Each week PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your submitted questions about the Bucs. You can have your question answered by asking on Twitter using the #PRMailbag hashtag. Here are this week’s five questions.
Question: Not since the days of Simeon has TB had a 10-sack season by one single player. If it happens this year, who does it? How many?
Answer: I thought he would last season, but I really think the wildcard on this defensive line is Jacquies Smith. He might have gotten there two years ago had it not been due to missing games with injuries. I really like his chances this season if he is 100 percent healthy. First, he has some experience now, secondly the overall line should be better creating better match ups for him, and lastly, he can really cash in during free agency next year with an exceptional season. Hashtag Motivation.
Of course we could see even two or more players hit that goal this season, depending on how healthy the whole line stays. Gerald McCoy is the easy favorite to reach that benchmark, especially with the addition of Chris Baker. And don’t count out the old man of the group Robert Ayers. I think Noah Spence has potential but needs another year to get close. But I wouldn’t mind being wrong on that assessment.
Question: O.J. Howard/David Njoku in the 1st, Joe Mixon in the 2nd, Juju Smith-Schuster in the 3rd. What do you think of that draft haul?
Answer: General manager of the year! Love all three selections. But unfortunately the likelihood of that happening is about the same odds of me winning a Pulitzer any time soon.
I love the idea of grabbing one of those two tight ends in the first round. I think about outstanding pass catcher at that position would dramatically make this offense better, and open things up for Dirk Koetter’s playbook. I have always felt tight ends were a little underutilized by most teams (Patriots don’t count) in the league, and can really exploit some mismatches in opposing defenses. While most aren’t sexy (again not counting what the Pats do) a two-tight end set means you are taking a linebacker and/or a safety out of the play essentially, giving your wide receivers more one-on-one opportunities.
As far as rounds two and three, I would guess the players selected will go in reserve of what you selected. I suppose someone might take a flyer on Mixon in the second, but I seriously doubt Smith-Schuster lasts until the third round. If the Bucs did manage to nab him in the third, I think it would be a steal. I love his catch radius, and he would give the, sometimes inaccurate Jameis Winston, a bigger target than Adam Humphries or whoever the third receiver would be. Not to say Humphries would be relegated to the bench, but imagine a DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans, Smith-Schuster receiver trio, with Cam Brate and Howard as options. Who do you double team?
Question: So what happened with Bradley McDougald? Any chance of a return? Any more FA additions coming?
Answer: This is speculation on my part, but it has to be more than just the team deciding Chris Conte was the best player available to bring back. I don’t know what exactly it was, but it appears the Bucs have clearly moved on from McDougald and are okay with Conte, Keith Tandy and J.J. Wilcox for now. I do expect them to draft a safety, perhaps very early as well. I did hear McDougald visited the Browns recently, and my end up with a deal there soon.
As far as additional free agents, I would guess there will be more, but will be under-the-radar type players. Probably more for depth, as opposed to players they would expect to be impact starters.
Question: I believe a running game helps the passing game. If Dalvin Cook drops, should the Bucs trade ahead of the Redskins for him?
Answer: You are asking the wrong person about trading up for Dalvin Cook. I got hammered by most when suggesting it in my Offseason Bucs Battle Plan!
I, like you, don’t really buy into the myth that running backs are a dime a dozen. Sure there are plenty of dime a dozen backs in the NFL, but special backs are rare. And if presented with an opportunity, you can’t pass one up. That is what I feel. To me, Cook is that special back, and not just because we are related (or so I like to tell people, even if it isn’t true). The fact is, he is a game-changer, and the Bucs, or whoever ends up with him, will be a better football team with Cook in their backfield. Of course, the cost to move up could be too high for Jason Licht to entertain the notion, but that could change come draft day, if Cook, does indeed start to slip.
Question: Any insight into which way One Buc is leaning draft pick wise? Last year you guys nailed it with Vernon Hargreaves.
Answer: Well officially we had Sheldon Rankins in our final mock draft, but the morning of the NFL Draft, Scott Reynolds and myself were in studio on 620 WDAE, and I went with Hargreaves when asked who I thought it would be.
But to answer your question, personally I don’t have a guess at all at this point. This draft is very deep in a number of positions, and when you get out of the Top 10, it gets much murkier when trying to guess. Coupled with the fact that there isn’t a glaring unit that needs an overhaul like the secondary did last year, it makes it tougher. That doesn’t mean we aren’t in our PewterReport.com laboratory putting together scenarios gleaned from our sources. We just haven’t finished running all the data for our prognosticating, soon-to-be patented draft-guessing machine we built recently with the help of NASA engineers and Miss Cleo.
That last sentence is false by the way. Keep coming back for our mocks though!
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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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@example.com
Question 1: I know Smith has had a long recovery window but I would be surprised if it was him. That is a long (real game) football hiatus to come back from but I hope I am wrong. I am really excited to watch this D line in action if they are a healthy unit.
Question 2: Those players would be great but I will be severly disappointed if the Bucs don’t come away with a defensive player in the first 3 rounds, preferably in the secondary because of what I stated above about a healthy Dline and it having a lot of potential if healthy. Run on….
Question Four…. number button stopped working…. I, like most fans I read on the boards and agree with, would be horrified with a trade up in this deep of a draft.
Mark, thanks for the information. As to the first question about 10 sacks or more. I think the question might be, when was the last time a DE played in all 16 games? My guess might be Simeon Rice. Not sure how Jacquies Smith gets there as he can’t stay healthy?
For question 2, another interesting scenario would be a McCafferey, Curtis Samuel, Jordan Willis haul. Interchange speed options out of the backfield and 3 WR sets with Evans….still need bodies after the QB…thoughts?
Running backs are a dime a dozen unless their names are Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith, A.P, Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson, etc. Once a decade players…or generational.
It sucks, but considering that Conte’s deal had his full salary this year guaranteed, it does seem to me that we’ve moved on from McDougald. I don’t say that because I think Conte will definitely start, but rather, because I expect that the team plans to draft a starting safety early in the draft, based on how little we prioritized it in free agency. I would much rather have resigned McD than Conte. It’s pretty clear to me that Bradley has been holding out for an opportunity that just isn’t going to come. I’m not sure what he expected. He’s been a decent player, but he’s not even remotely special, IMO.
If we don’t in fact plan to draft a safety in the first couple of rounds, I could still see us bringing McD back. He, Tandy, Conte, and Wilcox battling for two starting spots doesn’t exactly make me feel awesome about the position, but it’s got potential to be better than terrible….and adding McD would certainly make it better than it is right now.
There are only four safeties on the current roster. There will probably be eight when Training Camp starts. I suspect we will draft one and bring in an undrafted free agent or two to compete.
Right now we have 4 backs on our roster with one, Martin unavailable till week four. None of our current crop are game changers. I see the position as one that needs a serious up grade. Don’t agree that backs are a dime a dozen, and strongly disagree that it’s a waste drafting one in the first round. Getting a talent like Cook, Fournette, McCaffery in the first round gives you a player for his best years on the cheap, I think it’s a great value. Giving them a big contract like we did Martin after four years of NFL pounding is where I think teams make the mistake. I’d be shocked if one of those three are on the board at 19 and we pass for a safety, or tight end. The T.E. from Miami might get 3, 4 targets a game with all our other receiving options, compared to a back like Cook who could get anywhere from 20, to 30 touches a game! That’s a lot of bang for your buck in a first rounder, and that’s what you want. I would also not be surprised if we double down in this draft, and pick another one up in the later rounds. I think the only reason Martin hasn’t been released yet is Licht doesn’t want to tip his hand to the fact that we will draft a back with our first pick.
Licht hasn’t made any moves regarding Martin because, exactly as he explained to the media, he doesn’t need to. Not because he is planning to take a running back in the first round. If Martin is back healthy he will be a great running back, just as he was previously. If Martin is not healthy, his contract can be voided right up through the remaining 3 games of his suspension. Licht has made it clear he hopes Martin will be healthy and productive again – there is no reason to doubt him. Licht is not a BSer.
Nobody knows who Licht plans to take in the draft, or how his draft board is constructed, except for Licht and his staff.
I agree with you that there’s no reason to release Doug Martin until the eve of the 2017 season. Might as well just wait to see which Doug Martin shows up during Training Camp. There’s also no reason to forego drafting a running back when one evaluates our less than stellar collection. Regardless if #22 becomes great again, I suspect Licht will prepare for the worst.
Receiver, running back, safety in that order.
In today’s NFL game, the truth lies somewhere between “running backs are a dime a dozen” to “great running backs are game changers”.
This is a passing league, it’s been that way for a long time, and has become more so over the years. If a team has an effective passing attack, it will score a lot of points and then the running game is used mainly to kill the clock in the fourth quarter to protect a sizable lead. If your passing attack isn’t effective, then the running game becomes a crutch to at least gain first downs and to try to draw defenders down to the box and give your receivers more space to work and create matchup problems.
It rare indeed to see a true “run first offense” … we certainly don’t have one at the Bucs, where we passed on 57% of our plays last season, more even than the Patriots who passed on 53% of their plays. Typically no more than a couple NFL teams run more than they pass, and it usually reflects a weakness in their passing attack including their quarterback. Famously a few years ago the Seahawks ran more than they passed, relying heavily on Beast Mode … but that was because they had a rookie or soph quarterback who was not yet up to speed in the NFL. Once Wilson gained experience as a complete NFL quarterback the passing game overtook the Seahawk running game. We’ll likely see the same thing with the Cowboys, who were run-heavy in Dak Prescott’s rookie season, but as he gains NFL skills the Boys will almost certainly become more pass heavy.
A running game is very useful, particularly if you have a weak quarterback, weak receivers, or weak pass protection. But th most frequent path to the playoffs and championships is with a great passing attack combined with a great defense.
If teams have no respect for the running game and know they can focus solely on pass defense the passing game becomes less effective. As the song says, “It takes two baby.” Ideally the lead running back is also a threat in the passing game and even the return game like say Christian McCaffrey.
Great points by Naples but Surfer also has a point about our current roster and the number of touches by RBs. I thought the suggestion by another poster a little while ago was a good one – use a high pick on a RB once every 4-5 years, depending on who is available and whether it’s a 1st and therefore gives the team a 5th year option. The wear and tear on the RB position is a sad reality and this is a pragmatic way of dealing with it.
In terms of a ten sack Edge rusher it really has become a minimized issue. The Buc’s play a rotational DL for the most part. If you review snap-counts you will see McCoy clearly leads. I would prefer having 4 DL-men get 8-9 than one get 13. Pressures and batted balls are as almost as significant as sacks.
I think Licht will focus on Offense at 19. One of the big TE’s or a running back would really benefit Jameis. I don’t see Mixon playing for the Buc’s.
I really miss-read Mc Dougald’s play. I thought he would be a logical re-sign for 2017. Conte is good but I saw more value in Bradley. Shows how much I know.
Finally I don’t think the Buc’s should trade up. There are plenty of need players the Buc’s can target throughout the draft without sacrificing picks. Now moving down to acquire more picks makes sense.
Yeah I am not overly concerned with a 10-12 sack single guy. Consistent pressure needed. Bucs had 38 sacks last year I believe. Most in a long time. But there were games when pressure was nonexistent. Look at the Falcons, Beasley led the NFL in sacks was was MIA in that game if I remember correctly.
It is indeed a passing league. The last time I checked running backs are allowed to catch the ball also. That’s what makes players like McCaffery, and Cook so valuable. Nothing like seeing a good all around back take a five yard swing pass to the house. In a passing league, with a premium on pass rushers, a back who a Q.B. can depend on as a check down option becomes all the more important. I only speculate what Licht’s motives might be with regards to Martin. Should he be planning to draft a back in the first round one would have to admit cutting him now would be tipping his hand a bit.
Indeed it would Surfer. Keep em guessing.
If Dalvin Cook, OJ Howard and Fournette are off the board I would prefer the Bucs drafting Engram in the 1st due to his size/speed combination, Sidney Jones in the 2nd who is falling only bc of the achilles injury and gives us an in house replacement for Grimes next year when his contract is up and lastly Mixon in the 3rd. That gives us 3 players with 1st round talent and at positions of need. Mixon and Engram will provide plenty of juice on offense while Jones can rehab and learn the ropes from Grimes this season then compete for his job with Ryan Smith next offseason. The only exception would be if for some reason Tabor falls in the draft due to his 40, then I think he would be worth consideration in the 2nd instead of Jones.
That last sentence is false? Who are you kidding? We all saw the reports of Miss Cleo leaving your house Mark. We’re on to your silly games.
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