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.

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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

15 COMMENTS

  1. Chubb is highest priority if he falls to us.

    We are extremely soft on the DL, too injury prone and too old on the DL. Chubb addresses ALL in what we’re lacking on the DL. He’s the best of the best in this year’s draft for DL, so he should be at the top of our board. McCoy’s getting old and showing it. He’s always struggled some with injuries too so I’m afraid he might be on a down slope. Spence, a recent high pick investment, is damaged too but he’s too young and was too high of an investment to give up on just yet. Ayers, his age is showing and health issues popped up for him this year too. Gholston meets our need of youth but he too suffered some time loss from injury. The DL is in drastic need of youth, health (reliability) and performance upgrades!

    Now, with that said, if he is taken off the board, some good arguments can be made for Fitz and others.

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  2. I don’t think I have ever seen such a lopsided poll on Pewter. DE is winning in the landslide of landslides. Pewter readers ain’t uninformed.
    Is there really any question that the Bucs need to pick Chubb if he is still on the board?

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  3. Too many here are focusing solely on one DE, Bradley Chubb. The draftniks outside of Bucs land however see the 2018 class as heavily loaded with multiple first round talents, including not just Chubb but Arden Key, Tiquan Lewis, and Harold Landry … and not all “experts” are settled on Chubb being the best. It depends a lot on what kind of defense we have, whether 4-3 or 3-4 as to which guys are best. While we have been a 4-3 team for a long time, and McCoy kind of forces us to stay 4-3, McCoy might just get traded to a 4-3 team and let us go 3-4. Whatever we’ve been doing for a very long time has not worked, so why not go 3-4 and then consider other options at no.7?

    Besides, as we go through the long pre-draft process, draft grades and “stock” are going to go up and down and back and forth, the hottest stars in January may not be so hot come April. And vice versa. Best to keep an open mind and not just zero in on one gotta have guy.

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    • Good point. We all need to take a deep breath and remember past drafts where we became fixated on the likes of Sammy Watkins and Corey Davis. Bucs didn’t get those players and are better for it.

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    • Good points there Naples. I think the Chubb love, that sounds weird, is because of our scheme. Do you really think Mike Smith would go 3-4? I don’t. Not with Mccoy on the roster. Me personally, I’m all for trading the big guy, but I don’t think the bus will. They have entirely too much loyalty to do that. In terms of 4-3 DE’s, just my eyes, Chubb is the best and it’s not even close. I don’t like Key at all, injury concerns and weight issues. ON top of that we have enough linebackers and I think that’s what he’ll end up being in the pros. But again, you are right, a ton of the process yet to go through.

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      • I have given up on trying to predict what the Bucs will actually do. I was fairly certain some big changes were coming in 2018 after our debacle in 2017 … yet here we are, and we hear crickets mostly .. and what little we hear is along the lines of “Changes? We don’ need no stinkin’ changes around here!” (imagined in my mind, like the famous line in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre re: “Badges?)

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  4. When not if this fails again and Koetter gets fired, go after Jim Harbaugh. We need an accomplished NFL head coach.

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  5. Same story for me? Our pass rush is last in the NFL. We do not have any legitimate starting defensive ends. It doesn’t matter to me if we draft defensive end at the seventh spot or trade down. All I care about is our first two picks are for defensive ends.

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  6. I’ve seen in the 1st 2 wks of playoffs REAL play action offense c/w our Bucs. Our quarterback coach had 2 students, yet Winston freq showed 8-12″ air.
    And, play selection…I’ve asked PR mult xs how often we run on 1st down. Yet, no reply. Sitting in a sports bar in Hilo,Hi, I’m very good @ predicting what’s upcoming before the snap. That sucks.
    We rarely use mis-diraction, as well.

    Yet, Koetter’s going to continue to call the plays.
    To me, this is pop warner stuff. If not corrected, all the wonderful FA/draft picks won’t help

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  7. Most of the highlights I see from Derwin James are tackling plays. We need a Safety that can make plays on the ball. Good god, we don’t to draft another Mark Barron. Can’t believe it when Luke Kuechly was picked right after us.

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    • Derwin James is a better athlete than Jalen Ramsey(BEST CORNER IN THE NFL) and is a alpha type personality.
      It would be shocking to me if he is not one of the best DB’s in the NFL day 1.

      However, even though I think he is going to be an outstanding player I think the Bucs have boxed themselves in such a corner with having the worst defensive line in the NFL that the Bucs have got to attack DLine in free agency and the draft.
      Even if the Bucs sign Alex Okafor DE, Saints and Ezekial Ansah DE, Lions I still think Chubb should be the guy they pick in round 1 if he is available.

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      • We need to draft FS not a SS. Ballhawks that can parole the secondary and make plays on the ball.

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  8. Many Pewter Report readers develop the mind set that but one player, this year it’s Bradley Chubb, is the key to our upcoming Draft class. Miss out on that “savior” and the whole Draft will be a failure. Then we have folks who just want to draft with the focus entirely on the position of perceived need regardless of talent level. In this case, Defensive End. They treat the Draft like it’s merely filling in the missing piece to the puzzle.

    As far as I’m concerned there are enough needs on this team to select nearly any position with that #7 opportunity. Heck, we might even be better off trading down with the Draft being a bit QB heavy at the top causing other positions to slide down.

    Typically Safeties and Guards are not taken in the top ten. Do we really want to go there if Chubb is gone? Me, I will always be a proponent of taking the best player with the exception of QB. At # 7 there will probably be several players with similar grades. Then and only then do you lean a bit toward need. Maybe a trade down a few notches still nets us the top Guard or Safety. It looks like the Running Back position is starting to become more of a priority than a few years ago with Elliott, Fournette and Gurley bringing some success to their teams. More than one direction to go.

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  9. Scubog, I’m with you. Anyone think drafting Chubb alone solves all our problems will be sorely disappointed. We can use an upgrade almost everywhere up, and down the roster. It’s going to take every tool in the box to turn us into a winner. Free agents, the draft, possible trades, better coaching decisions. Just not sure Licht, and Koetter have it in them.

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  10. Finally some sane comments. Chubb is the sexy pick this month based off last year. Ive seen enough drafts to know the top guy at his position months out is rarely the one who has the best first season. We definitely need at least 2 DE’s. I havnt done enough research yet to say Chubb is by far the best. I hope Licht is allowed to spend some money in FA. This teams needs multiple positions filled. If this coaching staff really all returns theres no reason to draft anyone other than Dline, Oline and RB in first half of draft. Weve seen smith take a 1st round corner and turn him into a backup. Based on last year he just wont adjust his defense to get pressure with anyone other than the 4. And the corners will be 10 yards off. So its gota be dline dline dline. And weve gota get back to running the ball to control the clock and open up play action. Cuz dirk wont add in quick, easy passes like slants and screens. So considering we had a whole year to see the staff adjust and did not, lets get them the players needed to succeed in their current systems. Then hope for the best.

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