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: LSU linebacker Devin White is a beast. Do you see the Bucs picking him No. 5 after running a 4.42 40? Or are there bigger needs players like CB Greedy Williams etc?
Answer: There are so many good players that may end up being available when the Bucs are on the clock, but LSU linebacker Devin White fills a huge need for this team and from everything we learned at the Combine this week, including his performance, you have to include him as a player that is worthy as well. There is a reason why PewterReport.com was the first media outlet to have White going to the Bucs at No. 5 back in January.
Kwon Alexander, who is coming off an ACL tear, has yet to be signed, and the feeling here is that he will get to test the free agent market. The feeling the PewterReport.com staff got at the NFL Scouting Combine was that Kendell Beckwith’s ankle injury last year could be career-ending. If that’s the case, linebacker becomes the No. 1 need, especially since Jack Cichy, last year’s sixth-round, is also coming off a torn ACL.
So now the dilemma begins for Tampa Bay. The one thing we know is the Bucs have, or are in the process of, mapping out all the potential scenarios. And that includes even a player like Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams or Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen somehow falling to No. 5 and standing pat, or possibly trading down to acquire more draft picks.
If there was any doubt about how the Bucs felt about White, I think he checked all the boxes this weekend. He is the fastest linebacker in the draft with a 4.42, strong, and came across as the type of player you want, at least from his interview at the podium. We don’t have all the intel that the Bucs and the rest of the NFL have on him, or any of the players, but you can almost guarantee the team has a list of at least five players who they deem worthy of the fifth pick, and how can White not be one of those?
Of course, White’s LSU teammate, 6-foot-2 cornerback Greedy Williams, ran a tantalizing 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash on Monday morning. Add him to the list of players the Bucs should be considering in the Top 10.
Question: The way it’s unfolding, it’s looking like the best DB, best LB, and one of the premier edge rushers will be available. Which way do the Bucs go at No. 5, assuming they stay there?
Answer: I wish we could get in the mind of general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians, because the scenario you just mentioned is most likely true. The best player at least two of those positions very well could be available. And even if you are assuming Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa is the best pass rusher in the draft, and is off the table, who is to say that a guy like Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat or Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary doesn’t turn out to be the best five years from now?
The question now is, which position does this staff and front office feel is the biggest need, if we assume all things are equal, and the best defensive back, linebacker and pass rusher are still on the board at No. 5? I would imagine it will be something that is bantered and debated about over the next month and a half, even right up until draft night and the minute the team is on the clock.
Like many, we assumed the most likely scenario would be to trade out, and it still very well could happen, but after the performances of we saw the last three days, it will make that decision to do so, even more difficult. But what a great problem to have for Tampa Bay.
Question: With limited cap space is it logical to say in the second wave of FA we will sign three or four players like safety Deone Buchanan, guard Ramon Foster and maybe cornerback Morris Claiborne/or Pierre Desir? What positions do you think will be addressed in FA?
Answer: All of the players you mentioned make sense, and most likely are players that last past the opening gun of free agency. Maybe.
Deone Bucannon seems like a great fit, as he was very effective in his first season with the Cardinals under Bruce Arians in 2015. Injuries took a toll over the next two seasons, and he struggled when the Cardinals switched to a 4-3 defense. The Cards are switching back to a 3-4 this year and many in Arizona think the Cardinals will want the former first-round pick back and to see what new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph could do with him. But look for the Bucs to have an interest in him if he does make it to free agency.
The guard position is one that almost certainly be addressed in free agency, but as you mentioned, in the second wave and not right out of the gate. Despite the Bucs still holding out hope that Alex Cappa will be better in 2019, and even if the Bucs decide to address the position in the draft, Tampa Bay could use a veteran at that spot, and a player like Pittsburgh’s Reuben Foster could be that bridge. As as we have mentioned all offseason, Mike Iupati, a former Arizona Cardinal, is a player that could fill the role until a rookie, or Cappa, is ready to become a full time starter.
And cornerback will also be a position the team will address in free agency, or the draft, and even more than likely, both. This team believes Vernon Hargreaves can be a slot or even an outside cornerback, but the big question is, can he stay healthy? That’s something that has been a problem in his young career.
There are a handful of the second wave free agents corners that should be available – players like Morris Claiborne, who played for Todd Bowles in New York, and Indianapolis Pierre Desir as you mentioned, but also Oakland’s Rashaan Melvin and others who won’t break the bank.
Question: I understand what the Bucs staff is saying, but do you guys at Pewter Report think this team is talented enough to only add bargain free agents and rookies? Strengths become weaknesses fast if Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson go.
Answer: I don’t think anyone would argue that losing players like Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson would make the wide receiver room weaker. The object, and main job of general manager Jason Licht, is to replace these players with someone hopefully as good, or close to it – and maybe get lucky and find a better player out there.
Or perhaps the Bucs have developed younger players that are ready to fill in and perform. Maybe Justin Watson or Bobo Wilson can out up the same numbers as Humphries did. Every team will go through times when they just can’t afford to keep everyone on the roster.
Look at the New England Patriots for example. They have their foundation players on both sides of the ball, but the organization does a great job of identifying players who can come in and be complimentary players to the core guys. Those are the teams that tend to always be playoff contenders, and in the case of New England, Super Bowl contenders.
The question now is, how good and dependable are the Bucs’ core players, and how much complimentary talent can Licht and Bruce Arians surround them with? The way Tampa Bay is posturing, the Bucs’ brass feels that the problem was coaching last year – not talent – so don’t look for wholesale roster turnover this year at One Buc Place.