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Buccaneers Offseason Plans: Free Agency, Cuts, NFL Draft, Final 53

NOTE: This article started during the 2014 season.

What players are worthy of bringing back on new deals? Who should be outright cut this coming off-season? Can anyone be dealt for draft picks? What is the current state of each position on this football team? Find it all out below.

Quarterback:

Mike Glennon:

Mike Glennon has just put the finishing touches on what is nearly two full seasons as a starting quarterback despite entering both years as the backup. In 2013, as a rookie, Glennon put together a formidable stat line of 19 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Starting the year behind seasoned veteran Josh Freeman, Glennon would be thrown into the fire after a turbulent start to the season. Glennon struggled under pressure and often panicked as the rush got to him. Struggling to move up in the pocket while keeping his eyes down-field. Glennon lived off the deep ball and dump offs, in particular throwing 50-50 balls to Vincent Jackson. Ball placement was an issue at times for Glennon. 2014 came around and Glennon found himself in a familiar position, this time backing up Lovie Smith’s hand picked quarterback Josh McCown. McCown got hurt and in came Glennon. Glennon and the offense struggled, but there was very visible progress in Glennon’s play. Glennon was stepping up and away from pressure more often and delivering the football instead of taking sack after sack. Check downs were still a big part of his game but there was progress with his ball placement and overall command of the pocket. Glennon did some good things moving out of the pocket and delivering the ball under duress. Positives aside, there were negatives as well. Glennon at times would revert back to the skiddish quarterback he was in 2013 when pressured early. Decision making at times was questionable and when throwing in the intermediate range Glennon appeared to struggle seeing the defenders in front of his progressions. Glennon when given time would get through his reads and eventually did find open targets. The issue with Glennon progressing through his reads was the time in which it took him to do so, often struggling to get off his initial read in time to find an open receiver 2-3 reads down the line. One may say “Then get a better offensive line so he has more time.”, and to that I will say, better quarterbacks can get through reads faster and make their decision to get rid of the ball in due time. A better quarterback can also stay calm in the pocket while there is turmoil all around them (See Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers).

The Verdict: Mike Glennon is a top of the line back up quarterback in the NFL. That said, Mike Glennon will most likely never be a top 15 quarterback in the National Football League and in order to reach his peak he would need elite weapons at the skill positions. Mike Glennon should be a back up, but has low end starter ability. Fully expect the team to look to move Glennon during the 2015 NFL Draft for a draft pick.

Josh McCown:

For those who have followed me on twitter dating back to at least this past off-season, you all already know that I was disappointed with this signing. That disappointment was confirmed with some poor decision making that contributed in major fashion to the Buccaneers losing their first two games. McCown’s season was cut short as the starter after a bad start by the offense in Atlanta was topped off with the quarterback tearing a ligament in his throwing hand, thus thrusting Glennon into the starting position. McCown is a career backup and for good reason. Unable to replicate the magical short stretch he had in Chicago in 2013 at any other point, pre or post, in his career. McCown’s biggest contribution, one that truly is an asset to the team, is his ability and willingness to help coach up Mike Glennon. McCown has been around the block and from a preparation and professional stand point, has a lot to offer as a backup.

The Verdict: Josh McCown is making $5 million and quite honestly is not worth a fifth of that price as a player on the field. Josh McCown should be cut 

Updated: Josh McCown has in fact been released since last edit

 

Running Back:

Doug Martin:

Martin finished the year as the teams best back and until we get to see more of Charles Sims, I would expect Martin to return as the starter to begin the 2015 season. Martin consistently runs through contact and keeps his body going forward. Martin did not catch as well as Sims appears to and is not quite as shifty as Rainey can be at times but the fact remains that Martin is the teams best all around back as his pass protection though sketchy at times, is the most consistent on the team.

Verdict: There is nothing to suggest at this point that Martin won’t return and be the week one starter. There is a lot of work that has to be done and a healthy Sims could surprise in camp. For now, Martin should be the lead back. 

 

Bobby Rainey:

Rainey filled in for Doug Martin for several games as well as spent a good portion of snaps spelling Martin while he was healthy. The overall play was above average, with several big runs here and there intertwined with many lackluster plays. Rainey was a go-to target in check down scenarios towards the end of some big blow outs. One thing Rainey showed, much more than Martin did, was that he had good vision. Rainey isn’t a dynamic open field runner, he isn’t a blazer, but when there is a hole Rainey will find it and cut through it. In the passing game, Rainey struggles as a blocker at the point of attack, several big misses all together on pass block attempts led to heavy pressure on the QB. Receiving wise, Rainey’s hands were decent and not much more than that. Fumble issues early in the season in key situations makes leaning on a back like Rainey hard for myself to do.

Verdict: Rainey is good depth and a very solid number two choice. Going forward I expect the team to retain for his versatility as a backup. 

 

Mike James:

James saw very little playing time and I have to imagine that had a lot to do with his limitations in the pass game as both a blocker and receiver. While he is capable of doing both, he does neither in particularly well on a consistent basis and he isn’t a big yards after contact guy. James lacks explosion and his vision is about average. While he played admirably in limited action back in 2013, 2014 was just a far different story for Mike James.

Verdict: I don’t see James having a role in the offense barring injury to a Sims/Rainey or a roster move of Martin. 

 

Charles Sims:

Sims once healthy, got some solid playing time down the stretch. With his up-right running style, he is a candidate to go down relatively easy. Sims doesn’t break out of first contact often but does show good change of direction skills and is a plus receiver. Sims was at his best in the open field and going forward as we look toward the 2015 season, I would expect to see much more of Sims featured. While Martin should be the lead back to start, it should not shock anyone if Sims takes that job in the end.

Verdict: Sims showed flashes of what the Bucs saw in college to make him their third round selection. Sims should play a solid role in the offense moving forward. 

 

Jorvorski Lane:

Lane opened the year with a bang, going for 54 yards on his first touch. Just as fast as his year started, it pretty much fizzled out in the same “flash”. Lane did little to nothing the rest of the season, while managing to get popped for PED’s. Lane is an average blocker and while he has okay hands, there is little reason to keep a true full-back in today’s NFL.

Verdict: I don’t see Lane returning after the emergence of Luke Stocker the blocker (I’m going to coin that phrase) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who both have shown the ability to block out of the backfield as versatile tight ends. 

 

Wide Receiver:

Vincent Jackson:

Jackson for many is a fan favorite that has a big time elite level contract. Nearing 32 years old, Jackson’s best days are long behind him and aside from taking the opposing teams top corners attention, he’s tasked with grooming rookie top pick Mike Evans. What Jackson brings more than anything else right now is not something that is seen on the stat sheet. As the focal point of the passing attack, Jackson frees up the other Tampa Bay targets and serves as a leader on the practice field. Drops have been an issue for Jackson and in 2014, they hit a low point. Jackson struggled with many on target throws, having them bounce of his body and several times slip right out of his hands. At Jackson’s salary and age, his play no longer warrants that money he is making but his leadership arguably does. Jackson also suffered a fracture of his wrist early in the year and chose to tough it out and play through it. While some have questioned if the team should move on, his leadership and big play ability should keep him around for another year, especially with a rookie quarterback behind center.

The Verdict: Jackson is aging and slowing down, that said the team must keep him around for at least one more season while Mike Evans and company continue to grow. Jackson returns as your #1 receiver while Evans slowly grows into that role.

 

Mike Evans:

Mike Evans has played well and if not for poor pass protection for his quarterback, would probably have better statistical proof to back up that statement. Just like his days at Texas A&M, Evans has shown an ability to separate from defenders when the ball is in the air. Evans has been physical and on a number of down-field plays has displayed an ability to control and contort his body to make some tough catches. As he continues to progress there is little doubt that he will gradually step into the number one receiver role on this offense and truth be told, that may well have already happened this season.

The Verdict: Evans played well and showed some flashes to back up his high draft pick. Mike Evans is absolutely a piece to build an offense around once the right quarterback is brought in.

 

Louis Murphy:

Murphy had a few shining moments in the 2014 season, all of which were in the early season win against Pittsburgh as Glennon and Murphy hooked up to lead a late game touchdown drive. Murphy is an end of the roster type wide receiver that when called upon, can be an average to below average number three receiver. Murphy has decent size and about average speed and quickness. His hands held up well and his ability to find creases in the defense made him a worthy candidate to play early on until Mike Evans was healthy enough to take on full duties as the number two receiver by mid-season.

The Verdict: Murphy is a good candidate to make the roster as a final receiver or two on the team. His veteran presence and reliability are worthy of a look. I would expect Murphy to get a small deal to return to the team.

Update: Bucs signed Murphy to an extension since last edit.

 

Robert Herron:

Herron struggled throughout most of the season and in the end, made little to no impact. A player that I felt had issues with his hands and making people miss proved to be just that. The offense never got around to finding a role for him and Herron did little to help himself out after some early season opportunities when up in smoke thanks to drops.  

Verdict: Developmental player that still needs some major refining in his game. Good top end speed to build around but is not there yet as a player. Bottom of the depth chart receiver with developmental skill set that could lead to a future slot role. 

 

Russell Shepard:

Sheppard has yet to develop as a pass catcher but he has still found a way to contribute each game on special teams. At the midway mark, Sheppard leads the team in special teams tackles and despite getting rare playing time at receiver, did make a grab for a first down early in the season. Sheppard was signed by the prior regime as a developmental talent and that still is where his status stands.

Verdict: Sheppard should continue to slowly develop, game reps are a rarity at receiver for him so his development at a whole is hard to see. I’d like to see Sheppard continue to get work on special teams and hopefully he can grow into a low end fourth receiver at some point. 

 

Eric Page:

Insufficient information.

 

Marcus Thigpen:

Insufficient Information.

 

Tight End:

Austin Seferian-Jenkins:

When Seferian-Jenkins was drafted many fans expected him to have an immediate impact as a pass catcher while he worked on his blocking technique. Halfway through and the story has been much more about his work as a blocker and inability to haul in and hang onto the ball in the pass game. Seferian-Jenkins saw his first touchdown pass recently and seemed ready to break out following it but instead left a salty taste in everyone’s mouths as he coughed up the football to lose a game in overtime. It’s easy to say ASJ has disappointed, but so far he has exceeded my early expectations when it comes to his overall game. Getting open has not been an issue and he should be able to work through the issue with drops.

Verdict: I fully expect Austin Seferian-Jenkins to grow into being one of the leagues more formidable forces at tight end. Seferian-Jenkins, like Mike Evans, should continue to develop into a dangerous weapon for the Bucs quarterback. 

 

Brandon Meyers:

Meyers had limited production for the Buccaneers this past season despite getting solid playing time with Seferian-Jenkins hurt and adapting to the NFL for a good portion of the season. Meyers is a below average blocker as most of us saw, forcing at times the team to run out an extra tackle to block as the tight end. Meyers overall is solid depth for a receiving tight end and with Luke Stocker potentially returning as the main blocker the unit should stay relatively in tact.

Verdict: Meyers is expected back and barring something unforeseen, should play a limited to about average reserve role behind Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

 

Luke Stocker:

Stocker finally has managed to play a season without missing chunks due to injury and low and behold, he may have finally found his niche in the offense. Stocker still has yet to make a dent in the passing game and has shown to be only an average blocker on the edge as an in-line tight end. Where he has excelled is actually in a whole new role, as the teams full back. Stocker has shown an ability to line up in the backfield and take on defenders to help pave a way for the backs. If not for Seferian-Jenkins ability to be a bigger threat in the same role out of the backfield, Stocker may have locked a shot at making this team another season, however due to the presence of Seferian-Jenkins and his ever improving status, Stocker’s days a Buccaneer may be numbered.

Verdict: Stocker is a solid 3rd tight end and is a capable blocker with below average receiving skills. Should he return to the Bucs, it will be as just that. A 3rd tight end that is in on special teams and for the occasional jumbo package on offense.

 

Cameron Brate:

Insufficient Information.

 

Offensive Tackle:

Anthony Collins:

Collins was brought in and expected to anchor the left side of the offensive line as one of the bigger off-season moves by General Manager Jason Licht and Lovie Smith, a move that has not worked out well. Collins struggles have limited both the run and pass games at times, highlighted by a game against the Vikings in which Everson Griffin repeatedly blew by him. Collins came to the Buccaneers after never starting a full season at tackle for the Bengals. Instead, Collins was a backup to pro bowl tackle Andrew Whitworth and was then asked to step in after an injury. To his defense, Collins stepped in admirably in particular as a pass protector. That success however has not followed him to the Buccaneers. After signing Collins to a 5 year deal worth $30 million ($3 million in dead money after the 2014 season), the Buccaneers must take a very long look at their options both on the current roster (Pamphile or Dotson at LT?) as well in the upcoming draft to see if they can find a viable option to take over for Collins who just hasn’t produced as the team needs.

Update: Collins was a healthy scratch the final few games. Dotson at Left Tackle.

Verdict: It’s clear the Buccaneers have no interest in Collins returning to the team. Fully expect them to cut their ties with the Free Agent bust. 

Update: Reports surfaced that the team has told Collins that he will be traded and that he will be cut if no trade is found.

 

Demar Dotson:

Dotson has shown to be one of the best offensive lineman on the Buccaneers roster for about three seasons now. Anchoring the right side of the line, Dotson has remained very consistent but hasn’t shown the ability to dominate as a run or pass blocker. Instead, Dotson has been above average to good in both aspects which quite honestly, is all you can ask for from him. Dotson got playing time on the left side of the line the final few games and while he struggled a bit, showed a little promise.

Verdict: Dotson will return as the starting right tackle in 2015 if the team finds a starting left tackle, the only question is can they find one? Expect Dotson to most likely start 2015 on the left side while a rookie or Pamphile get their shot to continue growing on the right side. 

Kevin Pamphile:

Pamphile played sparingly in the middle of the season but got a few more looks each game as the season went on. From what little I saw, I must say that Pamphile looked serviceable. By no means does Pamphile look like a mauler that you hitch your wagon too as the mainstay on the left side, but there were some flashes of a good player there. Against the Browns, Pamphile got some play behind the starter in that game, O’niel Cousins, and did some good things against Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard, stonewalling each for a play or two. Cousins returned to tackle in this game and struggled against both of those players. The final game turned out to be a chance for Pamphile to show his skills. Pamphile got beat early but showed some development in game as he caught on and was able to later on counter moves he previously saw. He was able to mirror defenders and showed some solid hip snap. Pamphile may very well have a future on the offensive line but he must continue to grow and develop.

Verdict: Pamphile is a young player coming off a rookie season where he saw minimal action. The good news is the little action we saw was positive. Look for Pamphile to return and make a run at some playing time. It’ll take a very strong off-season and pre-season to push himself into the starting line.

 

Offensive Guard:

Logan Mankins:

The Bucs invested a sure handed Joker Tight End in Timothy Wright as well as a 4th round draft pick to get Mankins in here to anchor the offensive line… well that has failed. Mankins is a shell of the former All-Pro self he was with the Patriots a few years ago. That said, going forward in the immediate future (2015) I expect Mankins to come back and honestly play a bit better than he did in 2014. I have to believe that being traded just before week 1 didn’t help Mankins in the least bit. A culture shock going from the Patriots to the Bucs along with having no time to gel with his fellow lineman can’t be stated enough. The offensive line more so than any other group on the team, must gel in order to succeed and I expect a big step in the right direction in 2015.

Verdict: Mankins has one more year to prove to this regime that Jason Licht made the right move in bringing him in. I expect Mankins to continue to man the left guard position. 

Patrick Omameh:

Omameh has played better than expected as the starter at right guard. Despite several attempts to rotate in Garrett Gilkey for playing time, the team has quickly returned to Omameh. While he isn’t an over the top run or pass blocker, he’s proven to be about average (slightly below average) at both. When he gets beat, it’s almost always to his outside (right) and it tends to be from a quick swipe.

Verdict: The team would be wise to bring in a replacement or some competition at right guard, Omameh is a weak link overall and needs to have better talent to his left and right to keep him from being a revolving door.

 

Kadeem Edwards:

Insufficient information.

 

Oniel Cousins:

Cousins was awful by all accounts this preseason when lining up at left guard, so awful in fact that it almost certainly led to the team trading for Logan Mankins. After seeing few snaps to start the season Cousins was thrown back into the mix at left tackle, filling in for Anthony Collins. Cousins played admirably as a replacement left tackle and quite honestly outplayed Collins. So admirably in fact, that I went and took second and third looks at his first game (against the Browns) to see why he was effective. Turns out, Cousins played well mostly against Barkevious Mingo, who is all of 245 lbs. While it’s good to see him hold his own against the speed and agility of Mingo, it was more of a matter of being able to get his hands on him and hold him in place than anything else. When Sheard or Kruger went heads up with him, Cousins was over matched on a regular basis.

Verdict: Cousins was hand picked by this regime and as expected, did not perform well. Cousins is not capable of playing meaningful snaps without being a liability and should not return as anything other than a veteran backup.

Garrett Gilkey:

Bucs coaches, in particular coach Arroyo, have talked up Gilkey as a guy they want to rotate in and get some some playing time. Rotating into some games as a backup to Patrick Omameh, Gilkey has struggled both with penalties as well as giving up some pressure. Gilkey is noted for being a hard worker and a guy that has overcome some obstacles in his young career dating back to college. The sad truth though is that being a hard worker doesn’t mean you’ll be a successful one. Gilkey lacks the movement skills to be an effective pulling guard and is often beat off the snap by quicker tackles. Without a larger sample size of playing time it’s hard to say what Gilkey can become, if anything.

Verdict: Gilkey seems to be a stretch to become much more than depth at guard. He’s cheap, he’s young and he’s spent a year in the system (Now a new system so this is a bit irrelevant) and right now, that’s his value to the team; a cheap young backup. 

 

Center:

Evan Dietrich-Smith:

EDS, as I’ll refer to him here, had a rough start to his Buccaneers career. The one time center for Aaron Rodgers struggled to start the year with everything from penalties to completely whiffing on blocks. By mid-season though, a different EDS began to emerge. EDS played with better leverage and slowed up on the mental miscues and penalties. While he never reached the level of play that the team must of expected, he performed well enough to bring him back for year two as the starter IMO. EDS is another veteran presence on the line and this team needs these guys to come back and gel.

Verdict: I believe fans will see Evan Dietrich-Smith return for another year as the starting center and rightfully so as no apparently upgrade is available. Another year for the line to gel should do some good. 

 

Josh Allen:

Insufficient information.

 

Defensive End:

Michael Johnson:

Michael Johnson was seemingly brought in to be that Simeon Rice like edge rusher to pair with Gerald McCoy and that has not worked. Rather than give an all out bash session here, I think it’s important to educate as to why this failed. Michael Johnson was never a pure speed rusher off the edge, he was never a pure pass rusher for that matter. The Cincinnati Bengals did not use him in this manner at all and he was very successful creating pressure and in 2012, managed double digit sacks. He played much closer to the tackle and was asked to focus heavily on the run while collapsing the pocket. Turn the page to 2014 and the Buccaneers are asking Johnson to play wider, get up the field quicker and worry about the run second. In other words, the Buccaneers paid big money to a guy  that excelled playing one style of end, to come in and change what made him unique. That my friends, is a recipe for failure.

Now onto Johnson and what he did in 2014. Michael Johnson was hurt early in the year by an ankle injury, that alone is not an excuse for inconsistent play. His highlight game of the year was against Pittsburgh, a game that in the first half he owned their left tackle. Johnson was responsible for two big sacks, one of which was a sack fumble that led to an immediate red-zone start for the Buccaneers offense. Johnson is a player that relies on others around him pushing the quarterback to his side. In Cincinnati he had Geno Atkins forcing the quarterback out of the middle of the pocket and Carlos Dunlap speed rushing from the other side to push the quarterback to his gap. When a quarterback is within reach, Johnson will close. On his own though, you will not see Johnson beat the tackle and close off the quarterback very often. That’s just not what he is. This is a case where I would advise fans to direct their anger towards the coaches and front office, not the player.

Verdict: Johnson isn’t going anywhere anytime soon in all likelihood and this is due to his cap hit. The more he gets use to playing a new style, the more effective he hopefully will be. Johnson should return in 2015 as the starting right defensive end and should be on a short leash. 

 

Adrian Clayborn:

Clayborn got hurt before he ever got started this season under Lovie Smith. Taking a look back at Clayborn’s career, it’s hard to say exactly how he would have fit in this scheme. His rookie year was by far his best and that may be the way to look at how he would have fit in Lovie’s defense. Clayborn was allowed to go one on one without the constant line stunts and random stand up rushes that Clayborn was ineffective with under Schiano. Lovie Smith’s defense would most likely be a pleasant return to showing his playing strengths for Clayborn but it’s hard to say if Clayborn can or even would ever return to rookie form. Clayborn is not a speed rusher and to top that off, he plays his best ball at right end where newcomer Michael Johnson makes his living. Another newcomer in Jacquies Smith has most likely leapfrogged Clayborn in the defensive lines pecking order thanks to a good burst and some strong play there.

Verdict: Clayborn would be welcomed back if I were running the team seeing as he’s been hurt, the team knows a good deal about who he is as a player and where he stands health wise. As a backup to Michael Johnson, I think Clayborn could fit well as a reserve. I would bring him back to help with that much needed depth. Alas, I’m not running the team which in the end is why I feel Clayborn gets a fresh start elsewhere.

 

William Gholston:

Gholston adds himself to a long list of disappointing players for the 2014 Buccaneers. While Gholston showed some flashes as an edge rusher near the end of 2013, it didn’t follow him to this past season. Struggling to beat his man one on one off the edge, Gholston was often stood up at the end rather than him setting up the edge. With limited athleticism it’s hard to see Gholston developing into anything other than a solid run defender. His length rarely is used to his advantage when rushing the passer and he struggles to bend around the edge. A lack of aggression added to it and Gholston simply is what he is as an edge rusher. When moved inside, Gholston seems to play to his strengths much better, using his length and leverage to get up under guards and move some bodies. The pass rush is still lacking but his versatility is always needed on teams.

Verdict: As a cheap rotational end, Gholston is a valuable piece. However, used as a starter in 2014 proved to be putting to much on the young player as his play wasn’t up to par. Look for Gholston to return to a rotational lineman, both inside and out, in 2015 as a backup.

 

Larry English:

English had some splash plays in the pre-season and was able to flash a time or two in the regular season but in all, he didn’t play very well. English just hasn’t lived up to his prior draft hype and that was no different with the Buccaneers. English can’t seem to put together flashes of burst and bend on a consistent basis and that for me is something I’d rather have in a younger player, not a seasoned veteran.

Verdict: I would not look for English to return as he had several opportunities and repeatedly came up short. 

 

T.J. Fatinikun:

Insufficient information. Fatinikun did have some playing time and I liked the hustle and effort I saw but it was not enough for me to give a true confident review of him as a player.

 

Jacquies Smith:

Smith burst  onto the scene for the Buccaneers by flashing his ability to get after the quarterback. Playing on both ends of the line, Smith was able to consistently generate pressure. To this point, Smith is the lone end on the roster that showed he can win a one on one with a tackle in lieu of reaching the backfield. Run stopping proved to be an issue as Smith gets up-field in a hurry and has a tendency to let the play get by him. An inability to stop the run however shouldn’t be worried about to much as the team is loaded with run stoppers around him.

Verdict: Smith has played himself into a prominent role as a pass rusher. If he gets more consistent against the run it would not shock me to see him earn a starter-like role with the team from a snap % standpoint. 

 

Da’Quan Bowers:

Bowers time has expired as a Buccaneer, it’s that simple. Given opportunity after opportunity, Bowers has failed this organization. Once an elite talent at Clemson, that player is nowhere to be found. Multiple reports each year about the lack of conditioning to go along with knee issues and I just can’t fathom a situation where he returns to this team. Bowers was running on borrowed time as soon as he was suspended two games this past season and the only thing worse than an out of shape underachiever is an out of shape underachiever that you can’t even count on to be there each Sunday.

Verdict: Despite my early affection and desire for him to be the player he was suppose to be, there is no getting around Bowers shortcomings. Luckily for Bowers, he was the teams only true back up 3-tech to McCoy and that could possibly save his spot on this team.

 

Defensive Tackle:

Gerald McCoy:

Gerald McCoy stands alone as the only irreplaceable Buccaneer, and yes that includes Lavonte David. McCoy makes his home as the under tackle in this base Tampa 2 defense and he is the motor that makes the defense run. The team should spend the next year or two building around McCoy to finally make this defense a well oiled machine rather than clogging it’s engine with insufficient parts.

Verdict: No need to write a lot here, McCoy is locked up long term and he will man the under tackle position for years to come.

 

Clinton McDonald:

McDonald was brought in from Seattle where he was a good rotational interior pass rusher. Following the lines of what the Bucs did with Michael Johnson, they asked him to start at a less natural nose tackle position and needless to say, his production did not live up to the paycheck. McDonald can be a very effective situational pass rusher, but when asked to play a starting role he simply was unable to keep up the pace needed. McDonald is a player this teams needs but in order to get the most out of him Akeem Spence (or a draft pick) must be able to start next to McCoy at the nose and allow McDonald to rotate in or at the very least, be spelled of his duties more often to keep him fresh.

Verdict: McDonald should continue to be an integral part of this defense, whether it’s as the starting nose or a rotational pass rusher. 

 

Akeem Spence:

I’m not a huge Spence fan but I did like some of the improvements I saw in the young tackle this past season. Spence showed some better push and took on blocks more effectively. As a rotational player, Spence showed some pass rush which was a pleasant surprise and while it was very minimal, it was more than he previously had shown. With another off-season, look for Spence to continue showing up as a solid part of this defense.

Verdict: Spence will return as a rotational player and continue developing as the nose tackle in this defense.

Matthew Masifilo:

Insufficient information.

 

Outside Linebacker: 

Lavonte David:

Very little needs to be said about Lavonte David. David is one of the best WILL linebackers in the NFL and is a key part to the Buccaneers current and future success. David is a massive reason why this defense took a step forward in the latter part of the season.

Verdict: Look for Lavonte David to be a key part in Lovie Smith’s defense for years to come as he eventually inks a long term deal.

 

Danny Lansanah:

Lansanah was a very pleasant surprise for the Buccaneers. A late bloomer in terms of age, Lansanah stepped in and immediately started making plays on the ball. Lansanah’s play-making ability helped over shadow some poor lapses in coverage when stepping in as the MIKE but overall, he played admirably. The team’s coaching staff appears high on Lansanah and has said that they prefer him at the SAM position but would not worry if he needs to step in again as the MIKE.

Verdict: Lansanah will be back and should see another year of heavy usage alongside Lavonte David, be it at the SAM or MIKE spot.

 

Orie Lemon:

Lemon played sparingly and for good reason. Lemon lacks the athleticism, hips and movement skills necessary to get out in coverage and break on the ball quickly. While he played solid as a reserve, Lemon is not a player that I would expect to ever be groomed as a potential starter.

Verdict: Depth player with a ceiling as a reserve rotational type. Not an intricate part of this team.

 

Brandon Magee:

Insufficient information.

 

Mister Alexander:

Insufficient information.

 

Middle Linebacker:

Mason Foster:

Of all the players that I broke down, none hurt more than Foster. Truth is, I like Mason Foster a lot as a football player and competitor, more so from what little insight we’ve been given to him off the field. Sadly, he has not played particularly well in this defense as the MIKE linebacker. In a scheme that features a lot of Tampa 2 coverage, Foster has struggled repeatedly to get back and cover his deep middle zone and I’m not so sure that much of it is correctable. Foster lacks the coverage skills and ability to dissect the play and react fast enough to get back in coverage. It’s a simple matter of Foster not having the athleticism and read/react skills needed to man the middle. A move to strong side is something that myself and many others have questioned as a possibility and who knows, maybe we finally see that if he is brought back.

Verdict: As a MIKE linebacker, Foster just doesn’t fit the bill. A move to SAM would be welcomed by me but given his contract is up, so might be his time as a Buccaneer.

 

Cornerback:

Alterraun Verner:

Verner was very shaky early on but settled in nicely as the teams top corner. While there will be a lot of focus from some fans on the plays he was beat badly on, which there are some, the truth is overall Verner played exceptionally well given the issues behind him at safety. As the safety situation played itself out and McDougald got more time, Verner and the secondary played better.

Verdict: Verner, like Banks, will be back and should help this defense take another step forward in year two under Lovie Smith.

 

Johnthan Banks:

Banks is a guy I seem to have been higher on since before he was drafted than most. At the time, I felt the Bucs got a very good corner with the potential to be a long term legit number two corner with number one potential. To this point in time, Banks has shown that to be the case with some very good games under his belt. Banks should continue to develop and with his length in this system, the future is very bright. Look for Banks to get more fluid and more confident in year two under Lovie Smith.

Verdict: Important part of the defense, should be a player this team has for some time.

 

Mike Jenkins:

Insufficient information. While we have plenty of tape to go back and look at from his past stops, Jenkins simply didn’t play here in Tampa to give us a good gauge on his abilities in this defense.

Verdict: Leaning towards Jenkins not returning as he is a free agent but it would not surprise me to see the team give him another shot as a backup outside corner.

 

Crezdon Butler:

Butler had a few nice plays here and there but ultimately he did not play well enough to garner any sense of safety. Butler needs a lot of work on technique and patience and in the end, there isn’t enough time in the world to get him where he needs to be to grow into anything but depth at this point.

Verdict: Butler will return but how long he lasts on the roster is anyone’s guess. There is little reason to believe he will be handed a spot on this roster.

 

Brandon Dixon:

Insufficient information.

 

Isaiah Frey:

Insufficient information.

 

Leonard Johnson:

Johnson has made a habit since his rookie year of having his back facing the quarterback and this is no way to make a living in the NFL. Johnson has not shown signs of improvement and his inability to keep with his man and work his body in there against the receiver is alarming.

Verdict: I would not envision Johnson returning as anything other than a reserve slot corner. He is not a reliable entity as a starter in this defense.

 

C.J. Wilson:

Insufficient information.

 

Derrius Brooks:

Insufficient information.

 

Free Safety:

Dashon Goldson:

Goldson is one of my favorite topics to discuss and has been since he signed a few years back. Goldson’s on field play and playing style didn’t equate to being worthy of his deal at the time and as of today, it looks even worse. Goldson struggles to cover deep, lacks range and instincts needed as the Free Safety in this defense. We could go into much more here but rather than waste time going over things every fan watching the last couple seasons has seen we’ll get straight to the verdict.

Verdict: There is little to no reason that the Buccaneers should bring back Dashon Goldson. Goldson must take a pay cut to justify his poor play as a whole or he should be release. The team needs to move on to players they can count on, that hasn’t been Dashon Goldson.

 

Keith Tandy:

Tandy is a reserve/role player and that should/will continue to be his role at this point in time. In 2014 he had some playing time thought it was sparingly. Tandy lacks the athleticism to be a true starter but his instincts do appear to be just fine in a reserve role.

Verdict: Tandy should once again return as a role player on defense. Tandy can easily be replaced via free agency and/or the draft and the team would be wise to invest in upgrading the safety position as a whole.

 

Strong Safety:

Major Wright:

Major Wright was brought in to help the transition to the base Tampa 2 defense and he played about average as a whole. Wright showed some decent coverage skills and was solid against the run but ultimately Bradley McDougald outplayed him down the stretch and took his job.

Verdict: The Gator in me would like to see Wright back but with McDougald outplaying him it would appear as though his value to the team is not where it needs to be to match up with his market value. Look for the Bucs to stick with McDougald and move on from Wright.

 

Bradley McDougald

McDougald was a very pleasant surprise as the season went on. What was a very cloudy situation at safety to start the season, it slowly played its way out over the course of time. McDougland flashed some decent coverage skills as well as good run coverage down in the flats. McDougald showed his versatility playing both high and low and in the Tampa 2 looks, was able to get over to his deep half of the field and pick up the deep receivers from the corner as needed.

Verdict: Look for McDougald to enter 2015 as your starting strong safety.

 

Kicker:

Patrick Murray:

Not much needs to be said here, Murray came in and took the job from the get go and performed well enough to ensure his return for 2015. No questions about that.

Verdict: Your starting kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

Punter:

Michael Koenen:

Koenen was not good, there is no nice way to go about saying it. Koenen performed poorly and despite the team seemingly covering for him for his lack of distance on punts, I struggle to justify any way they keep him at his current salary.

Verdict: Cut, Koenen’s time in Tampa was not as memorable as intended and it’s time to move on to a younger more cost effective punter.

 

Buccaneers Free Agents: Who stays and who goes? (List taken from Pro Football Focus, missing a few names)

Name Age Pos 2014 Team 2015 Team Rating Snaps
Lawrence Sidbury 29 ED TB UFA 0.1 21
Adrian Clayborn 27 ED TB UFA -0.1 52
Jason Williams 29 LB TB UFA -0.3 36
Major Wright 27 S TB UFA -0.4 520
Mike Jenkins 30 CB TB UFA -1.2 32
Da’Quan Bowers 25 DI TB UFA -4.8 352
Bobby Rainey 27 HB TB RFA -6 393
Luke Stocker 27 TE TB UFA -6.1 331
Leonard Johnson 25 CB TB RFA -7.7 402
Mason Foster 26 LB TB UFA -8.2 572
Larry English 29 ED TB UFA -9.2 259
Dane Fletcher 28 LB TB UFA -12.7 358
Josh McCown 36 QB TB CLV -18.3 644
Oniel Cousins 31 OT TB UFA -21 343

Few things to note from above. 1) I’m passing on the likes of Sidbury, Clayborn, Williams, English, Fletcher and McCown (not an option anyway) due to a combination of age, salary, talent and injury history. For the most part, there are younger more viable options that will be available in the form of free agents, the draft and un-drafted free agents.

 

Bringing back Rainey, Stocker, Cousins, Wright and Jenkins has everything to do with depth and ability to step into bigger roles if need be. These are players that all played solid roles last season or have extensive, POSITIVE, backgrounds in the league (Mainly talking Jenkins here). Stocker is versatile and can play fullback or tight end. Rainey has shown he can step into a starting role if need be and Cousins is valuable depth on the line with a year already under his belt as a Buccaneer. Wright has his history with Lovie and easily can be inserted into the line up if need be with little drop off from the starters.

 

Who gets released?

We’ll go ahead and just list this section out, refer back to the above quick eval’s for any questions as to why.

1. Dashon Goldson, FS
2. Michael Koenen, P
3. Anthony Collins, LT
4. Jorvorskie Lane, FB (Contract is up but was missing from PFF list)

Free Agent Targets by Position

Quarterback

There are multiple routes the team can take here. Does Lovie Smith go out and get an aged veteran to help bring along a rookie quarterback or does he go out and get a true backup, one that can actually step in and play effectively? This of course assumes that Mike Glennon even gets moved in the first place.

1. T.J. Yates – Quarterback – 28 Years Old – Atlanta Falcons

Yates was in fact in Atlanta last season behind Matt Ryan. Why is Yates a top this list you ask? Simple, he has a direct relationship with former Falcons and now current Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Yates brings familiarity with the offense along with experience to help the offense and the potential rookie quarterback to get settled in.

2. Christian Ponder – Quarterback – 27 Years Old – Minnesota Vikings

Ponder has the connection with Leslie Frazier, although that connection may in fact bring up bad memories for the old Vikings head coach. In this case, the familiarity is the connection to the home state Florida Seminoles and potential number one pick Jameis Winston. Ponder is a young, athletic quarterback that can step in and play if need be but is best served as a backup due to his mistake prone play.

3. Mark Sanchez – Quarterback – 28 Years Old – Philadelphia Eagles

Yes, Mark Sanchez, you read that right. The Sanchize has plenty of NFL starting experience and can bring that experience to a bench near you in Tampa Bay. Going back to the Bucs potentially wanting a guy that can simply step in and play at a decent level over someone to strictly mentor their rookie signal caller, Mark Sanchez fits the bill here. Speaking of Bills, Rex Ryan who many assumed would have interest in Sanchez, just traded for Matt Cassel.

4. Jason Campbell – Quarterback – 33 Years Old – Cincinnati Bengals

Lovie Smith appears to like to have some familiarity with his players and Jason Campbell would be just that. Campbell has worked under Smith before and has been relegated to backup duties for the last several years now. Campbell could come in and show a potential rookie quarterback the ropes while competing for the starting gig.

Running Back

I would not classify running back as a priority position at all given the pick of Charles Sims and the depth around him in Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey but it could get addressed none the less. We’ll take a slightly different approach as a story broke regarding a possible trade of Adrian Peterson was recently discussed and written about by TBC’s Gil Arcia.

1. Adrian Peterson – Running Back – 29 (30 this month) Years Old – Minnesota Vikings

News broke of Peterson possibly being disgruntled with some in the Vikings organization, that story has since grown to his agent saying Peterson has a list of five teams he’d like to potentially play for. One of those teams happens to be your Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here’s why this isn’t a far fetched idea. Unlike most teams on Peterson’s list, the Buccaneers have no quarterback on the roster garnering a big cap figure. That gives the Buccaneers some unique wiggle room to make a potential Peterson deal (Whether via trade or cut/sign) possible. Pairing Peterson with the potential top pick of Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota and the likes of Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans outside is a pairing of epic proportions. Peterson has never had the help outside at receiver or at quarterback to keep teams from stacking the box. This move would have the potential to set the offense up for a historic (for the Bucs) season offensively.

2. Jacquizz Rodgers – Running Back – 25 Years Old – Atlanta Falcons

This is another familiarity move here. Rodgers has experience under Koetter and offers specials teams help which is a big plus as a back up. Rodgers won’t command a prominent salary and fills the role of a versatile change of pace back as well as kick returner.

3. Ryan Matthews – Running Back – 28 Years Old – San Diego Chargers

Matthews will be a surprise for most to see on this list. Matthews is a capable runner, receiver and blocker. Splitting time in recent seasons in San Diego as well as spending a good portion of time on the injured list has in some manner spared his body of the normal tread. The key here is that Matthews is a do it all back that will come at a discounted price. Outside of Peterson, I don’t see a reason to sign any back to a big deal given the investment the team already has at the position and this makes guys like Matthews more realistic to me in that manner.

Notable guys left out: Demarco Murray (Contract demands price him out of reasonable range), Reggie Bush due to age and decaying abilities and C.J. Spiller due to injury history and relative expected cost.

Receiver and Tight End

I don’t see a need for tight end in general so we’ll lump it in here and just presume it as a non-issue with a potential Luke Stocker resign coming. For receiver, the Bucs best bet is through the draft as their primary need is inside at the slot but regardless, we’ll take a look anyway.

1. Eddie Royal – Wide Receiver – 29 Years Old – San Diego Chargers

Royal is an experienced slot guy and runs good routes. Royal has been able (when healthy, that’s the catch) to get separation inside and down the field. The Bucs used former Gator Murphy in this role last year and a player like Royal would be an instant upgrade to the position.

2. Harry Douglass – Wide Receiver – 30 Years Old – Atlanta Falcons

Again I’m going back to the well on familiarity here. Douglass is an older experienced player that can line up both inside and out. One of the keys to remember is that the Bucs had no issue moving both Jackson and Evans inside at the slot last year to get mismatches in coverage. Versatility at the receiver position is just as important as finding guys with defined roles, if not more important.

3. Brian Hartline – Wide Receiver – 28 Years Old – Miami Dolphins

Hartline is far from a top of the line priority free agent, what he is in fact is a hard worker with some decent size. Hartline can play inside or out and the versatility mixed with his size makes him an interesting player to potentially target given the size he’d be surrounded by. At 6’2″, Hartline could arguably be the 4th tallest target on the field when generally at that height, he’d be top two. While an unlikely signing, Hartline would be an interesting one if it were to happen.

Notable guys left out: Randall Cobb (Price makes little sense to pursue), Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree.

Offensive Line

The Buccaneers had arguably the worst line in the league last year after overhauling it from 2013 to 2014. Fans should expect some movement in free agency and through the draft as the team looks to sure up some holes.

1. Derek Newton – Right Tackle – 27 Years Old – Houston Texans

This is a name that should start to get some traction closer to the 10th when free agency opens up. Fans may not recognize him thanks to the poor play overall by the Texans as a team, but Newton was a bright spot among a solid group of blockers up front for the Texans. Newton would come in and play right tackle, inking in Demar Dotson on the left side in all likelihood.

2. Orlando Franklin – Offensive Guard – 27 Years Old – Denver Broncos

Franklin spent last season with Peyton Manning as his quarterback and he played a tremendous season inside at guard. The Buccaneers need help and Franklin’s age, versatility (played tackle prior as well) and attitude would be a good start towards remaking this line. The question teams will have to figure out is how much of Peyton Manning’s chess game and ability to call out his own protections actually helped out his lines play.

3. Jah Reid – Offensive Lineman – 27 Years Old – Baltimore Ravens

Figured I’d give one sleeper pick and Reid is that guy. Reid is young and very inexperienced as a third round pick in the 2011 draft out of Central Florida. Reid has not developed as fast as the Ravens originally had hoped and he’s now set to hit the market as an un-restricted free agent. Reid has great size at 6’7″ 327 lbs and has experience both outside at tackle and inside at guard. Coming out of college I had the chance to watch some games of Reid’s and he was a solid pass blocker with some work needing to be done to improve his run defending. With the limited snaps he’s played in his three seasons it’s hard to truly know where he’s at at this point in time.

Defensive Line

The Buccaneers have a solid 3-man core inside with McCoy, McDonald and Spence and the possibility of Bowers returning leaves me thinking they may not be looking at Suh as seriously as some may think. Window shopping and busting out the Visa are two different thinks, personally I feel the Bucs are more on the window shopping side here. Out on the edge is a different story however with the shortcomings of Michael Johnson last year along with William Gholston, Clayborn’s injuries and the rest aside from Jacquies Smith. That said, let’s look at who may be viable options out there.

1. Greg Hardy – Defensive End – 26 Years Old – Carolina Panthers

Hardy is not quite on the open market yet (League exempt list) but very well could be soon. He has character concerns for sure and those need to be addressed and assuredly will be. In the mean time, if Hardy hits the market the Buccaneers would be very wise to go after him and pursue him hard. Hardy is a prime time pass rusher and this team desperately needs that type of fire power to set off the edge alongside Gerald McCoy.

2. Derrick Morgan – Defensive End – 26 Years Old – Tennessee Titans

Morgan has been a productive edge defender for the last three seasons with the Titans (5 Year Pro). Morgan coming out of college was a very productive 4-3 defensive end prospect and Lovie’s defense is a perfect fit for his skill-set. Coming out of college Morgan was a dynamic athlete that played the run well while attacking the quarterback with ferocity.

3. George Johnson – Defensive End – 27 Years Old – Detroit Lions

Not every signing needs to be a premier type player and George Johnson could be the positive lower end name signing this team needs. Johnson collected 6 sacks in his first year with extensive playing time in a reserve role for the Lions last season. He’s still an ascending talent and one that could come in at a lower price and provide some spark off the sidelines.

4. Trent Cole – Defensive End – 32 Years Old – Philadelphia Eagles

Cole was recently cut by the Eagles and while he has without a doubt lost some juice, he’s still a threat off the edge. Lowering his snap count and rotating him in may be just the kind of thing to squeeze out some more production from Cole. Cole would be a low priority signing due to his age and could provide some much needed attitude to the defensive line.

5. Nick Fairley – Nose Tackle – 27 Years Old – Detroit Lions

Another Lion makes this list and it’s not Suh. Fairley has dealt with injury issues and some maturity issues while in Detroit and despite those issues, he has played well in his limited snaps. Fairley would step in as the nose tackle and could spend time rotating with Akeem Spence. Ultimately this allows Clinton McDonald to stay fresh while rotating some series in with McCoy and subbing in on pass rushing downs. The market for Fairley is a muddy one given his past but he could be a player to keep an eye on.

Back Seven

Mason Foster is unlikely to return and while the team could use a replacement MIKE, this just isn’t the year to find it in free agency. There are some options out there but how much is the team willing to spend on it with two play-makers currently on the roster in David and Lansanah? Goldson’s run is coming to an end if I had to give it a guess, who replaces him? Let’s take a look.

1. Devin McCourty – Free Safety – 28 Years Old – New England Patriots

McCourty is the clear cut top free range safety in this free agent pool. The Bucs have a big need at free safety in their defense and they happen to have some cash funds to spend… see where I’m going here? Many will make this connection, I’m not a huge fan at throwing money at other teams players on the market but this is a rare case where the players skill set fully matches up with the Buccaneers needs.

2. Sterling Moore – Nickel Cornerback – 25 Years Old – Dallas Cowboys

Moore, like Thurmond, is another option at the nickel position that would be an immediate upgrade over the teams current options. Moore had a very good season in 2014 playing 750 productive and consistent snaps. Moore is very young and potentially inexpensive option as he’s not an outside top tier corner.

3. Rahim Moore – Safety – 25 Years Old – Denver Broncos

Moore would be higher on the list but given his age and play last year he’s most likely going to get overpaid. Moore is not a very rangy safety and is not in the same league as McCourty in that fashion which is why he’s lower on the totem pole here. Regardless, Moore would be an upgrade over Goldson and should come cheaper than the price tag Goldson currently carries.

4. Walter Thurmond – Nickel Cornerback – 28 Years Old – New York Giants

Thurmond tore his pec and missed the 2014 season almost in its entirety. The injury obviously must be healed before a team signs up but know this, Thurmond is a VERY good slot corner. Previously a member of the Seattle Seahawks, Thurmond signed a one year deal with the Giants and is now an un-restricted free agent. Thurmond would be a massive upgrade over Leonard Johnson and co. that the Buccaneers rolled out in the nickel spot in 2014. This is a player the team should really look hard at.

5. Danieal Manning – Free Safety – 33 Years Old – Houston Texans

Manning is old and on his last legs as a free ranging safety in the league however he is still an upgrade in coverage over the current starter Goldson. This would be a late signing if it were to happen, most likely in the third wave of free agency post draft. Manning would obviously only be a very temporary filler at safety.

6. Brandon Spikes – MIKE Linebacker – 27 Years Old – Buffalo Bills

Spikes is low on this list for a couple reasons. First off, I’m not a huge fan on the crop of linebackers in this free agent class in general. Second, he isn’t a true three down linebacker. A player like Spikes getting signed would most likely mean we see Danny Lansanah moving from SAM to the MIKE in the nickel defense and I’m not confident Lovie Smith wants a 2-down MIKE backer. That said, Spikes is an enforcer and a very good run defender that could fill the void in that regard left by Mason Foster.

7. Rolando McClain – MIKE Linebacker – 26 Years Old – Dallas Cowboys

McClain is most likely higher on more peoples list but I can’t help but question the chances his year was a fluke in Dallas. McClain had been a career underachiever prior to this past season and that makes me just a bit leery of signing him if I’m the Buccaneers.

Now that we’ve moved through some targets I’d like to see the Buccaneers take a look at… who do I sign if I’m Jason Licht?

Moves I’m Making

1. Sign Derek Newton, RT
2. Sign Sterling Moore, NCB
3. Sign Brian Hartline, WR
4. Sign George Johnson, DE
5. Sign Trent Cole, DE
6. Sign T.J. Yates, QB
7. Sign Brett Kern, P

With some cuts already made and the signings above in house we move on to the NFL Draft for the second to the last phase of the off-season.

Full One Round Mock Draft

To try and eliminate my personal preferences and bias’ from my own NFL Draft Evaluations on players I decided to use First-Pick.com while selecting picks for the Buccaneers and letting the system choose players for the rest of the teams. You’ll find my pick summary below the Buccaneers selection.

Round 1 Pick 1 (T.B.): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Summary: This is the easiest decision of the entire off-season. The Buccaneers are void of a high caliber signal caller no more, as the team selects Jameis Winston. Winston instantly makes Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins more dangerous and all of the sudden, the Tampa Bay Dunkaneers are finally holding court, ball up. (Full Winston Breakdown >> Jameis Winston Full Breakdown Here<<

Round 1 Pick 2 (TENN): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
Round 1 Pick 3 (JAX): Leonard Williams, DT/DE, Southern California
Round 1 Pick 4 (OAK): Dante Fowler Jr., OLB/DE, Florida
Round 1 Pick 5 (WASH): Brandon Scherff, OT/OG, Iowa
Round 1 Pick 6 (NYJ): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Round 1 Pick 7 (CHI): Landon Collins, SS, Alabama
Round 1 Pick 8 (ATL): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Round 1 Pick 9 (NYG): Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
Round 1 Pick 10 (STL): La’el Collins, OT/OG, LSU
Round 1 Pick 11 (MINN): Alvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Round 1 Pick 12 (CLE): Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Round 1 Pick 13 (N.O.): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Round 1 Pick 14 (MIA): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Round 1 Pick 15 (S.F.): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
Round 1 Pick 16 (HOU): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Round 1 Pick 17 (S.D.): Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
Round 1 Pick 18 (K.C.): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Round 1 Pick 19 (CLE): Shaq Thompson, OLB/ILB, Washington
Round 1 Pick 20 (PHI): Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (Ohio)
Round 1 Pick 21 (CINN): P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
Round 1 Pick 22 (PITT): Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Round 1 Pick 23 (DET): Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Round 1 Pick 24 (ARI): Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Round 1 Pick 25 (CAR): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Round 1 Pick 26 (BALT): T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
Round 1 Pick 27 (DAL): Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Round 1 Pick 28 (DEN): Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
Round 1 Pick 29 (IND): D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
Round 1 Pick 30 (G.B.): Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
Round 1 Pick 31 (SEA): Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
Round 1 Pick 32 (N.E.): Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

There were some surprises brought about by the program selections, notably Maxx Williams over a new MIKE backer for the Packers and Owa jumping into the first round for the Seahawks. The simulator left some very intriguing picks on the board for the Buccaneers when I selected. We’ll go through the final picks for the Buccaneers ONLY below. (All picks made were in First-Pick.com’s simulator, just decided to not copy/paste the cpu selections after round 1)

On the board with the second round selection were names like Benardrick McKinney, Cameron Erving, Ereck Flowers and Todd Gurley. I passed on all names mentioned.

Round 2 Pick 2 (T.B.): Eric Kendricks, ILB/OLB, UCLA

Summary: Kendricks is my top rated MIKE linebacker in the entire draft and with the Packers passing on him, the Buccaneers get the top coverage linebacker in the draft falling into their laps. (Full Eric Kendricks Breakdown Here)

Round 3 Pick 1 (T.B.): Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon

Summary: Fisher is a big and lengthy lineman that has played inside at guard as well as outside on both ends of the line. Fisher can be groomed into the future at either tackle spot while initially starting inside at right guard. Fisher is very good value at this part of the draft. (Full Jake Fisher Breakdown Here

Round 4 Pick 10 (T.B.): Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State

Summary: A pick that should make Florida State fans and Jameis Winston both smile big. The Buccaneers select Winston’s go to player at FSU and a guy that should provide an immediate impact as the slot receiver.

Round 5 Pick 26 (T.B.): Eric Rowe, CB/FS, Utah

Summary: The Bucs got a close up look at Rowe during the college All-Star games and the Utah product could provide help in several forms thanks to his versatility. A three year starter at Utah, Rowe offers a skill set that will allow him to transition from corner to Free Safety at the next level.

Round 5 Pick 32 (T.B.): Adam Shead, OG, Oklahoma

Summary: It wouldn’t be a Bucs draft without a late round offensive lineman am I right? Shead is a big bodied behemoth that needs technical work as well as some work on controlling his body. As a 5th round pick, Shead is the type of project player the Buccaneers could use. Shead puts everything his has into his blocks and is a body mover on the line, tends to get out in front too often and can lose balance. In the 6th round, he’s a project worth taking.

Round 6 Pick 8 (T.B.): Nick Marshall, CB/QB, Auburn

Summary: Late round picks are projects more often than not and what better project than Nick Marshall? Marshall, a converted Defensive Back to Quarterback is again transitioning, this time back to corner. Marshall could be a very good project to work on as he makes his final transition. Marshall has the athleticism to make this transition pay off

Round 7 Pick 1 (T.B.): Jake Ryan, OLB/ILB, Michigan

Summary: Ryan can play inside and outside but is best suited at the WILL position. Ryan provides depth and insurance in case David were to miss time.

Where does the team stand exiting the draft?

Let’s take a look at a potential final 53 Man Roster given the moves that have taken place above:

Quarterbacks (2):

Jameis Winston
T.J. Yates

Running Backs (3):

Charles Sims
Doug Martin
Bobby Rainey

Wide Receivers (7):

Vincent Jackson
Mike Evans
Rashad Greene
Brian Hartline
Louis Murphy
Robert Herron
Russell Shepard

Tight End (3):

Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Brandon Meyers
Luke Stocker

Offensive Tackle (4):

Demar Dotson
Derek Newton
Jake Fisher
Kevin Pamphile

Offensive Guard (5):

Logan Mankins
Patrick Omameh
Adam Shead
Kadeem Edwards
O’Niel Cousins

Center (1):

Evan Dietrich-Smith

Defensive End (5):

Michael Johnson
George Johnson
Jacquiez Smith
Trent Cole
William Gholston

Defensive Tackle (4):

Gerald McCoy
Clinton McDonald
Akeem Spence
Da’Quan Bowers

Outside Linebacker (4):

Lavonte David
Danny Lansanah
Brandon Magee
Orie Lemon

Inside Linebacker (2):

Eric Kendricks
Jake Ryan

Cornerback (4):

Johnthan Banks
Alterraun Verner
Nick Marshall
Mike Jenkins

Nickel Corner (2):

Sterling Moore
Crezdon Butler

Free Safety (2):

Eric Rowe
Keith Tandy

Strong Safety (2):

Bradley McDougald
Major Wright

Long Snapper (1):

Andrew DePaola

Kicker (1):

Patrick Murray

Punter (1):

Brett Kern

With the Final 53 set for the time being, what would the base offense and defense look like? Let’s take a quick look below:

Offense

Defense

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7 Comments on Buccaneers Offseason Plans: Free Agency, Cuts, NFL Draft, Final 53

DraftAuthority said : Guest Report one year ago

BucWild007 1vabucsfan TheBayCave lol one of those things man. You know if you see "Johnson" on the back of the jersey it's gonna be bad.

BucWild007 said : Guest Report one year ago

DraftAuthority 1vabucsfan TheBayCave my kids even know Leonard Johnson sucks! Every time "How does he still have a job?"

DraftAuthority said : Guest Report one year ago

1vabucsfan TheBayCave same here, very pleased with this seeing as that means no more Leonard Johnson in the slot.

DraftAuthority said : Guest Report one year ago

RStriff27 the team should have the money to extend any players they want off of these 1 year deals in a year if they prove themselves.

DraftAuthority said : Guest Report one year ago

RStriff27 I like it better than the long contracts given our track record lol I wouldn't be worried seeing as our cap situation is great.

1vabucsfan said : Guest Report one year ago

DraftAuthority TheBayCave Favorite signing so far

RStriff27 said : Guest Report one year ago

DraftAuthority Is it concerning all deals have been 1 year? Same holes next year? Are they playing it too safe? Am i overreacting lol?

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