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NFL Starting Lineups: Where do the Buccaneers rank?

The Buccaneers have one of the most talented teams in the NFL.Some people disagree, though.


Where would you rank the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in terms of their starting lineup? They have All-Pro talent at several positions, Pro Bowl talent at even more positions and added several of high-level players this offseason. In fact, the Buccaneers have a very strong starting lineup throughout -- except at tight end, of course, with Luke Stocker having the starting job there.

But, let's see what Silva has to say.

Offensive Overview: Martin's rookie season was impressive by any measure, but keep in mind he lost road-grader Joseph to a torn left patellar tendon in the preseason and All-Pro Nicks to a year-ending toe injury in Week 7. They're both back healthy now, reenergizing what could be a top-two or three power run game. With a potentially dominant ground attack and receivers who win vertically in V-Jax and Williams, the Buccaneers would rank higher on this list if Freeman's ball placement wasn't so scattershot and his performance so maddeningly inconsistent. He has a tendency lose confidence and tank for long stretches. The Bucs' management and coaching staff have acknowledged their long-term concerns with Freeman by letting him enter a contract year without an extension and drafting big-armed NC State passer Mike Glennon with the No. 73 pick. If Tampa Bay is going to take a step forward offensively, it will have to be because of Freeman.

The Buccaneers have an extremely talented line-up here, with a few problems. First, tight end. Luke Stocker's nothing more than just a guy, if his past two years of game tape can be believed, and that could be a major limitation. A bigger issue, which doesn't show up in Silva's rankings, is depth across the board. Apparently the Bucs think their sixth-round pick will be a good backup running back, while the third receiver is Kevin Ogletree. For now. That will be an issue.

Oh, and one more weird thing. Silva thinks Brian Leonard will play fullback. He will not. He's a third-down back. Erik Lorig will be the team's fullback, unless he loses to some undrafted free agent. Why do people keep thinking Leonard is a fullback, anyway? He's reasonably big for a running back, but 230 lbs. isn't exactly fullback size. Not to mention the fact that he hasn't played fullback for years, and wasn't very good at it when he did with the St. Louis Rams.

Ah well, moving on to Silva's thoughts on the defense.

Defensive Overview: I went through every NFL roster and offseason addition and concluded the Bucs have the most improved defense in football. The Revis acquisition will mask a suspect front four because of the Island Factor, where Revis covers No. 1 receivers one-on-one while Wright, Johnthan Banks, or Leonard Johnson -- whoever wins the right corner job -- draws opposing No. 2s with constant safety help. This will result in increased sacks, give coordinator Bill Sheridan more blitz options, and decrease enemy quarterbacks' efficiency. The Buccaneers aren't quite elite yet -- question marks abound at defensive end, nose tackle, strong-side linebacker, and the other cornerback position -- but Revis alone can morph this defense from bad to quite good.

The most improved defense, indeed. That's what happens when you add the best cornerback in the NFL and an All-Pro at safety while getting two defensive ends back fully healthy. Sure, the Bucs lost Michael Bennett and Roy Miller, but they have quality players at every single position, All Pros at two, a Pro Bowler at another, and multiple players with Pro Bowl potential. The only real question marks come at strongside linebacker, a position that is easily filled and not overly important, and nickel cornerback where second-rounder Johnthan Banks is expected to step in.

If the Buccaneers get a fully healthy Revis and use him in the right ways, this defense could easily be elite. But depth is a concern, and a few injuries could lay it low. If Gerald McCoy gets injured, the Buccaneers have no capable backup. If Adrian Clayborn isn't 100% or Da'Quan Bowers doesn't develop the way they want, then the Bucs have issues.

Still, just the fourteenth starting lineup in the NFL? I take issue with that

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