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Let’s be honest, even with a “big” win under their belt, it’s tough for Buccaneer fans not to be looking ahead to the NFL Draft. With a record of 1-8, and a schedule which still features four teams entrenched in a playoff race, it is pretty much set in stone that the Buccaneers will be drafting pretty close to the top of the draft.
As of today, the Buccaneers and the Jacksonville Jaguars are the two worst teams in the NFL, in terms of record, but there are still several weeks to go. Without knowing for sure where they will be slotted, it’s tough to predict a specific player whom they may take. We can, however, predict the positions that the Buccaneers may consider early in the draft, and the players that top the rankings at those spots.
Even before Josh Freeman was sent packing, 2013 looked to be a big year in terms of evaluating the quarterbacks for the Buccaneers. Barring injury, Mike Glennon will have 13 starts under his belt going into the offseason. While most young quarterbacks are evaluated for a few seasons before their future is decided, Glennon may not be afforded that luxury. Even if Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik are retained, it will be tough for the Buccaneers not to look closely at some of the top signal callers in the draft. Glennon, after all, was only a third-round pick, and has completed less than 60% of his passes for only a 5.8 yard average.
Looking at a class that could feature as many as six first-round caliber quarterbacks, this might spell the end for Glennon, no matter who makes the decision. My top five draft-eligible quarterbacks (in order) are currently Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Zach Mettenberger, and Brett Hundley. There is a significant chance that any of these players could be in pewter and red in 2014.
Over their first three NFL seasons, Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers have combined for just 15.5 sacks, with each missing time last season. While they have each showed flashes, to this point they provide one of the weakest pass rushes in the NFL. With the amount of money invested in the team’s secondary, it is hard for the team to allow this lack of production up front to continue. The team currently ranks 26th in the league in sacks after ranking 29th and 32nd over the past two seasons.
My number one overall prospect to this point is South Carolina defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney. There is a distinct possibility that Clowney could be the first overall pick, and his college numbers and film justifies that. Although 2013 has been less productive as it’s been marred by injuries and controversy for Clowney, he has 23 career sacks. Other names to consider are fast rising Missouri defensive end Michael Sam and Stanford’s Trent Murphy. While neither is currently projected to be a top five pick, they could be in play should Tampa Bay decide to trade down.
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