Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for the Buccaneers
As just the third team in NFL history to use all of their four-plus draft picks on offense, per the Tampa Bay Times' Greg Auman, head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht went all in on offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford's offense.
The Bucs selected former Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans with the seventh overall pick, giving the Bucs passing game a second big man catching balls down the field.
The offense blitz illustrated Smith and Licht's dissatisfaction with the talent on the offensive side of the ball. The Bucs still have more work to do, particularly regarding depth on the offensive line and at wide receiver.
Though they passed over defensive players in the draft, Smith and Licht are not necessarily content with the defense's depth chart either. While major moves are unlikely at this point, there will be some epic battles for roster spots, particularly at linebacker and cornerback.
The season is still several months away, but with the draft out of the way, there is now a much clearer sense of what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look like during the 2014 season.
Here is the initial post-draft depth chart for the 2014 Buccaneers.
Starter: Josh McCown
Depth: Mike Glennon and Brett Smith
Josh McCown is the Bucs quarterback today. Mike Glennon is the Bucs quarterback of tomorrow.
The Bucs made a major move at quarterback over the draft weekend, and they didn't even draft a quarterback. After taking Mike Evans with the seventh overall pick, Lovie Smith declared during a press conference that Glennon is the Bucs' "quarterback of the future."
There was some expectation that the Bucs would select a quarterback in the first round, per mock drafts by Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller and Luke Easterling. Instead, the Bucs remained steadfast in their commitment to Glennon, even rejecting multiple trade offers, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Bucs waited until after the draft to pick up a rookie quarterback. According to the Statesman Journal's Bill Poehler, the Bucs signed Wyoming QB Brett Smith as an undrafted free agent on Saturday.
Smith was remarkably productive for Wyoming, throwing for 8,834 yards and 76 touchdowns in three years. Though is he unlikely to supplant McCown or Glennon any time soon, Smith could make Bucs QB Mike Kafka expendable.
It is a near certainty that McCown and Glennon will make the roster. Brett Smith is more likely destined for the Bucs practice squad, but don't be surprised if he makes the 53-man roster either.
Starter: Doug Martin
Depth: Charles Sims, Jeff Demps and Mike James
Just when it looked like the Bucs were stacked at running back...
It was a bit of a surprise to see the Bucs draft West Virginia RB Charles Sims. Going into the draft, the roster was already pretty loaded with good backs.
However, Sims brings a versatility to the Bucs backfield that compares to that of Matt Forte, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Greg Auman. His value to the Bucs' new regime will likely push one of the their current tailbacks off the depth chart.
Doug Martin is expected to a return to full form after he was medically cleared from his torn labrum in March. Mike James is making progress with his own ankle injury, while Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps is devoting himself to football this year and should be healthy going into the season.
Bobby Rainey was one of the only running backs who didn't finish the season on IR last year. Ironically, he is likely to be the odd man out. While Demps is likely safe due to his speed, Rainey and James will likely have to battle it out for a spot on the roster.
There isn't a huge difference between James and Rainey. Neither are overly athletic or fast but are nonetheless productive.
The biggest difference would likely be their salaries. Where Rainey has a salary of $570,000, according to OvertheCap.com, James is only due $475,000, of which $77,000 is guaranteed, per OvertheCap.com.
From a purely financial standpoint, Bobby Rainey is the most vulnerable. However, he still has an opportunity to prove his worth and overtake Mike James on the depth chart.
Starters: Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans
Depth: Tim Wright, Robert Herron and Louis Murphy
The Buccaneers might now have the biggest wide receiver tandem in the NFL. First-round pick Mike Evans (6'5", 231 lbs.) and veteran WR Vincent Jackson (6'5", 230 lbs.) are definitely bigger than Lovie Smith's previous big receiver tandem in Chicago, Brandon Marshall (6'4", 230 lbs.) and Alshon Jeffrey (6'3", 216 lbs.).
The Jackson-Evans duo will no doubt be a terror to defend, but questions remain with the Bucs' wide receiver depth. The Bucs also drafted former Wyoming WR Robert Herron.
Herron isn't nearly as big as Evans, but he is significantly faster, ideal for playing in the slot.
Tim Wright is a surprising entry on the Bucs' wide receiver depth chart considering he played from the tight end position through the 2013 season. However, Wright was originally converted from wide receiver by the Bucs before the start of last season.
Wright possesses neither the size nor the strength to block from the tight end position. Lovie Smith and Jeff Tedford might just call a spade a spade and return Wright to his original position.
Former Giant Louis Murphy is likely to be the Bucs' fifth wide receiver, barring the rise of an upstart undrafted free agent like Solomon Patton, who signed with the Bucs, per the Tampa Tribune's Roy Cummings:
Florida WR Solomon Patton will sign with the Bucs as a priority free agent, per his agent, Hadley Engelhard— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) May 10, 2014
Chris Owusu and Eric Page face an uphill battle to be on the Week 1 roster. Neither can match Murphy's previous production or were terribly effective when on the field last season.
Starter: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Depth: Brandon Myers and Tom Crabtree
The Bucs finally jumped on the "basketball player-cum-tight end" bandwagon by drafting Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Seferian-Jenkins is what is commonly referred to as a "matchup nightmare." At 6'5" and 266 pounds, Seferian-Jenkins possesses the size of a linebacker but has the speed of a wide receiver.
The Washington tight end is also the most versatile tight end the Bucs have drafted in a long time. He has the size to be an effective run blocker and improved as a blocker down the stretch of his college career.
Given his versatility, Seferian-Jenkins can expect to see a lot of action right away. Brandon Myers and Tom Crabtree should not expect to see significant playing time behind him, and Luke Stocker is a likely to be cut given his complete lack of production.
Starters: Anthony Collins and Demar Dotson
Depth: Kevin Pamphile
Right tackle Demar Dotson is now the old man on the Bucs offensive line, as he has been on the Tampa Bay roster longer than any other current Buccaneer.
Fifth-round pick Kevin Pamphile is unlikely to unseat either Collins or Dotson for a starting spot.
Like Dotson, Pamphile is a converted basketball player, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Greg Auman. There is logic behind the trend, as the Bucs clearly targeted offensive linemen with quick feet and athleticism in renovating the offensive line.
Starters: Carl Nicks and Jamon Meredith
Depth: Kadeem Edwards and Oniel Cousins
Bucs fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when Tampa drafted Tennessee State guard Kadeem Edwards in the fifth round of the draft.
Guard is probably the Bucs' thinnest position in terms of depth. Carl Nicks is elite when healthy, but he may never be healthy again. The nerve damage in the left foot threatens not only his readiness for this season but the rest of his career.
Bucs brass must feel comfortable enough with Nicks' rehab to hold off signing another starting guard in free agency or taking one earlier in the draft.
Kadeem Edwards is a raw player with obvious athleticism. He could be a very good player, but he likely won't be ready to start this year.
Jamon Meredith will likely start at right guard, where he spent significant time over the past two years. He was ineffective in the power-man system Greg Schiano installed, but his athleticism may be put to better use in Jeff Tedford's scheme.
Oniel Cousins is a depth player, pure and simple. The Bucs could be in a lot of trouble if he starts any games in 2014.
Starter: Evan Dietrich-Smith
The center position for the Bucs pretty much starts and ends with Evan Dietrich-Smith.
The former Packer emerged from the Bucs' spring minicamp as a leader on offense, according to Pewter Report's Mark Cook.
The Bucs have not made any clear moves to add depth behind Dietrich-Smith aside from signing undrafted free agent C Josh Smith out of Louisiana-Monroe, per the school's Twitter account:
Expect the Bucs to work out offensive linemen who can play both guard and center over the course of the offseason workouts and training camp. The Bucs won't waste a roster spot on a depth player who exclusively plays center.
Starters: Gerald McCoy and Akeem Spence
Depth: Clinton McDonald
The Buccaneers made it really easy to put together a depth chart for the defense. All they had to do was exclusively select offensive players.
Making no additions at defensive tackle, the Bucs will likely stick with All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and Akeem Spence as their starting defensive tackles, with free agent pickup Clinton McDonald rotating in to spell McCoy.
The Bucs will likely start the season with four defensive tackles on the roster. Spence could be suspended for his marijuana arrest in January, so the Bucs will be looking for one or even two additional tackles to add to the mix.
Starters: Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn
Depth: Da'Quan Bowers, William Gholston and Steven Means
The 2014 draft was not ripe with edge-rushers, so the Bucs stood with the defensive ends already on the roster.
DE Michael Johnson is another former Bengal who will play a key role for the Bucs in 2014. He is actually the only guaranteed starter the Bucs have at defensive end.
Adrian Clayborn stands the best chance to start opposite Johnson. While his 2013 campaign was a disaster, he began to regain his explosiveness near the end of the season.
The Bucs opted not to pick up Clayborn's 2015 option, but he is the best option on the roster. Bowers has never proved anything, while Gholston and Means still need a bit more seasoning.
Starters: Lavonte David, Mason Foster and Jonathan Casillas
Depth: Dane Fletcher
Talk about beating a dead horse...
Don't expect too many changes to the Bucs linebacker corps this year. Honestly, it didn't need much change.
Lavonte David is maybe one more spectacular season shy of being the second coming of Derrick Brooks. He and Gerald McCoy are the foundations on which Lovie Smith will try to resurrect the Tampa defense of the late 1990s.
Mason Foster doesn't have the pedigree of Smith's previous linebackers like Brian Urlacher, but he must be good enough if the Bucs gave him the defensive play-calling duties going into the season.
Jonathan Casillas rounds out the solid starting group after he signed a one-year extension to stay with the Bucs. While he won't be an every-down player, he brings experience and special teams prowess to a team in need of both.
The only sure depth the Bucs have at linebacker is Dane Fletcher, who played for the New England Patriots last year. He will likely back up Mason Foster at middle linebacker while also contributing on special teams.
Starters: Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks
Depth: Mike Jenkins, D.J. Moore, Leonard Johnson and Danny Gorrer
It was probably clear that the Bucs were not looking to upgrade the cornerback position in the draft following free agency.
These free-agent additions bring experience to an otherwise youthful group comprised of former second-round pick Johnthan Banks, Leonard Johnson and Danny Gorrer.
Johnson and Gorrer are under the most threat of being cut, but barring the rise of an upstart undrafted free agent, the Bucs have their cornerback unit set.
Starters: Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson
Depth: Major Wright and Keith Tandy
The Bucs didn't address the safety position in this year's draft, but they very well could next year.
Strong safety Mark Barron won't be going anywhere for a while. He continues to improve his cover skills and remains a consistent presence in the run game.
Dashon Goldson, on the other hand, could be playing his last season with the Bucs. After signing a five-year, $41.25 million deal in 2013, Goldson proved to be an utter disappointment with his inconsistent tackling and overly risky coverage habits.
Goldson deserves credit for taking the initiative to improve his game, hiring a tackling coach to help with his fine-magnet tackling. The problem is no team wants to pay a player $8.5 million a year if he needs help learning how to tackle.
The Bucs brought in former Bear and Lovie Smith disciple Major Wright to improve depth. He won't supplant Barron or Goldson, but he meets a major need, as the Bucs had basically no depth at the safety position.
Keith Tandy is the only true free safety on the roster. Goldson is listed at the position, but he plays like a strong safety. Tandy will likely see a lot of time as the team's nickel safety.
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