Finding a franchise quarterback is certainly the most critical element for turning around an organization, but it’s not the only one – especially for a 2-14 team.
Even after trading for George Johnson, who’s productive, yet a rotational player, the Buccaneers still have glaring needs at the defensive end position. Same goes for offensive line, particularly along the right side where they currently have Patrick Omameh and Kevin Pamphile at the top of the depth chart.
But in the upcoming draft, Tampa Bay’s general manager Jason Licht believes there will be plenty of opportunity to address those areas, as the 2015 class fits the Bucs’ needs.
“It matches up pretty well,” Licht said during his press conference last Monday. “We’ve got… it’s a good [offensive line] draft, pretty deep O-line draft. It’s good on the defensive side. There’s some good defensive line depth there too. In terms of that, it matches up pretty well.”
To that point, however, Licht also says that they won’t trap themselves into drafting need over talent.
“But we also still keep our eye on that best available player, too,” Licht said. “Because at the end of the day, those are the guys you are glad you have, you’re glad you picked. So we are not going to pigeonhole ourselves into necessarily always just picking for need. But we are aware of what this team needs.”
It’s all but certain that the No. 1 overall selection will be spent on a quarterback. However, he won’t be the only rookie Tampa Bay relies on to start opening day against the Titans.
“We’re spending just as much time right now on pick 34, 65, 109 and so forth,” Licht said.
For those Bucs fans worrying about Jameis Winston raiding area Publix supermarkets if he is in fact the Bucs No. 1 draft pick on Thursday night, have no fear. According to TMZ.com, Skipper’s Smokehouse off of Skipper Road and Nebraska Avenue has Winston’s wants covered.
Skipper’s owner, a 1968 FSU graduate, is reportedly “gonna hook him up with all the legs he can eat.”
You can checkout Skipper’s Smokehouse here, a place I highly recommend. Not just for the crab legs but the fried gator tail, oysters and a killer Key Lime pie. They also have a great outdoors music venue. Okay, that’s enough free advertising for them.
PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook 104.3 The Fan in Denver to discuss the Buccaneers and their overall No. 1 pick in next thursday night’s NFL Draft. Cook discussed Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota and shared who he thinks the bucs will select.
With each passing day, the possibility of Adrian Peterson playing elsewhere in 2015 increases, while the number of teams reportedly interested in trading for him decreases. As of Thursday – one week before the draft – the Buccaneers remain one of those teams.
Early rumors as recently as Wednesday had six clubs among that list. Now it’s four – the Cardinals, Jaguars, Falcons and Bucs, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports.
While Peterson has made no secret of his desire to leave Minnesota, the Vikings have insisted that they want to keep him around. That’s likely their way of driving up the asking price, which probably involves an early round selection – something the Bucs wouldn’t want to surrender for a 30-year old running back.
Peterson is also slated to make $13 million this season, so even if they’re able to acquire him they would presumably have to restructure his contract.
However, at the end of the day if Peterson remains adamant on getting out of Minnesota, than the Vikings will inevitably have to ask for less in return, giving four teams including the Bucs an opportunity to land the former league MVP.
In the last few years the NFL has brought in former draft choices to announce team’s second round picks. John Lynch, Dexter Jackson and Derrick Brooks have been some of the previous Tampa Bay players to make the call from the podium, and this year former great Mike Alstott will be announcing Tampa Bay’s first pick on day two of the NFL Draft which begins next Thursday night in Chicago.
Alstott, a second round pick out of Purdue in 1996, was a Bucs’ fan favorite and still remains one of the most popular players in the franchise’s history. Affectionately known as the “A-Train” Alstott ran for 5,088 yards and scored 58 touchdowns during his Bucs career. During his time in Tampa Bay, Alstott made six Pro Bowls and helped the Bucs earn a Lombardi Trophy in 2002.
Here is brief Alstott highlight video to remind Bucs fans of his style.
When making a list of issues former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston had while attending FSU, the theft of crab legs from a Tallahassee Publix has drawn the most laughs and internet memes. All jokes aside, a Heisman winning quarterback, who is most likely the most recognizable face in a small college town walking out without paying for merchandise is a bit concerning – on the surface. But was it an actual theft?
On the latest edition of ESPN’s “Draft Academy” that aired Tuesday night, former 49ers head coach and current coach at Michigan Jim Harbaugh put Winston through some simulated questioning as they prepared for interviews that would take place at the then upcoming February NFL Combine. The topic of the theft of crab legs came up and Winston made a revelation.
“Well, a week before it was my buddy’s birthday and we had got a cake and we met a dude that worked inside Publix and he said, ‘Hey, anytime you come in here, I got you.’ So that day we just walked out and he hooked us up with that. And when I came in to get crab legs, I did the same thing and he just gave them to me and I walked out. And someone from inside the store had told the security that I didn’t pay for them. And that’s how the whole thing started.”
FSU fans and others have speculated for some time that this was most likely the case. What does this mean for Winston? Most likely nothing. In fact, it may ease the fears of some who were concerned that Winston could have a problem with shoplifting (see Cowboys Joseph Randle). And although most of us have had a friend hookup, it still doesn’t excuse Winston’s action, hookup or not. As FSU’s “face of the franchise” it clearly, at the very least, showed poor judgement on his part, but now some of the questions have been answered for the general public, as the Buccaneers surely knew the full story way before the ESPN special aired.
To see Winston’s explanation watch the below video.
With just nine days before the Buccaneers hand in their selection to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the annual NFL Draft on April 30, the talk is still all about the quarterbacks.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht joined Rick Stroud and Tom Jones on WDAE 620AM/95.3FM’s Sports Page morning show on Tuesday and discussed the upcoming draft.
In the interview Licht noted that it isn’t just Jameis Winston the team has been spending a ton of time learning about.
“Believe it or not the general public thinks we’ve spent 90 percent of our time on Jameis Winston, but we’ve spent almost as equal amount of time getting to know Marcus Mariota,” Licht told Stroud and Jones. “There’s more things with Jameis off the field that we had to become comfortable with than Marcus, but still no matter who you’re taking if we’re taking one of those two with the quarterback position you need to know everything about them.”
Licht was asked about his feelings on Winston’s immaturity issues that plagued him during his time in Tallahassee.
“We’ve all said that we feel comfortable and he’s been a lot of fun to be around. Since 2012 he’s grown up significantly and since this past season he’s grown significantly. I would lean toward being immature, I don’t think he’s a bad person. I’m not giving away our hand on who were taking, but he’s been somebody that we’ve really gotten to know and we feel more and more comfortable every time we’re around him.”
Also of note, in the interview Licht addresses the picture that was circulating last night of Ben Dogra wearing a Bucs hat and posing with an Adrian Peterson jersey.
If the draft was held today, the Buccaneers would be comfortable making their decision with the No. 1 overall pick.
That information comes straight from general manager Jason Licht, who held a press conference at One Buc Place on Monday. The GM says they won’t reveal that selection until April 30, alluding to the fact that there’s no advantage in announcing early, especially under the recent CBA in 2011 that has predetermined rookie contracts.
“If we had to pick today, we’d feel very comfortable making the pick,” Licht said. “That said, we’ll wait and use the majority of our allotted time… There’s no benefit for a team to engage in contract negotiations right now or get a player signed. You can’t get the player in here any earlier, you can’t start working out any earlier and you can’t talk to them any more than you can now. Because of the CBA it’s not as difficult as it once was to sign a player. The parameters are all pretty much there, so we’re just going to wait and use our allotted time.”
The looming decision has made the Bucs the center of attention since January. And while some might think that kind of pressure could hamper or impact the organization negatively, Licht claims that there’s nothing but excitement between the walls of One Buc Place.
“No, never once did burden come up,” Licht said. “It’s always been excitement. After the hangover when the season gets over, you realize that we have a real opportunity with this first pick, whatever we do with it, to make this franchise better. I don’t think you’ll find anybody in this building that thinks of this as a burden, it’s exciting.”
Licht went on to say that they never want to be in the position of holding the first pick again. Of course, a good way to start turning the corner is by making the right decision come April 30. And not just quarterback, but through the next six rounds as well. In the organization’s 39 years of existence, the Bucs second-year general manager believes this is the most important draft in team history.
“It’s huge,” Licht said. “Personally, I think it’s probably the biggest draft in the history of this organization. We have a real chance to really put us over the top and get us there at least. Get us to a level that we think we’re going to be at this year, which is competing for championships. It’s a great draft, and a great draft to have the No. 1 pick.”
For an organization to avoid internal gridlock – much like the kind we’ve seen in Philadelphia and San Francisco recently – it’s important that the general manager and head coach remain on the same page.
Having the No. 1 overall pick only enhances the need for a consensus decision and, according to Lovie Smith, that’s exactly where the Buccaneers are at in the process.
“Yes, we are (on the same page),” Smith said during his press conference on Monday. “We’re in total agreement. It’s Jason and I… That’s definitely the case.”
In fact, Smith claims that given the significance of the first pick, they’ve made it a point to involve the entire organization and make sure everyone is on board.
“Going back to the first pick of the draft, you bring more people involved and make sure we can all come to an agreement,” Smith said.
So while the Winston or Mariota argument will press on from those outside the building up until Roger Goodell steps up to the podium, it appears everyone within the walls of One Buc is of the same mind, 10 days out.
For months the majority opinion from those in the media was that Tampa Bay was set to take Florida State’s Jameis Winston, however with Mike Mayock’s recent quarterback evaluation – Marcus Mariota at the top – and Ron Jaworski’s claims on the Bucs looming decision, the draft controversy was at its peak once again. But according to Albert Breer, the Buccaneers know who they’re taking with the No. 1 overall pick.
The NFL Network reporter says he doesn’t know who said pick will be, but that it’s between one of the top two quarterbacks.
“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have come to a comfort level with who they’re going to select with the first overall pick,” said Breer, who’s in Tampa for Jason Licht and Lovie Smith’s press conferences. “…. They have come to a decision on who they’re going to take, we (just) don’t know who that player is yet.”
Breer went on to note how the Bucs put both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota through an “exhaustive process” that’s involved meeting with numerous people within the organization, and claims that over the remaining days, the already made decision is just about making sure it’s the right one.