The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got off to a blistering pace with the signing of their 2018 draft picks on Thursday, getting signatures from half of that eight-man class within hours of the rookies first stepping foot inside One Buccaneer Place. That work continued on Saturday as third-round offensive lineman Alex Cappa signed his first NFL contract.
Cappa joins second-round cornerback M.J. Stewart, fourth-round safety Jordan Whitehead, fifth-round wide receiver Justin Watson and sixth-round linebacker Jack Cichy in the group with completed deals. The only remaining unsigned players are first-round defensive tackle Vita Vea, second-round running back Ronald Jones and second-round cornerback Carlton Davis.
Cappa and his fellow Buccaneer newcomers arrived at team headquarters on Thursday in preparation for this weekend’s rookie mini-camp. The camp includes 2018 draftees, a group of 14 undrafted free agent signees and roughly 30 players participating on tryout contracts. The rookies will first begin work alongside Buccaneer veterans when the “organized team activity” practices begin on May 22. That will be the first chance for Cappa and the other rookies to begin competing for roster spots and positions on the depth chart.
General Manager Jason Licht indicated after the draft that the team hoped to develop the versatile and athletic Cappa into a blocker who could handle all five positions on the offensive line. As for a chance to compete for an earlier job in the starting lineup, Cappa’s best bet is likely at right guard, which is currently a bit unsettled. Potential candidates include third-year man Caleb Benenoch and veteran J.R. Sweezy. However, Benenoch may also be needed at right tackle with Demar Dotson recovering from knee surgery, and Sweezy has not yet returned to the field after finishing last season on injured reserve.
The 6-6, 305-pound Cappa faces a significant transition after playing his college ball at Humboldt State, a Division II program in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, but he only needs to look as far as teammate Ali Marpet to see that it can be done. Marpet hails from an even smaller program, Division III Hobart, but the Buccaneers drafted him in the second round in 2015 and inserted him directly into the starting lineup. Marpet, who has started at both right guard and center, is now making another transition of his own, to left guard.
Cappa dominated for the Lumberjacks, winning the GNAC Offensive Lineman of the Year award four straight years. The first player drafted out of Humboldt State since 1992, Cappa was selected with the 94th overall pick (the highest one ever used on a Humboldt State player) after the Buccaneers surrendered a sixth-round pick to trade up from the fourth round.