Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Top Remaining Offseason Priorities
Few teams did as much as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to transform their teams this offseason.
Years of bad drafts and personnel mismanagement dating back to Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen through Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik doomed the Buccaneers to mediocrity over the decade.
Lovie Smith and Jason Licht began a drastic transformation of the roster soon after taking the reins, not unlike Andy Reid did with the Kansas City Chiefs last year.
Smith and Licht filled a number of holes including defensive end, addressed several depth deficiencies and reconstructed the offensive line. This required the release of cornerback Darrelle Revis and most of last season's starting offensive line.
Even after all the roster moves, the Bucs still have some holes to fill. Here are the Bucs' biggest remaining offseason priorities.
Find a Second Starting Guard
When the hurricane that the tore down and rebuilt the Bucs' offensive line subsided, the Bucs found themselves without a starting right guard.
Left tackle Donald Penn was replaced by former Cincinnati Bengal Anthony Collins. Center Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the Baltimore Ravens, but it was not before the Bucs signed former Green Bay Packer Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Right tackle Demar Dotson and left guard Carl Nicks remain on the roster. The only position the Bucs didn't bother to fill was that of released right guard Davin Joseph.
Though the Bucs signed Oniel Cousins and re-signed Jamon Meredith, neither is a viable long-term starter.
Odds are good the Bucs will draft a guard in the upcoming draft. Stanford's David Yankey, UCLA's Xavier S'ua-Filo and Mississippi's Gabe Jackson are strong candidates for the Bucs' second-round pick (if they drop that far).
The Bucs will have a brand-new offensive line, but there's one piece they still need before they are ready to start the season.
Appoint a Starting Quarterback
The Buccaneers have two starting quarterbacks on the roster, and they may add a third before they know who will start for them in 2014.
Mike Glennon is the Bucs' incumbent starting quarterback. The former third-round pick started 13 games for the Bucs last season, but it's apparent he faces an uphill battle to reclaim the job.
The Bucs may add yet another quarterback in the draft. The possibilities range from a first-round pick like Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater to a second-rounder such as Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo or a mid-round pick such as San Jose State's David Fales.
There is a lot of time between the draft and the start of the season. Though Josh McCown has the inside track on the starting job, the Bucs' draft pick, and maybe even poor Mike Glennon, will have a shot of earning the position before the Bucs hit the field.
Bolster Wide Receiver Depth
The Bucs have a chronic problem at wide receiver. Not since the Bucs went to the Super Bowl has the team possessed a worthy wide receiver corps.
The Bucs do possess a legitimate No. 1 receiver in Vincent Jackson. However they have issues with depth and a certain No. 2 receiver who attracts trouble like a magnet.
Even if the Bucs keep Williams around for a while longer, they will go looking for help in the draft. Clemson WR Sammy Watkins would be ideal, but don't be surprised if the Bucs take Texas A&M wideout Mike Evans.
Even if the Bucs take Watkins or Evans, they need additional depth to insure against injury or the loss of Williams. Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief and Indiana's Cody Latimer might be available later in the draft.
Though the need is not yet dire, wide receiver will be a position the Buccaneers address for long-term development.
Bring in a Backup Free Safety
No defense can expect to be successful if it doesn't know if it has a legitimate free safety in the starting lineup.
Bucs' safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson are hard-hitters but are not known for their coverage abilities. This is less of a problem for Barron, who projects to continue his role as the team's starting strong safety and is still developing his game.
However, Goldson, a seven-year veteran, needs to step up if he wants to prove himself worth the huge contract he signed last year.
Understanding Goldson might be limited in his effectiveness at free safety, the Bucs need to find more depth at the safety position.
S Keith Tandy provides some depth, but his limited athleticism makes him vulnerable to replacement via the draft.
The Bucs recently brought in S Major Wright for a meeting, according to Wright's Twitter profile:
Blessed and grateful to finally get this journey started. It's going to be great to see familiar old faces in Tampa.— Major Wright (@LilMade21) April 1, 2014
However, Wright also played strong safety and struggled mightily in 2013. He likely isn't the answer to the Bucs' problems.
While unlikely to spend a high pick on a safety, the Bucs should look for safety depth in the middle rounds. North Carolina's Tre Boston is a raw prospect but naturally gifted. Smith and his staff could develop him into a starting-caliber safety.
Collect More LInebackers
Smith built his reputation as the Bucs' linebackers coach, but he doesn't have too many on his roster to coach.
The Bucs have an All-Pro in LB Lavonte David and a likely starter in LB Mason Foster. However they only have Jonathan Casillas and Dane Fletcher to provide depth.
The Bucs have a handful of linebackers signed midseason last year and players signed to futures contracts, but that isn't much insurance in case David, Foster, Casillas or Fletcher go down.
Montana's Jordan Tripp, Illinois' Jonathan Brown and Cal's Khairi Fortt are mid- to late-round prospects the Bucs could take a flyer on to boost depth and invest in the future of the linebacker position.
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