PewterReport.com is beginning a new offseason feature, giving readers an opportunity to get their questions answered by the PR staff. Today, Mark Cook answers five questions taken from Twitter submissions using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Each week one of the questions used will earn the person who asked it a PewterReport.com T-shirt.
Question 1. Chris @TB_Bucs_4Life who will the Bucs take with first pick in the draft? CB or DE?
Answer: Really impossible to say at this point Chris. So many factors and things will have to happen before any one knows. The Bucs themselves don’t even know at this point. First, the staff will need to go through the roster and evaluate. Then of course the scouting, which has already begun, will begin narrowing players them ranking them on an overall talent board, then by position.
But even before a name is preferred, free agency, which begins in March, could affect things. If say the team signs two cornerbacks that they feel are starting caliber then certainly that position will pushed down the board a little. Same thing if it they bring in a couple defensive linemen who can rush the passer.
And lastly it will come down to best player available to a degree. Say for instance the front office has a wide receiver ranked head and shoulders above any cornerbacks or defensive ends, then how do they pass that up? You can’t reach for a position based on need with the No. 9 pick. Maybe they move down and acquire more picks. That of course is an option, just as moving up is as well. But if I have to guess, I would say as of now, there may be more cornerbacks worthy of the No. 9 pick than defensive ends at this point. That of course can change with the East-West and Senior Bowls coming up this month, in addition to private workouts and the NFL Combine next month.
Question 2. @MikeGangi @PewterReport The O-Line made great strides in ’15. Where specifically do they still have weaknesses that need attention?
Answer: A lot will depend on if Logan Mankins returns. The Buccaneers organization is very high on Kevin Pamphile, and wasn’t displeased with Evan Smith who filled in at times at guard. But every position across the line can play better still, even rookie Ali Marpet who was one of the big surprises. That is why I would be surprised to see offensive line coach George Warhop let go if that were to happen. Just like keeping the same five in the starting lineup, having the same voice teaching them, I believe, helps with the continuity. But we haven’t gotten any indication that Warhop won’t be back.
I am not sure both Gosder Cherilus and Demar Dotson are back, but could be, as both could provide depth for the one who doesn’t get the starting nod, and Dotson could play left tackle if need be. If Mankins does decide to step away and retire, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Buccaneers add a mid-round guard that they look at as a developmental player for down the road. All in all, heading into 2016, the Buccaneers feel much better about their offensive line than they did a year ago.
Question 3. @mikey1088mike @PewterReport With the ever changing regimes how hard is it to keep your “sources”?
Answer: No question shakeups in the organization can affect sources, and have quite a bit over the last several seasons. But sources aren’t always just directly in the organization. They can be agents, former employees, current players and more. The key of course is to work on developing news ones, and that includes not betraying trust or burning bridges just for the sake of one story. We sit on so many things because they are communicated off the record.
Question 4. @MEX38BUCS @PewterReport what’s your wish list in free agency this offseason?
Answer: I don’t have any specific players yet, as many of the players who are big names and impact players will end up re-signing with their current team. Great football players a rarely hit the open market, especially with a salary cap that has expanded some of the last several seasons, and also teams doing a better job of being creative in the way they work contracts these days.
Another factor as well is many proven players, that could have an impact, have families, and they choose many times to stay where they are, even a little lower salary, so they don’t have to uproot their routines. It is always fun to dream, and there are always the huge money guys that move every season, but look at the Buccaneers history in free agency. The two best free agents in my opinion are Vincent Jackson and Hardy Nickerson, both turning out to be great deals for Tampa Bay. But for every Jackson and Nickerson, there are the Eric Wrights, the Anthony Collins and Alvin Harpers.
But as free agency approaches, we will spend a lot more time taking a look at the available players and try and find ones we think could be a possibility here in Tampa Bay.
Question 5. @yungmigo87 @PewterReport what defensive scheme does Mike Smith run and which position would he need to address first?
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 protected]
There is no doubt we need improved play at both CB and DE, but at the CB position, I wonder why we haven’t gotten better play from what we have. Certainly Jenkins was bad, but Verner and Banks had pretty good pedigrees. I think the lack of coaching had a lot to do with bad play at both the CB and safety positions. Before they are cut, I would like to see if new coaching wouldn’t help at those positions.
Could not agree more with you Ronald. I think in particular Banks, Verner, and Sterling Moore are all very good corners, depending on the scheme and the coaching. I have a feeling our cornerbacks will be next year’s O-line, where we end up with better coaching and better production without having to replace the entire unit.
I agree with you. Our corners were a detriment to us throughout the season. I wonder if us having 3 different coaches for our secondary had something to do with inconsistencies or us not playing to their strengths had something to do with it. If I remember correctly, Mike Smith plays a lot of man-zone cover 3 and with a small amount of cover 2. Mark Cook, do you have insight to this? I also think we should have an attacking defense instead of relying on just pressure of front four.
Count me in as another who thinks we may have some good corners already;they were just badly coached.
Mark, what do you think of Oliver Vernon, the Miami Dolphins DE. He is the right age and I believe Miami plays a 4-3. He looks like the best DE out there right now. Do you know anything about him.
With the Dolphins spending big money on Suh and Cameron Wake, it would seem doubtful they would unload even more money on a unit that is already eating up huge amounts of cap space.
Thanks Mark; good info. It doesn’t hurt us at all if we take another look at almost everyone at OTA’s; at least the first one for sure. Go Bucs!
Whatever “style” of 4-3 we choose, please let it NOT rely on the front 4 providing pressure….seen that movie in re-runs quite a few times…
EastEndB, a 4-3 defense is schemed to let the four down lineman provide all the pressure on a QB. That is what it is designed to do.
tell it to the 4 down linemen…you’re preaching to choir at the PR!
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