Bucs sign Giovani Bernard as draft day gets closer

Jason Licht and Bruce Arians are huddled up at One Bucs Place, preparing for the 2021 draft, which is just over two weeks away.

The Bucs will have the 32nd selection in the first round. The speculation has run wild as to what the Bucs may do with that pick.

Running back was a need, with just Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, and Ke’Shawn Vaughan. The Bucs took care of that need by signing former Bengals running back Giovani Bernard to a one-year contract.

Bernard has excellent hands, and his addition to the backfield will be a significant improvement in the pass-catching game over last season.

In 10 games as a starter in 2020, Bernard ran for 416 yards and three touchdowns. He also fought 47 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns. In his career, Bernard has 2867 yards receiving and averages 8.4 yards a catch.

The Bucs running backs last year had the most dropped passes running backs than any other team in the NFL. With Tom Brady using the backs as pass receivers as he does, it makes sense to acquire someone at the position with decent hands.

Giovani Bernard fits that bill.

The Bucs could still go after a running back in the draft as Jones and Vaughan will be the only backs on the roster under contract after the 2021 season.

Running backs have also become an available commodity in the NFL, and there is no sense in wasting a high draft pick on a running back.

The Bucs do have other needs that need to be addressed. The offensive line and defensive line have the most pressing needs from a depth perspective.

In one of his press conferences, Bruce Arians also hinted that it’s time the Bucs start looking for someone to groom to step in at quarterback when Tom Brady decides to retire. It’s not out of the question the Bucs could take a quarterback, if not at 32, then later in the draft.

Along the offensive line, Ryan Jensen, Alex Capps, Aaron Stinnie, and Josh Wells will all be unrestricted free agents in 2022.

On the defensive line, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, William Gohlsten, Pat O’Conner, and Jeremiah Ledbetter will all be free agents in 2022.

There is also running back Ronald Jones and wide receiver Chris Godwin that will need new contracts in 2022.

There are many needs down the road that the Bucs will have to plan on filling somehow.

Center Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma could be there for the Bucs at 32. He is the best interior linemen in their year’s draft and could be an anchor on the offensive line for years to come.

If the Bucs go defense in the first round, Daviyon Nixon from Iowa and Christian Barmore from Alabama could be there at 32.

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