The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are preparing for the draft, and they know what they need to do: find a pass-rusher, maybe a defensive back, and add depth everywhere. It's not a complicated list, but ESPN's John Clayton thinks the Bucs' decisions this year could be some of the biggest in the entire draft, naming them as one of three teams with the most at stake.
"If they can hit on a young player at both of those two positions, cornerback and defensive end, particularly rushing the passer, they're gonna be golden and may start make a playoff run within another year. "
Now I don't want to be too negative here, but we've been hearing the "just another year" spiel for, well, years. The Bucs shouldn't be satisfied with some steps forward this year, they should be a playoff team. Remember: last year, they were in position to land a playoff spot before losing the last four games of the season. The Bucs have added talent and have changed their head coach and defensive coordinator. They'll also see Jameis Winston entering his second year, hopefully having overcome some of his rookie flaws. That alone should be enough to make this a playoff team, but they do need some draft help.
Here's a problem: defensive ends rarely make a big impact early in their careers. And if the Bucs want to make the playoffs, and they do, they're going to need to find a way to impact the passer. Let's hope Robert Ayers and Jacquies Smith are up to it.