It is a new year and with it comes a new Bucs Monday Mailbag where we answer your Twitter offered questions. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Mailbag. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.
Question: Despite free agency, do you think this year’s draft will be balanced, offensive heavy, or defensive heavy?
Answer: It is still too early to say as some of the draft strategy could change based on free agency. If the Bucs are able to address the defensive line, for instance, then they could be tempted to go offense in the first round with the No. 7 pick. But, even if they do address a pass rusher or two, I think they will still look to go defense, at this point.
As you saw by the number of injuries they suffered on defense, you can never have too many guys to get to the quarterback, and honestly pass rushers rarely come in and get double digit sacks in their first season. So, I would still try find them in free agency and then still look to add some in the draft. I think Bradley Chubb is, and will continue to be, the top rated pass rusher in the this year’s draft, but him falling to No. 7 seems unlikely – of course no one saw O.J. Howard getting out of the Top 10 last season either. So there is still a long way to go before we know who will or won’t be available when it is the Bucs turn to pick. There are always draft night surprises.
At some point in the draft, the Bucs will most likely take a running back, and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to see them draft at least one or two offensive lineman as well. But if I were a betting man, I guess we see at least four, if not more, defensive players taken with the Bucs picks in this year’s draft.
Question: Is there draft scenario in which Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick is pick at 7?
Answer: I think there is a good chance James is available with the No. 7 pick, but not Fitzpatrick. Of course a lot will depend on the pre-draft evaluation of James and Fitzpatrick. If the Bucs have one of them ranked on their board as say a Top 5 pick, and either are there, then most likely be would the selection. The first round is where you just can’t reach for a player really at any position. If James, or any player for that matter (other than one of the top QBs) is clearly head and shoulders better than who is left, you take them. You can’t take a player you have rated as the 20th best player with the No. 7 pick just because you have a need at that particular position.
Personally, I would probably take Fitzpatrick over James as I think he is the better player, not by much, but a little overall, as of now. I think it would take a miracle for Fitzpatrick to fall out of the Top 5, at this point. It is still too early to really get a consensus on most players at this point, but the Top 10 tends to settle out pretty early. So far Fitzpatrick is getting the nod in the mocks I have followed and I would be surprised to see it change before April. He just seems to be the most pro-ready defensive back in the draft.
Both are versatile, both are hard hitters and both were leaders on their team. Either one of them could team up with Justin Evans and the Bucs secondary, and the safety position would be solidified immediately. Take a look at the highlight videos of both players below.
Question: Are there no changes to the staff? With all the areas improvement is needed, shouldn’t there be some changes?
Answer: If you have read or listened to our podcasts, you would know we tend to agree and have been surprised there hasn’t been any tweaks, major or minor, to this staff. It appears the Glazers and Dirk Koetter have went all in with the current regime and it is either turn it around or huge bust moving forward in 2018 with the staff intact. There are still some head coaching vacancies that haven’t been filled yet, and it is still possible you could still see a change or two, but with the Bucs usually giving assistants two year contracts, with a team option on the third year, they could say no to anyone who is asked to take another job, as long as it isn’t a head coaching position.
Again, we are as surprised as anyone that no changes were made, and the pressure is on for Koetter and this staff to get to the playoffs in 2018. Anything less and you very well will see a total house cleaning next offseason.
Question: Thoughts on next year’s schedule?
Answer: Not easy. Of course rarely is it very easy. The Bucs will face five playoff teams at home next season (Eagles, Steelers, Panthers, Falcons, Saints) plus an up-and-coming 49ers team that played well down the stretch. And they of course take on their NFC South divisional foes, all playoff teams, on the road, in addition to traveling to face the Cowboys, Ravens, Bengals, Bears and Giants. On paper early, you could comfortably say the Bucs should be able to beat the Browns, Giants and Bears and maybe the Redskins, but would you bet your mortgage on any of them being wins. Well, maybe the Browns, but you get what I am saying.
A lot will change for the Bucs, and their opponents, before the 2018 season kicks off. Some teams that look good now, could be starting the season with major injuries or things like that, so who knows what the landscape looks like none months from now.