WHAT THE BUCS HAVE AT QUARTERBACK
After releasing last year’s veteran starter Josh McCown after just one year, the Bucs have just two quarterbacks on the roster in Mike Glennon and Seth Lobato – both are 6-foot-6, 230-pound, strong-armed passers. Glennon has the experience of starting 17 games over the last two seasons after being selected in the third round of the 2013 draft. While he has a favorable 29 touchdowns against 15 interceptions and an 83.7 QB rating going for him, Glennon lacks escapability and has been sacked 56 times, an average of three times per game. Glennon also has a record of 5-13 in his starts. Tampa Bay likes Glennon and believes he can be a solid backup behind the franchise QB that the team drafts with the first overall pick this year, but it will be open to trading him if the price is right. It would likely take at least a third-round pick for the Bucs to consider parting ways with Glennon, who has some upside and can develop into an NFL starting quarterback.
WHAT THE BUCS NEED AT QUARTERBACK
Tampa Bay needs a playmaking quarterback that can go toe-to-toe with the likes of New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Carolina’s Cam Newton twice a year in the NFC South division. The Bucs are expected to choose between Florida State’s Jameis Winton and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and select one of them with the first overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. PewterReport.com’s intel has revealed that the pick will be Winston, who has sat atop all five of the PewterReport.com 2015 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Drafts dating back to January. Whether it’s Winston or Mariota, the Bucs will also need to acquire a veteran quarterback to groom the rookie if Glennon is traded before or during the draft. That would likely happen in free agency after the draft.
BUCS’ BEST BET AT QB (EARLY 1-3) – Florida State QB Jameis Winston
Winston has the edge over Mariota in the fact that he’s coming from a pro-style offense and he’s more NFL ready as a pocket passer. With general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith needing to win now after a 2-14 season, Winston, a dynamic playmaker, gives them the best opportunity to do so as a Day 1 starter in 2015. With a 26-1 record with the Seminoles, a Heisman Trophy and a national championship under his belt, a rifle for an arm, a penchant for second-half comebacks and uncanny charisma and leadership ability, Winston brings the alpha male, Type-A personality to Tampa Bay that the front office wants with the first overall pick. The fact that he’s from Florida State also helps the Bucs’ season ticket sales, too.
BUCS’ BEST BET AT QB (LATE 4-7) – Oregon State QB Sean Mannion
If the Buccaneers opt not to take either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota and either draft a defensive player or trade down from the number one overall pick, Mannion could be a target for Tampa Bay. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s system needs a strong-armed pocket passer and Mannion fits that prototype. He set a Pac-12 record as a junior with 37 touchdown passes and the experience that comes with being a four-year starter. With Mannion and Mike Glennon, the Bucs would have two young quarterbacks with big-time arms that could compete for the right to start in Koetter’s system.
TOP 10 QUARTERBACKS 1. QB Jameis Winston – Florida State – Redshirt Sophomore – 6-4, 231 – 4.97
Winston comes to the NFL with well-documented off-field character issues and a high interception total (18) during his sophomore year that bring scrutiny. However, the Bucs have fully vetted him and chalk a lot of his mishaps up to a lack of maturity. There’s no denying Winston’s talent, though. As a redshirt freshman, Winston completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 4,057 yards with 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while winning the Heisman and a national championship. His numbers dipped in 2014 as he completed 65.3 percent of his throws for 3,907 yards with 25 TDs and 18 INTs. Yet Winston’s leadership skills and his pocket prowess make him an ideal fit for the Bucs, who would likely select him with the first overall pick.
2. QB Marcus Mariota – Oregon – 6-4, 222 – 4.56
Mariota is viewed as a project in the NFL as he is coming from a spread shotgun offense, but could develop into a great QB in the right system. This year’s most athletic quarterback, Mariota rushed for 2,229 yards and 29 touchdowns. He was also an accomplished passer at Oregon, throwing for 10,796 yards with 105 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Mariota completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 4,454 yards with 42 touchdowns and four interceptions. While he had an incredible TD:INT ratio at Oregon, Mariota was sacked 66 times and fumbled 27 times. He’s in contention to be the first overall pick by Tampa Bay or he could fall to St. Louis, which has the 10th overall selection.
3. QB Brett Hundley – UCLA – Junior – 6-3, 226 – 4.63
An extremely athletic quarterback, Hundley needs work and patience on going through his progressions as he too often looks to take off and run if his first option is covered. Yet he has raw potential due to his athleticism and big arm that allowed him to complete 67 percent of his passes for 9,971 yards with 75 touchdowns and 25 interceptions as a three-year starter. Hundley also rushed for 1,747 yards and 30 touchdowns in his Bruins career, and will likely be a second- or third-round pick.
4. QB Bryce Petty – Baylor – Senior – 6-3, 230 – 4.87
Petty is viewed as a system quarterback by some teams, while others view the tough, athletic, strong-armed competitor as a viable NFL signal caller. Petty threw for 8,195 yards with 62 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in his two years as a starter at Baylor. After throwing for 4,200 yards with 32 touchdowns and three picks as a junior, Petty played with a broken bone in his back and that hurt his production somewhat as he threw for 3,855 yards with 29 TDs and seven INTs. He is vying to be the third quarterback taken in the draft and will be selected in the second or third round.
5. QB Garrett Grayson – Colorado State – Senior – 6-2, 213 – 4.90
Grayson helped Colorado State return to prominence over the last couple of years. He improved each year and completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 4,006 yards with 32 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and threw for 9,190 yards with 64 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in his Rams career. Grayson doesn’t have an elite arm, but throws with accuracy and touch. He could be the third quarterback taken this year and drafted in the second round, or he could fall to the fourth round.
6. QB Sean Mannion – Oregon State – Senior – 6-6, 229 – 5.14
Mannion, a strong-armed pocket passer and four-year starter, had a breakout junior season in which he set a Pac-12 record with 37 touchdowns, while completing 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,662 yards and 15 interceptions. His numbers fell dramatically as he lost his wide receivers, including Brandin Cooks. Mannion completed just 62.3 percent of his throws for 3,164 yards with 15 TDs and eight picks in 2014. He has thrown for 13,600 yards with 83 TDs and 54 INTs in his Beavers career. Mannion is projected to be drafted between the fourth and sixth rounds.
7. QB Chris Bonner – Colorado State-Pueblo – Senior – 6-6, 231 – 5.12
A two-year starter for the Thunderwolves, the big, strong-armed quarterback completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 6,704 yards with 63 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. His numbers dipped his senior season as he completed just 56 percent of his throws for 3,291 yards with 30 TDs and eight INTs. Bonner is rising up draft boards and is viewed as a potential sixth-round pick.
8. QB Brandon Bridge – South Alabama – Senior – 6-4, 229 – 4.72
Bridge has NFL size, a big arm and raw talent, but is a project at the next level. He only started one year at South Alabama where he completed 52.1 percent of his throws for 1,927 yards with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Only teams with established QBs and a lot of patience would be interested in Bridge, who is considered to be a late-round selection.
9. QB Cody Fajardo – Nevada – Senior – 6-1, 223 – 4.63
Fajardo was a four-year starter at Nevada where he was the successor to Colin Kaepernick. An athletic, dual-threat QB, Fajardo became the first NCAA quarterback to throw for over 9,000 yards and rush for over 3,000 yards in his career. His numbers dipped his senior year as his completion percentage fell eight points to 59 percent, while throwing for 2,498 yards with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Fajardo is a project and is considered to be a sixth- or seventh-round pick.
10. QB Connor Halliday – Washington State – Senior – 6-3, 204 – 4.90
Halliday was a product of Mike Leach’s system where he threw for 11,308 yards with 90 touchdowns and 50 interceptions in his four years at Washington State. He suffered a broken leg near the end of his senior season and that may have some impact on his draft status. When healthy, Halliday is considered to be a late-round draft pick.
BEST OF THE REST 11. QB Shane Carden – East Carolina – 6-2, 218 – 4.94
Carden was a three-year starter at East Carolina where he became the team’s all-time leading passer with 11,991 yards with 86 touchdowns and 30 interceptions while completing 66.6 percent of his passes. Carden is a smart, accurate thrower, but he has a weak arm and is more of a system quarterback. He could be a sixth- or seventh-round pick or go undrafted.
12. QB Tyler Heinicke – Old Dominion – Senior – 6-3, 212 – 4.62
Regarded as a sleeper quarterback in the draft, Heinicke completed 65 percent of his passes for 7,498 yards with 63 touchdowns and 24 interceptions during his Old Dominion career. After a junior season in which he completed 70 percent of his throws for 4,022 yards with 33 touchdowns and eight interceptions, Heinicke’s numbers dipped as a senior where he completed 63.2 percent of his throws for 3,476 yards with 30 TDs and 16 INTs.
13. QB Hutson Mason – Georgia – Junior – 6-2, 212 – 4.83
Mason bided his time behind Aaron Murray for three years and completing 65 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,168 yards and 21 touchdowns and four interceptions as a senior while getting the opportunity to be the full-time starter. The Bucs worked Mason out with wide receiver Chris Conley and he could be a seventh-round option or an undrafted free agent candidate.
14. QB Bryan Bennett – Southeastern Louisiana – Senior – 6-2, 211 – 4.81
Bennett, a dual threat quarterback, transferred from Oregon with the emergence of Marcus Mariota. He rushed for 1,700 yards and 31 touchdowns over the last two years at Southeastern and threw for 5,522 yards with 39 TDs and 19 interceptions. Bennett was an emergency fill-in QB at the Senior Bowl.
15. QB Jake Waters – Kansas State – Senior – 6-0, 216 – 4.74
A JUCO transfer, Waters led K-State to back-to-back bowl games completing 64 percent of his passes for 5,970 yards with 40 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, including 22 TDs and seven INTs as a senior. Waters is undersized, but accurate and mobile, rushing for 15 touchdowns and 796 yards. He’s coming off shoulder surgery and will likely go undrafted.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com