Buccaneers on the fence:
Every good offensive line needs someone to bring the energy. A guy to lead the rest of the group with a mean attitude and the skills to back it up. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ryan Jensen is that guy. Jensen has been a Tampa Bay stalwart since his arrival in 2018, playing in every single game during that span and playing 99% of all available snaps during that time. In 2021 the league finally recognized his stellar play with a Pro-Bowl nod, and Jensen surely hopes that energy will be applied towards the Top-100 as well.
Honestly, Jensen would be a lock for the list if not for the clear bias towards skill positions and pass rushers. Offensive linemen face a tough road to recognition here, as they do in most aspects of the sport. Still, Jensen is definitely worthy of this honor, his inclusion will depend on the willingness of his peers to award linemen in general.
Ranking Prediction: #67
Playoff Lenny came to Tampa Bay in 2020 and faced some well-documented troubles. From splitting first-team snaps with Ronald Jones, to a series of increasingly poor drops in the passing game, and a conversation with then-head coach Bruce Arians about the possibility of being cut, the start of Leonard Fournette’s tenure with Tampa Bay was far from seamless. However, since that conversation, Fournette has been the definition of a three-down back for the Buccaneers.
His playoff heroics were a huge part of Tampa Bay’s eventual Super Bowl win, and in the offseason he attacked his weaknesses and turned them into strengths. Despite his obvious value, and his position as a true workhorse back in a era of committees, Fournette doesn’t have the dazzling statistics to jump off the page. The Buccaneers are a pass-heavy team, with a scheme that isn’t optimized to throw to running backs. Unfortunately, despite Fournette’s clear skills, this may be too large a point against him.
Ranking Prediction: not included in the Top 100
Shaquill Barrett broke onto the NFL scene with the Buccaneers after a few less-productive seasons with the Denver Broncos. His 19.5 sacks three years ago was good enough to lead the league. Since then, while the numbers haven’t been as gaudy, Barrett has maintained his form as a top-tier NFL edge rusher. Last season, Barrett had the 12th most pressures of any player in football. While those numbers may not be resulting in as many sacks as in the past, they are indicative of a player very much still at the top of his game.
The question is whether Barrett’s peers at the NFL level view his production in pressures as being worthy of a spot on the Top 100 list. After all, pressures aren’t sacks, but with Barrett having earned the benefit of the doubt with his past few seasons of play, he may very well make an appearance at the start of the list.
Ranking Prediction: #85
The NFL Top 100 list is always a talking point amongst the NFL community, so why not get the ball rolling early and project where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players could land.