Tampa Bay Times Bucs beat writer Stephen Holder wrote how the Buccaneers scouting department has had to adjust their approach when it comes to evaluating draft prospects because the team is currently without a head coach and offensive and defensive coordinators. The Times’ headline betrays what Holder is essentially saying, and for those Bucs fans that just skim headlines for news, Pewter Report felt it was important to reinforce the point Holder was making in the story.
Source: Stephen Holder, Tampa Bay Times
Because the Bucs are still without a head coach and coordinators, scouting future Buccaneers becomes a bit trickier. Right now, it's less clear which players are better suited for the types of offensive and defensive schemes the Bucs will run. We don't yet have an idea what those schemes will look like and what elements will be emphasized. Therefore, the team is having to cast a wider net in its scouting efforts, at least for the time being.
To be clear, we should point out that the Bucs' regional scouts do this anyway.
PR Reacts: The headline of the story suggests that the Bucs are adjusting their college scouting approaching because they don’t have a coaching staff, but the reality of the situation is that the college scouts are responsible for evaluating all players – not just defensive personnel for 4-3 defenses and players that would be a fit in a West Coast offense. So there really is no adjustment going on right now. Tampa Bay’s college territory scouts annually evaluate 3-4 linebackers and defensive linemen – not just players that fit in a 4-3 defense, despite the fact that the Bucs have run that scheme for the last 20 years or so. That’s what Holder meant when he said, “To be clear, we should point out that the Bucs’ regional scouts do this anyway.”
Sure, while evaluating players in their territory, Tampa Bay’s college scouts could probably mentally hone in on ideal 4-3 defenders because that’s what the Bucs have been used to working with for decades. But they are just as familiar with the 3-4 defenders – even though the Bucs haven’t drafted those types of players in some time. Director of player personnel Dennis Hickey has made sure that there is no added emphasis on targeting and scouting 4-3 players over 3-4 players.
In case you didn’t know, the Bucs’ college scouting reports aren’t just used for the 2012 NFL Draft. The Buccaneers use those scouting reports years down the road in free agency to serve as background information about the players’ character and work ethic, as well as injury history and college-level production.
Even though Josh Freeman is considered to be the team’s franchise quarterback, the Bucs will still interview and evaluate Stanford signal caller Andrew Luck, who will likely be the first overall pick in April. The reason? If Freeman falters or has a career-ending injury in the next few years, the Bucs may be interested in Luck years down the road in free agency and they will have a foundation of information on which to continue the evaluation process.
It’s doubtful Luck would ever end up in Tampa Bay, but this is just a scenario to illustrate how the Bucs’ college scouting reports are used in free agency down the road. Suppose the Bucs hire a new coach and he’s fired three years from now. Then the next head coach wants to implement a 3-4 defense. All of the scouting reports done on this year’s crop of 3-4 personnel in the draft will be of use when free agency hits in 2016.
So in reality, the Bucs’ scouting approach hasn’t changed much at all while evaluating prospects at the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. When it will change slightly is when the next head coach is hired and the types of players he is looking for on offense and defense becomes known. But Tampa Bay doesn’t really begin building its draft board until March anyway, so there is plenty of time for Hickey and the scouts to become familiar with what the new coach is looking for and targeting specific players, while eliminating others.