PewterReport.com began a new offseason feature last year, giving readers an opportunity to get their questions answered about the Bucs by the PR staff. Today, Mark Cook answers five questions taken from Twitter submissions and our message boards using the hashtag #PRMailbag.

Question: Center and tackle positions still don’t seem to be a strength? Do the Bucs feel the same way? Do you?

A: That ‘s a difficult question to answer. No, the Bucs offensive line is not the Dallas Cowboys, but remember the Bucs line was a huge question mark coming in 2015, Winston’s rookie season, and they played relatively well in 2015, and most were high on this group coming into this year. And this was essentially the same offensive line, minus Logan Mankins. Was the loss of Mankins that huge of a deal? I’m leaning towards yes. And not necessarily because of his on-the-field play, but his leadership and example. The more I look back, the more this line looked kind of lost at times this season.

I talked to J.R. Sweezy today and he told me things are on schedule for him to be back and ready for camp this spring. That would be huge. Sweezy like, Mankins, at least has a Super Bowl ring and a resume. I think every job on the line is up for grabs and we could see some shuffling of positions including Marpet potentially to center. That would leave Pamphile and a hopefully healthy Sweezy to play guard. Perhaps Pamphile pushes Demar Dotson, or Benenoch pushed Pamphile at guard. This isn’t  a great offensive tackle draft, so someone hoping the Bucs draft someone to unseat Donovan Smith will be most likely be disappointed. 

Question: I know everyone loves Dalvin Cook, but what are the chances we draft McCaffery?I think he would be great as a receiver for our offense.

A: If the Bucs have an opportunity to draft Cook, I think it is a no-brainer. But McCaffrey isn’t a bad consolation prize, but there is still a ton of evaluation to do on both guys. Truthfully I believe Cook will blow up even more at the combine next month and will be well out of the reach of the Buccaneers who are picking 19th. I believe when it is all said and done, Cook ends up going before LSU’s Leonard Fournette. And if he ends up going top 10, I don’t think the Bucs are willing to give up what it would take to move up. But that is just me speculating. McCaffrey is such a versatile player and could be a real weapon for Dirk Koetter’s offense, while also potentially contributing on special teams as a returner. 

Question: If Mike Smith were to leave for a head coaching job, who are some possible replacement names to look out for?

A:
Too soon to say, but I am guessing Dirk would like to promote from within, especially with the way the defense got better as the season progressed. Another new scheme, even if it were similar, would stunt the growth of the defense in my opinion. If the Bucs look internally then defensive line coach Jay Hayes or linebackers coach Mark Duffner make the most sense. On the outside, Gus Bradley, a former assistant here could get a look, although he is being linked to Buffalo as the defensive coordinator if interim coach Anthony Lynn is retained. There will be number of other candidates emerge as the annual Black Monday coach firings settles down. Koetter did mention he was confident in the staff he hired last year, and would be confident he would find another good coach if Smith were to leave. 

Question: Jameis Winston likes the TE alot and Dirk loves two TE sets. Do you think the Bucs add another playmaker there even with Cameron Brates rise?

A. Absolutely. The Bucs need more pass catching tight ends who can make things difficult on opposing defenses when the Bucs go two tight ends, but also as Scott Reynolds pointed out on 620 WDAE on Monday, someone who can be another Brate on the field if Brate get hurts. Who knows what happens in the Saints game on Christmas Eve if Brate doesn’t get hurt. Winston targeted Brandon Myers twice in the fourth quarter in the end zone, but the two were just off. I’m not saying they win that game, but I believe it would have made things more interesting. This is a much better tight end draft than the past two seasons it appears. 

Question: Who are top free agent kickers that could be brought in as competition with Aguayo?

A. It isn’t a very good crop with names like Connor Barth and Robby Gould as two of the most recognizable, but that doesn’t mean the Bucs would go after someone because of a name. And the fact is, they want Aguayo to work out. Brining someone else in would be to push him, but also to have someone to bounce ideas off of. I remember a few weeks ago talking to Roberto and he said it is different in the NFL, because in college there are other kickers on the team, mainly walk-on guys, but there is more than one that he practiced with. And he mentioned that is something he liked. Kickers know kickers best, and another kicker would be the first to notice something off with Aguayo’s swing. One big name slated to be a free agent is Stephen Hauschka of the Seahawks but even if Seattle allowed him to walk the price would be too high to bring in as competition. Look for the Bucs to sign one or two undrafted kickers in late April, but keep their fingers crossed for 2017.

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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, 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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Bucnut2
Bucnut2
5 years ago

I favor McCaffery for the multiple positions he can play. HE reminds me of Darren Sproles.

Matthew
Matthew
Reply to  Bucnut2
5 years ago

I am the one who asked the question about McCaffery and while everyone, including myself, loves Cook there is no one he last till 19. I believe McCaffery will be on the board at 19 however and think he can be a star for the Bucs offense with all the ways he can hurt defenses. I am sure Dirk would have a blast getting the ball in McCaffery’s hands on runs, screens, returns (which we need), and passes.

Steve Jimenez
Steve Jimenez
Reply to  Bucnut2
5 years ago

Did you see Cook line up at WR and catch a 40+ yard pass? He’s far better than McCaffery. Not close. That said, he’ll be long gone by the time we pick, so it’s a moot point.

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
Reply to  Bucnut2
5 years ago

Problem with McCaffery is durability question mark. He’s 195 pounds soaking wet….not really an every down running back’s frame, but more of a replacement for Charles Sims and useful as a Kick/Punt returner. IMO selecting that sort of player at #19 is a reach. Now, if he’s still available when we come back around in the second round (and preferably trading up in the 3rd round, back-end of the 2nd round…ala Roberto Aguyao), then I could get on board with the upgrade over Sims and having an actual kick returner on the team for the first time in a very… Read more »

Amo
Amo
5 years ago

Mark, our offensive tackles commit too many penalties. I understand keeping Smith but Dotson needs to be put on the hot seat. I also feel, like Horse, Gottschalk should be given an opportunity to win the center job this year. Ali Marpet should stay put and continue his ascension to a Pro Bowl guard. Happy New Year and Go Bucs!

Bayside4Life
Bayside4Life
5 years ago

It’s funny you mention that pass into the end zone to Meyers vs. the Saints. I looked at my wife right after that play and we both said simultaneously that Brate makes that catch. Meyers also had a possibility for a TD after that. It was clear he just was not in sync.

However, if the Bucs bring in another TE, he has to block better than Brate does. Brate’s blocking leaves a ton to be desired.

seat26
seat26
5 years ago

I think Bucs have to address Defensive Line and Receiver first. But obviously the list is so long now that the Draft alone will not suffice. This is a defensive Draft and that is deep and that could work well for Bucs. If they can pick up a player or two in Free agency and get lucky with a receiver early and a good DE, Defensive Tackle, or possibly a Safety, maybe TE could be grabbed later in the Draft. TE is supposed to be deep also.

Brobear
Brobear
Reply to  seat26
5 years ago

I’m curious as to why Defensive Line and not the Secondary? If anything I could see us taking a 3rd or 4th round DT but without all of the injuries we had this year we have a pretty good group of D Lineman. I think first two rounds have to focus on secondary, because there is so much talent, and wide receiver because it’s arguably our biggest need.

seat26
seat26
Reply to  Brobear
5 years ago

Cornerback is deep in this draft, but not so much Safety. I think Bucs would have to get a safety with a first round pick if they want one. Bucs have so many needs due to injury and behavioral issues on offense that they are going to have to get a receiver early and probably a running back. IF anything happens to Brate, they really don’t have a TE who can perform at Brate’s level. This draft is deep at TE. But with all the talent at DE and DT and Cornerback, Bucs have to really play this draft strategically.… Read more »

surferdudes
5 years ago

Something I’ve been calling for, Dirk giving up play calling duties next year might happen. Dirk hinted at his presser yesterday, like I’ve been saying, wearing both hat’s on Sunday has been harder then he thought. He mentioned coaches like Peyton who’ve gone back, and forth on it, so we’ll see. I see a disconnect, when the head coach takes the play sheet on Sunday from the guy who did the game planning all week. Last year Koetter could sit next to Jameis all game, now play caller, and Q.B. don’t communicate between series like they use to. McCarthy, and… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
5 years ago

Regarding a replacement for Coach Smith, the Times has an article suggesting that Gus Bradley is someone that Koetter might bring in as DC. There certainly has been a lot of “cross-talk” between Jacksonville and Tampa Bay in terms of coaching hires.

fredster
fredster
5 years ago

What kind of back injury requires over a year to heal? Will he (Sweezy) be able to play at that point and not get injured? They need to address O line and D line early and often. Hope they don’t try to trade up for somebody. Just isn’t a deep enough team we need all the picks. Losing the second rd pick on Aguayao hurt. They better bring in competition. Of course we need a real 2nd WR and another pass catching TE too. I think free agency was good last year. Grimes and Ayers were good. Lot of WR’s… Read more »

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
5 years ago

Should trade C Sims he only has a handful of splash plays and can’t run up the middle. Hopefully Doug’s situation gets worked out and comes back for less $$.
Draft DL first and either WR or TE next. I saw Taco C. play he was in FSU’S back field ALL night and I am a FSU fan I think we need a player like him long and strong. The TE from Miami maybe available in 2nd rd. from Miami maybe