The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Twitter account. 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 PR Bucs Monday Mailbag. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.

Question: Have the latest FA signings taken us out of the Le’Veon Bell sweepstakes?

Answer: I would say yes, not that they were really ever in the Bell sweepstakes. And is there even a sweepstakes for Bell, who I think is the best running back in the NFL? The Steelers are in a tough spot for sure. They franchised Bell, and would like to get him signed to a long-term deal, and they also know his value and what he brings to that offense. I suppose if Bell becomes extremely agitated at the lack of a long-term contract and decides to hold out this offseason and into next year, the Steelers would entertain the idea of moving him, but it would take quite a haul for that to happen, and I am not sure the Bucs value him enough to make a deal, at this point. I really thought that the only way to get Bell, and it was a long shot, was to hope the Steelers wouldn’t franchise him and he hit the free agent market.

My opinion is, the Bucs feel like the money it would take to sign Bell if they traded for him and make him happy, could be better used to lock up some guys of their own like Ali Marpet, Kwon Alexander and next year Jameis Winston.

Question: Derwin James has the higher ceiling than Minkah Fitzpatrick no? Has the versatility to play many spots. Who is the best pick at 7 in your mind out of Denzel Ward, Vita Vea, Fitzpatrick, James or Quenton Nelson?

Answer: It is no secret I am a big fan of James. I think he is a game changer as a rookie, as much with his attitude as his athletic ability. He will have the “Jalen Ramsey” effect on whatever team ends up drafting him. I think Scott Reynolds made a good case for him in last week’s Fab 5.

I would rank the options you gave me as: Nelson, James, Ward, Fitzpatrick and then Vea. That is how I would rank them, not the Buccaneers, although I don’t think I am far off from their thinking either. Nelson is the safest pick. He is someone who most likely steps right is as a starter and if he avoids injury, you won’t have to worry about one of your guard spots for years. He is as solid of a prospect at that position than probably Zack Martin was, another great Notre Dame product who has been a Pro Bowler since his rookie season and also a first or second-team All-Pro each year.

My only hesitation is that he is a guard. Important in the grand scheme for sure, but I still hesitate to draft a guard at No. 7. A left tackle? Sure. Really almost any other position, but a guard? I think if guard is a priority, and obviously the Bucs value guards by drafting Marpet early, and signing Sweezy a couple years back, and Martin is there, then you pull the trigger. But again, can you find a guard who can be good later in the draft? It is just more difficult to find say a franchise left tackle, or pass rushing defensive end out of the first round than it is to find a guard. It is kind of like the running back debate, is there value for a running back in the Top 10, or is it smarter to wait until the second or third round?

I am sure many disagree, and I would totally get it and not have a problem if the Bucs made Nelson the pick.

Question: Question: Are they going into next year with the belief Ryan Smith and VH3 can hold down the CB2 and SCB and if so, is that a recipe for disaster? In your opinion, which position is the one in most need of an upgrade. For me, it’s a dead heat between CB and RB.

Answer: I wouldn’t necessarily say disaster, but it would be a huge gamble at this point based on what we have seen from Smith and Hargreaves so far in their young careers. Both players have shown flashes of what the Bucs hope they can be, but neither have shown the consistency the team would like either.

And, I agree, both of those positions are the two that still need to be addressed the most moving forward. I think cornerback is the biggest need still, and not just for this year, but moving forward. I am as big a Brent Grimes fan as you will find, but time catches up with everyone and it is nipping at Grimes’ heels. Even if his talent doesn’t drop off, we know Grimes isn’t far off from walking off in the sunset and retiring. That is only one side of the defense and for really just one more year. Re-signing Grimes was just a temporary solution and fix, and that is if he can stay healthy for 16 games. I think the Bucs aren’t done with bringing in some more cornerbacks, possibly in free agency still and most certainly in the draft.

I think the Bucs do address running back early, and this year looks to be a solid class of backs. Saquon Barkey is easily the cream of the crop, but good value can be had in the second round. Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Rashaad Penny and others could be available in the second round when the Bucs pick. After the second round though, you see a bit of a drop off and the Bucs would be gambling I believe to wait later than the second round. They do think Peyton Barber has a chance to be a 1,000-yard back, but he certainly isn’t a home run threat or one that will keep opposing defensive coordinators up late at night.

Question: Clinton McDonald signed with Denver, it was sad to see him leave because of the type of person he is off the field. That got me thinking, who are the top 5 Bucs players who are great people off the field? (Past or present)

Answer: That is tough to narrow down just five guys. There have been a ton over the years, some that got some credit and others who quietly made a difference. In the old creamsicle days, guys like David Lewis, Mark Cotney, Charley Hannah and others were part of a group of players who were big contributors to organizations like the March of Dimes, The Boys and Girls Club, and the United Way. I remember the commercials that ran as a kid and actually have a lot of old games from that era that have been transferred to DVD that still have some of those spots.

Of course, older Bucs fans will remember Ricky Bell and his relationship with a young man that turned into a CBS made-for-TV movie starring Mario Van Peebles. Bell, like may of the players of that era, did much for the community that got little fanfare due to no social media back then.

The modern era of Buccaneers players saw many others who also gave of themselves, probably most notably Derrick Brooks in his endeavors with the United Way and other charities including his own school. Others like Martin Gramatica who provides homes for wounded veterans and of course the Mike Alstott Family Foundation and Vincent Jackson’s work with the military, are still making an impact in the Tampa Bay area. Now several current Buccaneers like Jameis Winston and his Dream Forever Foundation and Mike Evans new foundation, among others, are keeping the tradition of serving the community well.

A big pet peeve of mine, and one thing I have personally tried to show our readers, is the work the players do that don’t get the same attention as the negative headlines. From Gerald McCoy and the defensive line providing bikes at Christmas time to the offensive line providing over 1,000 meals at Thanksgiving to the needy, there is so much more good these guys do than bad.

Are there some jerks in the locker room of all NFL teams? You bet, but I truly believe the good outweighs the bad by a mile.

But, if I had to pick just one though, it would be the work Tony Dungy has done. Not only his charitable work makes a difference still, but many of the players who played under Dungy were inspired to help others. Alstott who helped us in a community bowling fundraiser last summer said coach Dungy challenged all his players to find a way to make the Tampa Bay area better. I know I am leaving out several, and not intentionally. And many former and current players like Demar Dotson, Pat Murray, Adam Humphries, Cameron Brate, Alan Cross and Dwight Smith have all participated in some of the charity events put on by Pewter Report and Pin Chasers along with Ford’s Garage over the last couple years.

There is, and was, a lot of great men that played for this franchise that Bucs fans should be proud to root for.

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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]

19 COMMENTS

  1. Absolutely loved Warrick Dunn’s efforts off the field, giving homes to struggling single mothers during the holidays. A really great guy on and off the field who had a very challenging upbringing.

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    • I just read an article that said that Dunn has quietly given 145 homes to single mothers to date… amazing.

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      • Yep Dunn will always be my favorite. He has to be right up there with the best men to ever play in the whole league. What a heart. Great player too. Too bad he left the year before the super bowl win. He deserves a ring if anyone ever does.

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  2. Hoping more CB talent is added as well, not liking the thought of the CB lineup if Grimes goes down for any length of time. Unless we grab Nelson in the 1st and are somehow able to package Sweezy and a pick for a 3rd, agree that grabbing a RB in the 2nd is probably wise since we don’t currently pick again until the 4th. Believe we’ll probably add an UDFA RB to compete with Rodgers for 4th on the depth chart, also curious if we add Cunningham as a 3rd down back as well.

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  3. need a little edge on the team… some “dawgs” that can get rid off the stink of 10 years of losing culture… too many games last year it just seem like the team didn’t have any fight to win… and to see players joking around after losses was a big indicator that this franchise had not turned the corner… seems like james is that type of player… i would not be upset if he’s the #1 pick for the Bucs… Alexander needs some backup to keep that defense in line

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    • Agreed & Adding 3 DL w/ Superbowl experience is a good step towards building the culture as well

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  4. We just paid a center a lot of money, Marpet, Smith’s contracts need doing, that’s three high priced O linemen. Nelson would be perfect for our situation, an all pro guard on a rookie deal for the next four years with a fifth year option. If Nelson doesn’t fall we still need a starting quality L.G., and the best one appears to be draft one. Can’t count on Sweezy, draft one, cut Sweez.

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  5. Good update Mark. Article does point out though that we still have some pretty big holes to fill. I think Licht has done a decent job in FA, but there are only so many quality FA’s left where we need help. Same goes with the draft. So while we are all [mostly] feeling good about how we’ve done so far, need to temper expectations going into this season.

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  6. FSU was 37-4 (90.2% winning) in Jalen Ramsey games played including a BCS Championship and 27-0 to start his career.

    FSU was 18-9 (66.6% winning) in Derwin James’ games played including the 6-6 record in 2017 before sitting out the Independence Bowl for draft purposes.

    Derwin certainly doesn’t play QB or coach the offense or defense, but if we are saying the he’ll have the same effect that Jalen Ramsey will on the pro team where was this ‘Jalen Ramsey effect’ when FSU was losing more games and started 2-5 in 2017 when FSU senior Jacob Pugh called out the lack of leadership on the team as a reason for the poor start?

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    Rating: -16. From 24 votes.
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    • Haha , you’re comparing someone who played with Jameis to some one who didn’t. That point is completely invalid, and as a Noles fan you should know that. Hell Jimbo’s record speaks for itself outside of when Jameis was there. As for the leadership statement, that’s an awfully vague statement you are aiming at Derwin. Suppose he wasn’t one of the people Pugh was talking about. A whole lot of assumptions there on your part.

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    • I believe the biggest difference is that Jalen Ramsey is a cornerback and Derwin James is pretty much a strong safety.

      I think James would help the Buc’s continue their off season plan to stop teams from running on them. It also appears that James has some rush the passer ability.

      My question mark is whether he has excellent cover ability. A strong safety still has to cover tight ends and sometimes a wide receiver or running back.

      I would say that James has all the physical traits to be good in coverage. But since that has not been a big part of his game, how will he do when he is required to cover those players is still a big question mark. (Daniel Jeremiah – biggest trait needed for secondary guy is must find the ball in the air – Eli Apple has still not figured that out).

      I have no problem with James being a possible pick – but if you think Denzel Ward can be as good as Jalen Ramsey at CB in the NFL, I would prefer that the Buc’s pick him instead.

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  7. Per NFL.com

    Draft Analysis of Derwin James:

    Possesses the desired physical traits and mental makeup of an All-Pro safety who has the ability to not only set a tone but change the course of games. Although James is extremely athletic and talented, he still has room for improvement as a run defender and in coverage. James’ talent is best utilized in an active, attacking capacity in a robber role or near the line of scrimmage where he can support the run, blitz and handle physical coverage responsibilities.

    He is going to be the dude in any locker room he ends up in. That’s his makeup. Physically, he’s probably more talented than Jamal Adams but Adams was more consistent as a player. Derwin is still learning so he has a sky-high projection if his play can catch up to the talent.” — NFC Scouting Director

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  8. An NFC Scouting director says Derwin James is more talented than Jamal Adams(6th overall pick in the draft last year).

    Unfortunately for the Bucs they have three glaring holes that need to be filled(SS, CB and RB).
    Jason has done a great job of creating what appears to be a significantly better D Line and now he needs to significantly upgrade the secondary.

    If the Bucs get Derwin James in the first I would love it if they could either get Mike Hughes CB from UCF or Carlton Davis CB from Auburn in the 2nd.

    Another guy I really like for the Bucs in the 2nd is Ronald Jones RB from USC. He has outstanding production and fantastic speed.

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  9. Another big community guy Mark was Lee Roy Selmon. And like you said many others. A lot of that did start with Dungy and some players have kept the community help going nicely.

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  10. Hey buc fans okay so i have a question? If you where the bucs would make the trade for odell beckham.? Possibly a second round and desean jackson? Desean makes around 11million he still good but he is also 31years old…a Evans and beckham could be deadly duo for years to come..brightside we would not have to worry about a wr? Whatcha think?

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    • No way!

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  11. There have been a lot of Bucs players who have been involved with charity work. One who I didn’t see mentioned, David Logan.

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  12. Free agency came and went of the top 15 Defence and offence players that changed teams not one was even talked to by Bucs, winning coaches were available and no one was considered by the Bucs they brought one of them here to put in the ring of honour and never mentioned a coaching job he is now with Oakland. All this talk is just blah blah blah. And no one on this site seems to even notice. So go ahead smash up the negatives I am used to it.

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  13. I am a complete idiot to leave out Dunn. Geez, and he’s a Nole! I suck. Love Dunn

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