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: Who do you think the Bucs will take if Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson are at pick 7?
Answer: If it is anyone but Chubb the entire Tampa Bay fan base might riot and storm the gates of One Buc Place. And I might join. That isn’t to say Nelson wouldn’t help this team, but picking a guard in the Top 10 just doesn’t make a ton of sense if Chubb is still on the board. And maybe even if he isn’t. To me, if it is a Top 10 lineman, it needs to be a left tackle. Other than that I think you can find guards later on in the draft. Maybe not as good as Nelson, but say you use a 10 point scale to grade lineman and Nelson is a nine. If you can find a seven a couple rounds later and still get a pass rusher, wouldn’t you rather have that?
Chubb checks all the boxes. He is a three-down defensive lineman, a little crazy, a hard worker by all accounts and a leader. There is still plenty of work to be done looking into his tape and the interview process with teams, but if Chubb happens to still be on the board I would sprint the card up to the podium, shove Goodell out of the way, and make the announcment myself.
Question: Remember you guys saying Jason Licht pursued Aldon Smith before think they revisit and pursue troubled DEs Ealy/Dion Jordan?
Answer: You can expect the Buc to talk to anyone who rushes the passer and makes it to free agency. Troubled pasts or not. At this point, with Licht and Dirk Koetter on essentially one-year deals, the Bucs need to show dramatic improvement in order to be here beyond 2018. Another 5-11 year and it is most likely a “blow things up” scenario next year at this time. So worrying about a head case pass rusher is the least of their concerns. And even when Licht’s job wasn’t in jeopardy he had no issues trying to sign pass rushers with some red flags, like Greg Hardy. In fact some of the best pass rushers are those who have had some issues in the past. A little crazy if you will. Obviously you can look at Lee Roy Selmon and see not all pass rushers have a nasty edge off the field, but then again for every Selmon, there are 10 Lawrence Taylors.
I haven’t heard the name of Ealy or Jordan at this point, but it is still very early in the free agent evaluations. But it wouldn’t shock me to see the Bucs at least put out feelers to those two and pretty much any pass rusher that has had some success in the league.
Question: What positions do you think the Bucs will focus on more in FA and what will they focus on more in the draft?
Answer: As mentioned above, improving the defensive line is, and must be, a priority this offseason. The Bucs can bring in 10 new weapons for Winston, and average 35 points a game, but if they give up an average of 36, then it is all for not. It starts up front, on both sides of the ball really, but especially on the defensive line. The NFL is full of too many quarterbacks talented enough to pick apart a secondary when given all day to throw. And we saw that for the most part last season when the Bucs managed just 22 sacks on the year.
Cornerback is another position the Bucs will tap into in free agency, but some of that may come by signing some of their own guys. The Bucs made it clear they want Brent Grimes back, but the ball is pretty much in his court. Robert McClain is another player who spent a year in Mike Smith’s defense the Bucs could bring back for depth and to compete for a role.
And lastly running back. Doug Martin has almost certainly seen his last snap in a Buccaneers uniform, and who knows what the teams plans are for Charles Sims. Even if they chose to re-sign Sims, they very well could look to add a proven running back and then still draft one in the first three rounds.
Question: Do you have faith in the Bucs free agent evaluation, and what position group would you focus on in free agency this year?
Answer: It hasn’t been overwhelming recently, but if you are building a team through free agency there are much deeper problems. I know Licht has been under tremendous scrutiny from a lot of Bucs fans as of late, and some with merit, but we tend to be hyper focused on the team we follow. I couldn’t name you five free agents that a team like say the Broncos have signed over the last 10 years. So I couldn’t even begin to grade John Elway’s success. Does that make sense?
The success rate of free agents is probably less than the success rate of the draft. And we can’t fault the Glazers for not being willing to spend money. Vincent Jackson, Eric Wright, Carl Nicks, Anthony Collins, Josh McCown, Alterraun Verner and the list goes on.
Jacksonville did a tremendous job as of late with free agents and it panned out. However without also the terrific drafting success, it would not have resulted in reaching the AFC title game on Sunday. The more free agents you sign, the more you are admitting you made draft mistakes.
I will say, despite being burned by guys like Michael Johnson and even Chris Baker to a degree, Licht should keep swinging. And with contracts set up in the way the Buc do with many, they have stayed in great cap shape.