ESPN's annual roster-ranking is out, using Pro Football Focus' analysts, and the Buccaneers come in 29th. That's behind the Oakland Raiders here. The Raiders! That's just too much. I get that everyone's down on the Buccaneers, but the roster is not *that* bad. Most significantly, the Bucs actually dropped a whopping 12 places this year despite apparently having a better roster.
More baffling than the actual ranking is the explanation, though.
Top five players: Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Demar Dotson
Starters who should be upgraded: Louis Murphy, Chris Conte, Johnthan Banks, Bruce Carter, Clinton McDonald
Analysis: McCoy and David are elite defensive talents, but unfortunately for the Bucs, they don't have much around them. Players like Danny Lansanah and Henry Melton have the ability to change that, but there are still major holes at defensive end, nose tackle and safety.
No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston is the headline addition to the offense, but the Bucs are also slated to start rookies at left tackle and right guard, leaving some uncertainty around the level of protection Winston will get in Year 1.
I don't understand this analysis at all. Clinton McDonald needs to be upgraded, really? That's just a weird contention. Defensive tackle is the team's strongest position, and McDonald played very well last year. He's fine. And Johnthan Banks is not a problem either -- he has significant competition from Mike Jenkins and Sterling Moore anyway, but he played well over the second half of the season. He's not a dominant player, but he'll be fine -- and if he won't be, the Bucs have plenty of depth at cornerback to step in in his place.
Bruce Carter and Chris Conte as question marks I do understand, though I'm fairly confident that neither player is going to be a liability -- and there is (mediocre) depth behind both players. But if this team is going to fail this year, it's not going to be because of either player. It's going to be because either there's no pass rush from the defensive ends, Jameis Winston isn't as good as we think he'll be or the offensive line is still a disaster because of the rookies. And probably a combination of those things.
While I can see the concerns here, I just don't think they're going to be the real problems for the Bucs this year. Certainly not big enough issues to justify a 29th overall ranking.