SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:
FAB 1. BUCS SHOULD TRADE DOWN IN SECOND ROUND, STOCKPILE PICKS
Armed with the number one overall draft pick and needing a franchise quarterback, Tampa Bay just can’t afford to trade down and stockpile draft picks in the first round. Former Bucs general manager Mark Dominik made that point to me when I interviewed him at the 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
“You have to say, ‘I really don’t want a franchise quarterback right now’ [to make that trade],” Dominik said. “That’s a hard thing to say, especially if you need one.”
Instead, the Buccaneers, who have multiple holes to fill on their roster, will have to seek more picks by dealing some of their own players – possibly quarterback Mike Glennon, who could be in demand with a weak free agent and draft class at the position, and running back Doug Martin – or by trading down in rounds after the first round.
With Tampa Bay having the second pick in the second round, which is the 34th overall selection, the Bucs will be poised to trade down within that round to stockpile extra draft picks in the middle and later rounds. The Bucs have several needs and there should a plethora of players available in the second round at multiple positions in this deep draft to choose from.
It is expected that UCLA junior quarterback Brett Hundley, who is regarded as the third-best quarterback after Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, will dazzle at Combine with his speed and athleticism and up his draft stock to that of a second-rounder. Most of the NFL scouts and talent evaluators PewterReport.com has talked to this offseason have Hundley rated as a fifth-round pick because he will need time to develop his progression skills, pocket awareness and improve his accuracy.
If there is one position that typically gets “over-drafted” each year it’s the quarterback position. Looking back, Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel both had great weeks at the Senior Bowl in 2011 and 2013, respectively, and upped their stock from third-round prospects to that of the first round because of the overwhelming need at the QB position across the league. The Bucs could benefit from increased interest in Hundley in the second round, and find a trading partner with a team that wants him – or another player that happens to fall out of the first round.
According to the widely used NFL Draft trade chart, the 34th overall pick has a point value of 560. That means that a team that needs a quarterback and that drafts in the middle of the second round, such as Houston, which picks 48th overall, or Buffalo, which has the 51st overall pick, could pursue a trade with Tampa Bay if Hundley is still on the clock. The Texans’ 48th overall selection is worth 420 points, while the Bills’ 51st overall pick is worth 390 points.
Consummating a trade with Houston for Tampa Bay’s second-rounder could net the Bucs the Texans’ second-rounder (420 points), and picks in the fourth (64 points) and fifth rounds (32.6 points), according to the NFL Draft trade chart. Or the Bucs could pitch in their fifth-rounder (42 points) and ask for the Texans’ second-round pick and their third-rounder (190 points).
Buffalo could surrender their second-round pick (380 points) and their third-rounder (175 points) for Tampa Bay’s second-round selection without the Bucs having to give up any other picks, according to the values listed on the NFL Draft trade chart. Keep in mind that the NFL Draft trade chart is just a guideline, and there are no rules that state that teams must adhere to the chart. There’s a chance a bidding war erupts with several quarterback-needy teams for Hundley if his stock rises at the Combine, and the price could be even higher, which would greatly benefit Tampa Bay.
Here is a look at the pool of players – grouped by position – that could be there either at the top of the second round – or down through the round – that the Bucs could be interested in.
POSSIBLE ROUND 2 TARGETS FOR TAMPA BAY OFFENSIVE LINE: After drafting a quarterback in the first round, the Bucs’ second-most pressing need is fortifying their offensive line, needing starters at right guard and right tackle – if Demar Dotson’s move to left tackle is a permanent one.
OT La’el Collins – A left tackle at LSU, Collins’ NFL future may be at right tackle or at guard. He’s a feisty competitor who shined during the Senior Bowl, but could slip to Round 2.
OT Cameron Erving – He has the talent to play left tackle, right tackle or center in the NFL. Erving is a strong, athletic player with great versatility and may slide out of the first round.
OT Ty Sambrailo – A left tackle at Colorado State, Sambrailo is a right tackle or a guard in the pros. Sambrailo is tough, smart and a good technician and an underrated athlete.
G Tre Jackson – A three-year starter at Florida State, Jackson is a dominant, run-blocking guard that has good feet in pass protection and the athleticism to block downfield.
G A.J. Cann – Cann is a smart, athletic technician that was equally adept at run blocking and pass protection at South Carolina. He is vying to be the first guard drafted.
G Laken Tomlinson – A big, square-bodied guard with a mean streak and tenacity. The Duke star really upped his stock at the Senior Bowl with a strong showed.
RUNNING BACKS: While the Bucs will likely spend a Day 3 pick on a running back, the team desperately needs to upgrade its rushing attack and could surprise everyone and take a talented halfback earlier than most would expect. Tampa Bay did that a year ago with the drafting of Charles Sims in the third round.
RB Todd Gurley – Gurley is coming off a torn ACL, and if this mega-talented Georgia back somehow slides into the second round he’s simply too good to pass up.
RB Ameer Abdullah – The Nebraska star was the Senior Bowl MVP and is a gifted runner and receiver with tremendous acceleration, vision and surprising toughness.
RB Jay Ajayi – Ajayi displayed incredible balance, strength and speed at Boise State and has seen his stock shoot up draft boards as teams dive into his game film.
RB Tevin Coleman – The Indiana stud used brute strength, physicality and breakaway speed to rush for over 2,000 yards despite being a marked man on offense.
Wide Receivers: Tampa Bay has two tall targets in Vincent Jackson and rookie sensation Mike Evans, but needs to add some speed and home run-hitting ability to the offense. The Bucs are looking for a slot receiver, and one that can double as a return specialist.
WR Nelson Agholor – Agholor, a Tampa native, returned four punts for TDs at USC and averaged over 1,000 yards and nine receiving TDs per season the last two years.
WR Tyler Lockett – Kansas State’s all-time leading receiver led the nation with a 19.4-yard punt return average and used his speed for a total of four return TDs in college.
WR Phillip Dorsett – Quite possibly the fastest player in the draft, the Miami star averaged 24 yards per catch and scored 10 TDs in 2014, and has limited return ability.
WR Jamison Crowder – The fast and shifty Crowder produced three 1,000-yard receiving seasons and returned four punts for touchdowns at Duke.
DEFENSIVE LINE: There isn’t a lot of great talent along the defensive line in the second round, but there are a couple of prospects that could help Tampa Bay’s pass rush.
DE Nate Orchard – The Utah product was second in the nation with 18.5 sacks and had a great Senior Bowl week, showing speed, agility and tenacity coming off the edge.
DT Carl Davis – Iowa’s big, hard-charging defensive tackle boosted his stock with a strong week at the Senior Bowl and is equally tough against the run and the pass.
MIDDLE LINEBACKERS: Tampa Bay needs to find a starting middle linebacker to replace Mason Foster, and the new quarterback of the defense could be found in the second round this year.
LB Eric Kendricks – The UCLA Butkus Award winner is a playmaking beast with the ability to drop in coverage, rush the passer, pursue sideline-to-sideline and create takeaways.
LB Paul Dawson – Dawson showed he could do it all at TCU by racking up sacks, interceptions and tackles for the aggressive Horned Frogs defense.
LB Denzel Perryman – The strong, hard-hitting, compactly-built Perryman continued the strong middle linebacker play at Miami and displayed great leadership.
NICKEL CORNERBACKS: While the Bucs could find a starting nickel cornerback in the later rounds, there are a few premier playmakers that will be available in the second round.
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – A former first-round pick before an ACL tear in December, Oregon’s Ekpre-Olomu is a fierce tackler and a fantastic ballhawk that can dominate the slot.
CB D’Joun Smith – The scrappy Florida Atlantic star is more quick than fast, but has tremendous ball skills and a competitive nature for battling wide receivers for passes.
SAFETIES: With the potential departure of overpaid Dashon Goldson, the Bucs could have a huge need at safety and might fill it in the draft by finding a starter to replace him.
FS Cody Prewitt – The big Ole Miss star is a stud run defender in the box, but has surprising range in coverage, evidenced by 24 pass breakups and nine INTs.
That’s 22 players that I have in a second-round draft pool for the Buccaneers – nearly an entire round’s worth of prospects. I know that Tampa Bay likes most of these players, while some are projections I’ve made based upon these players’ skill sets and the Bucs’ needs. Almost all of these 22 potential second-round picks seem capable of starting in the NFL as rookies, and with so many holes to fill on Tampa Bay’s roster, the Bucs could benefit greatly by trading down into the second round and acquiring more draft picks.
The value in this deep draft for Tampa Bay is in the second, third and fourth rounds where there is plenty of talent. By trading down in the second round and parting ways with a player or two – such as Glennon and/or Martin – via trade, it is possible that the Bucs could come away with their own first-round pick, another team’s second-rounder, as many as three third-round selections and a fourth-round pick or two entering Day 3 of the draft. That could represent as many as six or seven potential starters in 2015 as the Bucs have needs at eight identifiable positions, including quarterback, right tackle, right guard, middle linebacker, defensive end, nickel cornerback, slot receiver and return specialist.
For those Bucs fans that want to see their team trade down in the first round and stockpile picks, the second round will likely be the round to do it. That way, Tampa Bay can still get its franchise quarterback – likely Winston – as well as addressing several needs with additional draft picks in the early and middle rounds.
FAB 2. FOR MARIOTA TO HAVE SUCCESS IN TAMPA, BUCS WOULD NEED TO RUN SPREAD OFFENSE
While in Mobile, Ala. for the 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl I ran into a former Buccaneers scout that I had known for years. He understood the need for Tampa Bay to draft a quarterback and thought – like most do – that Florida State’s Jameis Winston is head and shoulders above Oregon’s Marcus Mariota in terms of development as a pocket passer and being more ready to play after having operated a pro style offense for two years. He said it wasn’t even close between the two quarterbacks, and I had heard that before from several other NFL scouts and talent evaluators.
He told me that Mariota’s lack of anticipation on this throws and accuracy when throwing from the pocket were a big concern in the NFL, in addition to his ability to go through progressions, as well as make the necessary audibles and checks at the line of scrimmage instead of turning to the sidelines to look at Oregon’s cards. But the scout told me that he thought Mariota could succeed in the NFL if the team that selects him – aside from Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles – changes their scheme and commits to running a spread-type system that he ran at Oregon.
The scout said that the accommodations Carolina’s prior offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski made for Cam Newton as a rookie in 2011, and those that San Francisco’s play-caller, Greg Roman, made for Colin Kapernick that same year eased those players’ transition into the pros because those NFL teams incorporated some of what those quarterbacks were familiar with in terms of the spread offense at their respective colleges at Auburn and Nevada, respectively. The scout pointed to Vince Young’s NFL career and his downward spiral in 2010 as a great example.
While with Tennessee, Young was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowl quarterback in 2006, in addition to becoming a Pro Bowler in 2009. But after falling out of favor with Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, who preferred Kerry Collins at quarterback and transitioned the offense towards that of a pocket passer style, Young could no longer operate in a system that wasn’t tailored for his skill set, which involved some of the quarterback run game, and play-action rollouts.
After bouncing around the league in Philadelphia, Buffalo, Green Bay and Cleveland from 2011-14 and never finding the right fit for his skills, Young retired from the NFL last offseason and returned to Texas, his alma mater, to serve in the school’s division of diversity and community engagement. At age 31, Young’s days in the NFL are over.
“What happens is that one of those young, mobile quarterbacks has success running something that resembles what they did in college for a year or two, then these NFL offensive coordinators want to start throwing the ball [all the time],” the scout said. “It takes away what guys like Vince Young and [Colin] Kaepernick do best and eventually ruins them. They try to make these guys pocket passers, especially when one of them gets hurt scrambling, like RGIII (Robert Griffin III) did, and they’re not. Look what’s happening to him and Kaepernick to a degree.”
The scout said if the Buccaneers want a pocket passer then they should draft Winston. If Tampa Bay wants to commit to running a spread-style offense then it should draft Mariota. It’s really that simple, according to the scout.
I agree. The Bucs should not draft Mariota and try to convert him into a pocket passer. He’s just not that type of quarterback, and hasn’t shown the ability to consistently throw into tight windows. According to NFL talent evaluators I’ve spoken with, that type of anticipation and accuracy is more of an innate trait than it is a teachable skill.
You either have it or you don’t. Personally, I don’t think Mariota has it, and there are other skeptics out there that agree with me.
Despite the fact that new Bucs quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian was the offensive coordinator at Central Michigan (2007-09), Cincinnati (2010-12) and Tennessee (2013-14) under Butch Jones and ran a version of the spread offense, it wasn’t the same as the offense Mariota ran at Oregon. And Bajakian won’t be calling plays in Tampa Bay. That’s offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s job, and he’s never run the spread offense before.
Despite the attempts by some to connect Koetter to the spread offense, his tenure at Oregon ended in 1997 – 12 years before Kelly brought the spread to the Ducks program. While Koetter and current Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich coached together for nearly a decade at Boise State and Arizona State, Koetter has only run a pro-style offense and developed pocket passers over his career.
Without the Bucs switching to the spread offense, and it doesn’t look like that will happen with Koetter at the helm, drafting Mariota just doesn’t make sense. Especially when there is an exceptional pocket passer in Winston to select with the first overall pick.
Without getting into specifics during his post-season press conference on December 29, Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said his new offensive coordinator, which turned out to be Koetter, will run a balanced attack and even mentioned the spread as a possibility.
“First off: of course I’m going to give him specific things that I want him to do,” Smith said. “Do you want to know those specific things? We want to have balance and we want a productive offense. That’s a pretty wide variety, direction of range on what we want to do. Contrary to public opinion, for some, I don’t want to run the ball out of a 100 play game, I don’t want to run it 99 times from there, and we just want balance.
“I’m keeping all options open, from spread looks to – again, I just want to be able to run and pass the football when we need to and when we want to. It’s kind of as simple as that and as we mold this Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense together, it’s not like I’m going to be over the guy’s shoulder saying ‘Hey, do this or do that.’ I’ve given offensive coordinators that I’ve had a lot of full range to implement their system.”
Koetter’s system will likely resemble what he ran in Atlanta over the years with Matt Ryan handing off to Steven Jackson and Devonta Freeman and throwing the ball to Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez.
Smith went on to point out some of the negatives associated with the spread offense, especially running it at the NFL level where defenders are bigger and faster and scrambling quarterbacks like RGIII have shown a tendency to get hurt.
“I think it’s a good offense, but with every good offense there are some negatives I guess you would say [and one of those] is about protecting the quarterback,” Smith said. “On the other side of the ball, when you’re playing read-option teams, eventually most read-option quarterbacks get hurt I think, so you want to try to protect your quarterback as much as possible, but to occasionally have a couple of those [plays] in your offensive attack is a must nowadays.”
To Smith’s point, Winston is athletic and mobile enough to run a couple of quarterback draws and keepers to surprise defenses. He’s not the statue in the pocket that current Bucs backup Mike Glennon is.
While most NFL scouts and talent evaluators believe Mariota would take a couple of years to develop if a team wanted him to transition into a pocket passer capable of taking snaps under center, reading defenses and making calls at the line of scrimmage and quickly going through progressions in the passing game, Smith and general manager Jason Licht don’t have the time to develop him. Coming off a 2-14 season – and with Glennon not showing the ability to be a winning starting quarterback in the NFL, evidenced by his 4-14 record over the past two years – Smith and Licht don’t have the luxury of going through a 4-12 season in 2015 while their first-round pick develops behind the scenes in practice, but not on Sundays. If they took that approach, there could be a coaching and front office change in 2016 after two dismal seasons at the helm, and Smith and Licht could simply be drafting and developing Mariota for the next regime.
The Bucs would have to incorporate the spread offense for Mariota to quickly transition to the NFL and play as a rookie, and given Smith’s opinion on protecting the quarterback and the hiring of Koetter as the team’s offensive coordinator, it doesn’t look like that would happen. It makes the most sense for Tampa Bay to draft a pocket passer like Winston with the first overall pick instead.
FAB 3. ESCAPABILITY A CONCERN FOR MOBILE QBs THAT AREN’T COMFORTABLE IN THE POCKET
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and UCLA’s Brett Hundley are two of the most athletic and mobile quarterbacks in the 2015 NFL Draft. Mariota is considered to be a top 10 prospect, while Hundley’s stock could actually rise into the second round with a good showing at the NFL Scouting Combine and at his pro day at UCLA because it’s a weak QB class. Both quarterbacks are expected to dazzle with their speed and athleticism in Indianapolis on Saturday, as times under 4.7 are expected in the 40-yard dash.
But for all of their speed and mobility, Mariota and Hundley – both products of spread offenses in the Pac-12 that featured a ton of high-percentage throws and the quarterback run game – those two quarterbacks took a lot of sacks in 2014 compared to the two top-rated pocket passers in Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Baylor’s Bryce Petty. There is a huge difference between having the mobility to escape and and actually escaping the pocket.
That’s why NFL scouts are so concerned with Mariota and Hundley’s ability to transition from a spread-type offense to becoming pocket passers in a pro-style offense in the NFL. Despite having blazing speed and rushing yards and touchdowns galore, both Mariota and Hundley don’t have great pocket presence or awareness, and take more sacks than they should.
Mariota took an eye-opening 31 sacks, which was a career high, on 486 passing plays last year. That’s a sack on every 15.7 drop backs. He had taken just 18 sacks on 404 passing plays as a sophomore in 2013 and 17 on 353 passing plays as a redshirt freshman. Oregon’s offensive line did suffer some injuries in 2014, including some minor injuries to left tackle Jake Fisher and center Hroniss Grasu, both of whom are mid-round draft prospects this year.
Yet the feeling among NFL scouts and talent evaluators is that a three-year starter like Mariota should be more experienced as a junior and find a way to take fewer sacks by throwing the ball away more often or having more awareness in the pocket. That didn’t happen last year.
Hundley has even less pocket presence than Mariota does. Less capable of going through his progressions than the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, Hundley often looks to run when his primary receiver is covered and doesn’t have the patience – or the ability – to quickly scan the field and work through his progressions in the passing game. That’s why some NFL scouts have a fifth- or sixth-round grade on him and feel he will be over-drafted.
As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Hundley was sacked an astounding 52 times on 531 passing plays, an average of nearly one sack for every 10 drop backs. He showed significant improvement as a sophomore, getting sacked just 35 times on 444 passing plays, but Hundley was more indecisive as junior, getting sacked 38 times despite dropping back to throw only 407 times.
Petty, who is battling Hundley for the right to be the third quarterback selected in the 2015 NFL Draft behind Winston and Mariota, was only sacked 24 times on 472 passing plays last year. That’s an average of one sack every 19.7 drop backs. As a junior, Petty was sacked just 18 times on 411 passing plays.
Winston proved to be much harder to sack in college. While he played behind a more talented offensive line than the other three quarterbacks, Winston did get sacked 27 times as a redshirt freshman on 411 pass plays en route to winning the Heisman Trophy and the BCS Championship in 2013. Yet he showed tremendous improvement as a sophomore last year, taking just 17 sacks on 484 pass plays, which is an average of one sack for every 28.5 drop backs.
Winston and Petty won’t come close to beating the 40-yard dash times of Mariota and Hundley at the NFL Scouting Combine. But avoiding sacks is much more than just being fast and athletic.
Having a pocket presence and the awareness to avoid the rush is about making quick decisions, knowing where the check downs are and having a quick enough release to dump the ball off to dodge a sack. The ability to process information quickly and move around inside the pocket by stepping up in the pocket or sidestepping the rush is actually more important than being able to run a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash.
Former Bucs quarterback and current NFL analyst for ESPN Trent Dilfer ran the Elite 11 QB Camp in 2011 when Winston was a highly-touted high school senior. At the time, Dilfer praised the 18-year old Winston’s intelligence and ability to process information, proclaiming it to be superior to the other quarterbacks in attendance. He told Winston that NFL defenses are quite good at containing athletic passers at the pro level, and forcing those scrambling quarterbacks to beat teams with their arm.
“When you are playing on Sundays, which I really believe you will if you want to, it’s going to come down to a third-and-7 in the fourth quarter, down by four – and they are going to keep you in the pocket,” Dilfer told Winston. “They are not going to let you be fast and quick and all that. And that’s going to be a mistake because you are going to beat them here (points to his head), and that’s what I’m most impressed with.”
Like Dilfer, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock is a big believer in quarterbacks winning games from the pocket, and that’s why he has Winston rated ahead of Mariota.
“Most quarterbacks come out of the spread now, and they’re projections, like Marcus Mariota,” Mayock said. “I love so much about Mariota, but he is a projection. I’m much more comfortable projecting Winston, even with the interceptions, because he was a pocket guy at Florida State. And his ability to win games in the second half is mind-boggling.”
Mariota and Hundley may indeed generate substantial buzz for their athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine, but that won’t help them as much on Sundays when it’s third-and-7 and both defensive ends are playing contain and the middle linebacker is applying pressure by blitzing through the “A” gap. That’s where Mariota and Hundley will hurt themselves – and their future teams – if they don’t take steps necessary to develop better pocket presence and learn how to go through their progressions in the pocket to get rid of the ball quickly at the next level. But that’s not going to happen overnight due to the spread offenses they were in at Oregon and UCLA, respectively.
Unfortunately for impatient NFL teams, developing those skills is going take some time, as Tennessee is seeing with Jake Locker, Washington is finding out with Robert Griffin III and Cleveland is experiencing with Johnny Manziel. That’s why teams that draft Mariota and Hundley need to be patient with their quarterbacks and not rush them into the starting lineup – or incorporate some elements of the spread offense that they’ll be comfortable with. Being patient is easier to do with a quarterback like Hundley, who could go in the second or third round, as opposed to Mariota, who figures to be a top 10 pick, as there will be more pressure on the first-round pick to play sooner.
FAB 4. RHETT’S AIRPLANE HI-JINX IN 1996
To celebrate my 20 years of covering the Buccaneers I’m going to share with you some of the behind-the-scenes encounters I’ve had over the last two decades. These stories will appear in the first 20 SR’s Fab 5 columns of 2015, which encompasses much of the offseason.
Last week I detailed some shenanigans involving former Bucs running back Errict Rhett and his pet Rottweiler. I’m going to finish up my trip down memory lane with Rhett with a couple of his hi-jinx on the team-chartered plane. In 1996, I had the good fortune of traveling on the team plane with the players and coaches, seeing a unique side of the Buccaneers, including Rhett, as they traveled to away games.
Rhett got a few laughs at the expense of rookie defensive end Marcus Jones, the team’s first-round pick in 1996. Jones was deathly afraid of flying, and after Rhett’s holdout ended and he rejoined the team he quickly found that out.
Rhett happened to be sitting behind Jones on the flight and once the plane left the ground, Jones started to tremble and sweating profusely. Once the flight made it’s first turn and hit the slightest bit of turbulence just minutes after taking off, Rhett started pounding on Jones’ seat and yelled, ‘We’re going down! We’re all going to die!’ That caused Jones to assume the crash position, yell and freak out, much to Rhett’s amusement as he began to laugh hysterically along with some of his Buccaneers teammates. Rhett was a jokester and he was determined to get a laugh – even at another’s expense.
But Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks got the last laugh at Rhett’s expense later during the 1996 season. The two players made a bet on the Florida-Florida State game that was held on the day Tampa Bay traveled to Carolina to play the Panthers. The Gators were undefeated and ranked first in the nation, while the undefeated Seminoles ranked second.
The nature of the bet was that the loser of the bet had to stop, drop and do 20 push-ups at the victor’s whim. When the score was announced on the plane intercom near the end of the flight that the Seminoles had won, 24-21, in Tallahassee, the plane erupted and Brooks yelled out to Rhett to do his push-ups.
Rhett ignored the pilot’s request to stay seated with the seatbelt on. He got down in the aisle of the plane, much to the flight attendants’ chagrin, and did 20 push-ups as Brooks and most of the Buccaneers roared with laughter.
After the Panthers destroyed the Bucs, 24-0, in a rain-soaked game in Carolina the next day to clinch the franchise’s first playoff berth, I went up to Rhett to talk to him after the game in the locker room. Rhett finished the game with 68 yards on 18 carries (3.7 avg.).
When I approached him, Rhett looked at me shook his head.
“Man, we sucked today,” Rhett said.
“This had to be a rough weekend for you with the Gators losing to the Seminoles and then the Bucs losing,” I said.
Rhett looked at me and muttered, “You have no idea.”
He then proceeded to tell me that all throughout the night, Brooks called his hotel room phone and demanded he do push-ups. In the middle of the night, before the wake-up call, at breakfast, on the bus to the stadium, and during the pre-game warm-ups Rhett was told to do 20 push-ups each time due to the Seminoles winning and him losing the bet.
“Man, my arms are so sore today,” Rhett told me. “I must have done a thousand push-ups since yesterday thanks to Brooks!”
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• Much has been made about the amount of interceptions Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown this year (18) compared to how few picks Oregon’s Marcus Mariota has tossed (four). NFL Network’s Mike Mayock told MMQB’s Peter King this week that he’s “scared to death of Jameis Winston off the field, and I’m scared to death of how many interceptions he throws. He threw seven interceptions against Louisville and Florida, and could have been 12 or 13 if the other teams could catch the ball.”
But what about fumbles – the other kind of turnover? Of the top four quarterbacks in the 2015 NFL Draft, Winston is the best with only 13 fumbles over the past two seasons with four resulting in turnovers. Baylor’s Bryce Petty is next with the fewest fumbles in his career with 13 – five of which resulted in actual turnovers. Twelve of Petty’s 13 fumbles happened over the past two years when he was a full-time starter.
Mariota is next with a hefty 27 fumbles in three years, an average of nine per season. He had nine as a redshirt freshman with five lost to the other teams, 11 as a sophomore with three ending up as turnovers, but reduced the number to seven in 2014 with three resulting in turnovers.
Hundley is even worse with an astounding 29 fumbles in three years. He had 11 fumbles as a redshirt freshman, losing three, seven fumbles with no turnovers as a sophomore in 2013 and 11 more fumbles as a junior with seven resulting in turnovers.
• If you want a strong indication that the Buccaneers are going to use their first-round pick on a quarterback, consider that since 1998, the first overall pick in the draft has been used on a quarterback 12 times. That’s by far the most of any position and proof that the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. Three defensive ends and two offensive tackles have also been selected first overall since 1998.
• The last four quarterbacks selected with the first overall pick – Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck (2012), Carolina’s Cam Newton (2011), St. Louis’ Sam Bradford (2010) and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford (2009) – have been opening day starters as rookies.
• The NFL Scouting Combine could set the stage for the Buccaneers signing linebacker Lavonte David to a contract extension. With a great deal of agents descending on Indianapolis over the weekend with their draft prospects, NFL general managers split time between interviewing those wanna-be pro players and talking with agents about free agency. In addition to some tampering, agents will try to get their existing clients who are entering contract years new deals.
Mitch Frankel, David’s agent, is in Indianapolis and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a meeting scheduled with general manager Jason Licht regarding extending the star linebacker, who was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2014. David will likely command between $7-8 million per season based on the fact that he’s a more talented linebacker than Seattle’s K.J. Wright, who signed an extension worth an average of $6.75 million per season last December.
• Stay tuned to PewterReport.com next Wednesday for our third edition of the 2015 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft following the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.
• I wanted to give a big thank you to celebrity Bucs fan Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys for his time to do a 30-minute interview a few weeks ago. I did a two-part story on Carter, who is an avid PewterReport.com fan, that talked about how the Buccaneers actually helped start his Backstreet Boys career and how he would like to see Tampa Bay draft quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick this year. It was great getting to know Carter, who was very cool and extremely down to earth. You don’t even have to be a fan of the Backstreet Boys or pop music to appreciate what Buccaneers football means to this Tampa Bay area native. If you haven’t read the stories yet, I encourage you to do so. Both have been very popular reads this week on PewterReport.com.
• And finally, I also wanted to thank the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization for recognizing my 20 years of covering the team with a framed Pewter Report Bucs jersey that was given to me last month. I was surprised and a bit speechless when presented with that gracious gift. As the creator of the name Pewter Report, which came about in 2002 as we transitioned away from Buccaneer Magazine, receiving the Pewter Report Bucs jersey with the No. 20 on it was a tremendous gesture and one that I greatly appreciate.
Covering the Buccaneers and providing insight and inside scoop to all of you fans and serving you as a direct conduit to the team is a responsibility that I greatly enjoy and one I take very seriously. This Pewter Report Bucs No. 20 jersey hangs in my home as a constant reminder of how blessed I am to have each and every one of you visit the website regularly, loyally read my SR’s Fab 5 columns and choose PewterReport.com as a primary source of news and analysis on the Buccaneers. By you visiting PewterReport.com and patronizing our advertisers and sponsors, and the Buccaneers recognizing PewterReport.com as one of the leading sources of Bucs news, I have been provided with a long-standing career that has supported my family for two decades. Thank you.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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