Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agency: Tracking 2012 Signings, Targets, and Rumors
Four wins is still better than no wins, right?
General manager Mark Dominik, owner Malcolm Glazer and new head coach Greg Schiano have a tough offseason ahead of them, which shines hope and flickers despair in equal proportions. After just missing the 2010 playoffs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 4-2 start to a promising season, to ten straight losses under former HC Raheem Morris.
Enter a return to center.
In this free agency tracker, found only on Bleacher Report, we will compile all the facts, outcomes, needs, moves, re-signings, free agent/draft targets and everything else related to the Buccaneers' offseason. This project will receive updates anytime new information is uncovered, and will undergo constant revision to adapt to new situations.
We'll do the work.
All you have to do is sit back, relax, and read.
Tracking Every Offseason Signing, Re-Signing, and Move
April 7, 2012: Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting the Bucs have signed DT Amobi Okoye to a one-year, $2 million dollar deal.
March 22, 2012: The Buccaneers official Twitter account is reporting that they have signed T Jamon Meredith and have released DEs Nick Reed and Tim Crowder.
March 15, 2012: ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting via his Twitter that the Buccaneers have signed backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky to a two year deal.
UPDATE March 14, 2012: ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting via his Twitter that the Buccaneers have agreed to a deal with former Saints guard Carl Nicks. It's reportedly for five-years $47.5 million with $31 million guaranteed.
Adam Schefter is also reporting the Bucs have signed CB Eric Wright to a 5 year contract worth $37.5 million dollars with $15.5 million dollars guaranteed.
March 13, 2012: Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that the Buccaneers have signed Vincent Jackson to a 5 year, $55.55 million dollar contract with $26 million dollars guaranteed.
March 5, 2012: The Buccaneers have reported via their website that the team has placed a franchise tag on kicker Connor Barth. The tag is "non-exclusive" according to the report, and worth $2.6 million against the salary cap.
According to Buccaneers.com G Jeremy Zuttah re-signed to a four year contract. It is clear that the team wants some skilled linemen to be watching Josh Freeman's back.
February 15, 2012: DT Albert Haynesworth released. This move saved the Bucs $7 million, which is even more fantastic when one considers how useless Haynesworth was. In seven games, he made just twenty tackles, and zero sacks. Haynesworth only got playing time because of injuries on the defensive line.
Salary Cap Status
According to Spotrac, the internet's premier resource for sports contracts, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are estimated to owe $80,494,164 in player contracts during the 2012 season. With the current salary cap, that leaves them $39,880,836 to spend in free-agency and on draft prospects.
However, due to roll over cap room from last season, they actually have $60,496,000 to spend. That is more than any other team in the league.
Oh wait! They also released Albert Haynesworth, freeing up another $7 million, which brings the total to roughly $67,496,000.
Given their 4-12 record in 2011, most of that money will probably be spent on acquiring veteran talent.
Problematic Cap Hits:
In truth, the front office has no need to cut anybody. They have more cap space than any other team, and do not have many must-sign free agents set to walk off. No salaries will balloon, and for the most part, players are being paid their worth.
If I were to be picky, I'd take a long look at Kellen Winslow and a few others. The tight end caught 75 balls and only turned two of them into touchdowns. Does that sound like a five million dollar man? Also, Davin Joseph is set to make $9,500,000. He made the Pro Bowl, but does not deserve that much money. Jeff Faine, a center, could make $5,925,000, and earns the offensive line another spot on he overpaid list. Quincy Black, possibly the worst starting linebacker, may make the most money of the LBs.
Obviously, Josh Freeman did not have the greatest 2011, but any franchise quarterback who makes under $10 million is a complete and utter steal. Last year's third round draft pick, Mason Foster, recorded the second most tackles on the team, and barely makes $500,000.
I will take a lot of flak for this in the comment section (please no swearing), but LeGarrette Blount is underpaid. Played as an every down back, Blount still made less money than most running backs, paid less than half a million dollars for his services. That is even less than a late round rookie will make.
Major Cap Issues
Nope, Peyton Manning does not play for the Bucs.
Last Year's Holes and Problematic Positions
It's pretty darn obvious that the Buccaneers had some serious holes in 2011, which led to ten straight losses. Poor coaching by Raheem Morris can only take so much of the blame.
Josh Freeman regressed during 2011, in nearly every way. He went from six interceptions to 22 within the span of a single year. His mechanics, his decision making, and his composure all went down the toilet. Admittedly, his completion percentage and passing yards went up marginally, but those were due to the number of dump-offs, as evidenced by the decreased yards-per-attempt.
Who was the idiot that thought LeGarrette Blount could be an every down back? I don't dislike him, but I at least know that he's not Adrian Peterson or Ray Rice. Beyond Blount, Earnest Graham and Kregg Lumpkin had no presence in the backfield, neither accumulating 500 total yards. The Bucs have the dubious distinction of being the only team without a 1000+ yard rusher or multiple 500+ runners. Their quarterback had the second most rushing yards on the team.
And he's not even a natural scrambler.
Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn collectively decided to become non factors in 2011. Williams proved he was unfit to play No.1 WR, while Benn showed he shouldn't be starting, as Preston Parker quickly outmatched him.
Jeremy Trueblood should not be an NFL starting tackle. That much is obvious. He does not give up large amount of sacks, but allows a staggering number of pressures. He's pretty weak for such big man, and is not fast enough to compensate.
Gerald McCoy, the No.3 overall draft selection in 2010, suffered a season-ending injury, that pretty much killed off the defensive line. Albert Haynesworth was brought in to display the front office's desperation. The Bucs ranked as the worst defense against run, mostly because of the giant holes left down the middle for opposing running backs to stroll through.
Mason Foster may have shown flashes of elite potential in his rookie season, but that does not excuse the rest of the linebacker corps. ProFootballFocus actually ranked Geno Hayes as the best linebacker, even though he was benched. Quincy Black was down-right awful, and there was no depth beyond the three men already listed.
Sean Jones somehow collected the most tackles in Tampa, even though his 2011 was more about the tackles he missed. Same goes with the rest of the secondary, who underperformed to unprecedented heights. Aqib Talib played 13 games, and contributed only 34 tackles and two interceptions. Ronde Barber, the long-time leader of the defensive backs, say a major drop in his skills. The only reason that the Bucs didn't have the worst pass defense in the NFL was because it was even easier to run over them.
Listing the Buccaneers' 2012 Free Agents
Luckily, the Bucs do not have any critical players who are entering free agency. There are quite a few important ones, however, most notably the veteran Ronde Barber.
An unrestricted free agent is a player whom the team can try to negotiate a new contract with until the start of free agency.
QB Josh Johnson
RB Earnest Graham
G Jeremy Zuttah Update: According to Buccaneers.com G Jeremy Zuttah re-signed to a four year contract.
T James Lee
LB Geno Hayes
CB Ronde Barber
CB Elbert Mack
CB Corey Lynch
S Sean Jones
K Connor Barth Update: The Buccaneers have reported via their website that the team has placed a franchise tag on kicker Connor Barth.
Restricted free agency is more complicated. The Bucs have the option to offer their restricted free-agents (RFAs) a one-year tender instead of a long-term salary. The tenders have valued decided on by the Collective Bargaining Agency.
The RFA has the option to negotiate with any team. If another franchise wants the player, they give him an offer sheet, which if he accepts, is given to his old club. The old team can decide to take up the offer or to refuse, keeping the RFA. If not, they are given some of the other club's draft picks. Larger tenders mean more and higher round picks.
RB LeGarrette Blount
RB Kregg Lumpkin
WR Preston Parker
T Demar Dotson
DT Michael Bennett
CB Domonique Johnson
Determining Contract Value of Each Free Agent
For every free agent, a minimum salary is assigned, based on experience. But, I propose that we only pay players for their actual worth, so I will base these estimations on what other players with the same talents are paid.
Only a few of these players are Pro Bowl level talents. Jeremy Zuttah comes to mind immediately, as he was robbed of a Hawaii trip in 2011 by own teammate Davin Joseph. Despite his position, Connor Barth is a true impact player, who could eventually be the NFL's premier kicker.
QB Josh Johnson-$1.75 million (estimated)
In a quarterback dominated league, even a backup can join the upper echelons of the 1%. During the 2011 season, Josh Johnson was mostly used in the wildcat or when Josh Freeman was injured, but that should not hurt his stock too much. He has a great deal of athletic ability, and a very strong arm.
RB LeGarrette Blount-$2 million (estimated)
These days, only the 14 highest paid running backs make more than $2 million. LeGarrette Blount rushed for the 24th most yards last season, just 121 more than Tim Tebow of all people. By the numbers, Blunt should earn about $855,000. However, Tampa under-used him, so his full potential was not achieved in 2011. With a stronger defense, they will have more more liberty to run on their terms.
RB Earnest Graham-$500,000 (estimated)
Earnest Graham is pretty old for a running back. 32 years of age and 37 rushing attempts in an entire season do not help his stock at all.
RB Kregg Lumpkin-$750,000 (estimated)
Kregg Lumpkin is similar to Earnest Graham if one considers the amount of carries the two get. Lumpkin rushed 31 times last season, but caught 41 passes for 291 yards, ensuring a decent salary.
WR Preston Parker-$1.1 million (estimated)
The 25 year-old managed 554 yards receiving in 40 catches. 189 of those yards came from 3rd and long situations, meaning Preston Parker is pretty clutch. But three touchdowns will not bring in the big bucks.
T James Lee-$500,000 (estimated)
Lee filled in for the injured Jeremy Trueblood at tackle, and did not have much effect on anything in particular.
T Demar Dotson-$300,000 (estimated)
Doesn't play too often, always for a good reason.
G Jeremy Zuttah: Update: According to Buccaneers.com G Jeremy Zuttah re-signed to a four year contract.
DT Michael Bennett-$1.9 million (estimated)
Despite newcomers Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers, Michael Bennet managed to lead the defensive line in tackles, with 39 total. His versatility in playing either end or tackle helps to patch the holes in the oft-injured D-line.
LB Geno Hayes-$1 million (estimated)
Geno Hayes always hustles to the ball. Sometimes this isn't good, as it leads to missed tackles and misreads. For what it's worth, Hayes does make tackles, stringing together the second-most of all the linebackers.
CB Ronde Barber-$3 million (estimated)
Now this one's a challenge. Ronde Barber is in the twilight of his career, yet still a leader in the secondary. After 15 years in the NFL, he may very well hang up his helmet and retire.
CB Elbert Mack-$600,000 (estimated)
Elbert Mack is a prototype for a special-teamer playing with the big boys-and failing. Blows coverages, gets beat deep.
CB Corey Lynch-$550,000 (estimated)
Corey Lynch should not be playing 16 games in a season, but alas, he is. The corner lacks the instincts to be even average.
CB Domonique Johnson-$500,000 (estimated)
Pure roster filler, but some rosters need filler.
S Sean Jones-$900,000 (estimated)
Sean Jones led the Bucs in tackles, but was not a dominant force in the secondary. He missed tackles, set up bad angles, and was weak in coverage. It's safe to say that he was not very good. It's safe to say that he was bad.
K Connor Barth-$2.3 million (estimated)
Update: The Buccaneers have reported via their website that the team has placed a franchise tag on kicker Connor Barth.
Making 92.9 percent of one's field goals is no easy feat. Connor Barth missed just two kicks from 40+ yards, and made everything else. If the Bucs can get in the red-zone more often, then Barth will be an elite kicker for years to come.
Projecting Which Free Agents the Bucs Will Re-Sign
One advantage that comes from going 4-12 is that most of your free agents probably aren't too expensive.
Tampa Bay has the money to re-sign all of their free agents, but why would they? Many of the guys whom they can let walk are near useless to a franchise in re-build mode.Mark Dominik has only a few players he must re-sign, and many more he should not. The Glazers won't have to spend the big bucks on their own free agents, just those of other teams.
Ronde Barber presents an interesting predicament. On one hand, he has been a constant for a team which has had a 15 year roller coaster ride. His play, enthusiasm, and dedication make him a fan favorite and a leader. On the other hand, Barber's skills are quickly evaporating. He had an injury in late 2011 which required surgery.
Should he retire? I say he will duke it out for another year, to keep a bad secondary from completely falling apart.
$6 million/one year contract.
LeGarrette Blount was not a major force in the backfield, but hardly got the respect he deserved. The fewest carries for starting running back in the NFL represent this sentiment. He still deserves another couple of years before being given the axe.
$5 million/three year contract.
Connor Barth Update: The Buccaneers have reported via their website that the team has placed a franchise tag on kicker Connor Barth.
Sean Jones did not have a great 2011 by any means. Still, he has starter experience, and Schiano should realize that a defensive reboot will need some veterans to help develop the young-uns.
$4 million/two year contract.
Jeremy Zuttah Update: According to Buccaneers.com G Jeremy Zuttah re-signed to a four year contract.
$20 million/three year contract.
Michael Bennet should be given the highest possible tender if the Bucs want to keep him. The restricted free agent served as the best player on a bad defense for the entire season. Injuries on the D-line held the unit back, but Bennet took the call of duty to heart.
$2.53 million tender, may accept offer sheet for first and third round pick if offered.
Preston Parker may not have been the best wide receiver. In fact, he wasn't. However, he accumulated the second most yards per catch, and the third most receiving yards. He caught a little less than 2/3 targets, so was fairly dependable. Parker does not have the skills to play as a No.1 WR, but does have the right set to play in the slot.
$5 million/two year contract.
RB Earnest Graham
I wouldn't be opposed to offering Graham a very tiny contract, as his advanced age probably means that his skills will deteriorate further.
$600,000/one year contract.
James Lee filled in admirably for Jeremy Trueblood, but hey-that doesn't say much.
Geno Hayes after Raheem Morris opted to bench Hayes and replace him with Adam Hayward of all people, it is clear that the linebacker was not highly valued. Perhaps the Schiano administration will think differently, but with Quincy Black's $5 million salary for 2012, the Bucs probably won't want to tie up too much money in the linebacker position.
Elbert Mack played hard, yet sometimes effort does not lead to success. If he walks, his absence will not be noticed. So save some cash and let him walk.
Corey Lynch (see Elbert Mack)
Kregg Lumpkin added as close to nothing as possible. The backfield might as well be empty if he is in it.
Demar Dotson did not get much playing time and for a good reason.
Domonique Johnson was a nonfactor, and did not earn another year as a Buccaneer.
It should be noted that if players will go cheap enough, Mark Dominik may re-sign them, if only for the depth. Given the amount of cap space left over from last season, it is apparent that Tampa Bay does not spend big bucks, so for a roster spot, I could see them paying a should-be special teamer.
Available Cap Space After Re-Signings
Given the $67,000,000 before the re-signings, the Bucs will have had plenty of green to squander-I mean spend- on re-signings.Based on my predictions, they will use $24,000,000 on getting back their own players, leaving them $43,000,000 of available cap space before free agency and the draft. This will probably be the highest value in the NFL, so Tampa has the most freedom to make maniacal moves and ludicrous signings.
It must be taken into account that Mark Dominik may or may not place the same values on players as I did, and may or may not choose to keep the same players as I would. I did choose to use the franchise tag, while he may.
Also, these numbers assume that Kellen Winslow will not be cut. He is set to make an enormous amount of money for a man of his skill set, and is on the hot seat.
Biggest Needs After Re-Signings
The re-signings are used mostly to keep holes from popping up, rather than to stick a bandage on them. Players critical to the team will be kept, while players who underachieve or are not needed will be allowed to walk. Once in free-agency, the Bucs will still have the same areas of need as before.
Given the age and the illegal activities of the Tampa Bay cornerbacks, new blood is sorely needed. Tackles should not be missed with so much frequency, and corner blitzes should generate actual pressure on the quarterback. While not 2011's most problematic area, cornerback could very well be the worst in 2012.
As previously discussed, Geno Hayes was the team's best linebacker last season. That's bad. Mason Foster should improve greatly, but the veteran Quincy Black may see a drop-off in production due to aging.
3. Wide Receiver
What happened to you, Mike Willliams? You showed so much promise in 2010, putting up 964 yards in 65 receptions, only to get 771 yards in as many catches the very next year. And let's talk about going from 11 to just three touchdowns.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan came to Tampa Bay to work with Josh Freeman. Bringing the young quarterback back into 2010 form will require a dependable No.1 receiver to throw to. A big, speedy man would do just the trick.
Assuming that Josh Johnson is let free, the Bucs will need a back up. Josh Freeman is not going anywhere, yet someone must be ready to step up if he is injured.
5. Offensive Line
Overall, Tampa has a pretty solid O-line. Except for tackle and sometimes center, there are no big problems. Right tackle Jeremy Trueblood does not have the talent level to be competent on the outside, and should move to guard. Matt Miller has him as one of the worst RTs in the league, and there's not a lot of depth beneath him.
Identifying Potential Free Agents the Buccaneers Could Sign
Often the Buccaneers have the money to spend, but don't actually bring their wallets to the party. This needs to change. Joel Glazer vowed to "spend whatever it takes" in order to make this flawed team a competitor. Mark Dominik plans to make waves in both the draft and free agency.
So, it is assured that Tampa will make at least one big move. Hopefully, there will be a few.
Possible Free Agent Targets to Address Needs
3/14: Adam Schefter is also reporting the Bucs have signed CB Eric Wright to a 5 year contract worth $37.5 million dollars with $15.5 million dollars guaranteed.
Update: Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com reports via his Twitter that the Rams have a deal in place that is reportedly worth about $10 million a season. Adam Schefter of ESPN Tweets that the deal is worth $50 million for five-years.
Cortland Finnegan seems to be a perfect fit at cornerback. Adam Schefter posted on Twitter that the Tennessee Titans will allow Finnegan to become an unrestricted free agent, so the market will be open. After six years in the NFL, he is still one of the best corners in the league. ProFootballFocus ranks him as the top free agent corner available. He was right behind Brent Grimes until Grimes was franchised. Brandon Carr would be a nice addition as well.
The Bucs could sign either an inside or an outside linebacker and still come away with a need fulfilled. Mason Foster could be moved to the outside if a better inside man was signed, or could be complimented with a good outside linebacker.
London Fletcher would make an excellent signing, as he combines skill and veteran leadership. Curtis Lofton from the Falcons might possibly make the most sense, considering his experience, leadership, youth, and talent. Lofton may not defend the pass very well, but a with a solid cornerback, it won't be as big of an issue.
Has there ever been a better year to need a wide receiver?
There is a bounty of talent, from veterans to upcoming rookies. Free agency especially has major playmakers who can bring an offense to the next level.
Steve Johnson looks like the most attractive option. He has four years of experience, and is coming off of back to back 1000 yard seasons. Johnson has been known to goof around, famously imitating Plaxico Burress's leg shooting, and is not too clutch. The upside he offers counter his detriments.
Update: The Buffalo Bills have re-signed Johnson.
The Saints have three big contract free agents, including Drew Brees, Carl Nicks, and Marques Colston. Out of the three, Colston is the least likely to return to New Orleans. The only year he has not gone for over 1000 receiving yards is 2008, when he was injured and sat out five games. Naturally, this amount of production over a six year career is staggering.
Brandon Lloyd and Dwayne Bowe also look like strong possibilities. Vincent Jackson's name may come up, but other teams will overvalue him to the extent that Tampa should not even bother trying to sign him.
UPDATE March 13, 2012: Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that the Buccaneers have signed Vincent Jackson to a 5 year, $55.55 million dollar contract with $26 million dollars guaranteed.
The cheapest and safest option is Brian Hoyer, of the New England Patriots. For three years, he has played as Tom Brady's backup, meaning that Hoyer has had a great tutor. Given the limited amount of on-field playing time, he will not break the bank.
I'd stay away from signing an O-lineman this year, there are no impact tackles who the Bucs could realistically grab. That said, signing guard Carl Nicks would be an upgrade over virtually any lineman in the NFL.
Projecting Contract Values for the Buccaneers' Free Agent Targets
UPDATE: On March 5th, the Bills re-signed Steve Johnson. The contract is $36.25 million over five years. This means Tampa Bay will have to look at Vincent Jackson or Marques Colston at the wide receiver position, at least in free agency.
There is no way that the Bucs could sign all of their targets, but with the copious cap space, they could surely sign a lot of them. Possible targets include the following:
CB Cortland Finnegan (Tennessee Titans)
CB Brandon Carr (Kansas City Chiefs)
CB Marcus Trufant (Free Agent)
CB Tracy Porter (New Orleans Saints)
CB Terrell Thomas (New York Giants)
WR Brandon Lloyd (St. Louis Rams)
WR Marques Colston (New Orleans Saints)
WR Lee Evans (Baltimore Ravens)
LB London Fletcher (Washington Redskins)
LB Curtis Lofton (Atlanta Falcons)
LB James Farrior (Free Agent)
QB Brian Hoyer (New England Patriots)
Once again, there is no way that all of these men will be playing in Tampa next season. But, many of them could be. The list of targets only has players who are more likely to go free than to be re-signed or tagged currently, so anything's possible. Of course, all predicted contracts are estimations.
Cortland Finnegan-$45 million/four year contract
Steve Johnson-$21 million/three year contract
Curtis Lofton-$40 million/five year contract
Update: The Bills have re-signed Johnson.
If all three of these moves are carried out, which almost certainly won't happen, the Buccaneers will still have $18,000,000 to spend on draft picks.
Out of the three big signings, Curtis Lofton is the most likely to actually happen, possibly for less money. He comes from a team that will have to scrounge around for the money to keep him, and has already proven himself to be a great linebacker.
Steve Johnson may not happen because there are so many other wide receivers who can join the Bucs, that it might not be worth it to spend $7 million on a receiver who might not even be the best one they could get.
The problem with Cortland Finnegan is the uncertainty concerning Tampa's cornerback situation. Greg Schiano plans to talk with Ronde Barber, and give Aqib Talib a chance to play if his legal troubles are resolved. Morris Claiborne remains a likely pick at No.5. Dominik may not want to tie up all this money on a player who might not be needed.
Analyzing the Buccaneers' Draft Strategy, Positions of Need
Andrew Luck will be selected first overall by the Indianapolis Colts.
Other than that, the rest of the 2012 NFL Draft is a gray area.
First things first, the Bucs need a great cornerback to be the future Ronde Barber. Morris Claiborne hails from LSU, and would be a perfect fit, as he is a pro-ready coverage corner.
The St. Louis Rams have the second overall pick, and will almost definitely trade it. Robert Griffin III of Baylor, the second best quarterback on the board, stood out at the combine, running the 40 yard dash in 4.41 seconds, and impressed with his charisma and intelligence in interviews. The Browns, the Redskins, the Dolphins, and the Seahawks all look likely to trade a boatload of draft picks for the right to move up to No.2.
The Browns have the most ammunition to do this. They have picks No.4 and No.22, the latter acquired from the Atlanta Falcons as a result of last year's Julio Jones trade. With those two picks, the Browns would only need another late rounder to equal the value of the second overall selection.
If Cleveland moves up, then the Rams will be right in front of the Buccaneers, who sit at No.5. St. Louis has needs at both cornerback and wide receiver, but not at running back. Trent Richardson, the best running back in years, would be the Browns' pick at No.4, which leave CB Morris Claiborne to Tampa. Unfortunately, the Rams have elite RB Steven Jackson, so they will not take Richardson. Rams GM Les Snead can choose between WR Justin Blackmon or Morris Claiborne for the best value. Blackmon is a risk at four, so it could be Claiborne, which would be very dangerous for the Buccaneers.
Trent Richardson would not be a bad pick a No.5; he just wouldn't be a good one. As Pat Yakinsas of ESPN writes, drafting a running back high does not usually lead to wins. Richardson is surely the best in years, but he would not reach his full potential in Tampa Bay. I've written before that the Bucs rely on the pass because they trail by wide margins so often. Unless the defense improves, they won't have the freedom the run at will.
Any other RG3 suitor trading up would place the Rams behind the Bucs, and that would not be a problem. Of course, even this assumes that the Vikings will use pick No.3 to draft tackle Matt Kalil, instead of Morris Claiborne.
Traditionally, Mark Dominik has not been afraid to draft for value and depth at as many positions as possible. Last year, he draft two defensive ends consecutively, and the year before that two defensive tackles. Each time both of the picks were in the first and second rounds, respectively.
By that logic, expect multiple cornerbacks, multiple linebackers, and multiple wide receivers, based on who Tampa Bay signs in free agency.
Draft Names to Keep an Eye on
With so many options in each round, the Buccaneers will need to keep their eyes open for sleepers and fallers. Who is drafted depends on who is signed in free agency, but even if some needs are filled, some picks will have the sole purpose of generating depth at weak positions. Before this, I have analyzed Matt Miller's draft picks and how they would work in regards to the Buccaneers, in case anyone wants an extra resource.
Morris Claiborne of LSU may very well go to the Bucs at No.5 overall in the draft. He is an even better pure coverage corner than Patric Peterson, and displays all the football instincts one could ever want.
In case Claiborne is not selected, Tampa should watch Stephon Gilmore, Janoris Jenkins, and Jamell Fleming. Each of them could experience a fall to the second round. In Janoris Jenkins's case, his four children could push him down into the fourth or fifth rounds.
Late round corners who could be steals: Cliff Harris, Richard Blanton, and Asa Jackson.
The highest the Bucs will draft a linebacker is during the second round, but only if Zach Brown or some other LB falls. Zach Brown has the perfect measurements for a 4-3 outside linebacker, and the athleticism to boot.
If the team chooses to wait until the later rounds, Emmanuel Acho or even Tank Carder could be steals if they live up to their respective potential.
If Morris Claiborne isn't available at No.5 overall, then the Bucs may select Justin Blackmon. The Oklahoma State man plays like a better Dez Bryant but is a risk. His six feet mark him as a versatile slot receiver, and his speed came under question after the elected not to participate in the combine's 40 yard dash, even though he was present for the on-field drills.
Stephen Hill rose like a submerged buoy after the NFL Scouting Combine. He ran the 40 yard dash in a phenomenal 4.3 seconds, and is 6'4'' tall. For such a big man to be so fast... If he falls to round two, then Tampa will take him. Hill is raw, but the potential is unmatched.
A mid to late round receiver would also make sense, as long as he's not slow.
Dominik could look for a receiving tight end, like Coby Fleener, if he elects to release Kellen Winslow.
I see Mark Dominik holding out in free agency in order to select a quarterback on Day 3 of the draft. Chandler Harnish, BJ Colemon, and Austin Davis would make sensible picks. Harnish, hailing from Northern Illinois University, is a scrambler like Tim Tebow, who has enough moxie to will any team to a victory. Accuracy and decision making are not his strong suits.
The franchise does not need a high selection for this need, just something. The class of 2012 tackles is top-heavy, and the value picks will be in the early first and mid to late rounds.
One man I am a huge fan of is Levy Adcock. At Oklahoma State, he was tasked with protecting QB Brandon Weeden, something he did to his full ability. For some reason, the Combine organizers did not invite Adcock to show off in Indianapolis, so he had no chance to boost his draft stock beyond the seventh round.
Midrounders Zebrie Sanders, Nate Potter, Amini Silatolu, and Brandon Washington could somehow wind up on the Buccaneers as well. Washington in particular, has a talent for run blocking, so LeGarrette Blount would appreciate his selection.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!