The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ GM Jason Licht, Dirk Koetter, and company have a lot of work to do this off-season. Tampa Bay has not made the playoffs since 2007 when they were defeated by the New York Giants. Last year was supposed to be the year that they broke the 10-year drought, but the team did not perform well enough to end it like they, and their fans had been hoping. Let’s look at what the Buccaneers needs to address this year to make it to the playoffs, and on to the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay ranked 18th in points per game (20.9) and 23rd in points allowed per game (23.9) last season. The rushing attack, which we all thought would be one of the strengths with the return of Doug Martin, ranked 27th last year (90 yards/game).
Most fans believe that the main things Tampa needs to address this off-season are the offensive line, secondary, and pass rushers. I can agree. Robert Ayers, Noah Spence, Chris Baker, and William Gholston all missed significant time last season. Noah Spence hasn’t been healthy since we drafted him, and although he was considered an undersized defensive end coming out of college, Tampa Bay saw the high motor and took a chance on him. The top three collegiate defensive ends in this year’s draft include NC State- Bradley Chubb, Clemson- Clelan Ferrell, and LSU- Arden Key. I wouldn’t mind drafting any of these guys.
The other two positions that Tampa needs improvement on are the secondary and the offensive line. The secondary has been plagued with injuries and players playing out of position. Brent Grimes hasn’t been able to stay healthy and missed a few games. Robert McClain and Justin Evans were both shuffled around to experiment at different positions, and Hargreaves took a couple steps back in coverage- literally. Tampa should really look at these collegiate corners to help them in the secondary: Iowa- Joshua Jackson, Ohio State- Denzel Ward, and Auburn- Carlton Davis.
The offensive line was supposed to be a strength of Tampa Bay this year, but they were riddled with injuries. JR Sweezy hasn’t been as dominant as he was in Seattle. Ali Marpet was shuffled around and doesn’t look like the guy we drafted, despite playing well as center. When Tampa Bay had success in the past, we played defense and ran the ball. That starts with the offensive line. Tampa Bay has been linked to a couple offensive linemen, but here are the three top-ranked collegiate linemen: ND- Mike McGlinchey, ND- Quenten Nelson, and Pitt- Brian O’Neill. I think any of these guys would serve Tampa well.
We will see how the Buccaneers address these needs but one thing rings true – if they don’t it will be another year watching our rivals from the NFC South in the playoffs. In my opinion, Tampa Bay should spend their first round pick on one of the Notre Dame offensive linemen or Joshua Jackson, a corner from Iowa. I don’t know if Jackson will be available when the Buccaneers pick, but it is a very exciting time to be a fan.
Edited By: Morgan Adele