A Still Too Early Look at the "53"

As I was going through Sander's Winners and Losers from Preseason Game 1 post, I got to thinking about what the roster is going to look like. Most of us can probably pencil in the starters across the board except for RB and barring injury, but I was wondering what the depth was going to look like.

This is all totally based on what I've read from training camp and the following of the first preseason game, so this is anything but scientific. I'll take a look back to see where I was right and wrong when the final team is announced.



  1. J. Freeman
  2. D. Orlovsky
  3. B. Ratliff

Analysis: Ratliff is probably my last player onto the 53 and a question mark given the Roster arrangements regarding the 3rd QB under the new CBA, but he's insurance.


  1. L. Blount
  2. D. Martin
  3. M. Madu

Analysis: Blount and Martin are 1 and 1a, I see fairly equal snaps for them if Martin can handle playing at the NFL level. Right now, I'm picking Madu over Smith, based purely on time in/around the league. I think the coaching staff may want Smith to have some time to add some size and experience before calling him up. However, as you'll see below, he's my number 1 on the Practice Squad.


  1. E. Lorig

Analysis: In spite of Coach Schiano's power running game, I only see one FB making the team for two reasons. Pinalto can play TE and FB and what do you know about Robert Hughes and Cody Johnson.


  1. V. Jackson
  2. T. Underwood
  3. A. Benn

Analysis: I still think Benn has more talent/potential than Underwood, but his injury in preseason will hold him back. He's going to make the roster but he needs to get healthy and play up into the rotation.


  1. M. Williams
  2. P. Parker
  3. S. Stroughter

Analysis: If Smith is held off, return duties are going to fall on Parker and Stroughter. Both those men also provide solid value in the slot. Hopefully Stroughter is 100% after his injuries.


  1. L. Stocker
  2. D. Clark
  3. Z. Pinalto

Analysis: I'm putting Stocker over Clark based on blocking, which fits into the Offense better, and he had a pretty solid first preseason game. Stephen Holder tweeted that throughout Preseason, he hasn't looked natural catching the ball, but he catches it. As above, I think Pinalto also provides some depth at FB.


  1. D. Penn
  2. D. Dotson

Analysis: Not much in the way of surprise here. Let's just hope Penn gets back soon.


  1. C Nicks

Analysis: I don't see the team going into the season 2 deep across the board at OL, but Larsen and Hardman should back up all interior spots.


  1. J. Zuttah
  2. T. Larsen

Analysis: See LG


  1. D. Joseph
  2. D. Hardman

Analysis: See LG


  1. J. Trueblood
  2. J. Meredith

Analysis: I doubt Meredith makes many game day rosters, but he's a FA pickup with experience and provides solid depth.



  1. M. Bennett
  2. E. Wilson

Analysis: Get well soon, Da'quan!


  1. G. McCoy
  2. A. Okoye

Analysis: No real surprises here, I think.


  1. R. Miller
  2. G. Gibson
  3. F. Okam

Analysis: Okam continues to make the roster primarily because he's one big mother. The talent takes a hit with Price gone, but overall I'm okay with Depth at DT, I think all five will get time in the rotation.


  1. A. Clayborn
  2. G. Johnosn

Analysis: Hopefully some of that potential Johnson has reportedly shown can translate into depth. Oh, and hurry back Da'quan.


  1. L. David
  2. N. Goode

Analysis: Goode probably falls somewhere between game day inactive and Practice Squad, but for now I think his draft position gets him on the 53.


  1. M. Foster
  2. A. Hayward

Analysis: So Curtis Lofton or David Hawthorne really wasn't worth spending some of that remaining cap room?


  1. Q. Black
  2. D. Watson

Analysis: Watson may actually provide some additional DE depth. I think this position will be much different under the new system and play more into Black and Watson's speed as blitzers. Yes, I think Black can have a comeback year.


  1. A. Talib
  2. M. Lewis
  3. E. Biggers

Analysis: I'm okay with Lewis in the slot from time to time, but if something happens to Talib, Lewis si going to require some significant safety help.


  1. E. Wright
  2. A. Gaitor

Analysis: Did you know the Bucs still have around $15m of cap space for this year? Did you also know that Brandon Carr's contract is $2.5m more per year than Eric Wright's?


  1. M. Barron
  2. L. Asante
  3. C. Grimm

Analysis: Despite his performance on Friday, we've seen that Grimm can play. Hopefully his injuries aren't too debilitating. He may also provide some LB depth.


  1. R. Barber
  2. A. Black

Analysis: Early indication is that Barber will slide down into the slot in Nickel packages. I'm interested to see if one of the other safety's can step up and prove themselves when that happens, taking a bit of offseason pressure off for next year.

Special Teams


  1. A. Economos

Analysis: I wonder what Andrew's Madden rating will be this year...


  1. M. Koenen

Analysis: When your punter makes $3.3m in a season do you think you find just about any job for him to do? This contract still blows my mind.


  1. C. Barth

Mr. Franchise Tag and Contract extension is most likely a lock to make the team. And when he does, $3m Roster Bonus! On top of of his $1.45m base salary this year! This is while we have a former Groza award winner on the preseason roster on a league minimum contract. Barth's contract is 4 years $13.2m with $4m guaranteed. Over the life of that contract, he will earn, on average, $2.7m more per year than the league minimum...

Did you know Brandon Carr's contract is for $2.5m more per year than Eric Wright's?

Practice Squad

(Listed in Order of most likely to be promoted)

  1. M. Smith
  2. D. Dunsmore
  3. K. Tandy
  4. R. Curran
  5. E. Gant
  6. Misc. OL/DL

Those first three are this year's last 3 draft picks. I don't think that should be interpreted as bad drafting so much as the overall talent level of the team is now such that we shouldn't expect all draft picks to immediately make the roster. I would also highly doubt in this scenario that Smith would spend the whole season on the roster. I think he moves up around the time of the Bye week. Dunsmore may also provide some more FB depth if required.

Overall Analysis

My 53 is light at the RB department, which would probably mean either another dedicated FB, or Smith moving up. In place of that Six receivers would probably be a bit high, and either Parker or Stroughter would go to make way for Smith who would handle returns.

There's not much depth at DE, and after camp cuts, it may be worthwhile to bring in a player there, probably sacrificing one of the roster spots at QB, WR, LB, or DB.

10 DBs also seems a bit heavy, but I don't know who I would cut to bring in someone else.

I know Barth is a favorite around here, and with good reason, his kicking was one of the bright spots on our team last year. I just think committing that much money to a kicker when you already have a $3m punter who kicks off on the roster was silly. Kickers can win games, for sure, but I'd rather have a player who would do more to ensure we're not in a position where we're relying on the kicker to win games.

Anyway, time to see just how wrong I turn out to be.

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