Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Most Under and Overrated Offseason Additions
The new regime, led by general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith, attacked free agency early and often and spent all their draft picks on revamping an offense that was the league's worst in 2013.
It's easy for fans to be excited when their team brings in new faces, but not every new addition will live up to the excitement of an introductory press conference. There will also be those under-the-radar signings and late-round draft picks who end up being pleasant surprises.
Let's take a look at the most overrated and underrated additions made by the Bucs this offseason.
Overrated: TE Brandon Myers
One of the first signings made by the Bucs right out of the gate, Brandon Myers was inked to a two-year deal worth $4 million.
Though he was signed in the same fell swoop with Michael Johnson, Alterraun Verner and Clinton McDonald, Myers could have a difficult time making a significant impact on the stat sheet in 2014.
It looked like Myers would have the opportunity to fight for a starting role with converted receiver Tim Wright, who was the Bucs' most pleasant surprise in the passing game last season. But then Tampa Bay spent its high second-round pick on Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a dynamic playmaker at the position who should start from Day 1.
Though Myers has the most experience of any tight end on the roster, his production dropped considerably from 2012 to last season. With the highly drafted Seferian-Jenkins and the overachieving Wright ahead of him, fans shouldn't be shocked if Myers fails to move the needle much this year.
Underrated: DT Clinton McDonald
The less heralded of the two defensive linemen signed by the Bucs shortly after the opening of free agency, Clinton McDonald could end up being one of the team's best value signings.
Not only has McDonald given Tampa Bay an upgrade at the defensive tackle spot next to Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy, the former Seahawk brings the perspective of a fresh Super Bowl champion who knows what it takes to go all the way.
Per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Coach Smith has been impressed with McDonald's leadership ability, as well:
When we talk about leadership, most people talk about that guy that's firing guys up and screaming and yelling. Clinton is one of those guys (that) you don't hear him an awful lot. It's just the way he works. As you look at Clinton McDonald, you would assume he's a tough guy, just from talking and looking at him, but he backs it up with how he goes through every drill.
Playing next to McCoy and fellow free-agent acquisition Johnson, McDonald should be in prime position to shine as a full-time starter in Tampa Bay. He could end up being a bargain at $12 million over four years.
Overrated: WR Lavelle Hawkins
After trading Mike Williams, Lavelle Hawkins was one of a pair of receivers signed by the Bucs to help replace one of their leading pass-catchers.
But though it may have seemed like Hawkins would use his veteran experience to garner some serious playing time in Tampa Bay, other offseason additions and impressive performances during team workouts by younger players have left Hawkins further down on the depth chart than he may have planned.
The addition of first-rounder Mike Evans obviously pushed Hawkins down a spot on the depth chart. But the emergence of younger players already on the roster such as Chris Owusu and even late-round pick Robert Herron look to have put Hawkins further down the pecking order than he might have expected.
Hawkins played for new Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford at Cal, so his knowledge of the offense could help him stick. But the way things are shaping up at this point, I'd be surprised if Hawkins makes the final roster, let alone has a significant impact in 2014.
Underrated: G Kadeem Edwards
Heading into the 2014 NFL draft, most Bucs fans assumed the team would address the need at the guard position.
Fans probably didn't expect the team to wait until the fifth round to do so, but it may have still come away with a potential starter in Tennessee State's Kadeem Edwards.
A raw but talented small-school prospect, Edwards has all the physical tools to develop into a successful blocker at the NFL level, and he plays with a nasty disposition. The rookie also doesn't lack for confidence, saying he's ready to compete for a starting role.
Carl Nicks is planning for a training camp return from a toe injury, but I'll believe that when I see it. At right guard, Jamon Meredith and Patrick Omameh look to be the top competition for Edwards. If Edwards can keep refining his technique and stay in top shape, there's no reason he can't contend for a starting spot and far outplay his draft position.
Overrated: G Oniel Cousins
Heading into free agency with a clear need at guard, the Bucs' signing of Oniel Cousins may have seemed to fans like the team's plan to address a glaring hole.
But despite the team's desperate need at the position, Cousins should be counted on only as a depth piece rather than a potential starter. Over his six NFL seasons, Cousins has made just nine starts, spending time in both Cleveland and Baltimore.
Meredith, Omameh and Edwards will give Cousins a daunting task when it comes to vying for a starting role, and that's not even counting Nicks, who is targeting a return at training camp.
Bucs fans may have thought Cousins was brought in to be the savior at a position of need, but he should only end up starting if the team suffers another season of significant injuries on the offensive line.
Underrated: QB Josh McCown
After rookie Mike Glennon performed admirably when thrown into the starting role early in 2013, many could have thought that Josh McCown was signed as merely a veteran backup or healthy competition for the younger quarterback.
But Coach Smith wasted no time is making it clear that McCown was brought in to be the starter. And though McCown has been a journeyman for his entire NFL career, he flashed serious ability last year when he threw 13 touchdowns and just one interception in relief of the injured Jay Cutler in Chicago.
McCown may not be flashy, but he's got all the tools to far outplay expectations in Tampa Bay this season. The Bucs rebuilt much of their underperforming offensive line via free agency and added plenty of new weapons on offense in the draft.
McCown will get to throw to giant targets in Vincent Jackson, Evans and Seferian-Jenkins, much like the talent that surrounded him in Chicago with the likes of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Add in the leadership qualities that McCown has brought to One Buc Place, and you have a recipe for a quarterback who should be worth every bit of the two-year, $10-million contract he signed this offseason.