Bucs CB Johnthan Banks & Alterraun Verner - Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
With the Buccaneers slated to begin their 2016 season with the preseason opener at Philadelphia, PewterReport.com offers up it’s initial 53-man Bucs Roster Prediction based on what we’ve seen in training camp and analyzing the current depth chart. Of course there will be movement as some Bucs come out of nowhere to shine in the preseason, while others that were expected to have success falter and underwhelm. PewterReport.com will offer up its final 53-man Bucs Roster Prediction in a few weeks after the first roster cut-downs on August 30 to a 75-man roster just before the final roster cut-downs on September 3 take place. QUARTERBACKS – 3 Jameis Winston Mike Glennon Ryan Griffin Analysis: Because of position flexibility at several positions, the Bucs can afford to keep three quarterbacks on the roster this year, especially with Glennon hitting free agency next year. Winston is the obvious starter, and Glennon is the most capable and experienced backup. Despite the drop off in talent from second-string QB to third-string, Griffin is valuable because he knows the offense and could be a long-term back-up to Winston if he proves himself in the preseason. RUNNING BACKS – 4 Doug Martin Charles Sims Mike James Peyton Barber Analysis: The Bucs run a one-back set more than half the time offensively, so there is no need to keep a traditional fullback and waste a roster spot on a one-dimensional player. Tight ends Luke Stocker and Danny Vitale will handle the lead-blocking duties. Martin is still the feature back, while Sims offers a nice mix of speed, power and receiving ability as a change-of-pace back that will get a look as a kick returner this year, too. James will likely stick around due to his NFL experience and special teams ability, while Barber gets the nod over Storm Johnson, who could be a practice squad candidate with a good showing in the preseason. WIDE RECEIVERS – 6 Mike Evans Vincent Jackson Adam Humphries Kenny Bell Donteea Dye Jonathan Krause Analysis: The Bucs kept five receivers last year with an additional pass catcher or two on the practice squad. Head coach and offensive playcaller Dirk Koetter might want six this year after all of the injuries last season, and with Humphries returning punts and Bell possibly winning the kick return duties. Evans and Jackson are the starters outside with Humphries as the No. 3 receiver in the slot. Louis Murphy, who is still coming back from his ACL tear, will likely start the season on the PUP list or injured reserve with a designation to return. If special teams captain Russell Shepard can’t show more consistency and playmaking ability as a receiver he’ll get beat out by Dye and Krause. TIGHT ENDS – 4 TE Cameron Brate FB-TE Luke Stocker TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins FB-TE Dan Vitale Analysis: Tampa Bay keeps four tight ends, but Stocker and Vitale will also see action as lead blocking fullbacks, in addition to playing on special teams. Seferian-Jenkins is a weapon when healthy, and Brate’s improvement, speed and upside as a pass-catcher has him as the starter right now. Aging veteran Brandon Myers has value, and could make the roster if the Bucs keep five receivers or just two quarterbacks. OFFENSIVE LINE – 9 RT Demar Dotson RG Ali Marpet C Joe Hawley LG Kevin Pamphile LT Donovan Smith C-G Evan Smith RT Gosder Cherilus OT Leonard Wester G-C Josh Allen Analysis: Tampa Bay keeps nine offensive linemen, including two rookies. The starters are nearly set with Donovan Smith, Pamphile, Hawley, Marpet and Dotson, across the board from left to right. Evan Smith is contending for the starting center job with Hawley, who is in a contract year, and could also factor into the mix at left guard with Pamphile in the preseason with J.R. Sweezy sidelined with a back injury. Wester and Cherilus offer depth at offensive tackle, while Allen can back up at either guard position and also at center. If the Bucs don’t re-sign Dotson, who is in a contract year, Pamphile, Wester and Caleb Benenoch, who could start the year on PUP, could all contend for the vacancy in 2017. DEFENSIVE LINE – 9 LE Robert Ayers DT Gerald McCoy NT Clinton McDonald RE Will Gholston DE Jacquies Smith DE Noah Spence NT Akeem Spence DE Howard Jones DE Kourtnei Brown Analysis: The Bucs only have three true defensive tackles on the roster in McCoy, McDonald and Akeem Spence. The team could keep undrafted free agent Travis Britz, who blocked five kicks at Kansas State, if they want a fourth tackle, as he has value on special teams, or big run-stuffer A.J. Francis. Otherwise, Ayers, Gholston and Brown have enough versatility and size to kick inside to tackle in nickel rush situations. Smith, Jones and Noah Spence are primarily defensive ends that will rush the passer from the edge. LINEBACKERS – 6 WLB Lavonte David MLB Kwon Alexander SLB Daryl Smith OLB Devante Bond OLB Adarius Glanton OLB Jeremiah George Analysis: David and Alexander are every down linebackers, while Smith will see action as Tampa Bay’s strongside linebacker in base defense, which will be roughly 40 percent of the time, in addition to usage in other special packages. Bond was drafted to be Smith’s potential replacement next year at Sam linebacker. Smith can back up Alexander in the middle, while Glanton can back up David on the weakside. George and Glanton bring tremendous special teams value, too. CORNERBACKS – 5 Brent Grimes Alterraun Verner Jude Adjei-Barimah Vernon Hargreaves III Josh Robinson Analysis: Grimes and Verner are slated to start outside, while Hargreaves is battling Adjei-Barimah in the slot as a nickel corner. Robinson, Hargreaves and Adjei-Barimah are also reserves outside and will see plenty of action, especially when the Bucs go with four cornerbacks in a six-DB personnel group to match up against teams like Arizona and Atlanta that will deploy four-wide receiver sets. Robinson beats out Johnthan Banks, who is still capable of playing in the NFL, but doesn’t seem to be a great fit for Mike Smith’s defense and is the odd-man-out unless Tampa Bay keeps six corners. SAFETIES – 4 Chris Conte Bradley McDougald Keith Tandy Ryan Smith Analysis: Conte and McDougald figure to start, while Tandy and Smith offer ball skills and the ability to play cornerback in a pinch, too. Tampa Bay may end up keeping five safeties due to the five- and six-defensive back groupings they’ll have on the field this year in Mike Smith’s defense, although Adjei-Barimah played safety in college. If the Bucs keep a fifth pure safety it may be Major Wright if they want a veteran, or rookie Elijah Shumate if they want a younger, developmental-type. SPECIAL TEAMS – 3 K Roberto Aguayo P Jacob Schum LS Andrew DiPaola Analysis: Aguayo, a second-round pick, upgrades Tampa Bay’s kicking game, while DiPaola enters a contract year as the team’s veteran long snapper. Veteran Bryan Anger and holdover Jake Schum will battle in preseason for the right to be the punter and the holder. The guess here is that Schum rises to the occasion and wins the job. PUP/IR LIST LG J.R. Sweezy WR Louis Murphy G Caleb Benenoch Analysis: Sweezy has missed all of the offseason work and training camp with a back injury, and flew to California to see a specialist this week, which is concerning. Murphy suffered a torn ACL late October last year and is on the road to recovery, but has missed all of camp. Benenoch suffered a foot injury during the first week of camp and will be out for some time. He missed a lot of the OTAs, too, which has him behind in learning the offense. Sweezy, Murphy and Benenoch are candidates to start the season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, but would be out for the first six weeks of the season. The Bucs could also place one of them on injured reserve with a designation to return after eight weeks like they did with Dotson last year.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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 protected]
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