The Buccaneers will go down in history as having finished 4th in the NFC South in 2012, by virtue of tiebreakers. The Saints, Panthers, and Buccaneers all wound up with 7-9 records, leaving the Bucs on the bottom of that pile based on tiebreakers involving conference records and division records. This technicality will actually prove to help the Buccaneers.
The NFL’s scheduling conventions dictate that every year, two games for each team are schedule to match up with teams who finished in the same position in other assigned divisions. Next season, that means the Buccaneers will play the fourth place teams in the NFC North and NFC East (Per fbschedules.com), which results in the Eagles at home and the Lions on the road being added as the missing links to the schedule, and all that’s left is for the NFL’s scheduling computer to set times and dates for the matchups.
The Buccaneers will also draft just ahead of their division rivals, as the draft order tiebreakers favor the Buccaneers, and while there are other 7-9 teams ahead of the Tampa Bay in the order, the Bucs will be the first NFC South team to pick in April’s draft. The current draft order, according to Dane Brugler of cbssports.com, has Mark Dominik and his crew on the clock in the 13th position, with the Panthers and Saints following, in that order. For reference, ESPN.com’s “Big Board” has Taylor Lewan, a tackle from Michigan, as number 13 right now. Fan favorite Dee Millner, corner from Alabama, is listed as the 11th best on the board, so at this point is conceivable that he would be available when the Buccaneers select, particularly if a couple of quarterbacks shoot up the board due to team need and combine workouts. Furthermore, having an extra fourth round pick means that a trade with a top 10 team would be easy to negotiate, and opens up the possibility of selecting Bjoern Werner or Damontre Moore if the Buccaneers elect to bring in a pass rushing defensive end.
There will be plenty of discussion this offseason about the Buccaneers future, and we’ll have draft profiles and free agency discussion here at The Pewter Plank. Let us know what players you think the Buccaneers will target, who you’d like to see move on from Tampa Bay, and what you’d like to see the Buccaneers do in the draft. Join in the offseason discussion: You can follow me, Leo Howell, on Twitter, as well as our Editor, Josh Hill. The Pewter Plank has it’s own official Twitter, and you can also’Like’ us on our new Facebook page.