ESPN has published yet another ranking. This time, they took a look at the top 200 players in the NFL, based on Scouts Inc.'s and Matt Williamson's film study. Just two Buccaneers make that top 200 list, and neither of those players was actually on the team last year. Carl Nicks comes in as the second-highest ranked guard in the NFL at number 47, while Vincent Jackson comes in at number 87 behind a slew of other receivers. Here's what ESPN has to say about these two players:
Jackson is a big receiver with a long, deceptive stride that allows him to eat up ground and get behind defenders. He has excellent ball skills and very good hand-eye coordination that allows him to go up and overpower defenders.
He has a wide receiving radius. He can high-point the ball and catch over the top of smaller defenders. He can adjust to slightly off target throws. He is not especially explosive but can drop his hips to get in and out of his breaks with foot agility and uses a bit of a burst to gain separation. He is not going to just blow by a secondary with speed but has a feel for running after the catch.
Nicks is a massive lineman with long arms. He can get a good fit with his hands to steer opponents by the pocket.
Nicks has developed the ability to keep his pad level down to sustain blocks and can react to movement. He can roll his hips on contact to drive opponents off the ball and does a good job finishing blocks off.
It shouldn't be a surprise that just two players get some recognition, but it is a bit of an injustice. No Aqib Talib, Donald Penn, Davin Joseph or Adrian Clayborn? Rough, but probably fair: the Bucs didn't do a lot of good things last year, and it's hard to rank players on one of the worst teams in the league among the top 200 among their peers. It's ironic that the only two players to be recognized are the players who were brought in in free agency, and not the players who have actually been with the Bucs for a longer period of time.
For the team to have success this year, though, they'll need some of those longtime Bucs to stand up and join the two big free agents on the list. Having two big-name players is good, but having one big-name team is a lot better.