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Buccaneers have17th-ranked roster in NFL per Pro Football Focus

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers shouldn't be too optimistic about the current roster, according to Pro Football Focus.

Al Messerschmidt

I'm turning into a bit of a negative nancy here, and I'm not sure why. I should get back to being positive. Just not in this article, where we talk about the fact that Pro Football Focus thinks the Buccaneers have the 17th ranked roster in the NFL.

Tampa Bay remains a team all over the place when it comes to starters, with two blue-chip players on defense (Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David) but three players (25 percent) graded as poor starters and three more below average. On offense there are high-quality players (Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks), but there remain players below average, even new imports such as Myers at tight end.

This is all fair. There are lots of questions. If those questions are answered properly, then the team should be really good -- but that's a very big if, and those question marks aren't trivial by any means-- most notably at offensive guard, where Pro Football Focus is assuming that Carl Nicks will play (far from a certainty).

A few of their assumptions are interesting, though. Adrian Clayborn is listed as the left defensive end, but that position is certainly open for competition from William Gholston and Da'Quan Bowers. Akeem Spence is listed as the nose tackle, but most indications are that Clinton McDonald will get a lot of playing time at that position, or be the starter. Leonard Johnson is listed as the slot cornerback, but D.J. Moore is winning that competition battle.

That doesn't change the fundamental point, though: this is a roster with a lot of potential and a few high-end players -- but also a roster with lots of "ifs". If Gerald McCoy can stay healthy. If Carl Nicks can play. If Dashon Goldson can be more disciplined. If a left end can develop. If Michael Johnson can turn pressure into sacks. If Josh McCown can play up to his 2013 form. If Mike Evans can make an early impact. If Austin Seferian-Jenkins van be that versatile guy. If Charles Sims can add a new dimension to the passing game. If Jeff Tedford can do good things in the NFL. If all of those players I didn't mention don't decline or injure themselves. If if if if if.

Some of those ifs will be answered in the affirmative, and the Bucs will be better for it. But inevitably, a lot of those ifs will turn into "We would have won, if only".