About the author

Mark Cook

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]

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28 Comments

  1. 1

    tnew

    Dalvin Cook was one of my big wants this draft as well, but I had him in a trade back situation. When Howard fell, they had to take him. I hear a lot of mention on how the Bucs “could’ve” traded up and picked up Cook in the second, but I just don’t see it unless we were willing to pass on Godwin and Evans. Based on what it took to move up in the second, it would have likely taken that second and third to move up to pick Cook. By the looks of the draft, the Bucs would’ve had to move up a minimum of 11 spots to take Cook. As an example, the Bills had to give up a 2 and 3 to move up 7 spots and get a spare 5th.

    The only option to take Cook would’ve been to pass on Howard, someone the reportedly had in the top 5 on their board and trade back to acquire two more picks between our first and second picks. Say with Cleveland. Then you could have had Dalvin Cook and Malik McDowell or one to the higher ranking safeties. Even with that, passing on Howard would be bad business based on their analysis.

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  2. 2

    chetthevette

    Mark, we can hem and haw all we want about draft picks we should of pulled the trigger on.
    There are plenty to choose from. But here is the one that rubs me raw.
    Mark Barron. I was ready to jab an ice pick in my arm after that pick.
    Imagine is Shciano took Luke Kuekly. And stil took Lavonte David too.
    It’s a wet dream.
    GO BUCS

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  3. 3

    WinstonMVP

    If Mark Dominic drafted Luke Kuekly we would have probably one at least one more game in 2014 and wouldn’t been able to draft the Best thing (Player) in 2015 that ever happened to the Bucs. Jameis Winston. Anything that we would have been done Before Jameis (BJ) that was good for the team doesn’t matter now because they probably would have kept us from being able to draft Winston. All that matters is what happens after Jameis became a Buc. (AJ). Our whole history is now BJ (before Jameis) and AJ (after Jameis).

    GO BUCS!!!

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    1. 3.1

      e

      The Bucs are on the shoulders of that mighty river of fate… I did literally whip off my Bucs t-shirt and throw it against the wall when Dominick went with Barron instead of Kuechly, though.

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  4. 4

    WinstonMVP

    About the newest Pewter Poll. Somebody should have put the option of ” Not Concerned about any position” . Every position listed has been upgraded in someway over last year either with more experience, depth or talent. Of course we wont really know till the season has played out but. GO BUCS!!!

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    1. 4.1

      Iowabucfan

      Good point Winstonmvp. Not concerned is my vote also. Go Bucs!

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  5. 5

    martinii

    I have analyzed this Buc’s Team 9 ways to Sunday, and purely from a novice fan perspective I hope 1) Jameis continues improving which should affect 2) Our new group of receivers and Tight Ends, That should affect our 3) Running game. Add to that 4) a more mature improved OL and Collectively that should result in 5) More Points and Sustained drives. More points and sustained drives affects 6) the Time the Defense is on the Field and not having to play from behind and allows the Offense the ability to open up the play book and not be forced into playing catch-up. Now that our defense is )7 Heathy, more experienced, and rotational they should be capable of getting our high powered offense back on the field sooner, 8) while accumulating, more Sacks, Pressures, Passes Defended, and ultimately 9) More Defensive turnovers and scores.Finally a 10) more experienced (Tenured) Coaching Staff aided by a new indoor facility should provide the icing on the cake. PS Fan get a newly upgraded Ray Jay. If this all sounds a little optimistic, It was designed to.

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  6. 6

    Horse

    I’m a lot more concerned about our defense than the offense. We aren’t a very big team on defense; that still bothers me, but maybe I’ll warm up to it if our turnover ratio is a plus. Go Bucs!

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    1. 6.1

      scubog

      Don’t tell me you have “Defense Envy.” The LB’s are smallish by design. The D-line is bigger with the signing of Chris Baker and apparently you didn’t see Stevie T blocking out the sun. Compare our defense to others and you’ll see it’s not so small.

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      1. 6.1.1

        Horse

        i was referrng to pass rushers, but didn’t actually say it as I thought most understood what I was referring to. I don’t see Spence and J. smith stopping the run if they are on the field; with the hurry up offense the OL will run over them as their RB plows over them. I do realize Scu everything I usually say you criticize. I want the Bucs to win every game, but I’m not buying into the cool aid yet. We are most definitely a 9-7 team; with some luck and few injuries we could be a 11-5 team and in the playoffs. Go Bucs!

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        1. 6.1.1.1

          scubog

          Wasn’t meant as a criticism. Your statement was that you were concerned because, “we aren’t a very big team on defense.” I was merely pointing out that ours is comparable to most others. Spence and Smith (edge rushers) may play mostly on passing downs. They compare to Mack (Raiders) and Miller (Broncos). The probable starting line-up of Ayers, McCoy, Baker and Gholston is plenty big enough.

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  7. 7

    drdneast

    Mark, I believe you were right in your reference to some, not many Buc fans know Chris Conte from the bad rap he received in Chicago. They see only what they want their eyes to see.
    Has Conte been beaten by WR’s, yes he has, like the majority of other safeties have been in this league when they are left in one on one coverage. Is he slow. I don’t think so and most of the people who bad mouth him don’t really know hw fast he is either.
    I do know he was fast enough last year to come from across the field to make two TD saving tackles against the Falcons and probably save the game for the Bucs. Conte is a solid player and much better than the last head hunter we had in here who was paid way more, did far less and is no longer in the league.

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    1. 7.1

      Iowabucfan

      Good point. Didn’t he also make a game changing interception against the Chiefs?

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      1. 7.1.1

        jp414

        Yes, and a pick 6 the week before that vs the Bears. He’s never even had a season without at least one INT & usually at least 2 or 3. Very similar numbers to Harrison Smith (except for sacks), who is one of the highest paid FS in the league. Like Conte, he’s a good tackler who can shift to SS and play 10 yards off the line when he needs to.

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  8. 8

    jp414

    Fans second guessing Mike Smith/Jason Licht on personnel decisions always makes me laugh. Unless you are in the meetings, at practices, know the defensive scheme, and are at the film breakdowns after games, how do you know whether a Conte is worth his paycheck? With WRs, it’s more obvious – if a WR rarely gets open, drops a lot of catchable balls, etc., then anybody can stand on firm ground in pointing a finger. With safeties, it’s not clear at all unless you know the scheme and know the strengths/weaknesses of all the competing talents.

    Some fans like to pretend they have ‘the know’ and could out-pick the GM on draft day, sign the best FAs & coach the bubble players into Pro Bowl seasons. It’s like some dude second-guessing a Mayo clinic surgeon because he took a biology class in college and watched every episode of ‘House’ 3 times!

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    1. 8.1

      Rut

      It doesn’t take an NFL exec to see Conte is a bottom rung safety in the NFL. He gets beat badly and often. He plays well as a strong safety because he has the quickness to succeed in a short zone, and he has good vision against the run. Also tackles well near the line of scrimmage.

      But my god he has no business covering deep. He struggles mightily staying with receivers in man coverage, he just doesn’t have the speed to keep up. And this isn’t just against quick receivers like the Cardinals burned us with last year. He was getting smoked by second and third string Raiders, and Rams. Those arent elite guys. You can really go into any game the whole season and watch him look helpless trying to “blanket” coverage. Basically if he’s playing deep responsibility you have to hope he takes off 10 yards downfield to have a chance at being around the area where the ball will go. I think he gets in his own head trying to tackle downfield because when he’s one on one trying to being someone down he usually just launches himself into them hoping they’ll fall over, but he’s too skinny for that shit. He doesn’t wrap up.

      Yet when he plays the line of scrimmage, being surrounded by 4 or 5 other guys that could help him if he missed the tackle seems to give him more confidence because he’s actually a solid tackler up close. Downfield when he knows he’s our last hope he usually chokes. That’s not a quality you want in a free safety.

      Like you said, he gets picks somewhat consistently but that’s when he’s playing to his strength- guessing where the ball will go and getting there first. That’s a pretty good quality but there’s too much risk there, if the ball doesn’t go there or you’re facing a good QB that can manipulate you into going where he wants you to go, you’re going to be out of position which is deadly for a safety.

      I don’t have anything personal against Conte, I just want my team to have a great safety and this guy has gotten enough chances. Remember, that pick 6 against Chicago and the pick against KC were so “redeeming” for him because he’s played so poor for years. Fans don’t pick on a guy because they don’t like him. You have to EARN being hated by fans.

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      1. 8.1.1

        jp414

        Damn, reply button issue. Please see below for my comment, Rut.

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  9. 9

    jp414

    I really don’t understand where you get this impression. I think it likely chalks up to the reputation Conte had in Chicago; fans there complained about him, and that simply followed him to Tampa. I took a look at the All-22 footage from two of the games you mentioned (Cards & Raiders) , and from the Broncos game. Conte had a total of 3 plays where he allowed his guy a reception or appeared to screw up in coverage: a pass interference against Taylor (Broncos) in the end zone, the 68-yard play to Odawale (Raiders) and the TD pass to Cooper (Raiders). I could not find any obvious mistakes in the Arizona game.

    So, maybe you should reconsider, and accept that your opinion of Conte may be tinged by confirmation bias. You heard bad things about him coming from the Bears, and expected him to be another Sabby Piscitelli, so you paid attention to the mistakes, and simply ignored all the plays where he provided solid coverage.

    Conte is never going to be named to any All Pro lists, but he really is not nearly as bad as a lot of fans say he is. The video doesn’t lie. Because he’s not an elite talent, a lot of his success hinges on how the DC uses him. He’s not very fast, but I recall another S for the Bucs who had a rep for being slow – John Lynch, who really wasn’t much more than a mediocre S until Dungy and Kiffin took over in Tampa.

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    1. 9.1

      Rut

      I don’t have access to the All-22 but golly you don’t even need it for the Cardinals games. Just go watch the highlights. Nearly every big play for the cards in that game, Conte is out of position and desperately running back to the area he should have been covering. The first TD the cards were in the red zone with the bucs seemingly playing cover 0. Conte bites hard on the play action leaving the end zone right behind him wide open for fitz. I’m not going to completely knock a guy for biting on play action, it happens. But Conte is so overly aggresive against the run because it’s his strength that he gives up an easy TD. I think we’d benefit from a safety there that trusts his guys in front of him to make the tackle, maybe takes one step forward instead of charging the line full speed, and instead knows that he can’t leave the middle of the end zone open right beneath the goal post for one of the greatest wide receivers in the game.

      Skipping forward a few plays, watch him give up another red zone touchdown by over pursuing a flat route and leaving his zone, giving a wide open TD to (floyd, I think) another cards receiver. I don’t want a safety that is more comfortable running up to the line of scrimmage than dropping back into the correct spot. Especially since the bucs are listing him at free.

      I really don’t know what game you were watching with the cards game, there’s another fitz TD (that got ruled down at the 1 after review) where Conte seemingly is showing a cover 2 look but then drops back more to the middle of the field, leaving the right hash wide open again for one of the greatest wide receivers ever who had been abusing us all game. Really watch that play. Look at Conte trip all over himself to get back to right side of the field in order to get back into the play. Even if he’s playing a cover 1, that’s not the kind of body movement you want to see from a guy that’s supposed to be playing both deep sides of the field. You want him to be able to keep his hips even and rotate either way depending on where the ball goes. Instead he over pursues AWAY from fitz for some reason, and gets caught stumbling when the cards obviously decide to take advantage of that. Good receivers must drool over game film when they’re going to be matched up with Conte because they abuse him all the time. And this is just from the one game you didn’t mention. He had his mistakes in the ones you did mention as well.

      We could go back and forth all day on this. I suppose I’m wrong because obviously the coaching staff gets paid to evaluate this guy and seems to think he’s fine. It’s just a source of confusion for me because what I see when I watch him is a guy that gets beat time and time again. Then, his only defense is that he plays better at Strong because he’s physical, but I’ve seen him get straight bullied and embarrassed by guys as well (look up when Fred Jackson stiff – armed him 😨 yikes.

      My one consolation is he’s not the starter once either Wilcox or evans gets healthy again so I guess there’s that.

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  10. 10

    drdneast

    I will admit the Cardinals game wasn’t his best outing, but the team got beat 40-7 and I don’t think any Buc player had a highlight reel game that day or did you forget there were 21 other players on the field other than Conte.
    Rut, the one point I made you failed to address is the fact there isn’t a safety in the league who can cover the other teams fastest WR in one on one coverage. Can you tell me one who can.
    In the Cards and Raiders games, that was exactly who Conte was left to cover. Most safeties aren’t designed to cover WR’s one on one in deep coverage.
    Even Ed Reed, one of the better safeties in todays time, made the majority of his INT’s with his eyes looking at the QB or providing help over the tope, not trying to cover a WR one on one.
    Like a very small vocal minority of Bucs fans, you seem to always need a scape goat to blame the teams woes on. There were 10 other players in the Arizona and Raiders debachle along with Conte who made a large share or mistakes of their own.
    You remind me of Martin Fennelly, who after the Raiders game wrote a glowing piece about Donald Penn because he caught one easy TD pass while conveniently forgetting about the 3 or 4 holding calls he got during the game.
    Talk about watching things with blinders on. You and Martin should get season tickets together.

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    1. 10.1

      Rut

      I see what you’re saying but you’re putting g words in my mouth. I never blamed this teams woes on Conte. I’m just saying he’s a shit safety. We need a better one.

      That cards game was horrible, all around bad day indeed. I should know. I watched it here in Arizona with my Vincent Jackson jersey on in a bar filled with Cards fans lol not my proudest moment. The redemption? Watching the Seahawks game in that same bar months later. Guess who didn’t play in that game? Hmm.

      Just saying though, you can pick apart Conte tape and see a guy who’s above average against the run as a safety down in the box, and a guy that is below average as a deep coverage safety. Yet the Bucs have him listed at free, and he’ll probably get a good amount of time there this year. Again. And the bucs will probably get carved up by his assignments. Again.

      But if we actually get some pressure this year, should make his job a little easier deep. Hopefully. I’m also just one stinky but those with an opinion like everyone else.

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  11. 11

    drdneast

    The irony here JP414 is we could have had Harrison Smith or for that matter Luke Kueckly if the former brainiac of a GM, Mark Dominick, hadn’t picked the stiff of a safety known as Mark Barron.
    Does anyone wonder why Dominick can’t get a job in the front office of any NFL team after the huge mistakes he made in the draft.
    He proved for a fact that even a blind squirrel can find an acorn when he selected Keith Tandy in the fifth round.

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  12. 12

    Freeman Strickland

    Question: Who is the one person that the Bucs passed on in the draft that looking back you wish the Bucs would have drafted?

    The Bucs were right to take Howard in the first. I wish that they would have moved up to take Budda Baker in the second. Reading the current Cover 3 article further convinces me that he is the kind of smart, quick playmaker who would play brilliantly in the Bucs scheme.

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    1. 12.1

      Rut

      I would agree, I liked Baker. I’m not really big on the Evans pick. Obviously I hope he works out, but he really doesn’t feel like a good scheme fit to me. Fingers crossed!

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  13. 13

    drdneast

    Rut, I would suggest that if you continue watching the Buc games at whatever dive you are viewing them at, you start ordering Diet Coke instead of adult beverages.
    The alcohol is apparently not only affecting your sight, but your memory as well.
    You implied Conte didn’t play in the Seahawks game but I believe he played in most of it until he sustained a chest injury in the fourth quarter.
    I guess you couldn’t come up with the name of a safety who could cover the other teams top WR one on one since I asked the question twice and you never answered it or attempted to address the question.

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    1. 13.1

      Rut

      Ah yes I’m going off memory on that one, and it apparently did not serve me well. Conte was not a factor in that game either way. There lies a perfect example of our defense not needing him in order to have a sensational game.

      I get the feeling this is turning a little personal. I hope Conte isn’t a friend or family of yours! If so, I apologize. Try to remember these are just football opinions, man.

      As for answering your question, do you mean better coverage safeties in the nfl or just the bucs? As for the NFL I can think of plenty safeties that can match up with a teams best wide receiver. It’s not quite the impossible task you’re making it out to be. Earl Thomas, Eric Berry, Malcolm Jenkins, Tyranny Mathieu. All those guys play the same position as Conte and are far more effective.

      As for on this team, I’ve seen Tandy follow plenty of guys step for step down field, and he’s not even that fast. I’m not saying he’s an elite talent, but he plays smart and knows how to put himself in the right position downfield, the exact thing I’m saying Conte often doesn’t do.

      I’ve been saying this whole time Conte shouldn’t be a starting safety, and at the very least should be restricted to Strong when he does play.

      Not sure how much you agree with organizations like Pro Football Focus but I’ll let their blurb about Conte do my talking for me-

      “Chris Conte looked more like the player we saw during his last season in Chicago before Keith Tandy took over at free safety. The swing in performance from Conte to Tandy was about as big as it could have been. Conte ranked 90th out of 91 safeties in overall grade, while Tandy was the highest-graded safety over the final five weeks of the season, allowing a passer rating of just 34.3 into his coverage.”

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  14. 14

    owlykat

    Couldn’t agree more, Rut. Evans is a poor tackler and tries to hit high which just invites penalties and suspensions. I understand he flows well as a free Safety, but he is also hurt and that does not speak well for durability. With such negatives the gamble on him was too big for wasting a second round pick on him. When he gets well he is going to be a big project for our Coaches to try and fix. I would have moved up and grabbed Cook or gotten Buddha Baker–what was Licht thinking?

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  15. 15

    drdneast

    Conte wasn’t a factor in that game because the Bucs has a decent pass rush and he was doing his job so Russell didn’t go his way, Of course that didn’t occur to you, did it.
    Believe me, Conte is no family member, I just don’t like to see any player maligned by some bar stool GM who reads a few scouting reports on the internet and then regurgitates them like they are his own observations.
    I have seen plenty of that out here plus a very select few who try to find one player they can try to make the team scapegoat and blame all the teams woes on.
    What do I think of PFF? Not much.
    No one seems to know who does their grading and what criteria they use. Not only that but they publish the results the next day where Koetter says it takes his staff a whole week to break down game field and give out grades.
    Three of the safeties you named are All Pros and the most INT’s any of them had besides Berry were three.
    Mathieu is a corner who is playing out of position at safety and because of his size is constantly being beat up and on IR.
    I love Eric Berry’s game but the interceptions I saw him make last year were him coming towards the ball, not running with a speedy WR. See Atlanta game.
    BTW, I think Berry is make 8 mill this year. Conte 2.5 mill.
    You talk about these players speed like you have clocked them at practices which I doubt.
    Finally, for a prime example of another person who regurgitates internet reports like they are his own you don’t have to go any further than owlykat. who posted right below you and has been throwing up the same comment since the draft about Evans. The comment comes straight from one of the internet scouting reports which there are numerous ones and very unsupported.
    Much like PFF.

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