The Bucs need more help than Tom Brady

by Gary Shelton on March 31, 2020

in general

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

They matter again. The Tampa Bay Bucs are no longer an endangered species. These days, the Bucs are an easy headline braced by star power.

That said, however, they are not cured.

In certain quarters, the only question is just how big the Bucs will win in the coming season, how far into the playoffs they will last, how many records they may break.

But here's a reminder.

Jameis Winston was very, very wrong for the Bucs last season.

But he wasn't the only thing that was wrong.

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Granted, Winston's face after yet another interception is the way we will all remember last year. But remember the 47 sacks given up by the offensive line? Remember the league-leading 133 penalties? Remember the third-worst pass defense? Remember the 24th-best rushing attack?

Yeah, those areas have to be improved, too.

Sometime late in free agency, sometimes early in the draft, there are holes that need to be plugged. Tom Brady isn't going to run for a lot of yards. He isn't going to shut down an opposing receiver. He isn't going to block a defensive end.

So where do the Bucs go? At this point, it's doubtful they're going to pick up a free agent who is going to make you go "wow." Most of their additions will be through the draft.

So where do the Bucs need to look?

  1. Offensive tackle. The Bucs haven't rushed to re-sign Demar Dotson, who is plumb tuckered out from jumping offsides. My own feeling is that this is where the Bucs go first in the NFL draft. I've seen as many as four different names linked with the Bucs, which means 2-3 of those will bust. Tampa Bay did sign Joe Haeg, but he didn't start for the Colts last year. It's hard to see him make a difference for the Bucs.

2. Running back. The Bucs lost half of their running combination last year when Peyton Barber signed with Washington. Frankly, the Bucs needed help there anyway. Only two teams in the league averaged fewer than the 3.7 yards the Bucs managed. This second round of the draft may be their answer.

3. Quarterback. What's that? Yes, the Bucs spent a few nickels on Brady. But he'll be 43 when the season starts, which means he's in his twilight. And it isn't like the backups are exciting. Ryan Griffin has thrown four passes in his career, and Blaine Gabbert is, well, Blaine Gabbert. It's a dark horse pick in round one, maybe round two.

4. Defensive line: Again, the Bucs invested heavily to bring back Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul (traditional defensive ends, although the team lists them as linebackers) and Ndamukong Suh. But Suh is 32 and Pierre-Paul is 31. The Bucs could use a rotational player somewhere on the line.

5. Wide receiver. This is the team's deepest position, so why should they draft another guy? Well, Breshad Perriman left. A slot receiver to get open underneath would be nice. No, it won't be Antonio Brown. Bruce Arians went out of his way to nip that conversation in the bud.

6. Safety. A lot of mock drafts keep harping on cornerbacks. But the Bucs can only play so many -- it's why there was no room for Vernon Hargreaves -- in their rotation. I think a safety makes a lot more sense.

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