May 15, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano talks to the team during organized team activities at One Buc. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
ESPN is running a feature behind its Insider pay wall on the future power rankings of every NFL franchise in 2015. Given the trouble people have making bold predictions and extrapolating into the future, it should come as no surprise that the rankings are really very, very similar to today's rankings. But it's worth examining, anyway.
The Bucs were ranked 19th in the NFL, which is a little higher than they usually appear in power rankings right now. More importantly, ESPN really did have a lot of good things to say about the direction of the team:
Roster: There is youth on this roster due to pretty good recent drafts, and that bodes well for the future. They are in good shape at the offensive skill positions with some work to do on the offensive line. On defense, they are young and talented in the front four, but there is a lot of work to do in the back seven. The player they can build around is rookie safety Mark Barron. -- Horton
Quarterback: With 40 regular-season starts under his belt, it's easy to forget Josh Freeman is still 24. He forced things last year and piled up 22 INTs, but should improve dramatically as he doesn't try to force things for a team going nowhere. That was the story in 2011. -- Dilfer
Draft: Below-average returns over the past two years, but with promise still out there. If Freeman bounces back, he rescues the 2008 draft. The 2012 could be star-studded, as Barron, RB Doug Martin and LB Lavonte David could all be immediate starters. -- Kiper
Front office: This organization changed its course this offseason as it freely spent money on game-changing free agents. The Bucs also are good at re-signing their own players, which helps keep a happy locker room. The front office and coaching staff really know their personnel and that helps the Bucs in attracting the right players. GM Mark Dominik and his scouting staff work well with the coaches, and Dominik leans on personnel director Dennis Hickey for input. -- Horton
Coaching: With head coach Greg Schiano coming from the college ranks, this coaching staff has a real teaching element to it and they will demand discipline and attention to detail from the players. There are not a lot of high-profile names here and the coordinators are not necessarily well known, but you get the feeling that Schiano will oversee every facet of this staff, much like Belichick does. -- Horton
Here's the thing, though. If the Bucs are ranked 19th by 2015, then Greg Schiano won't be the Bucs' head coach anymore, Josh Freeman won't be the quarterback, and Mark Dominik won't be running the front office. Displaying so little improvement over a four-year period would likely be unacceptable to the Glazers. The Bucs have the pieces in place to be much better than that - but so do a lot of other franchises. It will be interesting to see whether the Bucs can make it to the top again in the next four years.