Which of the Buccaneers' Undrafted Free Agents Could Make the 53-Man Roster?
The life of an undrafted free agent is far from glamorous.
Secondly, the hours of study and physical preparation are often long and arduous, not to mention anxiety-filled for the simple fact that their status with the team is uncertain, at best.
But such is the life of the young men who are chasing their dreams of becoming professional football players.
All told, the Buccaneers have 18 UFAs entering camp, including former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand. Mind you, LeGrand is not competing for a roster spot, so technically, 17 men are vying for one of 53 available spaces on the final roster.
With that said, I've listed the UFAs and analyzed their chances of making the final roster.
Who's in? Who's out?
Jordan Nix (78) could provide much-needed depth at tackle.
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Number of UFAs: 3
Quintin Anderson (DE)
Jordan Nix (DT)
Myles Wade (DT)
There are seven other defensive ends on the roster besides Anderson, including the recently injured Da'Quan Bowers.
Anderson has good size (6'5", 280 lbs), but even so, struggled mightily last season at Wagner College, where he managed just 20 tackles and a half-sack in 11 starts.
Nix struggled to make much of an impact last season, although he was not a starter, but did see action in all 13 Tar Heels games in 2011.
Where Nix (6'3", 295 lbs) may have an upper hand, however, is the uncertainty surrounding the durability of fellow defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, both of whom have combined to miss considerable playing time over the past two seasons.
Like Nix, Wade (6'1", 300 lbs) could benefit by adding depth for the oft-injured duo of McCoy and Price.
Wade played for Portland State in 2011, racking up 30 tackles and two sacks.
Of the group mentioned above, I believe Nix is the most likely of the bunch to make the final roster.
Aside from Amobi Okoye, the Bucs lack any real, consistent depth after McCoy and Price.
Roy Miller, Frank Okam and Gary Gibson are the other players Nix and Wade would be competing against for a roster spot.
Thus far, Miller has under-achieved and Okam has under-performed, so their performances this preseason will dictate whether or not they hang around for much longer.
Is Leonard Johnson (23) a good fit for an already young secondary?
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Number of UFAs: 4
Sean Baker (S)
Leonard Johnson (CB)
Antonio Leak (LB)
Tramain Thomas (S)
Linebacker and secondary are without a doubt two of the biggest areas of concern for the Bucs heading into the 2012 season.
And rightfully so, as last year the Bucs were shredded defensively, allowing a league-worst 30.9 points per game.
With that in mind, the Bucs took aggressive measures to ensure a repeat performance wouldn't occur by signing free-agent corner Eric Wright and adding safety Mark Barron, linebackers Lavonte David and Najee Goode and cornerback Keith Tandy in last month's draft.
As of today, there are eight cornerbacks on the roster, including Johnson. With Aqib Talib's season in jeopardy, Johnson stands to benefit the most, strictly from a depth perspective, so he is the most likely of the above-listed group to make the cut.
Not to mention, last season the Bucs kept seven corners on their final 53-man roster.
Conversely, the addition of Barron makes it tough for either Baker or Thomas to make the cut, especially if Ronde Barber converts to safety, as the Bucs are experimenting with.
The only chance Leak has of making the roster is as a special teamer, although his chances are slim at best.
Desmond Wynn (70) knows what coach Schiano expects of his players.
Number of UFAs: 5
Jermarcus Hardrick (T)
Moe Petrus (C)
Bradley Sowell (T)
Michael VanDerMeulen (G/T)
Desmond Wynn (T)
On paper, the Bucs' offensive line is arguably the best unit on the team.
They are big, they are nasty and they are well-seasoned, with the (projected) starting five tallying more than 31 combined years of experience.
Which sounds like there wouldn't be much need for the raw, unproven talent of a UFA.
However, tackle Jeremy Trueblood has struggled to perform consistently, while tackle Donald Penn has struggled to maintain his weight, so maybe a young, hungry crop of newcomers and a new coach to prove themselves to is just what Trueblood and Penn need to right their wrongs.
VanDerMeulen (6'7", 304 lbs) and Wynn (6'6", 303 lbs) are the most likely of the group to make the team.
For starters, I love VanDerMeulen's size and durability, as he started 37 consecutive games at Toledo.
Likewise, Wynn has an advantage in the sense that he knows how coach Schiano operates and what he expects out of his players, not to mention that Schiano knows what Wynn is fully capable of, as well.
Wynn was a starter his final two seasons at Rutgers.
Offensive Skill Players/Special Teams
Cody Johnson is more than just a run-blocker.
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Number of UFAs: 5
De'Anthony Curtis (RB)
Cody Johnson (FB)
Armahd Lewis (WR)
Danny Noble (TE)
Eric Guthrie (P)
One of the few positions on the Bucs not lacking depth is the receiving corps, which currently boasts 11 players in its ranks.
The same could be said for the running brigade, a group that includes LeGarrette Blount, Doug Martin, Michael Smith, Mossis Madu and Robert Hughes.
Guthrie's best hope for making the final roster would be to impress another team during the preseason and catch on somewhere else.
Competition will make things very tough for this group.
In other words, Lewis, Curtis and Noble would have to have the camp of their lives to make the cut.
Johnson, on the other hand, is the much more likely to make the final roster than the others listed above, as depth at fullback is nonexistent. It doesn't hurt that Johnson is also a fully capable runner, rushing 48 times for 200 yards and six scores last season.