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.