Buccaneers

Offseason Needs: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1. Cornerback
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been thin in the secondary for a few years. They added a major piece of the puzzle with Mark Barron last year, but they still need to upgrade the situation at cornerback. Eric Wright was overpaid last offseason and is now likely to be cut loose.

2. Inside Linebacker
2011 third-round pick Mason Foster has failed to develop and the Bucs could take advantage of a deep class of inside linebackers. Alec Ogletree and Kevin Minter could be first-round options.

3. Defensive tackle
Gerald McCoy is locked in as a starter as the three-technique, but the Bucs could use a nose tackle to plug in next to him. Brian Price failed to fill that hole. Roy Miller stepped in for Price and did an adequate job, but he’s a free agent and likely to be allowed to sign elsewhere.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Team Needs Leave a comment

Mark Barron picked on in coverage

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie safety Mark Barron has the potential to be an elite player in this league, but one weakness he must improve upon is his coverage ability.

Barron will be tested by Eli Manning this week

Knowing Barron’s weakness, the Panthers targeted him in coverage seven times on Sunday, more than all but one safety in the league (D.J. Gomes, Redskins). Of the seven targets, five were completed for 91 yards.

Among all safeties, Barron earned the third lowest grade for his cumulative play (versus the run and pass) according to Pro Football Focus.

The Buccaneers didn’t draft Barron for his coverage ability, but they also can’t afford for him to become a liability if they hope to compete in 2012. Hopefully Barron quickly improves, because more performances like this will earn him a seat on the bench until he develops that aspect of his game.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Doug Martin lives up to expectations in debut

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1st-round pick Doug Martin impressed in his debut, carrying the Bucs to a 16-10 victory over the Panthers.

Martin carried the ball 24 times for 95 yards and added another 23 yards on four receptions. And if there was any question as to who the feature back was in this offense, LeGarrette Blount had just four touches on the day (three rushes, one reception).

I had Martin as the 14th rated player on my board in this year’s draft, so his performance doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s a legitimate feature back and this game should simply set the tone for the rest of his season.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Rookie Notes 1 Comment

Leonard Johnson not expected to make Buccaneers roster

According to Patrick Southern of CBS Sports, undrafted free agent Leonard Johnson is not expected to make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 53-man roster.

Johnson was initially projected as a potential Day 2 pick in the early stages of the draft process, but his stock plummeted after a poor showing at the combine. He remained one of the most physical defensive backs in the 2012 draft class, however, so it came as a surprise when he went undrafted. He will likely end up on the Bucs practice squad if he isn’t picked up by another team.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Draft Grades: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This was a potential franchise changing draft for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They made the wise decision to move back in the 1st round, which allowed them to acquire the picks necessary to move back up in the late 1st and come away with a huge haul on day one of the draft.

The Bucs passed up the opportunity to land Morris Claiborne, but still upgraded their secondary with the addition of Mark Barron. The Bucs should still be worried about their cornerbacks, but Barron will be a fun weapon for defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan to use. He’s a versatile player who can be effective when lining up all over the field.

Doug Martin was arguably the most underrated player in this draft class and the Bucs got an absolute steal in the late 1st round. He’s the next star undersized running back, following in the footsteps of Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew.

I wasn’t as high on Lavonte David as most, but he’s a perfect fit in Tampa. They’re one of the few teams that doesn’t mind using smaller, more athletic linebackers and David fits the mold perfectly. He’ll start at weak-side linebacker from day one.

Najee Goode will add some depth, and can play strong-side or inside linebacker, but he real value may be on special teams.

Keith Tandy adds some depth at cornerback, but I’m a little surprised they waited this long to address the position. They’re putting a lot of faith in Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib, and that’s a risky decision.

Michael Smith could prove to be a steal in the 7th round. I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith takes over the backup job from LeGarrette Blount before the season is over.

Drake Dunsmore can play tight end or fullback. He’ll have to battle for a job in training camp with a number of players at both positions.

The Bucs didn’t get much help on the third day of the draft and failed to upgrade their situation at cornerback, but that’s the only think holding them back from an A+. This was a phenomenal haul for a franchise that was in need of a boost. Considering the fact that the Falcons and Saints did very little to help themselves this offseason, the Bucs closed the gap in the NFC South in a big way.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Draft Grades - 2012 1 Comment