After an improved 2015, the Buccaneers still have plenty of holes to fill to continue their climb to the top of the NFC South.
The Buccaneers are coming off of a 6-10 season, a four win increase from the previous year. However, the team with that improved record was statistically worse on defense than in the 2014 season. Lovie Smith was fired because he called the plays and ran a defense that had all of “his players” that fit “his scheme.” In his tenure he only drafted one defensive player, Kwon Alexander, and the rest were on offense. Fans may see that as a reason as to why he should have gotten one more year but Free Agency was primarily focused on defensive players that fit Smiths system. Smith had mostly misses including signing Michael Johnson, Mike Jenkins, Sterling Moore, Major Wright, Alterraun Verner, Henry Melton and that’s only on defense.
That being said, Verner and Conte remain on the team and have a chance to revitalize their careers under new defensive coordinator Mike Smith. The team still needs multiple defensive ends, defensive tackles, cornerbacks, and both safety positions. This will be addressed through the draft. Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht have the opportunity to build through the upcoming draft. Having the ninth overall selection in this year’s draft, Dirk and Jason have a chance to take a top ten talent ,their selection is critical to putting the team back on course for the 2016 season.
First Round: Ninth Pick
The Browns signing Robert Griffin III may impact the draft more than people think. I still believe the Browns can’t pass up on the potential of Wentz or Goff because I just don’t think Griffin can return to form. However, if the Browns don’t take a QB with the second pick, teams could frantically try and move up to grab one or both of them before the Bucs pick at nine. The Cowboys, 49ers, Rams, or even the Chargers could consider a QB if they feel Rivers is in his final stretch. If the Browns don’t take a quarterback I can see the Rams try and trade up in front of the Niners to take a QB. Tunsil, Ramsey, Jack, and Bosa are highly likely to be off of the board when the Buccaneers pick at nine so that eliminates them. I am not a fan of Hargreaves for the Bucs because they already have two sub six foot corners in Verner and Grimes. The Bucs need to get to the passer so with the ninth pick the Buccaneers should select DeForest Buckner from Oregon. Buckner, a giant of a man at 6’7″ 287 pounds, winner of PAC-12 defensive player of the year is the top defensive lineman prospect behind Bosa. He’s being compared to Arizona’s Calais Campbell and his size and skill set would work really well next to Gerald McCoy and assist greatly in both pass rush and run defense.
Second Round: Thirty-Ninth Pick
There are a few ways the Bucs could go with this pick with part of the D-Line addressed. The signing of JR Sweezy after the retirement of Logan Mankins solidified the left guard spot. Right Tackle is one position that is the only question mark on the line. However, Dirk Koetter recently came out and said that Demar Dotson is the starter and with Gosder Cherilus as the back up they have the opportunity to wait and draft linemen later in the draft and continue to focus on the defense.
There are three players who I would love to see fall here; Robert Nkemdiche, Noah Spence, and William Jackson III but they are too talented to not be taken in the first round. There aren’t many Safeties worthy of this pick here so solidifying the defensive line seems likely. With the 39th pick the Buccaneers should select Shilique Calhoun, the defensive end out of Michigan State. Reuniting with former teammate William Gholston, Calhoun is a special player. A rare college athlete, Calhoun was named to three consecutive All-American squads. He could have easily left college after his junior year but he stayed in school to win a Big Ten title and improve his game, succeeding at both. At 6’4″ 250 lbs he has prototypical size for today’s defensive end. Not only that he can do something the Bucs haven’t been able to, which is get after the passer. Calhoun posted 128 quarterback pressures and 26.5 sacks over last three seasons. Under the tutelage of Jay Hayes he could potentially be a quality starter for years to come.
Second Round: Sixty-Third Pick
Buccaneers trade Mike Glennon to the Broncos for 2016 2nd Round Pick and a 3rd in 2017 with a chance to be a 2nd.
Yes, the Bucs pull the trigger and get the Broncos to give up a second for their backup quarterback. Do Broncos fans really see Mark Sanchez as the QB of the future? Why not trade for a more experienced Brock Osweiler? I mean, he worked out pretty well for them last year. This trade gives the Bucs the opportunity to draft another high quality player. With the 63rd pick the Buccaneers should select Jaylon Smith, linebacker Notre Dame. Jaylon is a top three talent in this draft but a knee injury could potentially end his career before it even begins. But just imagine he sits out a year and gets healthy, learns behind newly picked up veteran tackling machine Daryl Smith and in 2017 the Bucs linebackers are Kwon Alexander, Lavonte David, and Jaylon Smith. Now, tell me that’s not potentially the best trio of linebackers in the NFL. Smith may not even be available this late in the draft because he’s that good but if he is there you take him. If the Bucs could trade a quarterback who was going to sit for a year and never start for a linebacker who has to sit for a year but could be one of the best players in the class, I say go for it.
Third Round: Seventy-Fourth Pick
With most of the defense taken care of, here is an opportunity to draft a player who will be a stud for the next decade, maybe longer. With the 74th pick the Buccaneers should select Roberto Aguayo, a kicker out of Florida State. Yes, the Bucs still need help at safety and offensive line but Aguayo is that talented you won’t need to
“Aguayo is the most accurate kicker in college football history with 96.7% made field goals”
worry about not scoring once you pass the 40 yard line. Aguayo is the most accurate kicker in college football history with 96.7% made field goals. He’s the first kicker in 16 years to forgo his senior year to declare for the draft.
However, he is that good he deserves to be considered as high as the second round. If Al Davis was still alive I wouldn’t be surprised if he was taken in the first round. But in all honesty, this kicker missed nine field goals and zero extra points in 3 years, Brindza missed 6 field goals and 2 extra points in 4 games. Barth and Murray are on the team right now but none of them are as good as this kid is right now. The Bucs still need safety and O-line help but passing up on Aguayo may be the biggest mistake of the draft.