Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Predicting Next Year's Positions of Need
No matter how well the draft goes, there will always be holes in the roster next year. This is what keeps the NFL a competition, the reason why no team has won more than six Super Bowls since Jan. 15th, 1967. Players leave in free agency, grow old or get cut. Nothing lasts forever.
2012 could very well be Ronde Barber's last year as a professional football player. He will go on to a nice job as an analyst. But the Bucs will be left with the fallout of their cornerback of over 10 years retiring. And if Aqib Talib is suspended due to his legal troubles, Tampa will find itself lacking in not only experience and leadership, but also depth.
In free agency, the team tried to improve the secondary with the signing of corner Eric Wright, formerly of the Detroit Lions.
However, on Matt Miller's comprehensive ranking of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, Wright is ranked only one spot above Barber, at 56. Matt Miller does say that Wright's physicality will make him a great fit for the Bucs, but with a new head coach, the schemes may change to a more finesse-based approach.
Even if the Eric Wright experiment is a huge success, Barber, Talib and E.J. Biggers are all free agents by 2013. The Bucs will definitely need depth at cornerback next offseason.
Even though Tampa Bay drafted Mark Barron in the top 10, the weakness at safety remains. Tanard Jackson's release marked the beginning of a rebuild in the secondary, which will take at least another year to complete. Safety is currently and will be a huge need for some time.
Beyond the defense backs, the Bucs must add a few defensive linemen to fill the caps in between injuries. Gerald McCoy may have elite potential, but as of today, he has had an injury-ridden career.
Da'Quan Bowers stayed healthy throughout 2011, yet his health brought his draft stock down an entire round. Bowers is worthy of future concern. And exactly five defensive linemen are set for 2013 free agency, including stud Michael Bennett.
Tampa had the league's worst rush defense in 2011, and largely this is due to the weakness of the linebacker corps. Fifth-round pick Najee Goode has some skills at stopping the run, but he has not proven he has the talent to be an every-down player.
And while Lavonte David can contain the run, no one knows if he can stop it all together. The Bucs should try and grab a versatile linebacker who can spy, blitz and drop into coverage.
2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Needs:
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