2016 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offseason Positional Needs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Needs
For the past few years, the Buccaneers have seemed to embody the Greek legend Sisyphus; for all the progress they seem to make through offseason additions, it all seems to roll back down on them.
Granted, going from 2-14 and the No. 1 overall pick – which netted potential franchise quarterback Jameis Winston — to 6-10 and the No. 9 overall pick is a marked improvement, but the team still suffered from flaws it can’t seem to shake.
Ownership appeared to see it as such, as the Glazer family decided to dismiss head coach Lovie Smith after going just 8-24 in two seasons while making the defense, his supposed hallmark, even worse than before he came in.
New coach Dirk Koetter, who spent 2015 as the team’s offensive coordinator, seems to have the offense on the right track, so expect the defense to receive another makeover with Mike Smith installed as the new defensive coordinator.
As the Denver Broncos exhibited in their Super Bowl 50 victory, having great pass rushers can make all the difference against elite competition. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, got bombarded by Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Co. all night, which resulted in his worst game of the season.
The Bucs haven’t seen the likes of either of those players since Simeon Rice dominated enemy offensive lines 10 years ago. It’s high time that changes.
The high-end pass rushing talent isn’t abundant in this draft, but the Bucs look to have a pretty good chance at the likes of Noah Spence or Shaq Lawson, who have both exemplified the potential to be double-digit sack producers. Conversely, they could also invest in free agents like Olivier Vernon or Malik Jackson.
Another plus Denver had to its advantage? Three very good cornerbacks in Aqib Talib, Chris Harris and Bradley Robey, who, for the most part, shut down Carolina’s receivers.
Tampa tried many cornerback combinations last season, and most experienced the same lack of success. Maybe they didn’t match up well with Smith’s scheme, but the truth is some of the defensive backs on Tampa’s roster just aren’t that talented.
Luckily for the Bucs, promising players like Vernon Hargreaves, Mackensie Alexander, Eli Apple and William Jackson will all likely be available when they select. They would be wise to pursue other options in free agency, as well, like Sean Smith or Prince Amukamara.
While not nearly as bad as the cornerbacks, the safeties did more than their fair share of screwing up last season. Chris Conte bucked his history by having a solid year, but how will he adapt to Mike Smith’s variation of the 4-3? Bradley McDougald is young and has shown potential, but putting complete and unabated faith in him might be unwise at this point.
The upcoming draft is actually packed full of good safety prospects. While the top talent, Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey, likely won’t be around in the first, the second day should yield prospects like Vonn Bell, Karl Joseph, Justin Simmons, Miles Killbrew, Keanu Neal and maybe even Darian Thompson.
Mike Kiwak is a writer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Pro Football Spot.