PewterReport.com began a new offseason feature recently, giving readers an opportunity to get their questions answered by the PR staff. Today, Scott Reynolds 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.
Last week’s winner was JPGarv.
Question 1. Scott Rairigh asks, which 2-3 UFA signings are you excited about?
Answer: I can’t say I am excited about any undrafted free agent, but there are a couple interesting prospects. First of all there is nothing official until the Bucs send out a press release saying they players have signed their deals. Each year there are a couple players linked to teams who have verbally agreed over the phone to sign with an NFL team, only to get a better offer and change their minds. But two that are a little intriguing to me are Cassanova McKinzy a linebacker from Auburn and tackle Taylor Fallin from Memphis.
McKinzy is a big linebacker, 6-1,248, and would most likely have never been brought in if Lovie Smith were still in charge, based on his size alone. Scouting reports say he can struggle in coverage at times, but is very physical and sheds blocks impressively. Plus he is a thumper. Jason Licht said at one point during his press conferences that the Bucs needed to improve their linebacker depth, and McKinzy showed enough flashes at Auburn that the Bucs think he could impress enough to make the team. Mike Smith is looking for a bigger more stout defense, and it appears and McKinzy certainly fits that bill.
Fallin is another big guy at 6-6, 330-pounds. He is a monster of a man and I was little surprised his name wasn’t called late Saturday based on his size alone. The Bucs were excited to land him and the good news for the team, and Fallin, is he won’t be pressured to do anything but get better and become a developmental player for the team. The Bucs appear stacked at the tackle position, but having him come in and learn from a veteran like Gosder Cherilus and Joe Hawley, will benefit the three-year starter from Memphis.
Question 2. Pickett971 asks, do you believe not taking a defensive tackle could have bad implications late in the season depth wise?
Answer: If you are the Bucs you hope not. Right now, on paper at least, it looks a little thin, but the Bucs aren’t too far down the waiver priority list after winning just six games, so there could be some guys become available moving forward that could come in and provide good depth behind Gerald McCoy, Akeem Spence and Clinton McDonald. It will be interesting to see how Mike Smith sets his defensive line, particularly on passing downs and remember Will Gholston could move down to a tackle position at times. But as stated, this roster will have a couple more defensive tackles on it when the 53-man roster is revealed following the preseason I am convinced.
Question 3. Junioraumanac asks, do you think that Peyton Barber will make the team?
Answer: He could, as the Bucs are limited behind Doug Martin and Charles Sims. Mike James returns and we saw him a little more involved during the team’s first mini-camp last week. Barber is interesting as he was basically a one-year wonder. I personally wonder who his advisors were that decided he should leave school after just one season as a featured back. He doesn’t have elite speed, but from why we’ve been told he is a guy that runs tough, has good vision and has a second gear to accelerate through the hole. But he doesn’t have that third gear to take it to the house. I think Barber will battle James for a roster spot and of course much will be determined by how many backs the Bucs keep and how much he can contribute on special teams.
Question 4. Douglas O’Connor asks, IMO the Bucs don’t have an NFL caliber starting S. Can you argue for, how, and why DB Ryan Smith could be our new starting S?
Answer: I disagree they don’t have starting caliber safeties, and obviously the team does as well, as there were a number of very good prospects at that position available when the team selected Roberto Aguayo in the second round. Now I am not saying the Bucs have Pro Bowl caliber safeties on the roster, but I really want to see what they are able to do in Mike Smith’s defense as opposed to the last regime. I think this is a huge year for Bradley McDougald. he had big expectations on him coming into 2015 and whether it was coaching or the player – or a combination of both – the expectations weren’t met. And I thought Conte played pretty well despite not being put in a great position last season. The scheme should be more aggressive which means the safeties will have an opportunity to play more aggressively as well, as opposed to playing a deep zone often like they did last season. And the Bucs like Ryan Smith at safety, at least to begin with. He played two seasons of safety in college so he is familiar with the position, and Tampa Bay thinks he has the right size and mentality to translate it to the NFL.
Question 5. Tehoriginator asks, which team(s) did the Bucs believe were poised to take Aguayo before pick 74?
Answer: I have no idea really. But obviously Tampa Bay felt they couldn’t wait another several picks to take him. In their mind they have another Jason Hanson, a 15-year starter that you don’t have to worry about. He is a given, and the team won’t go through another season like last year where they brought in Kyle Brindza late in the preseason, only to watch him melt down early in the season, and then have to bring in Connor Barth to salvage the rest of the season at that position. I was told over the weekend by a source that Aguayo was the best kicker they have ever scouted in their many years of scouting. Now you can argue even if that is the case it is still a kicker, but as Scott Reynolds pointed out over the weekend, there are many reasons why it makes more sense than initially thought when the selection was made last Friday night.