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. FORMER BUCS DRAFT PICKS FOSTER, CLAYBORN NOT EXPECTED BACK IN 2015
Coming off a disappointing 2-14 campaign in 2014, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have plenty of needs to address during the offseason. At the top of the list is quarterback, as neither free agent import Josh McCown nor Mike Glennon, a third-round pick in 2013, proved to the answer.
The Bucs are expected to select either Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota or Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. PewterReport.com has Winston going to the Bucs in the first round of its initial 2015 mock draft.
Tampa Bay also needs a starting offensive tackle to replace Anthony Collins, who will be cut this offseason, and play opposite Demar Dotson, who is capable of playing left or right tackle. Tampa Bay also needs a starting guard to unseat first-year starter Patrick Omameh and play opposite Logan Mankins.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tampa Bay will need a new starting nickel back, a new starting safety to replace Dashon Goldson, who is expected to be released this offseason, and likely more bodies at the defensive end position as the team is contemplating taking a cap hit and releasing Michael Johnson.
Another starting defensive end, Adrian Clayborn, is not expected to be re-signed this year, in addition to middle linebacker Mason Foster, who is also expected to be let go in free agency. So add two more positions that will need to find new starters in 2015.
New Bucs Starters Needed In 2015
QB – replacing Josh McCown
OT – replacing Anthony Collins
G – replacing Patrick Omameh
LDE – replacing Adrian Clayborn
RDE – replacing Michael Johnson
MLB – replacing Mason Foster
NCB – replacing Leonard Johnson
FS – replacing Dashon Goldson
Clayborn, Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in 2011, has missed virtually all of two of the last three seasons due to injury. After a solid rookie season when he notched a career-high 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles, Clayborn missed 13 games the next season due to a torn ACL in 2012, but rebounded in 2013 with a career-high 64 tackles with 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. But entering his contract year, Clayborn tore his biceps in the 2014 season opener and wound up on injured reserve again.
The Bucs did not pick up Clayborn’s fifth-year option prior to last year, and he will hit free agency with just 109 career tackles, 13 sacks and five forced fumbles with four years under his belt. Tampa Bay wants a faster, quicker edge rusher in the vein of Jacquies Smith, who recorded 6.5 sacks, which ranked second on the team, in his first year in the NFL.
Clayborn is a physical, try-hard defensive end, but is not the quick-twitch athlete the Bucs are looking for in the Tampa 2 scheme. The fact that he didn’t get a chance to play in more than one game for the Buccaneers this year didn’t give the team the best chance to evaluate Clayborn, and the fact that he has only been healthy for one out of the past three seasons concerns the team.
Foster’s first year in the Lovie Smith-Jason Licht regime was limited to just 10 games with 62 tackles and no takeaways as Tampa Bay’s third-round pick in 2011 suffered a dislocated shoulder and later a strained Achilles. Foster recorded 343 tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his four years with the Buccaneers, but Tampa Bay is looking for a faster athlete with in the middle of the defense with better coverage ability and the range to go sideline-to-sideline and make plays.
With Danny Lansanah making a lot of plays last year, the Bucs have their strongside linebacker, so Foster isn’t really a fit there, either. Foster’s best season came in 2013 when he posted 92 tackles, three interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, and two sacks, and that’s the film his agent will have to use to help him find a new team in free agency.
While Tampa Bay’s offensive line needs two starters, and the second round seems like an ideal spot to grab one, the Bucs defense is also in need of starters, and the middle linebacker and defensive end positions aren’t particularly deep this year with the type of athletes the Bucs are looking for. Finding a consistent edge rusher and a quarterback for the defense are just as vital as finding a starting guard and tackle, so expect the Bucs to give early consideration to the defensive side of the ball after drafting a quarterback in the first round.
Two defensive ends that do fit into the mold of what the Bucs are looking for are Utah defensive end Nate Orchard and Missouri defensive end Markus Golden. Both had a great week at the Senior Bowl and have drawn some interest from Tampa Bay.
After having just 6.5 sacks prior to 2014, Orchard had 18.5 sacks last year, which ranked second in the FBS, in addition to 21 tackles for loss, 84 tackles, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. In his four years at Utah, Orchard has notched 186 tackles, 25 sacks, 38.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes defensed, eight forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries.
Orchard headed to the Senior Bowl as a third- or fourth-round pick, but has likely elevated his stock up to the second round because he’s been virtually unblockable in Mobile, Ala. – and he showed great awareness in Thursday’s practice by intercepting a pass. The same could be said for Golden, who has also helped himself at the Senior Bowl, although 40-yard dash times at both players’ pro days and the NFL Scouting Combine will also play a role in determining which round they will ultimately be slated for.
Despite not being a starter until 2014 and biding his time behind Kony Ealy and Michael Sam, Golden recorded 6.5 sacks, an interception returned 70 yards for a touchdown, a forced fumble, 13 tackles for loss and 55 tackles in 2013 as a reserve pass rusher. In his first season as a starter for the Tigers, Golden had 10 sacks, 78 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and one fumble return for a touchdown against Florida.
While Orchard and Golden could be considered fringe second-rounders at this point, UCLA middle linebacker Eric Kendricks is a bona fide second-round pick – and he could carry a first-round grade on some teams’ draft boards. The 6-foot, 230-pound Kendricks won the 2014 Butkus Award and the Lott Trophy, as he became the Bruins’ all-time leading tackler with 481 tackles. The first-team All-American led the FBS with 101 solo tackles and was in the top 10 nationally with 149 stops in 2014, in addition to 11.5 tackles.
As a senior, Kendricks also had four sacks, three interceptions, including one against Virginia in the season opener, and a forced fumble. Kendricks ended his Bruins career in style in a win against Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl, recording 10 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks, which were a career high.
Kendricks’ teammate at UCLA, safety Anthony Jefferson, spoke glowingly about the player regarded as the best linebacker in college football this week at the Senior Bowl.
“He’s one of those guys that inspires you by the way he plays football,” Jefferson said. “He would never come off the field. He could have a broken arm and I don’t think he would leave the game. He’s a tremendous athlete and a tremendous person, and guys definitely looked up to him.
“He’s an outstanding player. Any team that picks him is going to have a phenomenal linebacker. He’s a sideline-to-sideline player. Size doesn’t really matter when you are as fast as he is.”
Whether it’s a pass rusher like Orchard or Golden, or a middle linebacker like Kendricks, don’t be surprised if the Buccaneers buck conventional wisdom and draft defense in the second round instead of filling a hole on the offensive line, which is what most expect Tampa Bay to do with its second pick. Of course what the Bucs are able to accomplish in free agency will play a huge role in dictating which direction Tampa Bay heads in the draft, but don’t be surprised if it’s defense in the second round.
FAB 2. DEEP DRAFT FOR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN BENEFITS BUCCANEERS
The biggest weakness in Tampa Bay last year was the offensive line, which largely failed in pass protection, evidenced by surrendering 52 sacks and only producing 85.9 yards per game on the ground, which ranked 29th in the NFL. The team has decided that Demar Dotson is a keeper at left or right tackle, and that guard Logan Mankins will thrive in 2015 with a better left tackle next to him – be it Dotson or someone other than Anthony Collins.
Mankins is thought of as a starter moving forward in 2015, as is free agent import Evan Dietrich-Smith, who played decent, but not great last year. The team views Dietrich-Smith is a player with some upside to his game and feels that he can play better than he did in 2014.
With those three pieces in place, the Bucs will need to find a starting right guard and an offensive tackle – either left or right because Dotson can play on both sides. With conventional wisdom suggesting that Tampa Bay will draft a quarterback with the first overall pick, likely Florida State’s Jameis Winston because he is regarded as the best prospect, the Bucs could find those two starting linemen in rounds 2-7 provided they don’t address those needs in free agency.
There were several interesting offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl that could help the Buccaneers, in addition to others, including some underclassmen, that didn’t take part in the game. With a pretty deep draft at both offensive tackle and guard, there is a chance Tampa Bay can find some starting-caliber linemen in the middle and late rounds, too.
Iowa’s Brandon Scherff, Stanford’s Andrus Peat, LSU’s La’el Collins and Miami’s Ereck Flowers are expected to be first-round tackles. Pittsburgh’s T.J. Clemmings was thought to be in that class, but his stock has plummeted due to a poor showing at the Senior Bowl where he was manhandled by Utah defensive end Nate Orchard all week.
In the second round, Florida State’s versatile Cameron Erving would be a great fit, especially if the Buccaneers draft Winston, who was Erving’s teammate. Ty Sambrailo is a player capable of playing either tackle or guard positions, and has some versatility. He’ll need to hit the weight room in the NFL, but is tough enough and athletic enough to go in the second round. He intrigues the Bucs.
Utah’s Jeremiah Poutasi and Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi are considered to be third-round options, and Penn State junior Donovan Smith, who played in the Senior Bowl, is capable of playing either left or right tackle. He’s a big, physical tackle with good feet and is a great finisher. He’s the one player that really stood out to me that I have to go back and do more film work on. Smith is slated to be a fourth-round pick.
Oklahoma left tackle Tyrus Thompson is a developmental tackle that held his own against Baylor’s Shawn Oakman this year, and is an option in the sixth round.
At the guard position, no prospect carries a first-round grade. South Carolina’s A.J. Cann is believed to be the top-rated guard and is viewed as a second-round pick. Florida State’s Tre Jackson is a beast of a man at 6-foot-4, 323 pounds and really helped himself at the Senior Bowl. He solidified his second-round ground in Mobile, Ala.
The Bucs aren’t high on Alabama’s Arie Kouandijo, or Florida State’s Josue Matias, but Louisville’s John Miller or Duke’s Laken Tomlinson could be options in the third round. I love Arizona State’s Jamil Douglas and he performed well enough at the Senior Bowl to be considered in the third or fourth round.
Hobart’s scrappy Ali Marpet proved he could play at the Senior Bowl and is a fifth-round option, while Miami’s Jon Feliciano is a possibility in the seventh round.
A quick look at the depth chart for the final four playoff teams shows that effective offensive lines don’t necessarily have to built from first- and second-round picks, although that’s the path that Seattle has chosen, and to a degree, Indianapolis. New England’s line is comprised of players acquired from all parts of the draft, while Green Bay’s line is made up of mostly middle-round selections.
Seattle’s Offensive Line
LT Russell Okung – first round
LG James Carpenter – first round
C Max Unger – second round
RG J.R. Sweezy – seventh round
RT Justin Britt – second round
New England’s Offensive Line
LT Nate Solder – first round
LG Dan Connolly – undrafted free agent
C Bryan Stork – fourth round
RG Ryan Wendell – undrafted free agent
RT Sebastian Vollmer – second round
Indianapolis’ Offensive Line
LT Anthony Castonzo – first round
LG Jack Mewhort – second round
C Khaled Holmes – fourth round
RG Donald Thomas – sixth round
RT Godsder Cherilus – first round
Green Bay’s Offensive Line
LT David Bakhtiari – fourth round
LG Josh Sitton – fourth round
C Corey Linsley – fifth round
RG T.J. Lang – fourth round
RT Bryan Bulaga – first round
The Bucs have two undrafted free agents in Dotson and Dietrich-Smith, and a former first-rounder in Mankins. While a second-rounder like Erving, Sambrailo or Jackson would help, drafting another lineman or two in the fourth and fifth rounds, such as Douglas and Thompson, would allow the Bucs to get a starting-caliber blocker in the middle rounds while using the second- and third-round picks to address the defense or get a skilled receiver-return specialist.
FAB 3. BUCS FALL FOR SMALL RECEIVERS AT SENIOR BOWL IN A BIG WAY
Finding a big, towering wide receiver used to be the trend in the NFL, evidenced by the great play of Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas – all of whom are 6-foot-3 or taller. That trend is still valid to a degree, evidenced by Tampa Bay’s selection of wide receiver Mike Evans, who is 6-foot-5 and weighs 230 pounds, in last year’s draft.
But the success of smaller receivers, such as Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown lately, and Baltimore’s Steve Smith, Washington’s DeSean Jackson and New England’s Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman over the years, has opened the door for smaller receivers entering the NFL. Three small receivers that stood tall at the Senior Bowl were Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett, who is 5-foot-9.5 and 181 pounds, Duke’s Jamison Crowder, who is 5-foot-8, 174 pounds, and East Carolina’s Justin Hardy, who is 5-foot-10, 190 pounds.
Lockett was an All-Big 12 performer all four years at Kansas State where he became the Wildcats’ all-time leader in receptions (249), receiving yards (3,710) and receiving touchdowns (29). The two-time All-American had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and caught 106 passes for 1,515 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2014, while leading the nation in punt returns with a 19-yard average and two touchdowns. Lockett is one of the best return specialists and also has two kick returns for TDs in his outstanding career.
Lockett showed the ability to create separation with incredible route running as well as speed, and showed toughness in performing well against bigger cornerbacks like the ones he’ll face in the NFL. Crowder was equally impressive in Mobile, Ala.
Like Lockett, Crowder is quick and shifty, and can hurt teams as a receiver or in the return game. He averaged 21 yards per kick return as a freshman, and averaged 16 yards per punt return and scored two touchdowns as a junior.
As a receiver, Crowder had a better season statistically in 2013, catching 108 passes for 1,360 yards and eight touchdowns, but his senior season in which he caught 85 balls for 1,044 yards and six scores was nothing to sneeze at. Crowder finished his Duke career with 18 100-yard games against the likes of Stanford, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Clemson and Miami, in which he caught eight passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, including a 99-yarder, in 2012.
I’ve been a huge fan of Hardy’s all year and have written about him in previous editions of SR’s Fab 5. I will admit that I was taken aback by his smaller-than-expected frame when I got the chance to meet him at the Senior Bowl. I think that makes his accomplishments all the more impressive as Hardy became the FBS’ all-time leading receiver this year with 387 catches for 4,541 yards and 35 touchdowns, thanks to a 121-catch, 1,494-yard, 10-touchdown senior season for the Pirates.
Hardy has excellent hands, sneaky speed, great leaping skills that make him a red zone threat, and the ability to return punts. Hardy, a smooth receiver, and Lockett could be second- or third-round picks, while Crowder figures to be a third- or fourth-round selection.
The Bucs appeared to be enamored by all three in Mobile, and are in need of a speedy receiver to work the middle of the field in the slot to serve in the Harry Douglas role in Dirk Koetter’s offense, especially with two 6-foot-5 giants on the outside in Evans and Vincent Jackson. The fact that each of the them bringing the ability to be a return specialist – with Lockett doing it the best – also adds tremendous value to their draft stock to Tampa Bay.
FAB 4. FACING RAHEEM’S UNEXPECTED WRATH
It was November 1, 2010, and I received a phone call from one upset Bucs head coach in Raheem Morris. Tampa Bay had rallied to beat Arizona in the desert, 38-35, the day before on Halloween and the upstart Bucs had started the season 5-3. But Morris was furious – apparently with me.
I was sitting in my apartment on Monday night when the phone rang. Morris’ name and number came up on my caller I.D. and I answered right away. Here’s a paraphrasing of what I recall Morris saying.
“Scott? What’s up, man? Hey why would you do that? Why would you put that (expletive) (expletive) up on your site, man? What the (expletive) is wrong with you?”
I was immediately caught off guard and more than a little flustered. I began to wonder what the heck I had written about Morris or the Bucs that would have ticked Morris off so bad? I couldn’t think of anything, so I quickly turned on my laptop and searched PewterReport.com for anything that could have Morris so upset.
“That’s not cool, Scott. I’m (expletive) pissed and not sure why you would put that up. That doesn’t help us, man. It makes me look (expletive) bad.”
Completely flabbergasted, I asked Morris, “Coach, what did I put up that has you so pissed?”
“The (expletive) video, man!” Morris replied.
Not having video capabilities on our website, I knew that Morris had called the wrong person.
“Raheem, we don’t have any video on PewterReport.com,” I offered.
“What? Is this Scott Reynolds? Hey, Scott! What’s up man?” Morris said as his tone changed immediately and he began to laugh. Instantly, Morris went from full throttle anger to completely jovial and funny, realizing he had a case of mistaken identity.
“(Expletive), man! Wrong Scott! I meant to call Scott Smith and hit the wrong Scott on my phone! My bad!”
I said it was no big deal and he quickly hung up. I’m assuming he called the czar of Buccaneers.com and had a chat with Smith. I quickly logged on to Buccaneers.com and saw a post-game celebratory locker room video where Morris addressed his players after the Cardinals game and he asked the Bucs if they were ready to go eat some Dirty Bird as they were traveling to Atlanta the next week.
The video was harmless and it was hardly the bulletin board material Morris thought it was, but the original version was quickly pulled down from Buccaneers.com after I viewed it, and I guess it was edited and re-uploaded. I certainly hope Smith didn’t catch the profanity-laced tirade that I did from Morris because he didn’t do anything wrong. Morris just overacted, but we shared a good laugh about it the next time I saw him at One Buccaneer Place.
Probably the most interesting phone call I’ve ever had with a Bucs official in my 20 years of covering the team. But it wasn’t my most interesting encounter.
That was definitely the time a furious Monte Kiffin called me into his office on a Friday afternoon in 2001 and read me the riot act. That’s next week’s story.
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• With middle linebacker Mason Foster and defensive end Adrian Clayborn not slated to return to Tampa Bay, along with disappointing defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, the Bucs’ 2011 draft class will be fully decimated – unless reserve tight end Luke Stocker, a fourth-round pick in ’11, gets re-signed. Clayborn was the team’s first-rounder in 2011, while Bowers and Foster were second- and third-round picks, respectively.
If Stocker doesn’t return, the only player left from any draft class beyond 2012 would be Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, which is a damning indictment on why the Buccaneers haven’t been competitive over the last decade. Dennis Hickey, the Bucs former director of college scouting and player personnel before being hired as Miami’s general manager, was in charge of drafting of many of those players, as was former general manager Mark Dominik.
Tampa Bay’s 2012 draft class has already taken a hit with the trading of strong safety Mark Barron, who has not lived up to his first-round billing, to St. Louis, and the underwhelming performance of running back Doug Martin over the past two seasons. If Martin is traded this offseason, which is a possibility, the only leftovers from the 2012 draft will be Lavonte David, a second-round pick, and backup safety Keith Tandy, the team’s sixth-rounder that year.
Poor drafting over the years is what essentially forced the Buccaneers to dive into the free agent pool last offseason because there was not a strong foundation on the roster of quality starters and backups.
• The Buccaneers interviewed Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton at the Senior Bowl. Shelton has had a great week of practice and has solidified his stock as a first-round pick. So with Tampa Bay likely using the first overall pick on a quarterback, why would they interview a 6-foot-1, 343-pound nose guard? Because Shelton is quick and agile enough to play in a 4-3 scheme like the Bucs’ in addition to playing a 3-4 nose guard. He is clearly the most talented player at this year’s Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Tampa Bay has to look at all of its options in the 2015 NFL Draft, including trading down if a team like Philadelphia comes calling with a bounty of draft picks over the next two years that the Bucs can’t refuse. Even though they will likely spend its first-round pick on a quarterback this year, Tampa Bay is doing its due diligence and evaluating every first-round prospect in this year’s draft, including the powerful Shelton.
• I’ve been hyping the play of FCS running backs Zach Zenner from South Dakota State and John Crockett from North Dakota State – both of whom were at the East-West Shrine Game last week and could be late-round picks for the Buccaneers. But the best of the FCS rushers is clearly Northern Iowa’s David Johnson, who won the honor of Outstanding Performance Running Back award at the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
What’s not to love about Johnson? I wrote this about him last month in a previous SR’s Fab 5.
“After rushing for 1,286 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior, Johnson rushed for a career-high 1,553 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2014. The big, bruising running back amassed 15 100-yard games over the past two years and he’s done it against some FBS level teams. In a season-opening 28-20 upset over Iowa State in 2013, Johnson rushed for 199 yards and three touchdowns, including an 80-yarder.”
“In this year’s 31-23 season-opening loss at Iowa, Johnson was held to 34 yards on 13 carries, but he did catch five passes for 203 yards, including a 53-yarder, a 60-yarder and a 70-yard touchdown. Johnson, who is an excellent receiver with 76 catches for 929 yards and six touchdowns over the past two years, is extremely fast for a big back and has four career runs over 50 yards, including two over 70.”
While Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah will likely be drafted higher in the second round, Johnson proved to be just as good in Mobile, Ala. Johnson’s small-school background, combined with the fact that there are a lot of quality rushers in this year’s draft, will likely knock his draft stock down, though. In talking with NFL scouts, Johnson rates as a fifth-round pick, while Zenner carries a sixth-round grade and Crockett is a seventh-rounder. The Bucs have some interest in all three, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to see one of them in red and pewter next year.
• Following the Senior Bowl, the Buccaneers will likely turn their attention towards the salary cap and creating some cap room. Releasing the likes of defensive end Michael Johnson, offensive tackle Anthony Collins and free safety Dashon Goldson would create millions of dollars worth of salary cap room, In addition to signing new free agents to fill some holes on the roster, Tampa Bay’s first priority will be to lock up Pro Bowl alternate linebacker Lavonte David, who has been the team’s leading tackler for the last three years and is entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2015.
It’s unclear how much David will be asking for or how much the Bucs will be willing to pay, but it seems like a contract for Patrick Willis or K.J. Wright would be a good place to start. Willis earns an average of $10 million per year in his latest contract, which was a five-year, $50 million deal he signed in 2010 that included a $15.5 million signing bonus and $20.3 million in guaranteed money.
David won’t get that much as he has yet to make the Pro Bowl and Willis was a two-time Pro Bowler when he signed his deal. And the Bucs will likely give him a deal flush with guaranteed money instead.
Wright has yet to make the Pro Bowl, but has been a starter for both of Seattle’s Super Bowl teams over the past two seasons. He signed a four-year, $27-million extension in December that featured $5 million in guaranteed money and a $5 million signing bonus. Look for David’s new deal to ultimately fall somewhere between the Wright and Willis contracts.
• After swinging and missing on so many free agents in 2014, Tampa Bay will shift its approach in free agency this year. The Bucs will be looking for more role players like nose tackle Clinton McDonald, rather than the break-the-bank free agents like defensive end Michael Johnson, quarterback Josh McCown and left tackle Anthony Collins signed last year.
High-priced free agents that are available because other teams have allowed them to hit free agency rarely work out because if those players were truly great teams wouldn’t let them go and they wouldn’t hit the open market. The Bucs have signed so many players through the years that have been overpaid and have underperformed, including Johnson, McCown, wide receivers Alvin Harper and Bert Emanuel, offensive linemen Derrick Deese, Todd Steussie and Collins, free safety Dashon Goldson cornerback Eric Wright and running backs Derrick Ward and Charlie Garner over the years – among others.
The free agents that typically pan out are the players that are only let go due to salary cap reasons, such as defensive end Mario Williams, wide receivers Golden Tate, Steve Smith and Vincent Jackson. If a player, such as Detroit’s defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, hits free agency because the Lions can no longer afford him, he could become a player that Tampa Bay targets. Otherwise the Bucs will go for more unheralded “value” free agents rather than the high-priced targets the team has opted for in years past.
• And finally, PewterReport.com will unveil its second edition of the 2015 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft on Monday. Be sure to start off next week right with a visit to PewterReport.com, Bucs fans.
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]
The news that the Bucs are changing philosophy on signing free agents is very welcome. For too long we have ranked last in personnel decisions. You have covered the lack of success in the draft for the last several years and you reiterated in this article how woeful we have been in signing free agents. All of this lack of success has spanned many GM’s and HC’s. It begs the question that with the leadership changing so often, what is the common denominator? Are our leaders listening to the same scouts and just getting bad information? What has changed since last year’s draft that can give us hope for success this year?
I think the Law of Averages is the only thing that will help us. We are due for some good picks after so many failures…the penny only can come up tails so many times in a row and then it will be heads!
Work on your optimism Buctebow, that is pretty lame!
Oh shut up!
Oh yeah? Die like Kenny!
I would like to draft Cameron Erving and Jamil Douglas, I also like Perryman MLB from Miami, but well see how it plays out. Jamil Douglas reminds me of the cardinals guard who is also from ASU Paul Fanaika who is good but not all pro guard who will solidify that position for yrs
I never liked Adrian Clayborne since we drafted him I thought his arms were short, he relied to much on a bull rush move and only had 3 sacks in his senior yr at Iowa, I thought at best he woruld be a Greg Spires talent and thats not good enough. The players I loved that yr were Aldon Smith From Mizzou and Ryan Kerrigan from Purdue, but yet again we are just out of reach of these players and I get the privaledge of watching them have success elsewhere, but hey I’ve watch the Bucs Draft for 30 yrs so this is something I’m use to, lol
It’s interesting, that one excellent year of drafting and picking up the right free agents can turn a franchise around. I do think we have to look at the scouting staff with quite a bit of suspicion based on the history of failed picks. You would think that tape on players against just their top level team and individual based competition would tell the story of how they will translate to the NFL, instead of overall stats, potentially inflated by games played against weaker opponents.
There are a lot of players on the “New Bucs Starters” list that we have complained about for a long time. I hope they do make the wholesale changes indicated as likely to happen (by PR).
Great read SR! I agree on all points made, except of course any reference to Winston being our 1st overall pick due to the Glazers, but that pretty much goes without saying at this point.
Fab 1: Besides M. Johnson who I want to give one more year at RDE, I’m in favor of all those moves. I’m even in favor of not taking an O-lineman in the 2nd round if there is a better player available.
Fab 2: I completely agree that this is a deep draft for O-linemen. I also like the data on where the top 4 teams this year drafted their O-linemen.
Fab 3: I find all these guys to be pretty exciting. Nothing wrong with short WR’s. T.Y. Hilton is another name that comes to mind.
Fab 4: That’s pretty (expletive) funny!
Fab 5: More great info. Much appreciated!
Pinkstob- I would like to say we don’t need to take o-line in the second but man we have the worst o-line in history and we are deseperate for a LT or RT which ever you want to play opposite Dotson and can ill afford to wait till the 3rd to take a potential starting tackle esp when you can possibly grab an Irving or D. Smith from Penn St on board, you MUST take one unless you want O Cousins there again for another yr? My heart can’t take seeing that again.
I respectfully submit that we need not two, but three starters on the OL. Our line was so historically bad that I don’t think two new starters are enough. Only Dotson should be safe. Hoping that EDS and Mankins somehow get better (after getting a year older) is a pipe dream. At the very minimum, we need real competition for those two.
You may be right. Our line ranks last in the NFL according to “Football Outsiders.” But, if you want one tackle, center, right guard and Mankins at left guard, that is 4 players. With all of our other needs I don’t think we can hope for that. I would be happy with two new starters at guard and tackle.
I don’t think the Bucs are giving Doug Martin, mike Glennon, Adrian Clayborn, or mason foster a fair chance. We could keep all of these guys for very cheap and they would provide solid depth while we draft young guys to develop and be the “fast twitch rusher” we seem to need (by the way Aldon smith ran a 4.8 40time- that’s not speed). Drafting rookies isn’t going to solve our problems..it takes rookies about 3yrs to physically develop (there’s a difference between a 21yr old and a 28yr old) not to mention the mental transition from college to pros. Foster isn’t going to get more than 2mil/yr so I’d try him out for 1-2more years b/c our next option is Dane fletcher. Clayborn provides quality DE depth for rotation w/ smith+Johnson+gholston and even PR has described his play in the past as “dreads on fire”- he’s ferocious and will make our Oline tougher in practice. Glennon should start next year while we retool the offensive scheme/o-line/and develop a rookie QB. McCown has just made us look plain bad, he looks like an amateur….I’ve never seen plays like that out of Glennon. Say what you want but Glennon protects the football, has an absolute rocket arm, football iq+ a masters degree, and hasn’t ever shyed away from stepping into a throw and taking a hit the way McCown does
Deznuts, thank you for having reason. Why are we cutting every player now just bc? I get clayborn isn’t a “fast twitch” athlete and all that, but he’s physical and has a non stop motor and would provide great depth to our dl. if we’re gonna cu. Clayborn, do it after we have better player. This is why we don’t have depth. ClaYborn can play in this league and imo needs to be resigned to a prove it deal. But it’s just one man’s opinion.
Winston is NOT as good a qb as M.M. will be now or in the future.Besides Winston seems to find trouble so I guess Scott must want to hang with him.He always throws out his buddies name
Winston IS better than mariotta now, and to say other wise puts you in the minority. Then claiming he’s scotts buddy. Are you mariottas buddy?
Winston is better at playing from under center than Mariota. That makes scouts comfortable which is why many of them rank Winston higher. Mariota can throw from the pocket, outside the pocket, on the run and he can just plain run. Giving an OC all those options makes Mariota the better overall QB now in my book. Some people don’t know that Mariota played under center in high school. It won’t take him long to get back in the swing of things before his Pro Day. The first 8 games or so I’ve been saying it will take Mariota to be the full package will be learning to read NFL defenses from under center. I think it will take Winston that long to learn he can’t throw into every tight window in the NFL (17 INT’s last season). I don’t think either of them will reach their potential until about Week 8 and at that point Mariota is the better QB going forward because of the abilities I stated at the beginning.
Thing is pink you can’t base how good someone is by their interception total. Andrew luck throws a ton of picks this year. 18 I believe, and manning had 16. Doesn’t make them bad qbs, just take chances to make plays. I just don’t think Lovie can wait out an 0-8 start waiting for mariotta. I could be very wrong here though.
Luck also threw 40 TDs….how many did WINSTON throw….you see it’s about the ratio….
Hello Scott-This is your old time fan of the bucs George Hicks. You are doing a great job.Scott right now-Tampa has 8 picks. Maybe they trade the b/up qb for a 2 . Then I would my 2 main needs after the qb. I hope with the Offensive Cord and a new qb coach.GET THE QB IN RD-1 That they want regardless of baggiage on Winston. I SAY GO FOR IT. I will be getting ready for a 6 day cruise when the draft is taking place.I’d hope the bucs hit it right on all the draft and Free Agents.GO BUCS
I have another comment about NFL Players.Remember fans these players come out of college and all the teams pay them big money.If they don’t produce the players moved on. I’d also like the young players that have done a great job. Tampa will do very well this year in the draft. DON’T TRADE DOWN IN RD-1. BUT IF TEAMS WANTS TO TRADE UP IN RD-2 &3 AND WANT TO GIVE A BUNCH OF DRAFT CHOICES BE MY GUEST. NOT THE NUMBER ONE PICK.PLEASE TAMPA IAM 69 YRS YOUNG I WANT TO SEE TAMPA BACK IN THE PLAYOFFS THIS YEAR GO BUCS.
This organization has to improve as over the years our drafts have been POOR. We continue to let players go that are not great but are not bad players and could be used as backups. We will never have depth on this team if we continue to let average players go looking for a diamond. Need to build depth then look for the diamonds in the ruff. Foster and Clayborne are good insurance as a backup for the right price. IMHO I would trade Martin and Glennon, a 4th for Martin and a third for Glennon and move up and get some O-Line help. We could trade those two and not hurt the team at all. Sims could take over for Martin and the new QB makes Glennon expendable for a draft choice. I could also see us going after Suh and the D Would be a top ten D overnight. I just hope L&L can improve our drafts that has dragged this team down for the last ten plus years.
I tend to agree, expect for the part about trading Martin or going after Suh. I’d rather see us go after Patrick Willis with our FA money. He’s very likely to be a FA giving his +$10 million due him this season, his injury history, his age and the fact they love Borland, the guy that played in his spot last year. We need a fast, smart, tough leader like Willis at MLB in our Tampa 2 more than we need another starting DT. McDonald is a fine Tampa 2 NT and we could get Willis on the cheap.
Agree Pink, I have liked Willis from back in college. Would not mind getting him if available. I believe they are going to try and upgrade the Mike either from the draft or FA. I suggested trading Martin for a draft pick so we could possibly upgrade our O-Line and he is the only RB that would fetch a draft pick and we could use a bigger RB on the team that could be found in the back end of the draft. Martin is going to start his fourth year so it would be a good time to move on from a player that has not produced since his rookie year.
OK, who’s the wise guy that put this on the Bucs website? Did the Glazers approve this..this..propaganda? Inquiring minds want to know!!lol.
Ha that’s pretty funny. I wonder if they will do other prospects? It is very interesting that’s it’s on there.
Side note. There’s a rumor out there that say’s our new QB coach Bajakian, may be getting cold feet. He’s accepted the job, but hasn’t signed a contract yet. The rumor suggests that he is still interested in the Central Michigan HC job.
I get this stuff from the Interwebs so put no faith in it until you hear it from the Bucs officially.
I like this guy! Please not Chip Kelly all over again!
Unfounded rumor. Go back to sleep! Bajakian is a committed Buc! Damned Internet!!
Interestong but a pie I’m the sky article. Look closely at the breakdown of the four teams OLs 7 of 8 tackles are first or second round picks. 4 of 8 guards are in first 4 rounds and 3 of 4 centers are in top four rounds. There are 2 UDFAs between the 4 teams and 2 of the 3 starters you mentioned for the Bucs are UDFAs. And we have two more positions to fill. Your logic of filling them with late round picks is ludicrous. That is what Lovie has done in the past,how many times has he had a QB survive the entire year? You list 2 DE and 1 MLB you want to draft in the 2/3 rounds. Which means you start drafting OL in round 4. Oops,you listed 3 receivers you like,and you list them as 2-4 rounders, so now we are into round 5 looking for starting tackles and guards.Why waste a pick on a QB in round 1, without an offensive line he can’t pass and we can’t run. This sounds like a solid plan to BUILD a team. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Good Article Scott. I’m still in limbo as to what we address first. We obviously are in an excellent position to fill 2-3 needs; after the 3rd round who knows who will be a surprise and help the team.
Point is the first pick has to be qb period. In a position to have the first overall pick and two options, you don’t pass. If glennon was the future he would’ve been starting last year.
Then oline with pick two, hopefully can is there. Round three could be a lineman as well or our linebacker.
I’m with most of you above in that if you can keep some of these guys for cheap and have good depth, why get rid of them? Deoth has always been a problem and you know you can probably get mason and Claibourne for cheap. This team has a good bit of needs.
Nice Fab 5 Scott. Those three smallish receivers were impressive. But I can do without the background rap music(?) Classless phone call by Raheem Morris regardless of who was to be the intended recipient. A locker room celebration after a victory isn’t what made you look bad Rah. As for the Draft, I will always be a proponent of selecting the best player (hopefully at a position of need) over targeting a specific position in a given round. Needs can change. Be nice if we could find a late round gem once in a while. Never been a fan of over-paying in free agency.
Whomever they select for Q.B., they’d be wise to take Cam Irving at the top of the second. Talk about pro ready. Quarterbacks hate pressure up the middle, and Irving is as solid as can be. This kid will be a pro bowl center for sure, and probably a left tackle as well. He’d be our best O lineman day one.
I know everyone is thinking QB at #1 but I implore the PR society to watch film on OT B.Scherff. This guy is incredible, sure-pick. He can hang clean 450lbs x3…you can’t teach or train for upper body strength like that- AND he’s got some serious speed. He looks like JJ Watt except as an OT..extremely physical and plays through injury. I’d recommend taking him with our #1 based on the fact that MM and JM don’t have the talent level of previous #1 QB’s…I’d liken them to the Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers draft (2004?) instead of clear cut super elite guys like Luck and Manning. Also some FA to look at- OLB Sean Weatherspoon, DE JPP, S S.Brown/N.Allen, OG D.Jospeph/M. Iupati
Only problem with waiting on a qb is that, players like luck come out once in about 29 or 30 years. And maybe never again. We need a qb terribly and Winston is luck with some attitude.
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Here’s a video of Winston working on that release. So much for the Byron Leftwich comparison. He’s made it much quicker now. I had troubles getting into the site a couple of times but it’s good to see this kid giving his all to erase the little mechanical issues he has from baseball.
The site is getting worked on so sorry if you guys can’t view that link occasionally. It is interesting to note how far he dropped the ball when he threw in college.
Seems he’s nat patting the ball either. It’s all about not resorting back to bad habits when the bullets fly. I’ve looked for mariotta training vids but haven’t seen any yet. I believe he is working at the manning academy.
It’s amazing how badly the Bucs have drafted. Barron didn’t have the feet to be an above average corner coming out of college. He was bad in space then and still is. C. Simms was a waste of a 3rd rounder this year. He played in a spread offense with wide open holes. He doesn’t hit holes like he needs to in the nfl. He’s not heavy when he gets hit. In the prose you have to be able to run thru tackles.
I go back to the drafting of A. Benn when golden Tate was still on the board. They were taking potential over production. Just a few examples of bad decisions on early picks that will kill a franchise.
Remember that guy Micheal Bennett? He’s pretty damn good. Not worth 5 mil… ? Yes please on getting some one competent at getting and keeping talent on this team.
I was disappointed that they drafted Clay born instead of Cameron Jordan, who has made several Pro Bowls for the Saints.
Scott,if Mizzou is so damn awesome at grooming DEs,why in the world have we not brought in Mike Sam as he was one of the most talented.If it’s the gay thing,Lovie needs to shelve his religious views and predujudices and do what’s best for the team.The guy can play at a high level and is walking the streets due to his sexual orientation.That is so asinine imo.What your thoughts and can you add insight to this mystery.
SCOTT!!! What the (expletive) took so long to start telling great stories like that! Can’t wait to hear the Monte….keep em coming!!
Sam is NOT “one of the most talented”. He was considered a fringe prospect BEFORE he came out. He isn’t very athletic, isn’t very strong or fast. He IS a hard working, relentless type of rusher tho. He will never be a star but he MIGHT be able to be a decent backup DE.
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