The Buccaneers have added a couple of players this off-season, but none of them look like long term answers at their position.
LB Jon Alston will add to the depth at outside linebacker, something they needed, but he is a backup caliber player. His biggest impact may be on special teams, where he has proven himself to be very productive.
The Cleveland Browns' S Sean Jones has also joined the club. He is expected to compete with incumbent Sabby Piscitelli for the starting strong safety job. Jones is a competent defender against the run, but he struggled mightily in coverage last season. While it seems unlikely that Tampa Bay would select a safety like Eric Berry with the 3rd overall pick after already signing Jones, they could still pick up a safety with more coverage ability later on in the draft.
One of the team's biggest needs is the wide receiver position. The Buccaneers have chosen to re-sign WR Mark Bradley, who they claimed off of waivers from the Chiefs near the end of the 2009 regular season. Bradley does not have much upside, and he has been injury prone throughout his career. Last season he dropped 25% of all passes thrown his way, making him an unlikely answer for Tampa Bay's wide receiver problems. I expect that the Buccaneers will continue to search for a player with the potential to be a number one wide receiver. Bradley seems destined for a back up role at best.
Given all the variables, Mocking the Draft has Tampa Bay selecting DT Gerald McCoy with the 3rd pick in the draft. McCoy is generally regarded as an elite talent, and the team desperately needs to improve against the run. A dominating player at the defensive tackle position would go a long way towards shoring up the front seven.
Who would you select with Tampa Bay's first selection?
Team needs and 2009 Draft results after the jump...
- Defensive Tackle: This team struggled to stop the run last season, and the best remedy would seem to be an upgrade at the tackle position. By strengthening the interior of the line, the Buccaneers' linebackers will be able to get to the ball-carrier more easily.
- Defensive End: Tampa Bay's cornerbacks were exposed at times in 2009, largely because the front four could not generate enough pass rush. The addition of a consistent pass-rusher would help take some pressure off of the secondary, and would increase the unit's overall effectiveness.
- Wide Receiver: Josh Freeman looks like the real deal at quarterback, but he needs some additional weapons to throw to. TE Kellen Winslow is a capable receiving threat, but they lack playmaking ability at the wide receiver position.
- Cornerback: The team has two good but aging cornerbacks. This is not an immediate need, but they should look to acquire a player they can groom for the future. As Aqib-Talib and Ronde Barber enter the twilight of their careers, it's important that there is a capable successor in place.
- Safety: The acquisition of Sean Jones makes this less of a need, but they still need to add depth here. Look for them to target a player with good coverage ability later in the draft.
2009 Draft Results
- QB Josh Freeman (17)
- DT Roy Miller (81)
- DE Kyle Moore (117)
- OT Xavier Fulton (155)
- CB E.J. Biggers (217)
- WR Sammie Stroughter (233)