfect prospect be available for the Bucs to draft at the end of the first round? In short, Perkina isn’t a finished product. He is still raw with a lot of his pass rushing ability and often undisciplined in his assignments. At this point of his career he is an athlete with flashes of brilliance.
It’s unclear if Perkins will ever grasp the finer points of the position, but there may be no better place for him to develop that in Tampa Bay. With the expected return of Shaq Barrett and Pierre-Paul in 2021, Perkins can be ended into things as a rotational player and focus on learning the defense and fine tuning his game as a rookie.
Make no mistake, the would be a home run swing by the Bucs and with that comes a chance of striking out. However, if this coaching staff can develop his sizable skill set then we could be talking about Perkins as one of the best players from this draft.