Friday, May 9, 2014

2014 NFL Draft - Buccaneers Day 2

After acquiring Mike Evans with the 7th pick in R1, the Bucs have addressed one weakness – finding a starter opposite Vincent Jackson.  While I found the pick underwhelming, there’s no mistaking that Evans is an upgrade over Mike Williams, gives Josh McCown two very large wideouts to work with, and is an eventual #1 replacement for Jackson.

With two picks for Friday night’s action, the positions I would target are – QB, WR, OL, CB, and DL.

Here’s what I expect to happen with the first six picks of the evening:

33) Houston Texans – Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
I don’t think the Texans want to tempt fate by drafting David Carr’s little brother.  I think this will be a DL pick.  Ra’Shede Hageman is my fallback.

34) Washington Redskins – Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
I think this one is going to be a tackle, and I’m going with Moses.  Cyrus Kouandjio is my fallback.

35) Cleveland Browns – Xavier Su’a-Filo (G, UCLA)
The Browns want to upgrade at RG, and XSF might be the best player remaining on the board, regardless of position.  Marqise Lee is my fallback as a nice addition to Gordon-Cameron-Hawkins.

36) Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State)
Unless they simply enjoy confusing the media, all indications point to the Raiders taking Carr.  I’ll be shocked if Carr isn’t a Raider.  They may even move up to #33 to secure him.

37) Atlanta Falcons – Demarcus Lawrence (DE, Boise State)
The Falcons need an impact rusher, and Lawrence is widely considered the most dynamic pass rusher remaining.  A sneaky good pick would be to take XSF as a follow up to Matthews last night.  Jace Amaro could be Tony Gonzalez’s successor.

38) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joel Bitonio (OL, Nevada)
If XSF is off the board, I think Bitonio becomes the Bucs #1 target.  He has the ability to play both tackle and guard but would likely settle into one of the guard spots in Tampa.  I like Bitonio, but he’s not my first option.  I would first encourage the Bucs to deal down, and with a lot of talent remaining at receiver and along the offensive and defensive lines, hopefully the Bucs are able to move down a bit and add another pick or two. 

My order of preference for pick #38 –
1) Derek Carr
2) Donte Moncrief
3) Joel Bitonio
4) Lamarcus Joyner
5) XSF
6) Timmy Jernigan
7) Allen Robinson
8) Kony Ealy

Thursday, May 8, 2014

2014 NFL Draft - Final Mock Draft

Here’s one last take on the first round of the draft before things kick off tonight.

1) Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
The Texans are reportedly open to moving the pick if they can get an RGII-like haul, but I don’t think anyone meets their price, even the Falcons.  Houston adds the draft’s best player to an already stout defensive front.

2) St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
I’m sticking with Matthews to the Rams, but this time they stay put at #2 and take him.  Detroit and Buffalo are reportedly interested in moving up for Sammy Watkins, but I’m not sure we will actually see a team outside the top ten move up that high. 

3) Jacksonville Jaguars – Khalil Mack (DE/OLB, Buffalo)
I’ve had the Jaguars going defense all along, and I’m sticking to it.  I think this comes down to Mack or Watkins, and I have the Jaguars going with the elite defensive player over the elite offensive player due in part to the sizeable draft depth difference between the two positions.

4) Cleveland Browns – Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
If Matthews going #2 isn’t the first swerve of the draft, this is.  The Browns take Evans over Watkins and add him to Josh Gordon, Andrew Hawkins, and Jordan Cameron.  If they go this route, expect QB to be their target with R1 pick #2. 

5) Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
If Watkins is there, I don’t see any way the Raiders don’t take him.  I’d probably give them Evans if Watkins goes earlier.  If not a receiver then I’d go with my previous pick, Aaron Donald.  I’m guessing the tackle talk, specifically Taylor Lewan, is draft smoke.

6) Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson (T, Auburn)
Rather than trade up to #1 for Clowney, the Falcons stay at six, keep their picks, and add, arguably, the draft’s top tackle prospect. 

7) Dallas Cowboys (TRADE) – Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
Today’s rumor says Lovie Smith wants Aaron Donald, but I’m not buying it.  I’d like to think that a team with more dire needs on the offensive side of the ball would go that route rather than add a part time pass rusher.  Donald wouldn’t be a part timer for the Cowboys.  Bucs get Dallas’ picks in R1, R2, and R4. 

8) Minnesota Vikings – Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
This may be a surprise pick, but without Donald there, I don’t think they take Mosley this high or a QB in R1. 

9) Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
I think it’s either a tackle or receiver here, and I’ve got them taking the former.

10) Detroit Lions – Odell Beckham (WR, LSU)
They’re mentioned as being interested in moving up for Watkins, but if they stay put, they could get a similarly successful player.

11) Tennessee Titans – Blake Bortles (QB, UCF)
Oh how the mighty have fallen.  Bortles slides ten spots from my previous pick and ignites a QB controversy in Nashville.  HC Ken Whisenhunt gets a QB who compares favorably to former pupil, Ben Roethlisberger.

12) New York Giants – Zack Martin (OL, Notre Dame)
As I mentioned last time, the Giants need to really hit with this pick, and Martin is probably the safest pick they can make and also addresses a need on the offensive line.

13) St. Louis Rams – Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
The smaller, physical Dennard replaces the departed, smaller, physical Cortland Finnegan.

14) San Francisco 49ers (TRADE) – Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State)
The Niners make the move up for a receiver to compliment Boldin, Crabtree, and Davis. 

15) Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Gilbert (CB, Oregon State)
Projected as the draft’s #1 corner, Gilbert is the third player off the board at his position.  I think the Steelers will have a tough time going any other route than corner with this pick.

16) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TRADE) – Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State)
I’m sticking with Carr.  Ideally the Bucs are able to move down from #7 into this range in order to take their QB, but I could see them doing it with their original pick.  I don’t buy the Manziel talk because I don’t think his quick improvisation trigger fits with Jeff Tedford’s structured/disciplined offense. 

17) Baltimore Ravens – Eric Ebron (TE, UNC)
Ebron is reportedly high on Baltimore’s radar, and if they don’t go big at WR, adding Ebron to go with Dennis Pitta in the middle of the field would be a nice way to upgrade the pass offense.

18) New York Jets – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
This may be too low for HHCD, but I think the Jets would love to add a DB of his caliber to a very weak and shallow group.

19) Cleveland Browns (TRADE) – Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
Jay Glazer is firm about the Browns not taking JFF at #4, but that doesn’t mean that can’t get him later.  If I can trust that intel, I don’t think Manziel ends up a top 10 pick.  At that point, it’s about who can deal up the quickest to get him. 

20) Arizona Cardinals – Anthony Barr (OLB, UCLA)
I’m not a Barr fan, but if he’s still available, I think Arizona will have a tough time passing on him.  A safety would be my second choice.

21) Green Bay Packers – CJ Mosley (LB, Alabama)
Sadly, the Packers seem to be a team spinning their wheels on defense, regardless of the talent they’ve acquired in recent years. Mosley would give them an upgrade on Brad Jones’ spot next to AJ Hawk on the inside. 

22) Philadelphia Eagles – Ryan Shazier (OLB, Ohio State)
I don’t know that I’ve seen Shazier mentioned to the Eagles elsewhere, but if they do indeed go defense, I think adding the very active Shazier to a linebacker group that already features Mychal Kendricks would be one hell of a move.

23) Kansas City Chiefs – Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)
He may not fall this far in the real deal, but since he did here, the Chiefs don’t pass up an ideal fit at a position of need.

24) Cincinnati Bengals – Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
I’m taking the bait.  Cincinnati is reported to have interest in Bridgewater, and, if true, I think it’s a very smart move.  They’re getting close to decision time with the underwhelming Andy Dalton, and adding Bridgewater to the fold give them more leverage in Dalton’s contract talks and security in case they decide to let Dalton depart.

25) San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett (CB, TCU)
I’m going with CB over DL with this pick as the Chargers look to upgrade a vulnerable secondary.

26) Miami Dolphins (TRADE) – Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
The standard line of thinking has the Dolphins taking a tackle in R1.  Moving down via the Cleveland trade makes Moses the move look less forced.

27) New Orleans Saints – Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
With Marques Colston not getting any younger and only Kenny Stills as a developing receiver, the Saints need to add to the position.

28) Carolina Panthers – Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
Carolina got through a successful ’13 season with a smoke-and-mirrors act in the secondary.  Talent is sorely needed at corner.

29) New England Patriots – Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
The Wilfork comparison is too obvious, but so is the fit. 

30) Chicago Bears (TRADE) – Timmy Jernigan (DT, FSU)
I’m not sure if he’s still on the team’s radar after the failed drug test, but as we’ve seen in the past, teams make excuses for talent.  Maybe this will be another one of those instances.

31) Denver Broncos – Deen Ford (DE/OLB, Auburn)
I like the fit for Ford.  He goes to a team where he can be eased into the rotation and won’t be counted on to be the sack savior. 

32) Seattle Seahawks – Dominique Easley (DT, Florida)
Since his medicals apparently shed good light on his status, I think Easley is definitely in play at the end of day one.  If any team can afford to give a guy with Easley’s ability a redshirt season, it’s the champs.

Remaining Buccaneer Selections
If the Bucs were to get Carr in R1, I’ve got to think they’re making every attempt to deal Glennon.  I will say this – If they don’t get at least a third round pick in exchange, I’d take Glennon to camp and look to deal him again if/when a team experiences an injury at QB. 

With QB taken care of, like last time I’m focusing 100% on receiver at pick #38.  Unlike last time, I’m going with the player I prefer, rather than guessing who the Bucs might prefer. 

R2a – Donte Moncrief (WR, Mississippi)

In my last version, I had the Bucs taking Easley with the pick acquired in the R1 trade.  With Easley off the board, I’m going with choice 1a.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I love this guy’s fit as a slot corner and potential contributor/successor at free safety.

R2b – Lamarcus Joyner (DB, FSU)

I’m switching my pick here.  I’ve been big on both Bruce Ellington and CJ Fiedorowicz, but since I’ve yet to read anything about the Bucs being tied to the receiver and know that they have visited with the tight end, I’m going for the most likely outcome. 

R3 – CJ Fiedorowicz (TE, Iowa)

Since I switched from Ellington in R3, I still want to add another receiver.  I don’t wait long to do so and take a guy who has some of that speed in space stuff.  He can line up inside or outside, and I think he’d make a fine #3 inside of Jackson and Moncrief.  With the last pick acquired in my hypothetical Dallas trade, Tampa Bay takes…

R4 – Jared Abbrederis (WR, Wisconsin)

No change in plans with my R5 pick.  The Bucs have yet to address the hole at guard and take the strong man from Bama. 

R5 – Anthony Steen (G, Alabama)

Since I’ve got them taking Fiedorowicz in this version, Crockett Gillmore is overkill.  I’ve got to think Lovie will lobby for a defensive lineman at some point, and here I’m giving them a guy who offers versatility and a good bit of pass rush potential.

R6 – Calvin Barnett (DT, Oklahoma State)

I’m going with the same shot in the dark with the last pick; another strong offensive lineman with a lot of starting experience.

R7 – Corey Linsley (C, Ohio State)

*1) Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State)
2a) Donte Moncrief (WR, Mississippi)
*2b) Lamarcus Joyner (DB, FSU)
3) CJ Fiedorowicz (TE, Iowa)
*4) Jared Abbrederis (WR, Wisconsin)
5) Anthony Steen (G, Alabama)
6) Calvin Barnett (DT, Oklahoma State)
7) Corey Linsley (C, Ohio State)

* = pick acquired in Dallas trade

Sunday, May 4, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings By Position

Here are my (at least) top 5 prospects at every position.  I also mention my favorite per position for the Bucs.  Players are ranked, not in the order in which I think they’ll be chosen but rather my projection of their success as pros.  For reference, I ranked Colin Kaepernick higher than Cam Newton in 2011 (pay no attention to QBs 1-4) and had this to say about the eventual Niners QB prior to the draft –

Kaepernick might look a little high here, but he could actually have the greatest potential as a developmental prospect with a big arm and plus mobility. Once Kaepernick commits to keeping the ball, he shows impressive straight line speed. He avoids the pass rush well for a guy who isn’t the thickest QB. Despite running the Pistol offense at Nevada I think his skill set will make the transition to a more traditional scheme fairly seamless.....

Are there any Kaepernicks in this year’s class?

1) Blake Bortles (UCF)
2) Derek Carr (Fresno State)
3) Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)
4) Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
5) Jimmy Garoppolo (E Illinois)
6) Aaron Murray (Georgia)
7) Zach Mettenberger (LSU)

Favorite for the Bucs – Derek Carr
I’m of the belief that the Bucs will take a QB early and trade Mike Glennon for a draft pick.  Carr is still my projected pick for the Bucs in round one, whether it is at #7 or via a trade down in R1.  Carr won’t start right away, and if Josh McCown plays anything like he did last year, he won’t have to.  I love the idea of him learning behind the scenes with Jeff Tedford without the pressure to produce right away that derailed his brother’s career.    

Running Back
1) Tre Mason (Auburn)
2) Jeremy Hill (LSU)
3) Carlos Hyde (Ohio State)
4) Devonta Freeman (FSU)
5) Bishop Sankey (Washington)
6) Terrance West (Towson)

Favorite for the Bucs – Tre Mason
Running back is probably the safest position to rule out as far as the Bucs go, but if the cupboard was bare, Mason seems like the type of toy Tedford would be giddy about getting on draft day. 

Wide Receiver
1) Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
2) Odell Beckham (LSU)
3) Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss)
4) Mike Evans (Texas A&M)
5) Brandin Cooks (Oregon State)
6) Allen Robinson (Penn State)
7) Davante Adams (Fresno State)
8) Kelvin Benjamin (FSU)
9) Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
10) Marqise Lee (USC)
11) Bruce Ellington (South Carolina)
12) Cody Latimer (Indiana)

Favorite for the Bucs – Donte Moncrief
Watkins is the easy pick, and I’m a huge huge Beckham fan.  I see them being special NFL receivers.  I also think Moncrief will be in the same discussion two or three years from now, and he’s my ideal R2 pick for the Bucs.

Tight End
1) Eric Ebron (UNC)
2) CJ Fiedorowicz (Iowa)
3) Jace Amaro (Texas Tech)
4) Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington)
5) Troy Niklas (Notre Dame)
6) Crockett Gillmore (Colorado State)

Favorite for the Bucs – CJ Fiedorowicz
The Bucs may not draft one, but Fiedorowicz would be the most complete tight end on the roster and allow the Bucs to be more creative with Tim Wright and Brandon Myers. 

Offensive Tackle
1) Greg Robinson (Auburn)
1a) Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)
3) Taylor Lewan (Michigan)
4) Morgan Moses (Virginia)
5) Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama)

Favorite for the Bucs – Jake Matthews
Robinson might be the better long term tackle prospect, but if I can be optimistic about Anthony Collins and Demar Dotson establishing themselves as Buccaneer bookends, Matthews’ ability to play multiple positions would help a weak Tampa Bay interior. 

Interior OL
1) Zack Martin (G/T, Notre Dame)
2) Joel Bitonio (G/T, Nevada)
3) Marcus Martin (C, USC)
4) Xavier Su’a-Filo (G, UCLA)
5) Gabe Jackson (G, Mississippi State)

Favorite for the Bucs – Anthony Steen (G, Alabama)
I don’t see the Bucs spending a pick on a guard in the first three rounds.  If that’s the case, Steen should be there on day three when the Bucs go guard shopping.  I like him as a candidate to fill the vacant RG spot.  Brandon Thomas would be an honorable mention as someone the Bucs could basically redshirt his rookie year and insert in ’15 as a draft steal.

Defensive End
1) Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)
2) Kony Ealy (Missouri)
3) Kareem Martin (UNC)
4) Dee Ford (Auburn)
5) Scott Crichton (Oregon State)

Favorite for the Bucs – Kony Ealy
If the Bucs were fortunate enough to find Ealy on the board in R2, he’d be awful tough to pass up as a guy who could offer pass rush potential at end and tackle positions. 

Defensive Tackle
1) Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)
2) Timmy Jernigan (FSU)
3) Dominique Easley (Florida)
4) RaShede Hageman (Minnesota)
5) Louis Nix (Notre Dame)
6) Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)
7) Kelcy Quarles (South Carolina)
8) Ego Ferguson (LSU)

Favorite for the Bucs – Dominique Easley
Similar to Ealy, Easley would be a R2 gift.  Since his medicals apparently checked out well, I could see him going to the Seahawks at the end of R1.  Should he slide, he’d be tough to pass up as a compliment to McCoy and McDonald. 

Outside Linebacker
1) Khalil Mack (Buffalo)
2) Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech)
3) Ryan Shazier (Ohio State)
4) Anthony Barr (UCLA)
5) Telvin Smith (FSU)
6) Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State)
7) Christian Jones (FSU)
8) Carl Bradford (Arizona State)

Favorite for the Bucs – Telvin Smith
The Bucs only have six draft picks, and with Lavonte David in place, WLB may be the most solidified starting position on the team.  Still, the Bucs have been stung by a lack of depth in the past, and there’s nothing behind David.  If the Bucs add another pick or two and they really feel like going best available in R3, then Telvin would be a fantastic acquisition. 

Inside Linebacker
1) CJ Mosley (Alabama)
2) Chris Borland (Wisconsin)
3) Shayne Skov (Stanford)
4) Yawin Smallwood (Connecticut)
5) Preston Brown (Louisville)

Best for the Bucs – CJ Mosley
If I had to pick a surprise R1 selection for the Bucs, Mosley or Aaron Donald would be my choice.  Acquiring Mosley would upgrade both the MLB and SLB spots as Foster would likely move over and start ahead of Jonathan Casillas opposite David.

1) Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)
2) Jason Verrett (TCU)
3) Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State)
4) Lamarcus Joyner (FSU)
5) Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State)
6) Bradley Roby (Ohio State)
7) Jaylen Watkins (Florida)
8) Rashaad Reynolds (Oregon State)

Favorite for the Bucs – Lamarcus Joyner
Yep, another Nole.  As I’ve mentioned in detail on previous occasions, the Bucs are awfully weak at the nickel corner spot, and Joyner would give them an ideal fit in Lovie’s defense.  He might also project as a future replacement for Dashon Goldson at free safety. 

1) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama)
2) Calvin Pryor (Louisville)
3) Deone Bucannon (Washington St)
4) Terrence Brooks (FSU)
5) Jimmie Ward (N Illinois)

Favorite for the Bucs – Deone Bucannon
He’s not rated as high by the “experts”, but I really think Bucannon is going to be a star in the NFL.  He’s long, physical, and excels in zone concepts.  From the games I’ve seen, I think, given the right coaching, he has more potential in pass coverage than his draft bios will lead you to believe. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014 NFL Draft - Ch Ch Changes

Much has happened since my first attempt to predict what the Buccaneer’s roster will look like in 2014.  Jason Licht and Lovie Smith have been hard at work turning it over and making it theirs.  Hell, we’ve even got new helmets and uniforms, but that’s a whole other conversation.

Josh McCown rejoins Lovie and will be the teams’ bridge to their next, hopefully franchise, QB.  Anthony Collins and Evan Dietrich-Smith are upgrades upon Donald Penn and Jeremy Zuttah, and they cost less than their predecessors.  Brandon Myers becomes the most experienced tight end on the roster. 

On defense, Michael Johnson was brought in to increase the teams edge pass rush presence, Clinton McDonald improves the play next to GMC, and Alterraun Verner replaces the one year waste of money and draft picks, Darrelle Revis. 

There’s still work to do. 

I don’t believe for a second that Mike Glennon has a future in Tampa.  I think the Bucs will draft McCown’s successor and look to move Glennon, possibly during the draft to obtain another ick.  Licht and Lovie have already begun quite the overhaul, and with only six draft picks, I’ve got to think they’ll make every effort to acquire more.  Glennon is their most valuable asset that they can and would most likely trade. 

Mike Jenkins and DJ Moore are two veteran corners brought in this offseason, but I believe the Bucs are mistaken if they feel either is up to the task of the role of slot corner.  Moore would likely start there if a game broke out today, but I don’t think it’s wise to rely on a guy who was out of football last year to be the needed upgrade over Leonard Johnson.  Lovie has also stated that his boundary corners will be boundary corners, which means Verner, a reputable slot corner, will not slide inside when they go nickel. 

The Bucs needed help at receiver before they moved on from Mike Williams.  There’s a wide talent gap between Vincent Jackson and the rest of the receivers.  Chris Owusu belongs at the bottom of the depth chart, and Tommy Streeter remains unrealized potential.  Louis Murphy and a personal favorite, Lavelle Hawkins, were added to compete, but in an ideal world, they’re fighting for one roster spot.

Oneil Cousins follows OL coach George Warhop to Tampa, but like the receivers above, he’s camp competition.  The same goes for the re-signed Jamon Meredith.  The Bucs are hoping Carl Nicks can suit up at left guard, but they need to at add least one more starting caliber guard.

You can never have enough pass rushers, and I’d like to have a tight end who doesn’t tip plays.  I’d still like to upgrade over Mason Foster, but I think his competition will come from Dane Fletcher rather than the draft.  Dashon Goldson might go the way of Penn, Williams, and Zuttah next year, but I don’t expect the Bucs to spend a day one or two pick on the position this year. 

What will the Bucs do at #7?  That’s the question on Bucs fans’ minds.  Below is my take on the draft’s first 38 picks as well as what the Bucs will do with all of theirs.  To make things as entertaining as possible yet remain fairly realistic, I’ve included trades, quite a few.  Might the Bucs be involved in such a scenario?  Let’s find out.

Round 1

1) Houston Texans – Blake Bortles (QB, UCF)
I’m still going with Bortles as the Texans pick to kick things off.  Ryan Fitzpatrick was brought in to be the bridge/backup to whoever they draft this year, and I think that’s going to be Bortles.  Clowney is the only other way I’d go with this.  He may not be an ideal 3-4 OLB, but Romeo Crennel would find a way to maximize his talents. 

2) Atlanta Falcons (TRADE) – Jadeveon Clowney (DE, S Carolina)
Again I have the Rams trading out of this spot, but this time I’m going with the Falcons to move up and get their pass rusher.  There are connections between the two front offices, and they even consummated a trade in last year’s draft. 

3) Jacksonville Jaguars – Khalil Mack (DE/OLB, Buffalo)
Last time I had the Jags passing on a passer for Clowney.  I still think they go with a pass rusher and address QB with a later pick.  While they have brought in a couple of Gus Bradley’s former Seahawks, the Jags aren’t suddenly pass rush rich.  Here they take the remaining consensus-elite defender.  I even think they’d take Watkins before any of the QBs. 

4) Cleveland Browns – Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
Sorry Bucs fans.  I don’t think Watkins makes it to #7.  In fact, I see three teams more likely to end up with him than the Bucs.  If the Browns or Raiders don’t take Watkins, I think Detroit will maneuver ahead of Tampa Bay to get him.  Here the Browns get arguably the draft’s most talented offensive player and can find Brian Hoyer’s competition with their next pick. 

5) Oakland Raiders – Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
Surprising no one, the draft’s first swerve comes from Oakland.  Their roster is the most depressing in the league and needs help literally everywhere.  Taking one of the top tackles would be my alternate route, but acquiring arguably the drafts best interior rusher is a great way for a team that defines the word ‘rebuilding’ to start doing just that.

6) St. Louis Rams (TRADE) – Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
I had the Rams selecting Matthews last time, and I’m sticking with it here.  Robinson has received more air time during draft season, but I still think Matthews is the smarter pick. 

7) Baltimore Ravens (TRADE) – Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Yes, the Bucs move down.  Evans would address the departure of Williams, but I believe there is better value in trading down.  Ozzie Newsome finally gets his replacement for Anquan Boldin, and combined with Torrey Smith, a healthy Dennis Pitta, and the recently-acquired Steve Smith, gives the Joe Flacco an impressive arsenal that may need to lean more on the passing game, depending upon what happens with Ray Rice’s off-field situation.  To make the move down the board to #17, I have the Bucs picking up Baltimore’s picks in round one, two, and four. 

8) New York Giants (TRADE) – Greg Robinson (T, Auburn)
I think Minnesota is very eager to move down, and having Robinson remain on the board should help their cause.  The Giants really need to turn things around, and while Robinson isn’t going to score a lot of touchdowns himself, most importantly the Giants needed to emerge from the first round with a great player.  Moving up for Robinson helps them do that.

9) Buffalo Bills – Zack Martin (OL, Notre Dame)
The Bills are often good for a surprise pick on draft day, and they continue the tradition here.  I don’t think Martin is a bad pick but one that would surprise a lot of people who take prospect rankings as fact.  Martin gives the Bills options on the left side with Cordy Glenn. 

10) Detroit Lions – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
Failing to trade up for Watkins or Evans, the Lions here look to upgrade the secondary.  Pass rusher or cornerback would be my other guesses, but I think getting a player with Ha Ha’s upside would be a good use of this pick. 

11) Tennessee Titans – Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)
Gilbert appears to have solidified his place atop the list of cornerbacks and would fill an immediate need.  The Titans are often linked to Anthony Barr, and while they could use a talent upgrade at the position, they already have four OLBs that are likely to make the team.

12) Minnesota Vikings – CJ Mosley (LB, Alabama)
By trading down four spots the Vikings gain a pick or two and still get the player I think they’d be happy to select at #8.  I don’t believe they’re interested in any of the day one QBs and will instead select Zach Mettenberger on day two. 

13) St. Louis Rams – Odell Beckham (WR, LSU)
Rather than taking Watkins or Evans with their first pick, I think it would be wiser for the Rams to take their highest rated lineman there and then grab Beckham here.  Beckham is my second rated WR behind Watkins and gives Sam Bradford the best receiver he’s had as a pro.  I think Beckham is going to be really special. 

14) Cleveland Browns (TRADE) – Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
What a first day for the Browns.  They get Watkins with their first pick and are able to package their other first rounder and additional picks to swap spots with the Bears and get their QB.  Johnny Football sits in the green room longer than he’d have liked, but he’s got to like the prospects of throwing to Josh Gordon, Watkins, and Jordan Cameron.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (TRADE) – Anthony Barr (OLB, UCLA)
Yes, another trade.  The Eagles are reportedly looking to upgrade their pass rush and have targeted former Chip Kelly Duck, Dion Jordan.  If they don’t acquire the third overall pick from last year’s draft, I could see them making this move for Barr.  I’m not a fan of his game, but maybe Kelly is.

16) Dallas Cowboys – Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
The Cowboys have seen just about all they want to see from Doug Free, so an upgrade at right tackle is high on their list of priorities.  I could see Jerry Jones targeting Lewan or Martin with his first round pick before a defensive player.

17) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TRADE)
With the agonizing additional ten pick wait having passed, the Bucs are now on the clock again.  Watkins, Clowney, and Mack are what I would consider the elite of the elite in this year’s draft, and with them off the board at #7, I would hope the Bucs exhaust all efforts to deal down.  I’ve mentioned QB, WR, G, and CB as the greatest positions of need, in my opinion, and see the Bucs targeting either a passer or a pass catcher in round one over one of the top tackles.  Do Licht and Lovie prefer Evans or more picks with which to continue their Buccaneeer makeover?

The pick – Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State)
I still have Bortles as my #1 QB, but I’m in on Carr as well.  He fits what Tedford will look to do offensively and hopefully gives the Bucs the franchise QB they’ve been pursuing since Brad Johnson left.  Having McCown in house affords Carr a year to assimilate himself to the pro game and get even more on the same page with Tedford.  The QB-OC relationship is critical, and I couldn’t see a better fit in that regard.  I don’t believe the Bucs are interested in Bortles, Bridgewater, or Manziel and will rather look to draft Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, or Connor Shaw.

18) New York Jets – Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
This may be a little later than expected for Ebron, but he’s a guy I think will slide a bit on day one.  The Jets would be happy to see it happen, as they’re desperate for offensive playmakers.

19) San Francisco (TRADE) – Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State)
The Niners have plenty of picks in this year’s draft to move up and get their guy and are looking to upgrade receiver and cornerback.  Here I have them making a deal with the Dolphins to move up and get a dynamic receiver to line up inside boundary playmakers Boldin and Crabtree.  They’re really lacking behind their two starters, and Cooks gives them someone else for the Seahawks and the rest of the NFC to scheme against. 

20) Arizona Cardinals – Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)
I don’t think the Cardinals will spend their first pick on an offensive lineman, so if they don’t’ take a pass rusher, I think they’ll look to solidify the safety spot next to Tyrann Mathieu.  I see Pryor as a really nice fit.

21) Green Bay Packers – RaShede Hageman (DT, Minnesota)
Ted Thompson hopes to pull off some more draft magic and get the good RaShede Hageman, the day one prospect generating the most polar predictions. 

22) Pittsburgh Steelers (TRADE) – Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
Defensive line and cornerback are the two areas I think Pittsburgh will look to address first, and they take the anchor they’ve needed since Casey Hampton fell off a few years ago.

23) Kansas City Chiefs – Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
The Chiefs finally get a viable target to pair with Dwayne Bowe.  I’m not sure how much longer they can continue to win by giving Jamaal Charles 99% of their offensive touches. 

24) Cincinnati Bengals – Kony Ealy (DE, Missouri)
I’m going with a defensive end over a cornerback here.  Ealy helps make up for the loss of Johnson and gives them a versatile presence up front.

25) San Diego Chargers – Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
I think Fuller ends up going higher than this, but it didn’t happen here.  If not a corner, then Nix might get consideration if available.

26) Chicago Bears (TRADE) – Timmy Jernigan (DT, FSU)
Defensive line and secondary are the focus early on.  I think Chicago would pass on a DB to get a DT who can step in contribute right away.

27) New Orleans Saints – Dee Ford (DE/OLB, Auburn)
Dee Ford may think he’s as good as Clowney, but talent evaluators believe otherwise.  If not a pass rusher, a receiver like Benjamin wouldn’t surprise me. 

28) Carolina Panthers – Cyrus Kouandjio (T, Alabama)
It’s unknown how individual teams feel about Kouandjio’s health, but if his knee checks out, he’s quite a value at a high need position.

29) New England Patriots – Jace Amaro (TE, Texas A&M)
Maybe this is too common of a pick, but it makes a ton of sense.  With or without Gronk, the Patriots need to add a move-TE to the roster.  Amaro could be really dangerous in this offense.

30) Miami Dolphins (TRADE) – Morgan Moses (T, Virginia Tech)
The Dolphins signed a former Hokie in free agency to man the left tackle position, so it would only make sense to draft a former Hokie to fill the void at right tackle. 

31) Jacksonville Jaguars (TRADE) – Jimmy Garoppolo (QB, E Illinois)
The Jags get antsy and move up with Denver to grab Garoppolo.  Teddy Bridgewater remains unselected.

32) Seattle Seahawks – Kelvin Benjamin (WR, FSU)
Benjamin fills a need and would be a perfect fit for the champs, lining up with the dynamic Harvin and underrated Baldwin


Round 2

33) Houston Texans – Demarcus Lawrence (OLB, Boise State)
If they don’t take Clowney #1, I could see the Texans taking a pass rusher like Lawrence or Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu here.

34) Washington Redskins – Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
The Redskins badly need to upgrade their defensive backs and defensive backs coach.  They can only address one of them in the draft and grab the corner from Ohio State

35) Chicago Bears (TRADE) – Jimmie Ward (S, N Illinois)
After addressing the defensive line with Jernigan, the Bears take Ward with a pick obtained in my hypothetical trade with Cleveland.

36) Oakland Raiders – Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
Finally.  This looks awfully low for Bridgewater, but who really knows when any of these QBs will be picked?  This has to be the most uncertain and non-consensus QB class in quite some time.

37) St. Louis Rams – Jason Verrett (CB, TCU)
After getting Matthews and Beckham with their first two picks, the Rams get a really tough corner who will play a lot early and provide them with insurance should Trumaine Johnson struggle as a starter opposite Janoris Jenkins.

38) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best available at WR, DL, and CB is where I’m looking both here and with the #48 pick, the second rounder obtained from the Ravens in that first round trade.  Of those three positions, receiver is the clearest need.  I mention DL because I think Lovie really wants to beef up that front and could get an impact player in this round.  I rank cornerback as a higher need than most, but I’m simply not impressed with what the Bucs have other than Verner.  Of the players I’ve got going off the board in this vicinity, I think Benjamin and Verrett would both interest the Bucs quite a bit. 

Given that Vincent Jackson is the only starting caliber receiver on the roster, I think the Bucs will have a tough time waiting any later to address the position.  If I’m picking a wideout here, and Benjamin isn’t in play, I’ve got it down to three players – Davante Adams, Donte Moncrief, and Allen Robinson.  What are the Bucs likely looking for? 

They need a starter; someone who can be today’s #2 and possibly tomorrow’s #1.  They want a receiver with speed in space who can gain separation and win downfield.  I’m also going to assume that Lovie will influence catch radius and winning the battle at the point of catch.  Who checks the most boxes?

As much as I like Robinson, he’s the first one eliminated.  I think he would interest Lovie as someone who plays with a lot of physicality and wins at the point of contact, but how much will his lack of separation hurt him in the pros?  I’d be happy if he was the pick, but I think the Bucs are going to look for a receiver with a better chance of developing into a #1. 

Moncrief and Adams better fit that mold.  I’m a huge Moncrief fan.  I believe that in three years, he will be at worst the fifth most productive receiver from this class.  I think Moncrief has a higher upside and played with a lot more physicality in college than Adams.  On the other hand, Adams is a more consistent and fundamentally sound pass catcher and does a better job of winning aerial battles for the ball.  I love how he snatches it out of the air from a variety of positions on the field; shows very reliable hands.  If the Bucs indeed take Carr in the first round, you’ve got to think that couldn’t hurt Adams’ chances of being the pick. 

In the end I think Licht and Lovie would take who they see as the safer of the two options.  Although I like Moncrief more, I’m guessing that would be….

Davante Adams (WR, Fresno State)

Pick #48
I’m having a really hard time trying to decide between two players with this hypothetical second rounder from Baltimore

I’ve listed slot corner as a need for the Bucs on more than one occasion and believe that Lamarcus Joyner would be an ideal fit in Lovie’s defense.  He can cover the slot, support the run, blitz the passer, contribute on special teams, and potentially, see time at safety as well.  That last item could be of importance depending upon what Licht and Lovie think of Goldson’s future with the team.

Back and forth I’ve gone on this, and I’m sure I will again.  As much as I love Joyner, I wouldn’t be able to pass up Dominique Easley if he were to be here for the Bucs to take with an additional second rounder.  As I type this he has yet to work out for teams, and we don’t know much about his knee.  Given the type of talent he was prior to his injury and how quickly and successfully he recovered from his first ACL injury, he’s a steal and a damn good addition to a young defensive line. 

The pick – Dominique Easley (DT, Florida)

Round 3
Offensive line and cornerback are two positions of need I’ve yet to address, but I don’t love the projected value at those positions in this round.  Dakota Dozier is the only guard I’d target in this range, and I don’t know enough about him to make a case for the guy.  Jaylen Watkins might be the best value at corner in this round, but I can’t go there for fear of Gooberville overload.

I still want the Bucs to get a tight end, and CJ Fiedorowicz, the guy I listed as the Bucs fourth round pick in my last mock, is my favorite for them.  He’s an underutilized pass catcher who would be the teams’ best blocking tight end the moment he signed.  Lots of upside there I think.

Instead I pass for who I believe to be a better talent as a position, and specifically a skill, in which the Bucs are lacking.  I’ll keep my rant short.  I’ve been pining for a quick/elusive talent for some time, and Tedford is, thankfully, looking for receivers with that ability.  Here they get a really tough slot guy with a ton of potential.  He doesn’t shy away from contact and runs like a running back with the ball in his hands.  Like Adams, I think he’ll be attractive to Lovie due to his ability to make contested catches. 

The pick – Bruce Ellington (WR, South Carolina)

Round 4
The Bucs still don’t have a fourth round pick, but I gave them one in this mock trade with the Ravens.  If they have yet to address the cornerback position and have a chance to do so here, my target would be Rashaad Reynolds.  If the Bucs can’t get Joyner, I think Reynolds brings that same style of play as an undersized physical corner who can cover, support the run, and line up in multiple spots. 

I hate to keep taking player with medical issues, but if Clemson’s Brandon Thomas is still on the board at this point, you’ve got to think he’s worth the investment, even if you don’t get anything from him this year.  Thomas was viewed as a rising talent in the draft capable of playing both tackle and guard in the NFL.  EJ Gaines from Missouri is the other corner I’d consider if Reynolds isn’t available.  Two more players I like in this area (rounds 3-5) are Terrence Brooks and Christian Jones.  Yes, two Noles.  Brooks would be a great fit at free safety, and Jones could provide competition at both SLB and MLB. 

The pick – Rashaad Reynolds (CB, Oregon State)

Round 5
I understand the situation at guard.  Carl Nicks is a huge question mark, and Oneil Cousins better not be starting on the right side.  Still, I’m simply not in love at all with the guard talent in this draft.  Despite the need at the position, I cannot justify spending earlier picks on inferior talent at the expense of other positions of need.

Here I think the Bucs can get a guy like Anthony Steen from Alabama or Jon Halapio from Florida.  I’ve been on the Halapio bandwagon a while, but I think Steen might offer more of what this coaching staff is looking for.  Steen doesn’t have superstar athleticism, but I think he has a fairly high floor as someone with incredible strength and consistent technique. 

The pick – Anthony Steen (G, Alabama)

Round 6
With the Mike Williams pick I’m taking a shot on one of the few TE prospects I like in this draft.  This guy is a big bodied TE who offers a lot of upside in both the receiving in blocking games.  If they haven’t taken a corner yet, I would target Bene Benewikere from San Jose State (no that’s not him in the picture below). 

The pick – Crockett Gillmore (TE, Colorado State)

Round 7
Like most seventh round picks, this one is really a shot in the dark.  The Bucs need depth on the offensive line more than anywhere else, so here I’m taking a shot on a guy who was a captain and brings a lot of natural strength to the position.  John Brown of Pittsburgh State is a vertical threat I’d look at if the Bucs had not drafted two receivers already. 

The pick – Corey Linsley (C, Ohio State)

R1 – Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State)
R2a – Davonte Adams (WR, Fresno State)
R2b – Dominique Easley (DT, Florida)
R3 – Bruce Ellington (WR, South Carolina)
R4 – Rashaad Reynolds (CB, Oregon State)
R5 – Anthony Steen (G, Alabama)
R6 – Crockett Gillmore (TE, Colorado St)
R7 – Corey Linsley (C, Ohio State)

I get a hopeful franchise QB, a steal of a pass rusher, and two receivers who can contribute right away.  I also address other needs with a potential slot corner, two offensive linemen, and a tight end to develop behind Myers and Wright.  The dual Fresno State picks early on may turn off a lot of people, but I’m now a believer in Derek Carr.  I think he has what it takes to make those around him better players and be a leader of a perennial contender.  If you put Adams on another college team, he’s still a stud.  His familiarity and success with Carr is a plus, not what makes him.  I believe they’ll both excel in traditional style pro offenses. 

I realize predicting a trade of this nature for the Bucs isn’t terribly likely.  If it ends up happening, maybe I need to go into another line of work.  I did it to demonstrate the potential gains of moving down the board in round one should the situation present itself and, to be quite honest, to point out the prospects I’m high on at positions of need. 

Go Bucs!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gravity Left Me Floating

This has been a sports blog since its inception, but I guess this is the first time I’ve felt that motivated to state a non-sports opinion (I don’t publicly talk politics). 

I just finished watching Gravity, an amazing film by Alfonso Cuaron.  It focused on visual and situational drama and suspense rather than dialogue and delivered a success.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the film, until the ending. 

We witness an unbelievable experience where Sandra Bullock’s astronaut character (Ryan Stone) is forced to manage multiple life-or-death situations in a suspenseful fight for survival.  After jumping from shuttle to space station to space station, we witness Bullock’s descent to Earth aboard a Chinese capsule.  She survives reentry to Earth’s atmosphere and lands in a body of water conveniently close to land.

My issue is not with the events in space or with the land proximity convenience but with the missed climactic moment of human emotion upon Bullock’s character’s emerging from the water upon the capsule’s crash.  Bullock’s Stone not only survives multiple perils in space but nearly drowns in what initially figured to be a routine capsule exit.

Upon escaping the capsule and, like Kate and Leo in Titanic, fighting the downward drag of a much heavier object, Bullock emerges from the water in time to see the remaining pieces of her most recent mod of space transportation disintegrate in the Earth’s atmosphere.  What does she do?  She flips over in the water and swims to shore in the film’s final scenes. 

While I have no issue with the way the film’s final minute of Bullock’s character struggling swim to shore and appreciation of being on Earth once again, Cuaron really missed an opportunity to put an award winning stamp on the film. 

At that moment when Bullock emerges from the water, I expected an extreme release of human emotion.  Hell, she floated through space from space junk to space junk and nearly died from being lost in space, running out of oxygen in space, re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, and drowning in water.  She’s finally feeling in control of her body again AND witnessing the remainder of her astro experience burn in the sky, and we get nothing from her?!?! 

I’m sorry, but I thought that after emerging from the water, given a brief dramatic pause, would have broken down emotionally.  I expected to see quite a release of anguish, tension, and fear, but what we get none of that.  I would have spent another 1 or 2 minutes of film time putting the cherry on top of the suspenseful sundae by having Bullock’s character give a human release of said anguish, tension, and fear.  Let her scream and experience a physical release of emotion.  By god, she just went through something that no one in the history of humanity has ever experienced.

I loved the film, as it kept me engaged throughout, but I was really hoping for a much stronger ending.  It was one of those times where I had felt I passed the film by at its end and was pulling it along with me to my conclusion; similar to Bullock’s multiple tension-filled scenes tugging at tethers.  You had me Gravity, but like George Clooney, you left me floating in the end.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

What Happens Tomorrow?

With nearly $25 million in cap space and player rumors flying, the Bucs are expected to be active participants when free agency kicks off Tuesday at 4pm.  What positions will Licht and Lovie look to address first? 

If we’re to believe the whispers, the Bucs will be most active on the offensive and defensive lines.  They’ve already cut their starting right guard and are rumored to be flirting with the idea of ditching their left tackle and center as well.  It’s assumed a pass rushing defensive end will be one of their first signings, but they may add a tackle too. 

With the Bucs being tied to Eugene Monroe, Branden Albert, and Anthony Collins you’ve got to think Penn’s roster spot is in serious jeopardy.  Albert is reportedly headed to Miami, and Monroe might stay in Baltimore.  Reports have Collins ticketed for Tampa at $6.5 to $7 million per year.  He’s a guy I’ve liked since he was at Kansas.  With Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith manning Cincinnati’s tackle positions, Collins has been the best backup tackle in the league the last few years in my opinion.  He would be a significant improvement in pass protection and is no slouch in the run game either.  To me the biggest things about Collins are that he’s consistent and has stayed healthy. 

What also excites me about this potential acquisition is that the Bucs could get younger and better at left tackle for less money.  I listed Collins in my offseason piece, but I didn’t think the Bucs would be that aggressive in replacing Penn.  Hopefully I underestimated them. 

The Bucs are rumored to be talking to Rodger Saffold as well, and I would hope that would be for right guard rather than left tackle where I think Saffold is a inferior talent to Collins.  I’d rather let Oakland pay Saffold the rumored $8 million to play left tackle and focus on either Geoff Schwartz or Jon Asamoah at right guard.  I know this sounds narrow-minded since it’s only two players, but if the Bucs don’t sign either of KC’s guards, I think they’ll focus on the draft to find Joseph’s replacement.  I still like Florida’s Jon Halapio as a day three pick. 

At $4.5 million, Zuttah might not be any safer than Penn.  Working a bit in his favor though is the center market dried up a bit when Cleveland gave Alex Mack the transition tag.  Yes he’s free to talk to other teams, but I have a feeling any suitors would just be doing Cleveland’s negotiating for them.  If the Bucs do decide to move on from the versatile but average Zuttah, two realistic options are Evan Dietrich-Smith and Brian De La Puente.  Dietrich-Smith earned $1.3 million with the Packers last year, while De La Puente made $2 million with the Saints.  The former is expected to land the larger deal this offseason, but maybe the Bucs could steal the latter from a division rival at roughly what it would have cost to keep Zuttah.  De La Puente is a pretty athletic center who played for Jeff Tedford’s Cal Bears and could be a nice Mack consolation prize.

Heading into the offseason I was hoping for either Everson Griffen or Corey Wootton to be the Bucs primary focus at defensive end.  Unfortunately, Griffen signed a 5 year dealt to remain in Minnesota with $20 million guaranteed.  Wootton will come cheaper than that, has the Lovie connection, and can assist the Bucs from both the end and tackle positions.  He would be my #1 pass rush target when free agency kicks off and would give the Bucs a solid pairing at left end with William Gholston. 

Michael Johnson is the big name being tied to Tampa Bay.  With his former defensive coordinator’s new team re-upping Griffen, he’s not headed to Minnesota.  The Bears are rumored to be competition for Johnson’s services, but the Bucs should have no trouble matching any Bears’ offer since they sit at just roughly $9 million under the salary cap.  Stating the obvious, signing Johnson would be a big upgrade at left end over the disappointing Da’Quan Bowers.  An anticipated $9-10 million annual stipend may seem a bit steep for a guy with just 3.5 sacks last year, but a lot of Johnson’s contributions come in less sexy statistical categories.  Johnson tied teammate Carlos Dunlap for the league lead with 7 batted passes, and set career highs in QB hurries with 41 and hits with 17.  The bottom line is disrupting the flow and momentum of the offense.  Johnson does that in multiple ways. 

With Michael Bennett staying in Seattle, maybe Chicago finagles the cap somehow to get competitive for Johnson.  The Bucs could make my year by signing both Johnson and Wootton. 

If Henry Melton finds a soft market, the Bucs could get quite the steal at tackle.  Melton would give the Bucs a very quality rotational piece in the middle as he tries to rebuild his value.  If Melton doesn’t fall in their laps, I’d like to see the Bucs add Vance Walker, the veteran who shows up every week.  I expect both Randy Starks and Jason Hatcher to sign deals that price them out of Tampa Bay’s range, so there don’t figure to be many economical impact options. 

Other Positions
Not to completely rehash my previous piece, I would like to see the Bucs add a corner, receiver, and middle linebacker.  With the majority of the funding going into the trenches, the Bucs will likely be looking “second tier” when it comes to these positions. 

Sam Shields’ signing made a lot of other guys a lot of money.  Alterraun Verner and Vontae Davis are very unlikely options, and Aqib Talib isn’t coming back to town.  Former Bear Charles Tillman may be the most likely option, but I’d still prefer to the Corey Graham route.  He’s four years younger, a better player at this point, and will likely land a similar deal to Tillman.  Veteran Drayton Florence would be another, cheaper option and would also weaken the rival Panthers. 

With Jeremy Maclin re-signing with Philly, Andre Roberts is my clear #1 option at receiver.  He’s a proven talent who would not surprise me if he were to outplay current #2 and resident knucklehead Mike Williams.  The Bucs would still need to add to the position in the draft, and Sammy Watkins could be the cherry on top of a restocked receiving stable.

I think Mason Foster has a bullseye on his back, but there isn’t a clear, immediate upgrade in free agency.  I expect the Bucs to pursue both Erin Henderson and Desmond Bishop, former Vikings familiar with DC Leslie Frazier.   Henderson could be Dekoda Watson’s replacement at SLB, while a healthy Bishop could be legit competition for Foster.  Being greedy, I’d like to re-sign Watson, bring in the two Vikings, and let the best men win the MLB and SLB jobs. 

There’s no serious long-term threat to Mike Glennon’s job in free agency, but Josh McCown and Shaun Hill are the best remaining options.  McCown is surely seeking a shot at a starting gig, while Hill makes for the more likely clipboard holder.  I’ve mentioned Hill as an option in previous years and would be the route I’d go should they choose to bring in a veteran. 

I mentioned Dexter McCluster as someone I expected/wanted the Bucs to target in free agency, and it appears they will do so.  I have a clear preference for McCluster over Hester given that McCluster can be a pretty decent offensive contributor when given enough snaps. 

With plenty of cap space and currently only five draft picks, I expect the Bucs to be active early and often in free agency, especially with the potential “no-cap-impact” additions on the offensive line.  Since the TE market sucks, I hope they address enough other needs in free agency that they can get a quality TE in the draft.  They can’t sign all of these guys, but given what has happened and what we think we know so far, here are my updated Tampa targets –

Shaun Hill (QB, Detroit)
Eric Lorig (FB, re-sign)
Andre Roberts (WR, Arizona)
Dexter McCluster (WR/PR, Kansas City)
Anthony Collins (T, Cincinnati)
Geoff Schwartz (G, Kansas City)
Jon Asamoah (G, Kansas City)
Brian De La Puente (C, New Orleans)
Corey Wootton (DE, Chicago)
Michael Johnson (DE, Cincinnati)
Henry Melton (DT, Chicago)
Vance Walker (DT, Oakland)
Erin Henderson (LB, Minnesota)
Desmond Bishop (LB, Minnesota)
Dekoda Watson (LB, re-sign)
Corey Graham (CB, Baltimore)
Charles Tillman (CB, Chicago)