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May 12, 2014 @ 11:32 am
Current rating: 3.38 Stars/8 Votes

SR's Fab 5 - 5-12

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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Who was the big winner in Tampa Bay following the 2014 draft? Why did the Bucs draft another RB in Charles Sims? Is Lovie Smith's Tampa Bay team built to win in 2014? Which three rookies will make the biggest instant impact for the Bucs? Get the answers and more Bucs draft insight in this edition of SR's Fab 5.
SR's Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:

FAB 1. McCOWN IS THE BUCCANEERS’ BIG WINNER IN 2014 DRAFT
The big winner for the Buccaneers in the 2014 NFL Draft wasn’t actually Mike Glennon, who was surprisingly anointed the team’s quarterback of the future by head coach Lovie Smith on Thursday night. It was 34-year old starting quarterback Josh McCown.

McCown is Smith’s handpicked quarterback, luring him away in free agency from Chicago where he had a stellar season in 2013 filling in for the injured Jay Cutler. McCown is the team’s QB of the present and foreseeable future – a future that may extend past the two-year, $10 million contract he signed.

Although McCown turns 35 on July 4, Smith has frequently said that his quarterback doesn’t have a lot of mileage on his tires because he has only played in 58 games with 38 starts during his 12 years. To put that in perspective, the 26-year old Josh Freeman has played in 60 games with 59 starts in his five years in the NFL – and Freeman only played in four games last season. Although nearly 10 years younger, Freeman has a lot more wear and tear on his body than McCown does.

Smith believes that McCown is a late bloomer that could accomplish more towards the end of his career than at the beginning, similar to former Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon and Super Bowl champion Bucs signal caller Brad Johnson, who both found success and fame in their mid-30’s. Smith hopes that McCown can excel in his first two years in Tampa Bay to the point where he can earn another short-term contract to close out his career in four or five more years.

The big takeaway from Tampa Bay’s initial mini-camp wasn’t just that Glennon would suffice as the backup quarterback this year and apparently is good enough to be in the team’s long-term plans. It was the fact that McCown looked so good, so accurate and so in command of Jeff Tedford’s offense that he is not a stop-gap quarterback for the Bucs or a bridge to the quarterback of the future. The team believes McCown can be the answer under center for such a long period of time that the Bucs didn’t draft a quarterback this year, despite parading the likes of Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Fresno State’s Derek Carr, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garappolo, SMU’s Garrett Gilbert and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd.

The fact that the Bucs didn’t add a quarterback in the draft is just as much a testament to Smith’s faith in McCown as it is to Glennon. It should be noted that many of the draft-eligible quarterbacks that visited One Buccaneer Place did so before Tampa Bay’s initial mini-camp. The Bucs used six of their 30 visits on quarterbacks – that’s one-fifth of their allotted visits on a position Tampa Bay didn’t end up drafting. It is clear that Smith, Tedford and general manager Jason Licht really liked what they saw from McCown and Glennon in operating the offense in the mini-camp, and they compared each of the quarterbacks that came in to Glennon during the process.

“We used all 30 of those visits we could – wanted to see what’s out there,” Smith said. “And when you have a chance to compare, you make as many comparisons as you can. And again, we had a lot of good quarterbacks come through. I enjoyed meeting them all, and feel like there are a lot of them [that] will play and play well in the league. 

“I didn’t get a chance to get to know them and really see them in action like I’ve seen Mike, and what I’ve done is I’ve been in position meetings with Mike, I’ve been around Mike in every environment that you can think of, and then just watching him on the football field. And what you ask a quarterback to do – [be] smart, make checks, and then throw the football – Mike can make all of the throws. I knew what he could do throwing-wise and all that before, but to just see it up close and personal – and a lot of talk that’s going on about Mike Glennon, what I’ve said is that Josh McCown is our starter, which he is. Love Josh, and Josh is pretty excited – more so than, or as excited as any fan as we have about the offensive group – but what I said was we like Mike Glennon and Mike has an excellent future in the league, and that’s how it has played out.”
 
While Glennon had a good showing at mini-camp, McCown was sensational. PewterReport.com reported how McCown looked like he was putting on a pro day workout for NFL scouts, as his passes were crisp, rhythmic and on-target with very few incompletions. And it wasn’t just one day. It was the same awesome performance in each of the three days of Tampa Bay’s mini-camp.

As good as McCown looked in Marc Trestman’s offense last year in Chicago when he completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 1,829 yards with 13 touchdowns and one interception, he could be an even better fit in Tedford’s system that puts a premium on short, accurate throws to receivers, tight ends and running backs and an occasional deep throw off play-action.

On the first night of the draft, Smith indicated that he liked McCown, but loved Glennon – likely to quell the discussion that the team might consider trading the 6-foot-6, second-year quarterback.

“There are a lot of good players [at the quarterback position in the draft],” Smith said. “But it’s about what’s best for us. Just talking about our quarterback position, our quarterback position is as strong as, to me, any quarterback position that I’ve had as a head coach.
You know how much I like Josh McCown as our starter here, but I love Mike Glennon. Mike Glennon is our quarterback of the future here. So why would we want to add a third quarterback to the mix?”

Smith actually got his praise juxtaposed. He loves McCown and likes Glennon, and the proof of that is the fact that he anointed McCown the starter immediately after acquiring him in free agency. If he loved Glennon he won’t have instantly demoted him, or at least would have opened up the quarterback competition to let McCown and Glennon each get a shot to win the starting job.

The knock on Glennon is his lack of mobility, and that was apparent on the designed rollouts and play-action waggles in Tedford’s offense. McCown is faster, more fluid and clearly outperformed the Bucs’ third-round pick from a year ago in the intital mini-camp, but there is still a lot to like about Glennon, and he showed that last year. In 13 starts, Glennon broke most of Tampa Bay’s rookie records with 2,608 yards passing, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

He’s smart, fairly accurate and has a strong arm. Those are qualities that could make Glennon a fit in Tedford’s offense as he continues to develop under Tedford and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo.

And when the Bucs called around the NFL to gauge the interest of other teams in possibly trading for Glennon, they were surprised at how highly he was valued and thought of around the league. So instead of dealing Glennon for a second- or third-round pick, Tampa Bay decided to keep him because good quarterbacks are hard to find and every QB in the draft remains unproven until they suit up on Sundays. Glennon has already done that in 13 games and done it well enough to stick around with the new regime.

Glennon might be the quarterback of the future in Tampa Bay, but it’s not going to be in 2014 and it might not be for some time if McCown plays as well as expected.

FAB 2. SMITH’S BUCCANEERS ARE BUILT TO WIN NOW
With Tampa Bay’s onslaught of signings in free agency, including a veteran quarterback in starter Josh McCown, Lovie Smith’s Buccaneers are built to win now. Don’t use the word “rebuilding” in Smith’s presence. He doesn’t have patience for that word or the luxury of time that comes with it.

Smith feels the pressure to win right now, and how could he not? He saw his former head coach, good friend and mentor, Tony Dungy, fired by the Glazers after making the playoffs three straight years (and four out of Dungy’s last five years). Dungy, who was heralded as the man who turned the Yuccaneers into the Buccaneers, was fired in 2001 after going 10-6 and losing to Philadelphia in the first round of the postseason.

Smith saw Dungy’s successor, Jon Gruden, the only coach to win a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay fired in 2008 after going 9-7 in back-to-back seasons. In 2008 Gruden, who was acquired in a trade with Oakland that saw Tampa Bay surrender two first-round picks and two second-rounders, had become the all-time winningest head coach in franchise history during the 2008 campaign.

After going 10-6 in his last year in Chicago, Smith was fired after the 2012 season. The reason? It had been six long years since the Bears had been to the Super Bowl, which is a place that franchises like Cleveland, Houston and Jacksonville have never been, and a game that some franchises haven’t played in for decades. Smith wasn’t alone on the chopping block that year as Jacksonville fired head coach Mike Mularky after just one season on the job.

During the 2013 season, which amounted to a paid vacation for Smith, he saw Rob Chudzinski meet the same fate in Cleveland, getting fired after one season. And he saw the Glazers fire Greg Schiano after just two years with three years left on a contract that will pay him an additional $9 million.

Smith is making a reported $5 million per season in Tampa Bay and has the title of savior that comes with that high price tag. For a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2007 and has tasted a postseason victory since the Super Bowl in 2002, Smith is under the pressure to win now – and he knows it.

That’s why he hired general manager Jason Licht, who is known more for his eye for talent rather than media relations and contract negotiating skills. Smith knows that talent wins in the NFL, and the Bucs missed on too many draft picks over the years, evidenced by the fact that only defensive tackle Gerald McCoy remains from any Tampa Bay draft prior to 2011, which is a stunningly shameful track record.

The pressure on Smith to win is so great that he convinced the Glazers to overhaul the team with veterans in free agency rather than using the draft as the primary building block. Instead of a blockbuster player or two like the Bucs have added over the years with super-high price tags with the likes of wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks in 2012 and cornerback Darrelle Revis and free safety Dashon Goldson last year, the Bucs signed more free agents this time around with more modestly expensive deals.

And because Smith knows he has to win now, he doesn’t have time to draft and groom a first-round quarterback, which played a role in Tampa Bay not selecting one with the seventh overall pick – or any pick – in the 2014 NFL Draft. Nothing can set a franchise back faster than living with the growing pains associated with playing a rookie QB. Even though Mike Glennon’s rookie season was deemed to be a statistical success, the Bucs were only 4-9 with him at the helm.

Grabbing a rookie quarterback over the first two days of the NFL Draft would mean only creating a clamor for that young, unproven signal caller should the Bucs’ 2014 season start slower than expected and some of McCown’s passes go errant and fall into the hands of the enemy. The backup quarterback can sometimes be the most popular player on a team in many an NFL city, and Smith couldn’t afford to have that happen in Tampa Bay during the 2014 season.

Through the draft and free agency, Smith and Licht have greatly improved the talent, depth and overall speed on the Buccaneers – and done so quickly. Look for seven new starters on offense, including McCown, left tackle Anthony Collins, center Evan Dietrich-Smith, right guard Jamon Meredith, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, wide receiver Mike Evans and Louis Murphy when the team goes three-wide. On defense, the Bucs will have three new starters in cornerback Alterraun Verner, nose tackle Clinton McDonald, defensive end Michael Johnson.

That’s 10 new faces out of the starting 22 in Tampa Bay. The last time the Bucs had such an overhaul in the starting lineup was in 2009 after former general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris purged the roster of many over-the-hill Buccaneers in their 30’s en route to a 3-13 season. The time before that was Gruden’s first in Tampa Bay when the Bucs went 12-4 and won the Super Bowl.

Expect Smith and Light version of the Buccaneers to be somewhere in between in 2014 with perhaps a 9-7 record and contending for a playoff spot. Why wait to win? There’s no time like the present, according to Smith.

“We’re excited about the group,” Smith said after the draft. We’re a better football team right now with the mix of some very good football players.”

FAB 3. WHY TAMPA BAY DRAFTED ANOTHER RUNNING BACK IN SIMS
Some Buccaneers fans were up in arms over the fact that the team didn’t select an offensive lineman in the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft before drafting guard Kadeem Edwards and left tackle Kevin Pamphile in the fifth round. Edwards is a long-term project at guard and likely won’t be ready to start as a rookie, while Pamphile, who only had two years of starting experience at Purdue, will likely serve as Tampa Bay’s reserve swing tackle in 2014.

Keep in mind that the Bucs signed a left tackle in Anthony Collins, a center in Evan Dietrich-Smith and two guards in Jamon Meredith, whom the team is pretty high on, and Oneil Cousins in free agency. The team got three new starters in Collins, Dietrich-Smith and probably Meredith at one of the guard positions. If Carl Nicks returns to health, he’ll likely be the starter at left guard.

If not, the Bucs will use training camp to decide if the other starter is Cousins or Patrick Omameh, or if one of the rookies ends up as a surprise starter. Tampa Bay fans may feel queasy over the options at guard, but they are likely better than the on-paper combo last year of the MRSA-inflicted Nicks and Davin Joseph, who returned from a season-ending 2012 season as a shell of his former self.

“We feel better today and today was just another piece of the puzzle,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said after selecting Edwards in the fifth round. “We have tonight, we have the offseason, we have the preseason, we have camp – we’ll have several avenues to continue to look into to upgrade or get better. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We’re still plugging away at it.”

So why draft yet another running back in West Virginia’s Charles Sims in the third round instead of drafting a guard with immediate starting potential, such as Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson, Baylor’s Cyril Richardson or Stanford’s David Yankey? Aside from the fact that those guards didn’t possess the athleticism that offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and offensive line coach George Warhop wanted, Sims was the best available offensive player on the board when it came time for the Bucs to make their selection in the third round.

“With Charles, he’s a very explosive athlete, he’s got great hands just like I said – I keep repeating that, but that was a point of emphasis,” Licht said. “It brings us a back that not has 4.46 [40-yard dash] speed as a runner, but also as a receiver. This is the top receiving back in the draft, we felt. I always feel like you can’t have enough backs, especially when they have versatile skill sets.”

The Buccaneers have a plethora of capable running backs starting with Doug Martin and followed by Bobby Rainey, Mike James, Jeff Demps and Sims. At the most, Tampa Bay seems poised to keep only four and one of those will be Sims by virtue of his draft status. Rainey and Demps stood out during the mini-camp with their speed and quickness. With Tedford and Smith putting a premium on having fast players on offense, it’s hard to not see those guys make the team.

Martin had trouble catching the ball last year with five drops in eight games, and he fumbled the ball three times during the team’s initial mini-camp. I’m not suggesting that he’s necessarily fallen out of favor with the new regime and that he’s going to be traded. In fact, Smith has gone on record as saying that Martin will be given the first chance at being the starter, especially given the production during his rookie season. But if the fumbles continue and his hands don’t improve Martin will not be a fit in this offense where Tedford puts a premium on catching the ball – hence the addition of Sims – and Smith places a premium on ball security.

“Our plan right now is to take them all to camp,” Licht said. “Look at the history here, there’s bound to be an injury. We’re trying to see what’s best for us. We don’t want to just part ways with somebody who could be a valuable piece of our team.”

Licht accurately points out that the Bucs had four running backs end up on injured reserve last year in Michael Smith, Martin, Demps and James. But the thought of Tampa Bay starting the season by carrying five running backs seems far-fetched.

James, who is recovering from a broken ankle, could be the early favorite as the odd-man out. Although James, like Rainey, ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash while Martin is a 4.55 guy, and Martin could fetch the most value in a pre-season trade.

Training camp should be exciting at the running back position where there will be a no-holds-barred battle royale for roster spots thanks to the addition of Sims. Smith and Tedford weren’t kidding when they said that they wanted to run the football, but keep in mind that the running backs are also heavily involved in the passing game. Only the most versatile and complete backs will survive.

FAB 4. EXPECT AN INSTANT IMPACT FROM BUCS’ FIRST THREE DRAFT PICKS
One of the most notable things about the Buccaneers’ 2014 draft class is the fact that the team’s first three picks – Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and West Virginia running back Charles Sims – all made an instant impact at their respective schools as freshman. With that early success in their collegiate background, expect Evans, Seferian-Jenkins and Sims to become immediately productive during their rookie seasons in Tampa Bay.

Evans had a tremendous redshirt freshman campaign at Texas A&M where he quickly became Johnny Manziel’s favorite target with 82 receptions for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns. There was no sophomore slump for the 6-foot-5 receiver as he caught 69 passes for 1,394 yards and 12 TDs in 2013.

In 2011, Seferian-Jenkins burst onto the scene as a freshman, catching 41 passes for 538 yards (13.1 avg.) and six touchdowns. He followed that up by hauling in 69 receptions for 852 yards and seven scores as a sophomore.

As a freshman at Houston, Sims rushed for 698 yards and nine touchdowns on 132 carries (5.3 avg.). But what is even more impressive is that he hauled in a career-high 70 receptions for 759 yards (10.8 avg.) and one touchdown. Sims improved his rushing total in 2012 with 821 yards and nine touchdowns on 110 carries (7.5 avg.), while adding 575 yards and four touchdowns through the air on 51 catches (11.3 avg.).

These three players have withstood the pressures of making a quick transition from high school to college, and are well suited to make a similar leap from college to the pros. As for the other three Tampa Bay draft picks, guard Kadeem Edwards, offensive tackle Kevin Pamphile and wide receiver Robert Herron, expect a slower transition time for NFL success.

While Edwards was a four-year starter at Tennessee State, he did not dominate his opponents with any regularity. He has a nice skill set in terms of his 6-foot-4, 313-pound frame and 35.5-inch arm length, but he’s a project. He needs to work on his conditioning, pad level, his punch, sustaining blocks and his sense of urgency when playing.

He has a great highlight video of finishing plays in a nasty way, but looking at an entire game shows some of his serious flaws that need to be corrected. When watching him against Tennessee Tech, which shouldn’t be confused with the University of Tennessee, during his senior season, Edwards whiffs on several blocks in the run game and in pass protection and does too much standing around, in addition to being flagged for holding. He also gave up a sack and nearly surrendered another one on a fourth quarter flea-flicker pass that was nearly intercepted.

Pamphile only has two years of starting experience on the offensive line after moving from defensive tackle in 2011. He’s a very good athlete and has much better technique than Edwards does, but he’s not ready to step in and perform right away against NFL competition.

While Herron, the Bucs’ speedy sixth-round pick, had a career year as a senior, catching 72 passes for 937 yards and nine touchdowns, he began his Wyoming career with six catches for 57 yards as a freshman. He followed that up by catching 43 passes for 379 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore and didn’t really break out until his junior season when he averaged 21.2 yards per catch by hauling in 31 passes for 657 yards, including an 82-yarder, and eight touchdowns.

Herron will certainly get the opportunity to win the slot receiver position as a rookie, but he might make more of an impact on special teams in the return game initially in the NFL. As a sixth-round pick, Herron’s first task will be to actually make the team before he can make the starting lineup for the Buccaneers.

FAB 5. Here are a few things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:

• Wyoming’s Robert Herron (pronounced Hurr-on) will have an advantage during this week’s rookie mini-camp in that his college quarterback, Brett Smith, was signed as an undrafted free agent. Smith and Herron have played together for the past three seasons and have a strong rapport. That should help both players show off their respective skills for Tampa Bay’s coaches and scouts.

Going up against nothing but undrafted free agent cornerbacks during the mini-camp, the speedy Herron, who was timed at 4.48 at the NFL Scouting Combine and around 4.3 at his pro day, will get the chance to make a real strong impression and generate some buzz. Herron had 11 receptions of 40 yards or more, including catches of 70, 81, 82 and 93 yards, over his last two years at Wyoming. You can check out his highlights here, and evaluate the suddenness he displayed at the Senior Bowl here.

• Another big winner in the 2014 NFL Draft aside from Bucs quarterbacks Josh McCown and Mike Glennon was middle linebacker Mason Foster. The fact that Tampa Bay bypassed the chance to draft Wisconsin middle linebacker Chris Borland and LSU’s Lamin Barrow was a vote of confidence in Foster’s ability to make the calls on defense and drop into coverage in the Tampa 2.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the praise heaped on Foster by head coach Lovie Smith and linebackers Coach Hardy Nickerson in a previous SR’s Fab 5 column. It turns out that wasn’t smoke, evidenced by the fact that the Bucs didn’t draft a linebacker as Foster enters a contract year. That’s also an indication that Tampa Bay is pleased with newly acquired Dane Fletcher, who will provide depth at the middle linebacker position as well as challenge Foster for the right to start.

• Some NFL teams’ draft plans are laid out in such a way as to counter and match up with what other teams in their divisions are doing in the offseason in terms of player acquisition. It’s interesting how Carolina moved 5-foot-11, 210-pound safety Charles Godfrey to cornerback to give the Panthers another bigger body to contend with the Tampa Skyline tandem of 6-foot-5, 235-pound receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. The Panthers added 6-foot-1, 195-pound Antoine Cason in the offseason, and he’s currently the biggest cornerback they have outside of 6-foot, 200-pound Josh Norman.

New Orleans appears to be best suited to handle Jackson and Evans from a size standpoint as the team added 6-foot, 192-pound cornerback Champ Bailey in free agency and drafted Stanley Jean-Baptiste, 6-foot-3, 215-pounder. The Saints also have some sizeable cornerbacks on their roster in 6-foot-1, 208-pound Keenan Lewis, 6-foot, 187-pound Rod Sweeting and 5-foot-11, 191-pound Patrick Robinson.

Atlanta, on the other hand, may be in trouble when trying to cover the Bucs’ big receivers as their tallest cornerback is Desmond Trufant, last year’s first-round pick, who stands 6-foot and weighs 190 pounds. He’s the only cornerback that is at least 6-foot on the current roster, and the Falcons may be wishing they had added some taller cornerbacks after facing Tampa Bay twice by the end of the year.

• After having a robust surge of web traffic this year on PewterReport.com, I wanted to thank you all for visiting PewterReport.com this offseason for our pre-draft analysis and Bucs draft coverage. Our current website can be very frustrating when we have tens of thousands of Bucs fans hitting PewterReport.com at once, and I want you to know that no one is more frustrated than I am. There is some good news on this front that I hope to be able to share with you in the coming weeks that will permanently resolve some issues we have on high-traffic days and ensure that PewterReport.com never experiences a short-term outage again.

While I readily admit that PewterReport.com guessed wrong about the Bucs’ need for drafting a quarterback this year (we weren’t alone in that thinking, however) given the fact Tampa Bay brought in six quarterbacks for a visit, we were able to hit on another Bucs’ Best Bet in West Virginia running back Charles Sims, who went in the third round, which was a round higher than we expected. We also pegged Purdue offensive tackle Kevin Pamphile in our final PewterReport.com 2014 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft.

It is incredibly difficult to accurately pair a player to a team given all of the variables that happen during the draft. Although we’re not perfect with our predictions, PewterReport.com has a long-standing tradition of identifying players the Bucs have a strong interest. In 2010, we had defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and wide receivers Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams all listed as Bucs’ Best Bets. In 2011, we had safety Ahmad Black as a Bucs’ Best Bet, and after missing completely in the 2012 draft, we identified quarterback Mike Glennon as a Bucs’ Best Bet in 2013.

We at PewterReport.com take pride in the hundreds of hours we put into our draft study and draft coverage each year and we hope that shows in our work. Thank you for your continued support and patronage and please allow me to ask for one more favor. If you haven’t done so, please click the banner ads of our advertising partners and check out their products and services. Many are die-hard Bucs fans just like you that would love to have you as a customer with the chance to serve your needs.

• One of the players I told you to keep an eye on in my last SR's Fab 5 column was Texas A&M weakside linebacker Nate Askew. Sure enough, the Bucs signed him as an undrafted free agent despite Askew having just one year's worth of playing time at linebacker after moving from the wide receiver position in 2013. As a linebacker, Askew started 13 games and notched 38 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and three interceptions, his first of which was returned 30 yards for a touchdown in a 65-28 win over Sam Houston State. However, his last pick, which was his final collegiate play, was a key takeaway to clinch Texas A&M’s 52-48 comeback win over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Bucs head coach Lovie Smith loves players from the state of Texas, in addition to fast players. The 6-foot-3, 241-pound Askew ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash and had a 38-inch vertical jump at the Texas A&M pro day. Don't be surprised if he winds up making the team as Lavonte David's backup at weakside linebacker. He's one of my Tampa Bay training camp sleepers.

• And finally, as you may have noticed, there was not an SR’s Fab 5 column last Friday. With the first day of the draft being on Thursday night, there wasn’t the necessary time to publish one prior to Friday. Pre-writing it would have been challenging because had the Bucs drafted UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, Texas A&M signal caller Johnny Manziel or been involved in a trade that wound up with the team selecting Frenso State’s Derek Carr, that would have been completely different than if Tampa Bay had selected Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans. Besides, we had plenty of draft-related articles from Thursday through Sunday (14 stories since Thursday night) that pretty much covered everything not written about in this column.

So this SR’s Fab 5 will serve as a column for both last week and this week, as Friday begins Tampa Bay’s rookie mini-camp. The SR’s Fab 5 will go back to its original schedule on Fridays beginning on May 23. This Friday will be full of rookie mini-camp coverage from yours truly and our staff, so make sure you visit PewterReport.com on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get our insight and analysis on the newest crop of Buccaneers.


Last modified on Monday, 12 May 2014 12:17
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COMMENTS

  • avatar

    Great article. Really pulls a lot of things into focus and gives some well-rounded perspective on where our team is at. Also, BucWild is on point. I think we're going to be pleased with McCown. We'll learn more about Tedford's offense later, but I don't think it's going to ask him to do anything superhuman. Just prepare, be smart, be accurate, and get passes within a kilometer of Jackson, Evans, and Seferian-Jenkins. Like a lot of people, I was surprised by the Sims pick in the 3rd. It still seems high, but how can we say it was a reach? There was a run on RBs and this was apparently the guy Lovie and Licht wanted - and (as stated by others) he is a very different back than our current roster. He's bigger, with softer hands, and a great first cut. Regarding the rest of the NFC South, I don't think any other team has improved as much as us (granted, we had more to improve on). I hated the Panthers draft. Kelvin Benjamin may develop into a beast of a player, but there are many who had him as a mid-rounder. No way he's as pro-ready as Evans or seferian-jenkins. The only real impact player drafted by the Falcons was Matthews. Easy pick to make - we'll see how Matt Ryan performs now without the excuse of terrible pass protection. But again, the Falcons ignore their problems on defense. Why draft Hageman when they just signed Soliai? Hageman is the same kind of run-stuffer - not a pass rusher. Needs all over the Saints defense and they go with the shiny toy for Payton's bag of tricks (Brandin Cooks) instead of addressing real problems on their defense. The saints next four picks were all defense, but nearly all are developmental and will have limited impacts early on. I think all three teams are vulnerable. Our offense looks suddenly threatening and our already talented defense takes a leap forward.
  • avatar


    What's that saying, "the die has been cast", "the cat's out of the bag", "the story's been told" "the hay's in the barn", "the race has been run", "Glennon is the QB of the future"? If, as we enter the 2014 season, the last one is inevitable; we might as well accept it and hope for the best. The difference for me as we inch closer to the season, is the confidence with which Lovie initiates his plan to reconstruct this team. At no time since Jon Gruden (the coach not the poster from the desert) left to join the FFCA have I felt the team had direction. The skill positions on offense are more stocked with talent than ever before. The very talented defense will now be unleashed. I'm not predicting a juggernaut just yet, but at least we won't be, as we were once called, "the pastel patsies of the south."
  • avatar

    One thing we have to realize about Lovie is that... I believe at least... He is an honest and honorable man that we can take for his word... To be successful In this league you have to play the game and play it well which Lovie obviously would not be the last kid picked on the playground... But again at the same time he is an honest Man... So when he says things he is being honest and not lying about his intentions... His smoke lies in his wording... When he said he felt like Revis had a place in his defense and could play in it well he wasn't lying... He just didn't mention the fact that Revis was too expensive and that the team would benefit more by using his salary more wisely and use it to help build his team with more affordable but hard working players that given the chance he feels will shine... So in his final statement about Glennon he said that he feels Glennon has a bright future in this league... Which doesn't guarantee it will be with us... And saying he is the QB of our future he wasn't lying there either because as of now he is... It doesn't mean that he will be tomorrow... I think that like he feels comfortable enough with Glennon and his experience to step in when needed and see if he can develop into McCowns successor... But what I think Lovies true plan is... Is to put his Faith in McCown that he will truly be a leader of this team and with his new weapons and support and promise to be the starter that McCown will prove to the fans that he is the solid steady experienced QB that we have been missing since Johnson just with more mobility and upside... And once he hopefully proves that then the fans will see it and get behind him the way that he has and that we will have the patience to let Glennon develop or... What I think the true plan is... To draft the true future QB of our franchise next year... or whenever Lovie feels is the right time... And as long as McCown is successful and leading our team hopefully to the playoffs then we fans will not be calling for said QB to start right away and take the time to develop him into the QB that he is truly will be capable of being so that when McCown finally reaches the successful end of his by then hopefully Championship career that this future QB will be ready to step right in and not skip a beat after not having been forced into action prematurely due to pressure from the fans and in turn ownership but having been groomed and developed and bred to be everything we could ever hope for... That is what I feel Lovie's ultimate plan and dream is and although this game will break your heart 6 ways to Sunday as we true diehard Bucs fans know all too well... If it works out it will mean "4 more years of Lovie" and might just mean that in the end... For once we might just have the QB we have always dreamed of having... Dare I say a Franchise QB... So here's to hoping Lovie has backed the right horse in McCown and that he has a plan for the future... Which I think he just might...
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    To my dismay, I think we’re making way too much out of Lovie’s anointing of Mike Glennon as Bucs QB of the future. Coaches and GMs say a lot of things about players that have no value beyond the day they said them.The NFL is a great big shell game that plays to the camera. I understand that – that’s where the money is. Truth and loyalty goes no further than the guaranteed money in a contract. Everything is on the table and subject to change with the next latest and greatest.To my surprise, Lovie and Licht have got this Fric and Frac routine down pat! It was a masterful job of selling their interest in Manziel. I take them at their word in their apparent praise of Glennon, but my personal opinion is that there are only two players on this team that are immune to trade – Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David. I also believe that L&L floated Glennon for trade and were surprised at the offers that came back and the opinion of other GMs who evidently believe that Glennon has starter value. I think they had second thoughts about Glennon and the possibility of him having even more value in next year’s draft. Keep an eye on what happens with Ryan Mallett at the Patriots and he’s never even started a game. Just like their interest in Manziel, there’s a reason that Lovie is extolling the virtues of Glennon. And I’ll buy their interest in Glennon until we see different. I’m learning every day to expect different from Fric and Frac!
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    I'm not sure where to start. Smith Tedford are basing the evaluation of the QB position on 1 non contact padless mini camp. That's scary in and of itself. If McCown regresses to his career back-up self then it's Glennon and no one else. FML. The Bucs already had 5 RB on the roster. Adding a 6th RB was overkill. I just don't get what the Bucs were trying to accomplish in this draft after the 2nd round. All they talked about was adding quality depth and I just don't see all the final 3 players drafted making the final 53 man roster.
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    lets not forget martin couldn't catch double sided tape last year . Now after taking the worst pounding an NFL rookie running back has ever taken the year before, Martin was down right horrible last year in hitting holes and if ya don't believe it look at M James production when Martin went down. James proved incapable of staying healthy and also isn't much on catching the ball,let alone working the slot.So now you have rainey, 3 rd string back plain and simple.Demps was oft injured at florida and never really ran a route because Tebow was throwing to him............... Not one capable back to really be counted on to run what I believe the offense will be.Great job by the Bucs grabbing a proven pass catching back.Demps will be injured before the season and two others are coming off injuries and neither are complete backs............No One in Their Right Mind should question this pick it was a necessity !!
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    All offense in the draft! I love it! I was hoping the Bucs would have a chance of drafting Benjamin in the 2nd and converting him to the TE/WR role of Jimmy Graham to form the "Triple Towers". Looks like Sefarian-Jenkins will do just fine as the third tower. Nice draft. Go Bucs!
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    2nd and 3rd round picks were offered for Glennon? I find that laughable.... I have no doubt there was interest but I seriously doubt it was any higher than a 6th round draft pick. Come on, seriously, there is speculation and then there is just blissful lies.
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    Here in Arizona, they mentioned a 6th round pick for Glennon...
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    @AZJoe - Clearly that would never be enough to get him. That is not logical. He was a third round pick last year and performed better than all other QB's drafted last year. Also, he had to pick up the pieces from Freeman's dismissal, a split locker room, a ton of fan pressure(instead of patience), and key injuries at OL, WR, TE, and RB. Even Peyton Manning or Tom Brady would have had a hard time with the talent on the Bucs offense last year. Heck, even Peyton Manning was 3-13 in his first year, without all of the key injuries. Get a grip.
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    buddah...great comments! I'm with you.
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    I've been saying for awhile now, if you get the full 2 years, and maybe 3 out of McCown, that's an eternity in the NFL. So relax, enjoy the show, McCown's going to be around awhile. I for one am glad the Bucs have a grown man with four mouths to feed, then some 20 year old jr entry at quarterback. See Freeman.
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    Draft was ok. We're good defensively but still average at quarterback in a tough division with a tough upcoming schedule this season. If we finish 8-8 or 9-7 we won't be in a position to draft a QB of future. Glennon is not that guy and I'm not drinking the koolaid because Lovie Smith continues to play it safe.
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    @bucfan26 - I wouldn't expect Lovie to take a QB in the draft in the first few rounds...ever. The growing pains can cost a top paid coach his job and if you take them early, they need to contribute early. He took Orton late in the draft with the Bears-4th round I think. He took another QB in the 6th a year later. His history shows he prefers veterans at QB.
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    Lovie "play it safe" Smith, smh.
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    The point about drafting a linebacker is not the mike, but the strong side. One could equally argue they didn't draft a linebacker because they like what they have there as well. Glaud, Casillas and others.
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    I'm hearing 4.2 time for Herron. I'm also a lot more impressed by Brett Smith(I didn't really check out his youtube highlights). Watching Brett Smith highlights also allows you to see some more highlights of Herron.
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    Owusu and Murphy have the talent and experience to hold him off for a year; but, next year, watch out!
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    I strongly believe that a lot of fans in Tampa Bay will be eating crow when they see how well McCown plays this year. His career reminds me a little bit of the famous racehorse Cigar, who won only four of his first 15 races and was considered an average thoroughbred at best until Bill Mott found the key and he won a record 16 straight races. McCown is savvy, experienced, always had a strong arm, and was never in a situation where a talented team made him the starter. Look at the tape from last year. Nineteen touchdowns and 1 interception is no fluke, and those who witnessed the recent mini-camp were astounded by his accuracy, though he was throwing to receivers with whom he had never played or practiced. He is not nearly the longshot that fans are making him. As for the guard situation, surely it remains a question mark, but all the reports from One Buc Place suggest that Nicks is on target to play this year. I know his personal cook/dietician and he tells me that Nicks has absolutely no doubt that he will be starting the season. Still, the line is a question mark and will be a work in progress. But every team in our division has question marks. Let's remember that Atlanta was 4-12 too and Carolina is a sure bet for regression to the mean, given their lack of playmakers on offense.
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    Great article SR. I like Meredith and I think he'll do a great job at RG. It's LG I'm worried about since even when Nicks was healthy enough to play in 2012 and 2013 he looked average. However, I'm just as worried about the CB lining up across from Verner (Banks, Johnson, Jenkins) and I don't hear anyone complaining about that, just our guards. I say we had fantastic starting guards on paper last offseason and they played like crap. I don't have a problem going into training camp with average guards on paper. Maybe they'll surprise us fans and our opponents this season!
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    Fab 2 - "seven new starters on offense" doesn't include Cousins or who ever ends up at right guard.
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    Good Article Scott. No one is perfect and I don't expect you to nail the 1st round pick. It might not have been as been as embarrassing if Manziel had been picked before 22 and Carr somewhere in the 1st round. Hey I missed it on trading Martin and or Clayborne too. I liked what we did and I give us a B in pre free agency picks; C+ for the draft, C+ for post free Agency. I'll keep my fingers crossed about the 9-7 record; I sure hope it happens. Right now I am leaning more to 7-9 record because the NFC overall got better than us. We have had very poor drafting these last several years and we have paid for it dearly. This is the most up beat I have been for quite a few years. Go Bucs1 We are better than before!
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    Thanks Scott - on FABs 1 & 2: the way I look at things I think L&L have to say it's win-now, but I think they (and the Glazers) know it's going to take another year to make a big difference...and in my view that is directly related to the QB position. Not to harp on about McCown and Glennon, but I think there is oceans of space between our calibre of QB and that of each of our NFC South rivals - if they didn't have QB's that were so much better (or if QB was not so important in this version of the NFL - this isn't the 2002 season), I would be more persuaded by the win-now mantra. Nevertheless, I think our team is significantly better than our rivals in every other (non-QB) aspect of the game (save for the Panthers D is not bad)...and that makes me incredibly excited for our future. On FAB 3: okay, I get the stable of RBs approach...and even can accept that an upgrade was possible...but I think Marcus Martin and Gabe Jackson will make the pro-bowl long before Charles Sims will....which may be never for all of them...and OL was what we (the wisdom of the crowd) seem to see needs some help---I hear what you're saying stlbucsfan, but just the thought of us playing Cousins...well...as the Cleveland SBNation analyst says: "There was no redeeming quality about Cousins' play as a starting guard last season. I am not kidding when I say this -- Cousins looked like the worst offensive guard I've ever seen in all my years of watching football."----and a Cleveland guy would know something about poor OL play....
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    Great article keep them coming. your dislike of Glennon shows
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    Not as mad about the guard spot as other people bc there are usually good guards that get cut during camp every year. The draft was great, it will give us on paper the most explosive offense we have seen in Tampa. Now its up to the coaches, the pieces are in place for us to challenge for the NFC South title this year. Lovie, Jeff and Leslie its time to go to work!
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    Nice Article. Thank you.
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    I like the players selected in the draft, but the lack of efficiency in where they were selected betrays the rookie status of Licht. They should have traded down in the third round to get OG Gabe Jackson (a much higher rated prospect than either Sims or Edwards. Then use the extra pick to trade back up and get either Sims or Edwards. The best teams do this sort of thing almost automatically. So, I take issue with the Bucs are built to win now. The two guards we got are both "projects." Neither is expected to start this year. If Nicks comes back but cannot play well, then we are stuck with below average guards. Better tell McCown to put his track shoes on and tell the receivers to only run short routes. Also, it would be best to not start Martin, as his best running is between the tackles. How does that get it done? I went from optimistic to pessimistic on our chances this year. The whole season depends on the Guards and I hope they prove me wrong.
  • avatar

    McCown the QB of the forseable future beyond his two year contract? SR that is a tough sell.
  • avatar


    His play will determine that, ADW.
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