2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview
With the final team in the NFC South, I will be discussing the one with the longest playoff drought, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite that, I believe that a lot of Tampa supporters are hopeful that their Bucs not only can make the playoffs, but win the division as well. Good luck with that, being in a really tough division and all, but it's definitely not inconceivable and they actually do have a solid chance.
The Buccaneers only had six selections, but they did use them wisely. They started off by drafting TE OJ Howard out of Alabama, and he immediately gives them another weapon for Jameis Winston. They then went to help out the secondary by drafting S Justin Evans, and added more offensive help early in the third round with WR Chris Godwin. They also added third round LB Kendall Beckwith from LSU, and fifth round RB Jeremy McNichols from Boise State.
Tampa Bay started off by adding speedy wideout DeSean Jackson from the Redskins to complement star Mike Evans. Defensive tackle Chris Baker is another addition to this rapidly improving defense and can help get fellow tackle Gerald McCoy more opportunities at the quarterback. S JJ Wilcox improves the safety position even more, and K Nick Folk was brought in to compete with Robert Aguayo. They also kept C Joe Hawley, CB Josh Robinson, S Chris Conte, RB Jacquizz Rodgers and DT Sealver Siliga.
The biggest contract lost was backup QB Mike Glennon, but with Jameis Winston in the fold there was no real need for Glennon anyways. S Bradley McDougald is going to Seattle, DL Akeem Spence went to Detroit and WR Russell Shepard is in Carolina. WR Vincent Jackson and CB Alterraun Verner have yet to sign elsewhere.
For this one I'd have to say the defensive line is a huge strength, and maybe the entire front seven. Gerald McCoy is one of the best tackles in football, and now Chris Baker is next to him. Robert Ayers, Noah Spence and William Gholston are a solid group of defensive ends, and Clinton McDonald was the starter last season and now is the backup because of the addition of Baker. At LB, they have stars in Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander.
This one is tougher, and I'd have to go with running back. It's not necessarily the weakest position, but they have almost too many backups and no starters in the group. Doug Martin always gets hurt, Jeremy McNichols is a rookie, and the rest of the group are backups or "flashes in the pan". This is true nit-picking, but it's hard to find something weak about this team.
FIVE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYERS TO THE BUCCANEERS' SUCCESS
QB Jameis Winston, WR Mike Evans, DT Gerald McCoy, LB Lavonte David, LB Kwon Alexander
The future of this team might very well be tied into the future of Jameis Winston, and Mike Evans is going to be his number one receiver for as long as they are together. I've already raved about Gerald McCoy's abilities, and these two linebackers are young and talented enough to possibly be the best duo in the NFL for five years. It's a stretch, but it's not out of the question.
With the Falcons in this division, Carolina expected to rebound, and New Orleans being, well, New Orleans, it's tough to see where Tampa fits in. However, now that I have seen what the rest of the division looks like, Tampa has a pretty convincing argument on winning the division. I think they tie with the Falcons at about 11-5, but some tiebreaker gives the Falcons the division.