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Arians: 'Can’t really say I’ve ever gone into a draft not having a need – a drastic need'

With the return of all 22 Super Bowl starters being a relief, the Bucs' head coach expects to have "fun" in this year's NFL draft.
Credit: AP

TAMPA, Fla. — Fresh off his headline-producing appearance on the popular ‘Loose Cannons Podcast,' Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians met with the media on Tuesday to discuss NFL Draft strategies and the return of all 22 Super Bowl starters.

Starting with draft talk, the running back position was a popular second-round projection during the lead-up to the 2020 NFL Draft. All the way up to the Bucs’ selection of Minnesota Golden Gophers safety, Antoine Winfield Jr., many thought Jason Licht and Arians might target a running back with Ohio State Buckeyes standout J.K. Dobbins being among the favorites. 

Now, nobody is doubting the selection of Winfield of course, but running back is again a popular projection position for the Buccaneers with the 32nd overall pick in this year’s first-round. 

Leading the way in those conversations right now are Alabama Crimson Tide prospect Najee Harris along with Clemson’s Travis Etienne, and North Carolina’s Javonte Williams. 

Asked about the potential of targeting running backs with the team’s first pick by Rick Stroud of Tampa Bay Times, Arians said:

“Going into this draft, it’s probably going to be the best player available, probably in every round. Can’t really say I’ve ever gone into a draft not having a need - a drastic need. So, it’s going to be fun because there’s going to be so many guys available so it’s just the ‘beauty pageant’ part of it...and how much can they help us on special teams right away.”

NFL Draft prospects and potential target positions for the Buccaneers has been a hot topic lately at the Locked On Bucs Podcast, and this week’s ‘Question of the Week’ asks fans of the team to identify their top position of need or specific player to target at pick 32 as well. 

Moving on from the draft talk for a bit, 10 Tampa Bay’s own Grace Remington asked Arians about the training and conditioning adjustments being made in light of the NFL expanding the 2021 regular season to 17 regular-season games. 

“Probably wouldn’t change anything in the offseason,” said Arians. “We limit the number of snaps we get once we get into preseason games. I think depending on your open date, now if you have an early open date on (a) seventeen game schedule, that’s going to be a grind in December. Last year I didn’t like having a Week 13 one, but I’d probably have a Week 10-13 open date with a seventeen-game schedule. And then you limit, once you get to Thanksgiving you start limiting the number of snaps on the practice field as far as full-speed versus walk-through.”

Good to know the head coach already has a thought process going on the new expanded regular season. One game may not seem like much, but in a profession where any play can alter the course of a season, another 60 minutes of action opens the door to many potential highs and lows. 

For more on these topics, and my reaction to reports Antonio Brown has received ‘multiple’ offers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, check out today’s episode of the Locked On Bucs Podcast.

Click here to listen to the latest episodes from the Locked On Bucs daily podcast.

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