The Tampa Bay Buccaneers concluded their 2019 draft efforts on Saturday afternoon with a pair of picks executed within minutes of each other. Those selections produced one new prospect for each side of the ball but also continued some very obvious themes in this Tampa Bay draft class.
With the 36th pick in the sixth round (208th overall), a selection gained from the Philadelphia Eagles in last month’s trade of DeSean Jackson, the Buccaneers selected another speedy receiver in Bowling Green’s Scotty Miller. Though Miller was the only offensive player the Bucs chose in this year’s draft, his speed unites him with most of the rest of his rookie teammates.
The Buccaneers were back on the clock shortly after that pick as the result of owning the Arizona Cardinals’ seventh-round selection, the first spot in that final frame. The Buccaneers got that pick in the trade that facilitated the hiring of Head Coach Bruce Arians, giving up their own sixth-rounder in the process.
With that final choice, the Buccaneers nabbed Missouri defensive lineman Terry Beckner Jr., who projects as a defensive end in the team’s new 3-4 scheme. The addition of Beckner continues a more obvious theme: defense, defense, defense and more defense. Tampa Bay used six of its eight selections on that side of the ball, adding to all three levels of the defense. (The eighth pick was kicker Matt Gay.)
Miller ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at Bowling Green’s Pro Day but is more than just a one-dimensional speed threat. He led the Falcons in receiving in each of the last three years and last season was seventh in the FBS with 104.4 receiving yards per game. Arians and Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich could find several ways to utilize Miller’s suddenness.
“A lot of times when you get guys that are really fast they’re kind of stiff and straight-line,” said Buccaneers Director of College Scouting Mike Biehl. “This guy’s got that change-of-direction and short-area quickness. And he was productive. It wasn’t like he had just two or three hundred yards. He was over 1,000 yards this season and had a lot of deep balls. His yards per catch was really high. He just fits a role with this new offense. Coach BA and Coach Leftwich want speed and he fits that role.”
Miller will naturally draw comparisons to Adam Humphries, who developed from an undrafted free agent into one of the league’s best slot receivers before getting a lucrative deal from Tennessee in free agency this spring. Miller profiles as faster but smaller than Humphries but he could indeed be a weapon in the slot.
“We see him as a slot and a guy who has the ability to play outside just because of his speed,” said Biehl. “I imagine we’ll probably give him a shot as a returner as well; he’s done a little bit of that in his career, too. The big thing was his speed. He’s a really good athlete, route-runner, kind of a complete package. He’s a little undersized but we’re excited about him.”
One thing that Miller and Humphries have in common, in Biehl’s estimation: “They’re going to win. Both of them won in short areas and that’s what we want.”
Beckner was a top recruit heading to Missouri in 2015 but had to fight through some injury issues before playing in and starting all 26 games for the Tigers the past two seasons. The Buccaneers think he has a legitimate shot at making the roster and contributing in the team’s new front. He was one of two Day Three players Tampa Bay nabbed to help them in that area, as the Bucs also landed Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson in the fourth round.
“We’ll end up playing him at defensive end in this 34 scheme,” said Biehl. “He can rush inside, too, when we go to a four-man front. He’s just a big strong run-stuffer. He was a big-time recruit coming out. He had some knee injuries that hit him over his career but still we see a good player who can help us against the run and still give us something against the pass.”
Beckner, in fact, had 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons after coming back from his injuries. He’s got good size (6-4, 295) and strength to take on multiple blockers in the middle of the line, as evidenced by his 28 reps in the bench press at the Combine.
“Big, strong guy,” said Biehl. “That’s a big part of his game. He plays with some anger to him and he’s physical. He can take up blocks and athletic enough to get off them and make some plays, too.”