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Bucs Draft Needs

With the draft approaching, it's useful to look at the Bucs' needs to get an idea of the positions they may be targeting in the draft. I'll divide the 'needs' for the Bucs into three categories. First, the positions of true need - the positions the Bucs must add talent to if they want to win next season. Second, the positions that warrant improvement - those positions that should be improved upon, but aren't in that bad a shape that the Bucs can't win. Third, the positions of luxury - those the Bucs can add a few players to, but are well-stocked anyway. 

Positions of Need:

I'd only list one position here: Defensive End. The Bucs main sack artist last season was Stylez G. White, with 4.5 sacks. Aside from the fact that he likely won't be coming back, he's not going to get any better at age 32 either. The Bucs have a little raw talent at the position in the form of Michael Bennett and Alex Magee, but these players cannot be counted on for next season. The Bucs have to add at least two defensive ends to the roster before the season starts if they want to make the playoffs. 

Positions that warrant improvement:

This list is a bit more extensive. We'll start with linebacker. Right now Quincy Black and Barrett Ruud are scheduled to be free agents, as is backup linebacker Adam Hayward. I think the Bucs can win with Dekoda Watson, Tyrone McKenzie and Geno Hayes as starting linebackers, but that's an awfully thin talent base and that group of players won't impress many people. The Bucs need to re-sign at least one of their free agent linebackers to at least create some depth at the position, and it would be great if the Bucs can add a playmaker at the position. A run-stuffing middle linebacker and an outside linebacker who can actually beat offensive linemen as a pass rusher could improve the team tremendously. 

The next position on this list is Guard. The Bucs can win with Ted Larsen and Derek Hardman as starters - they've proven as much last season. But the team can't feel secure with those two starting, although both should improve next season if they spend the offseason in the weight room. The Bucs would benefit greatly from adding a good guard, and the best candidate for that may be a Buccaneer already: Davin Joseph. If they can't re-sign Joseph, adding a guard in the draft or free agency would be very beneficial for this young team. 

In keeping with the previous position we now move on to Right Tackle. Jeremy Trueblood is a free agent and wasn't all that solid in the first place. Instead James Lee stepped in last year and did a better job, especially as a pass blocker. Despite that, Lee is hardly a world-beater and adding someone like Gabe Carimi in the draft would greatly aid the Bucs' running game. 

Now we come to the safety position. Sean Jones is a decent starter who doesn't make much of an impact in the passing game, and Cody Grimm was great as a rookie but isn't a top-level safety either. With Tanard Jackson's return being uncertain, the Bucs could use an instinctive safety with a lot of range to patrol the deep zones. 

And then there's the running back position. While the Bucs have a clear number 1 in Legarrette Blount, they could use a speedy change of pace back to complement him. In addition to that, they need a third-down back who can pass-block and contribute as a receiver. Those functions could all be fulfilled by the same back, but the Bucs do need to add someone to do so. Cadillac Williams could be re-signed as a third-down back, but that would still leave a need for a speedy change of pace back. 

Positions of luxury

The first such position is wide receiver. The Bucs have a solid receiving corps with Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Dezmon Briscoe, Michael Spurlock and Sammie Stroughter. There's one type of player they don't really have: the speedy deep threat. While Benn caught a number of deep balls last season, he can't stretch the field the way a deep threat does. A true speed freak could force safeties to play deeper, opening up a lot of space underneath. 

The Bucs could also use a receiving tight end. Kellen Winslow Jr. is a very good receiving tight end, but his knee will remain a chronic problem and if he goes down the Bucs have no capable backup. There are plenty of blocking tight ends on the roster, but no backup receiving tight end. Ideally any drafted tight end will be both a capable blocker and a threat in the passing game, but those kinds of players are tough to find. 

And finally, the Bucs could pick a cornerback at any point in the draft. With Ronde Barber, Aqib Talib and E.J. Biggers the Bucs are set for next year, and they have a talented developmental player in Myron Lewis. There's no need to draft any cornerback, but in today's NFL you can't really have enough good cornerbacks on your roster. Because Myron Lewis isn't a sure thing to develop in the future, another cornerback could be useful, but has to be seen as a luxury.