Hold Up, the Bucs Ain't Champs Yet! A Pre-Draft Evaluation of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There's been a lot made of the Tampay Bay’s offseason free agency activity, especially hiring of Coach Lovie Smith.  The media had fawned over these additions, some already deeming the Buc’s the new division leader.  It has been busy offseason for Tampa with 17 total new faces on the roster. While there have been heaps of praise, I don’t think there has been enough coverage free agent departures and problems with important components of the team’s roster. Here's a couple of issues I see pre-draft for the Buc’s.


Secondary: Tampa is playing 3 strong safeties without a true free safety. Dshon Goldson, Major Wright, and Mark Barron all have issues in coverage and are best playing in the box. I’m interested to see how they fit in a Tampa 2 base defense. The newly added Alterraun Verner is a good solid corner who fits the Tampa 2 defense, but he's not an upgrade over Revis. 
Big questions also loom with Mike Jenkins, Jonthan Banks, and Michael Johnson.

Linebackers: Tampa has an excellent outside linebacker in Lavonte David, but then what? Mason Foster is horrible in coverage. This position has to be addressed in the draft.  I’m guessing this will be a position Tampa Bay will look to upgrade in the draft given Lovie’s history with beast linebackers in the middle, such as Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.

Defensive line: Consisting of Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, Michael Johnson, Da’Quan Bowers, and Adrian Clayborn, this line is a mixed bag of goods. McCoy is an outstanding player, but what about the rest?  Big name free agent, Michael Johnson, was brought to shore of last year’s lack of defensive push. Johnson showed promise in 2012 compiling 11.5 sacks with the Cincinnati Bengals, but that figure dropped to a mere 3.5 sacks in 2013. The Bengals do one of the league’s premier pass rushers in Geno Atkins, so it's not like Johnson didn't have help. It unclear why his production dropped so dramatically.  Some think Johnson should flourish in Lovie’sdefense, but we haven’t seen much consistency yet from the league’s, now, 4th highest paid defensive player. McDonald, a backup defensive tackle for Seattle, had 5.5 sacks last season. He could be valuable in passing situations. Bowers has yet to live up to his acclaimed draft status, and Clayborn’s future with the Bucs is a question.


Quarterback: Tampa added free agent quarterback and former Panther, Josh McCown, who played especially well in Chicago last year. There were a lot of things in McCown's favor, however, that may not be as prevalent with his new team. First, he had an offensive guru in head coach Marc Trestman. Second, Chicago has tons of offensive talent with studs Alshon Jeffrey, Brandon Marshall, Michael Bennett, Matt Forte, Eric Weems, and Devin Hester. There aren’t many teams with that type of offensive talent, and Tampa certainly isn’t one of them. Adding an experienced quarterback is a good thing, but they are currently shopping Mike "Ole Neckbones" Glennon. This most likely means they're planning on drafting a quarterback this Thursday. We’ll see how affects Tampa’s offensive direction.

Wideouts: There's been tons of national talk about the departure of Carolina's receiver corps. Nevertheless, there has been little said about Tampa’s corps, which not only lacks any threat behind Vincent Jackson, but also lacks a potent tight-end. At least Carolina added Cotchery, Avant, Underwood and Dickson.  The Bucs signed Louis Murphy and Brandon Myers, hardly an intimidating bunch. 

Offensive line: On the O'line, Tampa signed Anthony Collins but released former pro-bowler Donald Penn. They also allowed former pro-bowler Davin Joseph and Jeremy Zuttah to walk after having down years in 2013, only to replace them with Oniel Cousins, a backup from the Browns, and Evan Dietrich-Smith, an ok center from Green Bay. Carl Nicks, who is sidelined with a foot infection, still hasn't been able to practice with the team. If Carl Nicks isn't 100% by the start of the season, the Bucs could be in trouble.

The draft is Thursday and the Bucs will be looking to upgrade at quarterback, wide receiver, and offensive line. The fear of Tampa winning the division is a little bit premature. Let’s not go and crown them just yet. They have an outstanding coaching staff and some key defensive pieces, they still need a lot of work personnel wise.

Go Panthers!

By Willie Perry