Matt Williamson of ESPN ranked the teams by their young talent: those players 25 years old and younger. I expected the Bucs to come in fairly high, because that's what happens every year, but the Bucs actually came in 30th this time. Only the Chicago Bears and Washington are worse off, by Williamson's reckoning.
That 25-and-under line leaves out Gerald McCoy and Alterraun Verner, which hurts the Bucs -- but then, those players aren't all that young, either.
This is the first time I can remember the Bucs being ranked this low on the "young talent" list. Last year, Gerald McCoy still qualified and Mike Williams Doug Martin still looked like promising young talents, while Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers hadn't been written off yet. And there was reason to be optimistic about Mike Glennon.
The year before that, Mark Barron looked pretty good and Josh Freeman could still rebound. And before Freeman collapsed, he looked like a young star.
This is what happens over time, of course: optimism about promising young players turns to pessimism after it turns out that they're not fulfilling that promise. And truthfully, the Bucs really haven't gotten all that much out of their young players. There's some reason to be optimistic about a few, but can we really trust that Mike Evans is definitely going to be great? History suggests it's not exactly a sure thing.
But it's the offseason, filled with potential, which means we get to be optimistic about all this stuff. Some times, though, an outside look can be pretty sobering.