Missouri DE Charles Harris - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs fans and SR’s Fab 5 readers sound off on their opinions on Bucs general manager Jason Licht and Tampa Bay’s draft needs Koetter, in addition to tight end Cameron Brate and left tackle Donovan Smith. What does PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds have to say? Find out right here.
Welcome to another installment of SR’s Fab 5 Reaction where each week I take the time to answer your questions and respond to your comments from the previous week’s SR’s Fab 5 column. Due to time constraints from my responsibilities as publisher, I am unable to respond to every reader comment each week, but I do read every one of them.
Comments have only been edited for clarity and grammar. Now on to your comments.
Topics in last week’s SR’s Fab 5 include: Brate Becoming A Force For Bucs Offense; Bucs Need Another Edge Rusher In 2017; Chalk One Up For Gottschalk; Bucs Scrambling For Big Plays
Good Fab 5!
Fab 1. I would have to rate Cameron Brate great. Maybe he can grate on other defenses. Don’t want to orate or berate Brate. I think his play is animated and pretty good. I believe that he will agitate KC.
Fab 2. Back in the day it was the addition of Simeon Rice that made the Bucs a feared defense. Yes, I am onboard with adding another defensive end. Rice was the second-best free agent ever for the Bucs. Hardy Nickerson was the No. 1 signing. If we don’t sign a defensive end, sign someone else on the line – offense or defense. I don’t care. Just build up the lines. I know, broken record.
Fab. 3. You can say you practice the scramble, but it’s all Jameis Winston when it happens. I don’t want to see a steady diet of those plays, but it’s cool when they work. Last week’s scramble against Chicago was epic.
Fab 4. Ben Gottschalk seems to be a big, corn-fed kind of guy. Not a bad thing. – chetthevette
Thank you, chetthevette. I agree that Simeon Rice was a huge free agent signing for Tampa Bay. Noah Spence is developing into a good pass rusher for the Bucs, but they need more than just one guy coming off the edge. I believe Tampa Bay will draft another defensive end early next year. You can never have enough good pass rushers. – SR
Scott, I think that Jason Licht did a good job of recognizing that Cameron Brate had potential, but if they thought he was that good they never would have cut him in the first place. What has made Brate was Brate himself. I’ll grant Licht an assist but Brate was the guy that got the goal (to steal a hockey term). It was Brate’s willingness to work in the weight room, learn the playbook and take every rep he could with Jameis Winston that got him the starting tight end job.
Bucs GM Jason Licht & Director of College Scouting Mike Biehl – Photo by: Eric Dellaratta/PR
This next draft is going to be the one that if we hit the right combination of picks can propel this team to the next level in my opinion. Right now I see our top four needs as defensive line, offensive tackle, wide receiver and safety, and people could make a strong case for another cornerback. That’s too many holes to plug in the draft and free agency is mostly a crapshoot.
You can’t have stars at every position, so the question is in what order do you fill those needs knowing that the lower you go the less likely you are to get a starter let alone an impact player? We tried to shore up the safety position a few years back by a guy that even John Lynch said was a ‘can’t miss’ player in Mark Barron, and he basically busted out with us. Do we do what some fans recommend and move Donovan Smith over to right tackle and attempt to draft a left tackle knowing that in 2013, three left tackles were taken in the first 5 picks and none of which has had the success you would expect for someone taken that high?
Should we do what Atlanta did back a few years ago when Roddy White was still considered a No. 1 wide receiver and pick another guy that can basically be another No. 1 wide receiver so that teams will have nightmares about who to cover?
Or do we what others have talked about and draft a fast defensive end to go along the defensive line and hope that he’s not another Gaines Adams? In short, every need we have has a recent example of players that were thought to be ‘can’t miss’ guys that ended up missing, in some cases, badly.
Licht has done well with his drafting so far, mostly in the first round, but he’s going to have to nail both the first-rounder and second-rounder this next draft for this team to go from wannabe to contender. If you were the GM, what positions are you looking at for the first two picks next year?
Me, I know we need a wide receiver and an offensive tackle, but my first pick is probably going to be a defensive end unless three are gone before we pick and then grab that safety in the second. Otherwise I’ll reverse my selections. – nitey
That’s fair to say about Jason Licht when it came to Cameron Brate. He did cut him, but he did correct his mistake and keep him around, so he gets credit for that in my opinion. I share your opinion that this upcoming draft will be huge for the franchise. The Bucs do have a lot of needs at the positions you mentioned. I think the best possible solution is the best player available – whether it’s a safety, a receiver, a defensive end or an offensive tackle. Any of the first three positions I listed could step in and start right away. I do trust that Licht will find the right player for the Bucs in the first two rounds. – SR
Thanks for another insightful SR’s Fab 5. What I love about the Cameron Brate story is the lack of ego Jason Licht has as a general manager. There are so many GM’s in this league that would’ve kept pressuring the head coach to play Austin Seferian-Jenkins as to make sure they don’t look bad.
Yet Licht had no problem cutting ties with ASJ in favor of Brate. The Brate story is also why I’m so high on the future of the Bucs with Licht and Dirk Koetter leading the way, because it shows that the best players will play no matter how they were acquired. I think that goes a long way to locker room morale – Tassonedna
You’re welcome, Tassonedna. I think Jason Licht does have an ego, but what he doesn’t have is too much pride. He’s quick to recognize mistakes, admit mistakes and move on from mistakes. That’s key for general managers in this league and their survival. He boldly cut high-priced mistakes Josh McCown, Anthony Collins and Michael Johnson after just one year. He cut Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a second-round pick, after only two years. Both he and Dirk Koetter are committed to keeping the best 53 men on the roster and playing the best 22. – SR
As always a very insightful SR’s Fab 5 of which I thoroughly enjoy each Saturday morning. It looks like Joe Hawley will start at center this week against the Chiefs so Horse’s favorite developing center may not get another opportunity to solidify his spot on the 2017 roster. I will say being thrust into the action with hardly enough time to gather his thoughts was impressive. I saw no glaring mistakes and he seemed to hold up physically despite his relatively small stature. I don’t know if the youngster is the future starter, but he showed he could be in the conversation. Nice job, Ben Gottschalk.
TE Cameron Brate – Photo by: Getty Images
Cameron Brate is really developing into a quality tight end. This past game against the Bears showed that he could be a solid weapon in Jameis Winston’s arsenal. I suspect Brate never received much quality coaching during his time at Harvard as compared to the football factories. If that is true then his development is sure to be a rapid one with his strong work ethic and obvious smarts.
We all enjoy discussing the draft, but after the victory against the Bears at least we’re still discussing the 2016 season during the Thanksgiving holiday. While drafting pass rushers is always going to be a consideration; unless the medical staff determines that Jacquies Smith is unable to recover sufficiently, we may already have a viable candidate to return to the starting left defensive end role.
I really don’t know why folks are so critical of Donovan Smith when he has only played one and a half seasons. I’ll leave it to the Bucs staff to determine if Smith is the long-term answer or if a move from left to right to replace Demar Dotson is a consideration. I’m not ready to give up on the youngster just yet. I contend that we need to target wide receiver early in the draft to give Winston a full compliment of quality receivers who give defensive coordinators fits. We have lots of needs to fill.
Why do we always have one poster who serves as the all knowing, soothsaying critic and antagonist? For a while it was my old Tennessee friend known as BucFan 47 who repeatedly looked down his nose at us “casual fans.” From his perch on Rocky Top he believed himself to be the equal to Moses. And now we have Bucnut, who is nowhere near the level of BF47 in terms of disdain for his fellow Pewter Report readers.
Instead, he chooses to find fault with no matter what Jameis Winston does – even calling him a “bust.” Now he is able to detect the level of Jason Licht’s ego as that Kia commercial screams, “HUGE!” I suspect most NFL general managers have elevated egos; but the self-described “meathead” doesn’t strike me as a “my way” egomaniac. Consensus-taker, confidence and conviction are more likely the adjectives that would describe Jason Licht. Perhaps Scott Reynolds can give us his perception since, unlike Bucnut, has had sit down chats with our GM. – scubog
Donovan Smith has made some strides in run blocking, but he has a ways to go in pass protection. The guy will frustrate you three or four plays a game, but he does have talent. The Bucs are committed to keeping him at left tackle and having him improve. Remember, he came out of Penn State as a junior, so he’s got to some developing to do.
As for Jason Licht, I don’t think he lets his ego get in the way of doing his job. As I mentioned before, he’s not afraid to make mistakes and move on from them quickly. The worst thing you can do is hang on to a mistake. Licht is definitely a consensus-builder and relies on the opinions of other scouts and front office personnel, as well as the coaches. Like anyone in the NFL, Licht has an ego, but I would definitely classify him as a calculated risk-taker over an egomaniac. I don’t think that term applies to him at all. – SR
While I realize we are coming off a victory against the (very bad news) Bears, I have to admit to being amazed there is not more focus on the offensive line by the posters or PR. Did you see the end of the Cowboys vs. Steelers game? Ezekiel Elliott was untouched going through the middle of the line on that last TD run. That’s what a disciplined investment on the line gets you.
Plugging in a no name guy at center or guard and hoping he develops into something is not the way you build the line. It’s the way you build depth – two very different things.
Think about the next two years. We need two tackles, a center and probably a guard. If you want to build a winner for a multi-year run, heck, if you just want Jameis Winston remain upright, then we need to spend two high draft choices on the offensive line next year, and at least one the following year (along with a later round pick).
Bucs LT Donovan Smith and TE Luke Stocker – Photo by: Getty Images
Why do we need to do this? Because of Lovie Smith trashing the line and then Jason Licht failing to fix it, taking one step forward with Ali Marpet but then two steps back, reaching for Donovan Smith (maybe move him inside where his lack of mobility less of a problem?) and signing J.R. Sweezy.
Sorry, not trying to irritate people but that’s where we are. Fix it now or forever suffer the consequences. – matador
Bucs general manager Jason Licht has spent a lot of resources on the offensive line since 2014. He drafted offensive lineman Kevin Pamphile that year, and spent two second-round picks on tackle Donovan Smith and guard Ali Marpet. He’s signed two centers in Evan Smith in 2014) and Joe Hawley in 2015. He also signed left tackle Anthony Collins in 2014 and guard J.R. Sweezy in 2015 – although those two moves didn’t pan out. Licht also re-signed Demar Dotson, and signed veteran right tackle Gosder Cherlius to replace Dotson when he was injured in 2015. This year he drafted Caleb Benenoch, who could have a future at right tackle. I think Licht has certainly paid attention to the offensive line since he’s been here.
Where I would like to see Licht focus is on the defensive line. I like what Tom Coughlin did years ago with the New York Giants, and that was to draft a premier pass rusher nearly every year. Having Michael Strahan wasn’t good enough. It was drafting the likes of Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Matthias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul to keep the stable full of edge rushers. That’s how the Giants beat the Patriots in two Super Bowls. Licht needs to always be on the lookout for talented pass rushers every draft to go along with Noah Spence. – SR
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love the SR’s Fab 5 weekly post for its information and insights. I love to read various fans’ responses. So now I also must praise SR’s Fab 5 Reaction and the additional comments. Good work, Scott!
The insight on what Tom Coughlin and the Giants did is great. It is something I would never have thought about. I will chew on it for some time and then digest it.
Good day and happy Thanksgiving to all my PR friends. Hope all of you have a good day enjoying the company of family and friends. I have a big bird in the oven but will also have a side dish of crow. lol.
About 3 weeks ago when the Bucs experienced a rash of injuries at RB, based on media reports, I suggested the Bucs take a look at RB Karlos Williams from the Steelers’ practice squad. As Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said “Bad Idea”. Yesterday I learned that Williams has been suspended 10 games for another substance abuse violation. Good advice – leave the personnel decisions to the people in the organization that know more from the inside than we do (advice I probably won’t follow, but still good advice).
The good news is nobody in the FO calls me for advice. lol. But alas my friends, I’m going to have a wonderful day and will continue want the Bucs to always get better and win. This time nice try, but no cigar.
Again Happy Thanksgiving to all and Go Bucs!
You could make that argument for defensive tackle Scott, and I know you have advocating the drafting of Rankins. Whenever you mention drafting one people point to the fact we already have McCoy. So what. I say you can’t have enough on either side of the line. When you say BPA, that can only go so far also depending on need, and how much talent difference between players being considered. No rookies ever come in to put a team over the top. Licht’s going to have to hit on some F.A.’s too. The coaching staff has some future decisions to make also in regards to the draft. Do they shuffle the talent they already have on the O line? Marpet to center, Caleb, Sweezy, where do the pieces fit best? The key to our success, or failure, lies with sticking with licht, and company for more then the next two seasons. They deserve a full three seasons together.
The draft is the most important tool for developing a quality team, and Jason Licht is doing much better than average in his drafting. But even the very best draft gurus get it wrong significantly more often than they get it right. Fans tend to decide the like or dislike a particular GM, and then thereafter the dislikers point only to the draft failures, while the likers point only to the draft successes, and basically just choose to live in their respective echo chambers … much like politics, religion, social issues, etc.
The bottom line in sports, however, is the bottom line … wins vs losses. Jason Licht came to a team that was a sorry-assed loser, and has been engaged in developing it into a winner. Only time will tell. I like how this year’s team seems to be finding its way after yet another all-out fire sale and rebuild of the coaching staff, the fourth since Gruden was canned after the ’08 season. We Bucs fans are certainly long overdue for a winning franchise, but there was just so much that had to be fixed that could not be fixed in a single season, or even a couple of seasons.
The number one thing that Jason Licht has improved upon is our coaching staff – great players plus lousy coaches still equals lousy teams. They’re all his guys now, not Lovie Smith’s losing crowd. If the new coaching regime continues to work us in the right direction as we appear to be doing now, then Licht will get much of the credit … and if not, then in a year or two Licht will probably be history with the Bucs.
“Both he and Dirk Koetter are committed to keeping the best 53 men on the roster and playing the best 22.” That is usually the best option, however, seeing the end of the Raiders game with the defense completely gassed, I can’t believe those were the best 11 at that time out there at the end of the game.
I don’t believe we have to shuffle the line that much. I would keep everybody the same and continue to let Benenoch, Gottschalk grow. I think LOT Smith needs to get stronger and quicker and work even harder this off season. I know we need a DE as our top pick, then a WR, then a Safety, maybe a LB or OL after that. This is based on a limited thinking after watching our two back up OL perform. I am real excited about next season and I know we will be in the Playoffs. Go Bucs!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! Scudog, for the record, I picked the Bucs to win last week BECAUSE we had the better QB. I also posted on this site that I had Winston was AWESOME on Sunday!! I had been critical of JW’s skills, never his heart. I still think his slow release and accuracy issues are problematic. However, he has been MUCH better lately and I am hoping that trend continues. I have been a BUC fan for 25+ years and hope he is the answer. Just curious, why is my calling him a bust, any worse than others calling him a “franchise” qb? I am likely premature in calling him a bust, as are those who call him a franchise QB. The fact is it’s too early to tell on both fronts. If I am not mistaken Josh Freeman threw 25TD’s and 6 picks his second year and now he is out of the NFL. I will repeat what I have said before, JW has a HUGE heart is a GREAT leader, I am just not sold YET that he has the ALL of the tools to be an elite QB.
Why the immature name calling? Here’s the difference BN. When a QB is drafted # 1 overall it’s because the expectation is that he is projected to be the “franchise QB”. But you decided before he was even chosen that he was, in your mind, going to be a “bust”. For much of the 1-1/2 years you have focused on any perceived flaw. Now, as the youngster develops, you are leaning toward the middle. None of us know if Jameis will go the way of the once promising Josh Freeman or rise to the top of the league. But for now, Winston continues to be what this “franchise” needed desperately…………a true leader.
Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.
Scudog- not sure I did any name calling. If you thought I did, I apologize. As to Winston, I see my comments differently. In my mind, I have given him credit when he plays well and have been critical when he does not. I thought at the time and still believe now that MM will be a better pro. Having said that, I can’t undo history and so I support JW, but not blindly. I want you and everyone else on this site to know that I believe he was OUTSTANDING the past two weeks. He has looked like an elite QB. So I AM rooting for him as he is our QB!! Best,Brian
The name calling was in reference to ScuDOG instead of ScuBOG which is Go Bucs backwards. Apology accepted. There’s no reason why both MM and JW can’t be successful. My belief was that Jameis had the personality our team needed. Nothing to do with his FSU background.
Pewter report could stand to have an edit function for the comments here … more’n likely, Bucnut2 just committed a typo, which I do all the time.
I am a season tkt holder since 1976 and do believe Jamis will do well in the league but M.M. will be the better qb . His accuracy and foot speed will take him to the next level. The bucs drafted for the local crowd ,not the best qb in the draft that year.
Sunshine – only time will tell … but so far, both players have been solid additions to their teams, both are playing very well right now … statistically Winston and Mariota are nearly identical within just a few points in QBR, and both teams are enjoying a good run at the moment.
Long term, I don’t see any reason why both players won’t continue to be successes. They are different in style, just like Favre, Manning, Rodgers, Brady, Brees have very different styles. More’n one way to git’er done.
MM has trouble with throws over about 20 yards. He is better suited to a short passing offense – WC style or hybrid. Our personnel is not suited for that type of attack and who would want it anyway when Evans is having a statement year and thriving in the deep passing game.
If we keep Evans and Winston together and healthy they will terrorize the NFL for years in ways MM and his team can not based on what they have in TENN at this time.
Both Evans and Winston will be due huge contracts when the time comes. Our coaches, staff and owners have to make sure they and those players both understand they need each other and its only a matter of time before they dominate the league as the best WR-QB combination. The point is to make sure they understand that the teams who pay these huge salaries to one player rarely again rise to prominence as they skimp on the other positions. Example – Denver, tied up all that money in Miller and now their offense is a joke. NO – Brees; CAR – Newton, etc.
Football is a team game and you can not excel tying up all your money in 1-2 players.
Ron- Your mistaken about MM only being a short passer and not the deep ball go look at yds per attempt and you will see its actually higher than Winston who has struggled this yr on deep passes over 20 yds and has no elite wr like we have in Evans in fact most fans can’t name one wr on Tenn. I’m a huge fan of Mariotta in college as I have see what he can do many times over I am now a fan of Winston and know both are the future of the NFL to compare the two is like comparing Steve Young vs Favre I mean do you lose either way?
OT is a difficult position to project from college to the pros. It is a tough position to fill and there have been many bad picks at the position over the last several years around the league.
OTOH, the interior OL is not so hard to find the level of talent but often they are raw – That is OG and center. We have had huge injury problems on the interior OL this year. IMO we should take an interior OL every year, late pick to develop if nothing else. This way you are always improving your depth at those positions and that gives the raw players time to develop.
OT – That position seems to show up where you find them. Look at Donald Penn, for example. While he probably deserved getting cut here it woke him up and made him a better player on Oakland. He has made All Pro and was undrafted as a rookie. ROT can be even more of a surprise. I have confidence in our GM to pick OL. That was the position he played and he knows.
An edge rusher is what we need for sure but with the hybrid LB/DE edge rusher being common now it gives teams more options when drafting. In the past the 4-3 scheme we played was not well suited for an edge rushing LB, like Spence is playing now. Mike Smith has installed a much more complicated 4-3 scheme that they are just learning now. Some of the shifts they make with our LB and DL are a marvel to watch – it totally confused SEA and also places on the edge Noah Spence. Smiths scheme is not perfect – whose is ? But its the best thing I’ve seen since Marinelli and Kifffin moved on.
I like the potential of his defense – See how it worked last week. But I have a feeling Smith is not going to be around long as a DC. Too many teams need head coaches. I sure hope he has an understudy that can step in and take over should he get an offer to be a HC elsewhere. We can block another team hiring him as a DC but not as a HC.
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