Each week PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your submitted questions about the Bucs. You can have your question answered by asking on Twitter using the #PRMailbag hashtag and also on the message boards. Here are this week’s five questions.
Question: Any concerns over why OJ Howard fell as far as he did? Why would the always astute Ozzie Newsome pass on him for a worse player?
Answer: I sure don’t have any concerns, and I don’t think there is any reason for anyone to have any concerns. As we talked about on our radio appearances and podcast the last couple weeks, expect the unexpected. And that is exactly what happened, starting with Bears moving up for Mitchell Trubisky and then Tennessee going with Corey Davis, a player I had heard from multiple people, would slide.
Howard is a unicorn in today’s football world, meaning we have heard of those blocking and pass receiving tight ends, we just haven’t seen many around. The spread offenses we are seeing more and more in college have hurt the overall skill sets of tight ends the last five or so years, and even offensive linemen. It is taking longer and longer for them to develop in the NFL for the most part due to having to adjust to pro-style schemes. Alabama ran multiple types of formations over the last few years, but when it was time to pound it, they went jumbo, and the tight end was kept in to block. Howard isn’t perfect, and will still need to adjust to the skill level of NFL players, but he is head and shoulders about any other tight ends in this year’s draft, and the Bucs were fortunate to be able to nab a player than head coach Dirk Koetter can’t wait to get involved in the offense.
Question: Between Roberto Aguayo last year and Justin Evans this year, why does Jason Licht reach on players who regressed over time in college in the 2nd round?
Answer: I think it is way too soon to start criticizing Licht for his second round picks, particularly Evans who hasn’t even strapped on a pewter helmet. I understand the concern, Aguayo was bad in 2016, and Evans had some deficiencies in his film. However, Evans has a some outstanding intangibles – work ethic, physicality and more – that were attractive to the Bucs, and it isn’t like he will be just thrown to the wolves this season. J.J. Wilcox, Keith Tandy and Chris Conte all are experienced players who made their share of plays in 2016, and an improved Vernon Hargreaves, and a hopefully better all around defense should make like easier for the safeties. It was no coincidence that the safety play improved the same time the overall defense did. As the last line of defense, the safeties are only as good as the nine players in front of them. I am willing to take a wait-and-see approach for both Aguayo and Evans before casting any judgements. Austin Seferian-Jenkins however? Bad move.
Question: Who do you think will start at running back Week 1? Can we count on Doug Martin to contribute more in 2017 than 2016?
Answer: It think by default we see Jacquizz Rodgers start Week 1 and hold it down until Martin’s three-game suspension is over. Of course that is based on Martin even still being on the team. However, the fact the Bucs didn’t take a running back until the fifth round speaks volumes on how the team sees Martin fitting into their plans for 2017. If Martin stays clean and healthy, he could be Comeback Player of the Year (do they still award that?). By all indications we will see the 2015 Martin as opposed to the 2016 Martin who came into training camp last year looking a little less spry, if that’s the right word, than in 2015. As Scott Reynolds pointed out recently, and I agreed with him, there just seemed to be something different about Martin in last year’s offseason and training camp. But hopefully things all go well for Martin and he returns to form.
Question: Should we be worried that Vegas has set the over under at 8. Unfortunately they do know about the NFL.
Answer: I asked someone of Twitter last night for a loan so I could go bet the over in Vegas. I don’t know that eight is a terrible starting point to open the odds at. I think last season it was around 6.5. But if this team can stay relatively healthy, despite a tougher on paper at least schedule, I see 10 wins minimum next year. This is a better football team that last season’s nine-win team. But we will see. A Jameis Winston, or Mike Evans major injury and I will have wished I had bet the under.
Question: Which undrafted free agents should fans keep an eye on?
Answer: I gave PewterReport.com beat writer, and draftnik Trevor Sikkema first crack at it, and he had this to say:
I liked the addition of Appalachian State’s DB Alex Gray because he’s different. Gray is a 220-pound safety at 6-foot-2 with a wingspan measured at 80 inches. He was three-year starter at App State, with 197 career tackles and three interceptions, so the production is there. His size makes him standout from the rest of the Buccaneer DBs. For that, he’s a guy to keep an eye on.
The other is Duquesne LB Christian Kuntz. I know a lot of fans wanted Jackson State’s Javancy Jones, but since he signed with the Cardinals, Kuntz is that kind of player to watch out for instead. He had an insane 71.5 tackles for loss and 30.5 sacks during his career (most of them in three years). With Kendell Beckwith most likely starting the year on the PUP list, Kuntz has a chance to make the depth chart in that role and as a special teammer.
Two players Scott Reynolds and I like from this undrafted group is Arizona linebacker Paul Magloire and Canadian (Laval) TE Antony Auclair. Magloire is a high-motor guy who has played quarterback, safety and linebacker at the college level, even some running back.
Auclair is a tight end that caught the eyes of those at the week of East-West Shrine game practices, and scouts say he is a solid blocker, with very good athleticism and a large wingspan. There are some things he needs to polish up, but with the good NFL coaching, there is a chance he could stick and one day become a productive NFL tight end. First, he has to survive the Florida heat this summer after playing collegiately in Canada.
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, the beach and family time.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]
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