After a disappointing 4-12 finish in 2013, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cleaned house, firing head coach Greg Schiano and losing general manager Mark Dominik as well. As if that weren’t enough, long-time owner Malcolm Glazer died over the offseason.
Well, the Bucs were determined to do better in 2014. After hiring former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and new general manager Jason Licht, the Bucs made some big offseason moves. With the 7th pick in the draft, the Buccaneers selected wide receiver Mike Evans from Texas A&M; and to help out with their quarterback issues they brought in Josh McCown, who had a fantastic 2013 season in Chicago filling in for the injured Jay Cutler.
Believe it or not, the Buccaneers were actually talked about as possible winners of the NFC South division heading into 2014. Obviously, that didn’t work out. The Bucs finished dead last in the weak NFC South with a 2-14 record, tied with the Tennessee Titans but statistically the worst team of the season.
Sure, having the 1st overall pick in the draft is nice. The Bucs will get to choose anyone they want, but they have a lot of holes in the team that need to be addressed. McCown wasn’t able to perform nearly as well as he did with the Bears, and as a result he has been cut, the defense fell apart without cornerback Darrelle Revis on the roster, and the Bucs proved unable to either protect the quarterback or get to opposing quarterbacks.
The Buccaneers have a lot of work to do before they take the field in 2015, but having the 1st pick in the draft is a great way to get started. Here are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest needs heading into the 2015 NFL Draft:
Defensive Line: The Bucs have two set players on the line, Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy and Michael Johnson. The other positions on Tampa’s defensive line are up for grabs. The Buccaneers could easily fill this void in free agency; but if head coach Lovie Smith is given some say in the Bucs draft, he may push for Leonard Williams out of USC. Williams is by far the best defensive lineman in college, and he is ready to start day one in the NFL. The only problem with Williams is that the Bucs would have to spend their 1st overall pick in order to get the big man. Williams certainly won’t drop out of the top five, so the Buccaneers would need to pull the trigger early on the big man. This sets up a big of a problem for the Bucs, because they have other needs that only the 1st overall selection can fill.
Quarterback: This is the most obvious and pressing issue for the Buccaneers. Mike Glennon simply hasn’t shown the ability to lead a team, and that’s why the Bucs brought in McCown in the first place. Well, luckily for the Bucs, they have the 1st pick in the draft so they can choose from literally anyone. The Bucs seem pretty set on drafting a rookie quarterback to lead them moving forward, so now the big question is Oregon quarterback and 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota or Florida State quarterback and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. The Buccaneers need a quarterback now, and these two seem to be the only two quarterbacks in college that are ready to jump right into an NFL starting role. Mariota seems to be preferred by everyone, but Lovie Smith has made it clear that he would like the team to draft Winston. Come draft day it will be interesting to see what the Bucs do with their first overall selection.