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 Jason Pierre-Paul possibly not playing this year, do you see Bucs looking to make a trade for another pass rusher?
Answer: We still don’t have any idea for sure exactly how many months of the season Pierre-Paul will miss. It could be as little as half the season, or it may be all 16 games. Until the Bucs have a better grasp on exactly what his status for 2019 is, it it will be difficult to really guess what their current thoughts are in terms of any potential replacement. Head coach Bruce Arians said as much over the weekend at the Bucs rookie mini-camp when he was asked about Pierre-Paul’s future.
He did say something kind of interesting however, when asked about a contingency plan.
“It’s easy. When we get to training camp, we will have the guys that we want in there,” Arians said. “When I was in Arizona, every year that last week we would always add the missing piece. We’re looking for the missing piece right now. There is somebody out there. John Abraham came in, Dwight Freeney came in, guys that really impacted our defense and Todd [Bowles] did a great job of matching them up. We’re nowhere near where we are going to be in September, so we will just wait and see.”
To me, Arians is saying Jason Licht and his personnel team will be hard on the lookout for someone to step on as we get closer to the start of the season. I don’t necessarily think it will come via a trade, but instead possibly a late training camp or preseason cut. Licht has been pretty good at finding other teams’ castoffs that come in and still have some juice in the tank like he did when he signed defensive end Jacquise Smith, right tackle Gosder Cherilus and center Joe Hawley.
And of course we all know adding Carl Nassib last year turned out very good to say the least. Nassib will be counted on to step up in a contract along with newcomer Shaq Barrett, who signed a one-year deal this offseason, in addition to Anthony Nelson, this year’s fourth-round pick in the draft. If I had to guess I believe the starter at right DE/OLB who will play opposite Nassib isn’t currently on the Bucs roster right now, but it will come from a waiver claim as opposed to a trade.
Question: I know UDFA’s make the teams occasionally (Adam Humphries, Cam Brate, Leonard Wester, Bobo Wilson) but is there a REAL possibility if one of our new offensive linemen really impresses in camp that they could take Caleb Benenoch’s starting spot away from him?
Answer: Well of course anything is possible, but it is highly unlikely one of this year’s crop of undrafted guys would be ready to step in and start. Teams spend at least a year evaluating the upcoming draft class, and offensive linemen are in such high demand that if you’ve got two feet, don’t trip over your shoelaces and are 300 pounds, there is a good chance you get drafted. Not a ton of those guys slip through the cracks, although you can easily point to two huge success stories in Donald Penn and Demar Dotson right here in Tampa Bay.
However, neither were anywhere near ready to step in and start as rookies. And at this point I would be shocked if any of the Bucs’ undrafted free agents work their way into the starting lineup in 2019. Instead, expect veteran Earl Watford to get the first crack at right guard with second-year player Alex Cappa nipping at his heels. The Caleb Benenoch experiment at right guard is over and it was a failure. He’s back at right tackle where he belongs and is backing up Dotson.
Question: Am I crazy for liking the Bucs’ UDFA haul as much as the end of their draft?
Answer: Jason Licht would say no. We know he and his scouts see a few diamonds in the rough in the team’s undrafted free agents, and he also knows the “second draft” can be a productive place to at the least find depth, if not a developmental starter. We have mentioned some players already that went undrafted (Adam Humphries, Cameron Brate, Demar Dotson, Peyton Barber, ect.) that all went onto not only become starters, but guys who have made a ton of money with second contracts.
There will be a handful of these players who end up on the 53-man roster and practice squad and history suggest one or two might be viable NFL long-term starters. However, if you are building a team and thinking you can rely on undrafted free agents for long-term franchise success, you won’t be an NFL G.M. very long.
There are some notable names in this year’s group of undrafted free agents, including North Dakota State running back Bruce Anderson, Buffalo wide receiver Anthony Johnson, Ole Miss wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge, South Carolina guard Zack Bailey and Mississippi State quarterback/athlete Nick Fitzgerald. Don’t be surprised if a couple of these guys make the 53-man roster and maybe one or two of the team’s draft picks don’t this year.
Question: Which undrafted player(s) have a real shot at making the 53-man roster?
Answer: David Kenney, an outside linebacker that hasn’t played football in two years was easily the biggest standout from the two days we saw of rookie mini-camp. The guy was like a varsity player practicing against a middle school team. His quickness and burst was evident from the beginning but really flashed on Saturday. You could see his confidence grow every snap, and by the end of practice there was no question this tryout player would be signed. While we haven’t seen an official list, Arians confirmed it Saturday afternoon when asked about Kenney in his post practice press conference.
It wouldn’t be a shocker to see either Anthony Johnson or DaMarkus Lodge make the roster at wide receiver where the competition is against the likes of Justin Watson, last year’s fifth-round pick, Bobo Wilson, K.J. Brent and Scotty Miller, who was this year’s sixth-round pick. Running back Bruce Anderson has a chance of sticking around as he will square off against a group of unheralded runners in camp, including Andre Ellington, Kerwynn Williams, Shaun Wilson, Dare Ogunbowale and Ronald Jones II, last year’s second-round pick, who is coming off a disastrous rookie season.