Fresh Start in Tampa Bay in Need of Fresh Blood

Tony LopezContributor IApril 9, 2009

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 28: Running back Warrick Dunn #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes upfield against the Oakland Raiders at Raymond James Stadium on December 28, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

During last season we watched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ promising season, entering December, turn into a complete catastrophe. Before December the Bucs were a team that was clicking on all cylinders stopping the run on defense and moving the chains methodically on offense.

However, once it was time for the Bucs to distinguish themselves from the pack their defense became so porous that anybody running would get four yards and a cloud of dust and their offense became one dimensional with no ground game to grind out games in the end.

Once Monte Kiffin let it be known he was leaving for Tennessee, players either stopped playing for him and Gruden or Kiffin just stopped caring and failed to make proper in game adjustments. Regardless of the situations they are both gone now, so out with the old and in with new.

Raheem Morris is home grown with fresh ideologies that should help this team get back on track but make no mistake this team still has to undergo a reconstruction and have an influx of youth before contending again.

In stepping into the role of Head Coach, Morris has brought in Jim Bates to run his defense and Jeff Jagodzinski to look over the offense. Both of whom have more experience in coaching than the Head Coach they’ll be working for.

In free agency, the Bucs have been rather busy with key moves being a new Running Back in Derrick Ward signing and trading for a Pro Bowl Tight End in the self proclaimed Soldier Kellen Winslow Jr.

These two moves definitely round out an offense that is pretty well established at the skill positions with the retaining of wide outs Clayton and Bryant.

Missing in action of course is the trigger man of this whole operation, because no matter how the coaching staff wants to spin it Luke McCown is not a starting Quarterback in this league.

I mean how could he be? When I know his brother Josh is a better player and he couldn’t nail down a starting spot with the bottom dweller teams he had been a part of.

So what does this team have to do to return to division champion status?

Address definite holes at Quarterback, Defensive Tackle, and Outside Linebacker; while adding depth at Receiver, O-Line, and Cornerback with an influx of fresh talent.

Because of their trade with Cleveland for Winslow, the Bucs are without their second round pick, a picks that is usually a good trading asset and without it moving up in the first round will be tough for the Bucs.

As I see it the Bucs will be thanking god if Kansas State Quarterback Josh Freeman or Mississippi’s Defensive Tackle Perria Jerry were still on the board at pick 19.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that with the inactivity at bringing in a trigger man to compete with McCown, this team is positioning itself to address this need in either this or next year’s draft.

Quarterback is a glaring need but remember a young promising prospect in Josh Johnson still remains on the roster, although it is still unclear how much confidence this coaching staff has in him considering he was another coach’s selection.

With Morris’s knowledge of and relationship with Freeman from their Kansas State days, drafting him makes for a perfect reunion and possible preference in Tampa as Freeman would have a strong running game behind him, a formidable O-Line in front of him, and play-makers capable of making plays down field as well as in the intermediate areas flanking him to ease the transition to the pro game.

If Freeman and Jerry are off the Board at the time the Bucs pick look for them to try and trade down so that they can pick up an extra pick and leave themselves in position to still attain value later with a good player and a cheaper contract.

If unable to move down look for them to just select the best available player, in hopes that this new front office picks for value and not need like the last regime. Picking for value on defense would be wise considering that the Bucs need help at every level of the defense, especially along the front seven.

This regime should focus their attention solely on the defensive side and the only additions on offense should be the Quarterback of the future and a developmental slot receiver to compete with last year’s bust Dexter Jackson.

For Bucs fans, be happy with a combination of Linebackers, Defensive Tackles, Defensive Ends, a Wide Receiver, and a Quarterback.

For me, I feel the way for the Bucs to have a successful draft is to be productive and precise with their day two picks, which they have seven, since they only have one pick on the day one of the draft.

So if I was the General Manager of the Bucs my concentration would be to build the defensive line and give Jim Bates those mammoth tackles he has become accustomed to from the Tim Bowens days in Miami to the Corey Williams days in Green Bay.

And pray that Freemen is still there in round one to run your team like Joe Flacco did for the Ravens last year.


Six-Round Mock Draft

1. QB Josh Freeman Kansas State- Quarterback of the present and future that Coach Morris would be comfortable starting from day one.

2. (Traded to Cleveland)

3. DT Sen’Derrick Marks Auburn- much needed bulk on the interior line with the quickness to penetrate the backfield and size to engulf blockers and free up lanes for linebackers.

4. OLB Tyrone McKenzie USF- local prospect who’d be heir apparent to the weak side position currently manned by converted safety Jermaine Phillips.

5. DE Phillip Hunt Houston- reminds me of Elvis Dummerville, a prospect that  succeeded in Jim Bates defense, and would be nice pass rush compliment to Gaines Adams.

6. WR Taurus Johnson USF- local receiver with nice size, exceptional speed, and outstanding strength that would be welcomed at the slot position.