2015 Draft Position: What if the Bucs didn’t have the No. 1 pick?
Had the Bucs earned even one more win in 2014, they would not have picked first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Of course, they didn’t and picked Jameis Winston with the top pick. His NFL career has had its highs and lows thus far. The highs? Record-breaking numbers at a very young age, leading an explosive offense in 2015 and coming close to the playoffs in 2016. The lows? Too many turnovers, off-field trouble that has led to a three-game suspension this season and not enough winning.
Tampa Bay sits in an interesting spot with Winston now, needing to see growth from him on and off the field this year in order to give him a big contract in the near future. The organization could even wait until after the 2019 season to decide his long-term fate in Tampa.
It’s kind of difficult at this point, but can you picture the last few years for the Bucs without Winston? Would the Tennessee Titans have picked him with the No. 1 pick instead, or would they still have selected Marcus Mariota anyway?
If the Titans had gone with Winston, would Mariota be a Buccaneer right now? It’s wild to think about when you consider the constant back-and-forth on who the pick should have been. What if the team wouldn’t have had a choice? There might be less division within the fan base, for one thing. It’d be an interesting look
But what if they picked even lower than No. 2 and went with another position completely? Would they have gone into 2015 with Josh McCown or Mike Glennon under center? Had they gone, say, 3-13 or 4-12 in 2014, perhaps Dante Fowler Jr. is a part of the Buccaneer defense. Maybe Amari Cooper would have been the pick to create a killer duo with Mike Evans?
There are a crazy number of possibilities, but none of them seem to involve a quarterback. After Winston and Mariota went in the first two picks, another quarterback wasn’t taken until Bryce Petty in the fourth round.
There’s a lot to ponder with these questions, yet there is still the rest of the draft to reconsider. Are Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Kwon Alexander still in red and pewter if the team had finished better in 2014?
All of these “what ifs” lead into even bigger ones. The 2015 draft class was a great one for general manager Jason Licht, but it may have never come together the way it did had Tampa Bay turned some of those close losses into wins.