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.
Question: With CBs Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean being drafted, does that mean Vernon Hargreaves III is moving to nickel cornerback?
Answer: Not necessarily. Vernon Hargreaves III has the most experience at that position, but when in Arizona at the league meetings, Bruce Arians raved about Hargreaves and all but said he would be a starter on the outside, and the team would find a nickel. And one thing we learned from our press conferences with the defensive coaches last week, is the nickel corner in this defense will be asked to do things a lot differently that in the Mike Smith defense. In fact, the nickel corner will be more like a safety and be a physical presence against the run, and also used as the team’s primary blitzer.
I don’t know that I see Hargreaves being that type of player unless he gets beaten out by rookie cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting or Jamel Dean in training camp. Instead, look for M.J. Stewart, last year’s second-round pick, to get the first crack at nickel – even though he bombed there last year – and even safety Mike Edwards slipping down at times to take on that role. If Stewart wins the job it will be more about his ability to play the run, blitz and be physical rather than cover man-to-man like he was often asked to do last year in Mike Smith’s defense.
One fun thing as reporters is with a new staff come lots of new changes, so we get to see first hand a new defensive scheme develop and get put into place during the OTAs and mini-camps, including the Bucs rookie mini-camp that beings this Friday.
Question: I have come to terms (and actually love the players we got in the draft even if it wasn’t the route I would have taken) with this year’s draft. Is it too early for you guys to know how the talent looks for O-Line and D-Line for next year? Does it look as decent as it did this draft or better?
Answer: From what we understand, next year should be a much better offensive line draft than we saw last year in terms of potential first-round talent, but it may not be particularly deep. Early buzz has Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas as the top draft prospect, but some early mocks have as many as five offensive linemen going in the first round. Of course it is way too early to know anything for sure, but we have also heard from a league source that next year’s offensive line class will be better than we saw this year.
We also heard from the same source that defensive linemen will be about the same but edge rushers might not be as deep next spring. It’s too early to get a good grasp on next year, as some will burst onto the scene as the player matures and develops. Who saw Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen make the jump he did between his junior and senior campaigns? And no one had Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom as a first-round pick a year ago.
The biggest question that always impacts the overall talent and depth at a particular position in each draft is the size of the junior class. How many junior offensive and defensive linemen will declare for the 2020 draft, and how talented will they be? Check back this fall for answers, but you can bet the Bucs will be looking for a right tackle candidate and some more edge rushers and help at defensive tackle, too.
Question: Harold Goodwin’s official title is assistant head coach/run game coordinator, but his specialty is the O-line. Is he gonna have a more heavy hand with the O-line or is it Joe Gilbert and Gilbert only?
Answer: Oh no, it won’t just be Joe Gilbert. We have already seen through the first mini-camp that Harold Goodwin is right there coaching the offensive linemen with Gilbert, and Arians told me in Phoenix that they will split the group. One day Goodwin might be working with the tackles and Gilbert with guards and centers, and then vice versa. It will be a collaborative effort between the two and I think that is a great way to handle a unit that must improve greatly over what we have seen the last few years.
Both were very impressive to listen to last week when we had access to all the assistant coaches and both know what they are facing. I liked their confidence and no-nonsese approach, and the biggest takeaway was hearing Gilbert say that the linemen really need to finish their blocks. Too many times last season he said the linemen didn’t finish until the whistle, and that played a hand in allowing turnovers and sacks.
Tampa Bay’s offensive linemen will be more aggressive and physical under these two coaches, which is something we at PewterReport.com have been saying was needed for a while. This won’t be a finesse unit any longer under Goodwin and Gilbert.
Question: Who should we be excited about as a sleeper candidate to emerge on the seemingly ignored Bucs offensive line?
Answer: The hopes are that the four starters from last year get much better, and that Alex Cappa or newcomer Earl Watford will solidify the turnstile at right guard we have seen since Ali Marpet was moved from there to center three years ago. One name we have heard from a couple of sources to really keep an eye on is Ruben Holcomb. The team thinks he has a ceiling yet to attain and think he is a dark horse to emerge from the roster as a player who can make the roster and be a quality backup, if not push for starting time.
Our money is on Watford who has played and was drafted by Arians, and knows the system and what the coaches expect.
there is a reason why I'm here. It'd be a waste of time to sign me if I wasn't going to work and do the job I'm paid to do at the highest level. Could've drafted or signed 10 guys. Competition is fun and I like taking jobs.
— Earl Watford (@EWatts78) April 30, 2019
And after reading his Twitter recently, Bucs fans should also love his attitude coming into the season and a new team.