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Friday, 3 April 2015

2015 NFL Draft: Who Will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick First?

With the first pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select ….

Of course, that question cannot be answered, definitively, until the Commissioner officially kicks off the 2015 NFL Draft and puts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers “on the clock.” However, we can make some “educated” guesses.

Many analysts, commentators, pundits and fans have speculated that the Buccaneers will take Jameis Winston, the frequently troubled Quarterback of the Florida State Seminoles. Will the Buccaneers “roll the dice” and take Winston or will they find his reputation too tainted and focus their attention in another direction? No one knows, but there are strong indications that Tampa Bay will take a Quarterback.

Then again, there could be other options in the Buccaneers mental lockbox. Head Coach Lovie Smith is defensive minded and was very successful in building a winning program in Chicago. He managed to go to Super Bowl XLI with a Bears team that featured strong Defense and a “game management” Offense. With Smith’s history in mind, the Bucs might be tempted to take Leonard Williams, the freakishly athletic Defensive Tackle from the University of Southern California (USC) or Dante Fowler Jr, Outside Linebacker from the University of Florida.

Even if the Bucs decide to use their first pick on Offense, they might use it to strengthen their “silly string” Offensive Line by drafting Iowa Offensive Tackle Brandon Scherff.  The 6’5”, 319 lbs. Scherff is a “natural bender” who is especially adept at run blocking.  While Quarterback would seem to be the obvious choice, Scherff could help the Bucs regain some potency in a ground attack that only averaged 85.9 yards per game (twenty ninth in the league) and 3.9 yards per carry.

On the other hand, the Buccaneers’ starting Quarterback duo (Josh McGown and Mike Glennon) performed so badly last season that most observers believe the Bucs will have no choice but to choose a Quarterback. Of the two most highly rated QBs in the Draft, Jameis Winston appears to be the most logical pick.  Winston has the prototypical size, talent, experience and “football IQ” to be the Buccaneers’ starting Quarterback in Week 1. He is the “most NFL ready” and he has continually displayed the leadership qualities (despite his penchant for getting into legal jams) most NFL teams want.

Tampa Bay has been busy during the free agent signing period but most of their acquisitions have been on the defensive side of the ball. Since the beginning of March, the Bucs have signed a Cornerback (Sterling Moore), a Safety (Chris Conte), a Linebacker (Bruce Carter), and a Defensive Tackle (Henry Melton). In addition, they have re-signed two Corners (Mike Jenkins and Leonard Johnson), a Safety (Major Wright), a Linebacker (Jason Williams) and two Defensive Ends (Larry English and Lawrence Sidbury).  This would seem to strongly indicate that they will go Offense in the draft.

In early February, the Bucs released semi-starting QB Josh McGown, leaving the team with third year back-up Mike Glennon, who  has amassed a career pass completion percentage of 58.8 and a passer rating of  83.7 and Seth Lobato who has one year of NFL experience but has never taken a regular season snap.

In last year’s Draft, the Houston Texans faced a similar decision. They opted to pass on Quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles. As a result, the Texans watched the playoffs from home despite having the seventh best Defense (Points) in the NFL and the fifth stingiest in stopping opponents’ third down conversions (i.e., killing drives). Their number 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft was Jadeveon Clowney, an exceptional athlete who spent most of the 2014 season rehabbing injuries. Undoubtedly, Houston’s decision and the success of Bridgewater in Minnesota will have an impact on the Buccaneers’ thought process.

It is doubtful that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make the mistake Houston seems to have made. They will likely make Jameis Winston the number one over-all pick of the Draft. Only time will tell if that is the right decision, but, with an overwhelming need for a “franchise” Quarterback, extraordinary effort to bolster the Defense, the acquisition of a new Punter to improve the field position game and the release of their most experienced starting Quarterback, it is the most logical decision the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can make.

So, with the first pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jameis Winston, Quarterback, Florida State University. 


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