The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are probably one of the teams with the most question marks of what exactly they will do with their first round pick. They have been completely unpredictable so far in free agency under new head coach, Lovie Smith, and no expert can really pin point their exact intentions. One of the best corners in the game, Darrelle Revis, was cut not too long ago by the team; and was replaced by the younger Alterraun Verner, who is coming off his first pro bowl appearance in his career. Cost may have everything to do with the move along with the new defensive scheme under new coordinator, Leslie Frazier. Verner comes at half the price as Revis’ contract was at $16 million a year, also Frazier’s defense implements a lot more use of zone coverage, and Revis is more known for his single to man coverage. The Bucs also addressed the need for a new defensive end signing free agent, Michael Johnson. The need for another pass rusher for the Buccaneers is still high on the opposite end of the line so a possibility is open there.
NFL Draft Daily is here to project one of the most logical players in the draft for the team, not including any sort of possible trades, up or down the draft board. The Buccaneers are in a prime position to trade either way, with a lot of teams at the back end of the draft possibly looking to move up to grab their player. Where they stand now though, they need another defensive end to complement Johnson on the other side; and why not grab one of the most gifted pass rushers in the draft? Anthony Barr excels at getting to quarterback, with 22.5 sacks in his four year college career with UCLA. The outside linebacker stands at 6’4 and weighs about 250 lbs. With his long and lanky frame, add a little more bulk and he could be built in a mold of all pro defensive end who used to play for Lovie Smith in Chicago, Julius Peppers. With a nice blend of outside pass rush moves and speed, Barr could be easily turned into a dominate defensive end if a coach decides to have him put his hand in the ground; question is how would he fair against the run.
Some experts have mentioned the possibilities of players like Sammy Watkins out of Clemson, Khalil Mack out of Buffalo, and possibly a quarterback like Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater; with the 7th pick in the draft. The NFL Draft Daily does however predict that neither Watkins, Bortles, or Bridgewater; will be available when the Buccaneers are up to pick, leaving Mack as the only possibility out of the other projections. NFL.com draft expert, Mike Mayock loves Khalil Mack and projects him to being the best talent available in the draft. Why would Tampa Bay pass up a player like Mack? Many reasons. For one the Bucs have a star in the making with Lavonte David at strong side linebacker, which would be Mack’s ideal position in a 4-3 defense. Mack also does not have the size and frame to put his hand in the dirt on the defensive line, leaving him as the prototypical linebacker perfectly matched with a team with a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Tampa Bay has been rumored to have some interest in the quarterback market in the draft; but them being willing to spend a first round pick on one with liable quarterbacks like Josh McCown and Mike Glennon, makes it seem somewhat ludicrous. McCown had an incredible season filling in for Jay Cutler with the Chicago Bears, and Mike Glennon has the potential to be a competent starter for years to come. Other possible positions the Bucs may look to address could be the corner position opposite of Verner. Johnthan Banks still needs time to grow and it would help their depth in the secondary to draft another corner. Another possible option is Austin Seferian Jenkins, tight end out of Washington. Tampa Bay has needed to provide youth to the tight end position for quite some time now and he would be a welcomed addition to the offense.
As Tampa Bay sits right now in the draft; to help their pass rush, the NFL Draft Daily wraps up their review on the Bucs with the first round selection of Anthony Barr. The raw upside and talent that Barr possesses is just too hard to pass up and would bolster an already improved defensive line if they convert him to defensive end. Second round, look for either Austin Seferian Jenkins at tight end, or a corner like Bradley Roby; to solidify a starting position on their respective sides of the ball. Lovie Smith looks to create a contender out of a team on the rise. It started off with a bang in free agency and now Bucs nation is impatiently waiting for the finale in the draft for their new and improved football squad.
This article is one in a series, published daily, which provides analysis, insight, and predictions leading up to the NFL draft and beyond.
Commentary by Justin Huffman