The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have needs. I know, shocking, right? JC had a quality article about a few needs earlier today, but it was missing something. Rankings! How are we supposed to go through life
It doesn't hurt that I disagreed with him on a few of those needs. Is that a good sign for the Bucs, or a bad one? Does it mean they have too many needs, or they're so small that they don't matter? I don't know. Let's figure it out as we go along.
On the roster: Darrelle Revis, Eric Wright, Anthony Gaitor, Danny Gorrer, Leonard Johnson, Myron Lewis, James Rogers.
The Buccaneers traded for Revis, and cornerback is still their top need? Yep. For one simple reason. The Buccaneers have the best cornerback in the NFL and a quality second cornerback in Eric Wright, but their depth is abysmal. As soon as opponents trot out three receivers they're in trouble. Leonard Johnson showed flashes last year, but nothing more than that. Anthony Gaitor is competitive, but his size limits him terribly. Myron Lewis has physical gifts, but he's looked terrible every time the Bucs tried to get him to use them. James Rogers I haven't even seen play.
If Ronde Barber comes back this need is alleviated, but they could still use some depth.
Possible targets: Plenty of players should be available in the second and third round of the draft, and I would expect them to grab the best of a deep group that includes Logan Ryan, Johnthan Banks, Jamar Taylor, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Desmond Trufant. There's a small chance they try to trade back into the first round if the right prospect falls -- like, say, my own favorite player D.J. Hayden.
2. Tight end
On the roster: Luke Stocker, Tom Crabtree, Nate Byham, Drake Dunsmore, Zach Miller, Danny Noble.
This is a whole load of nothing, really. Byham is the best blocker on the roster while Crabtree is a versatile but undersized player with a little speed and nastiness as a blocker. The Bucs supposedly have some hopes for Luke Stocker, but the third-year player out of Tennessee has been only an adequate blocker and nothing special as a receiver so far.
Perhaps tight end doesn't play a big role in Mike Sullivan's offense, and there's some evidence to suggest that that is the case, but it is not an irrelevant position. The Bucs trotted out two tight ends quite often, and while they blocked more often than not, having them serve as a receiving threat will solve some offensive issues for the Bucs. The Bucs have added a slew of third and fourth receivers this offseason, so I expect them to address that position through competition rather than by adding draftees.
Possible targets: Zach Ertz may fall to the Bucs and would be a nice pickup. He can block and catch, but he doesn't have the special skills that Tyler Eifert has. Still, he'd be an instant upgrade. Gavin Escobar and Travis Kelce could be third-round targets for the Bucs. Both players are gifted but have some off-field issues. Keep an eye on Rutgers tight end D.C. Jefferson in the later rounds -- a very raw but physically gifted prospect who played for Schiano in college.
3. Defensive line depth
On the roster: Da'Quan Bowers, Adrian Clayborn, Gerald McCoy, Derek Landri, Gary Gibson, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Aaron Morgan, Corvey Irvin, Lazarius Levingston, Markus White, Ernest Owusu, Matthew Masifilio, Richard Clebert.
The Buccaneers have three quality starters in Bowers, Clayborn and McCoy, although Clayborn has some injury concerns. The Bucs think they can fill the nose tackle position with journeymen quite easily, which is where Derek Landri and Gary Gibson come in. They're probably right about that, and I don't think they see the position as a need.
The depth beyond the starters is awful, though, with Daniel Te'o-Nesheim the only remotely valuable contributor. Aaron Morgan showed a few flashes as a speed rusher last season, although he failed to develop a counter move which rather limited him. The Bucs could do with a backup three-technique or defensive end, especially a pass-rush specialist.
Possible targets: Depth at defensive end is non-existent, although the Buccaneers could maybe grab a falling prospect like Damontre Moore. Defensive tackles are widely available, though, with players like Jesse Williams, Datone Jones (who would likely play three-technique for the Bucs), Sylvester Williams and John Jenkins all possibly falling to the Buccaneers.
4. Backup quarterback
On the roster: Josh Freeman, Dan Orlovsky, Adam Weber
Freeman's entering the final year of his contract and has struggled with consistency throughout his NFL career so far. The Buccaneers may opt for some insurance in the form of a mid-round quarterback, while that player would also likely upgrade their backup quarerback position by displacing Dan Orlovsky.
Possible targets: I can't make heads or tails of this quarterback class, but players like Tyler Bray, Tyler Wilson and Landry Jones are likely to be available late. The good news is that there are a lot of players with talent in this draft class. The bad news is they all have very significant warts.
5. Offensive tackle
Donald Penn is a solid starter and Demar Dotson is adequate with plenty of room to grow, but Hardman, Meredith and Remmers are scary prospects, especially so if they have to fill in at left tackle. Hardman and Meredith seem better suited to guard, while Remmers has yet to play a down of offensive NFL football. The Bucs could target a potential starting right tackle, relegating Dotson to backup swing tackle, or they could try to find a later-round prospect to groom. Mark Dominik isn't a fan of drafting offensive linemen high, though.
Possible targets: Justin Pugh and Terron Armstead could fall to the Bucs in the second round, but they're more likely to look to later rounds. Ricky Wagner has been connected to the Bucs repeatedly, mostly because he played for current offensive line coach Bob Bostad at Wisconsin.