WR Reggie Brown, G Keydrick Vincent, OLB Jon Alston, SS Sean Jones.
Early Draft Picks:
DT Gerald McCoy, DT Brian Price, WR Arrelious Benn, CB/FS Myron Lewis, WR Mike Williams, P Brent Bowden.
QB Byron Leftwich, WR Antonio Bryant, WR Brian Clark, G Arron Sears, DE Jimmy Wilkerson, DT Chris Hovan, OLB Matt McCoy, S/OLB Jermaine Phillips, S Will Allen.
2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offense:
This is a work in progress. The Buccaneers have collected a plethora of young offensive talent on their roster, but they are simply too inexperienced to make a playoff push this season. The 2010 campaign figures to be packed with promising sparks, growing pains and maddening inconsistency.
Starting at quarterback, Josh Freeman is entering his second year. In his nine starts, Freeman showed brilliant flashes - 205 yards, three touchdowns against the Packers; 250 yards, two scores at Atlanta. But on other occasions, he was horrific - 93 yards, three interceptions against the Jets; five picks at Carolina; 174 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions against the Falcons. Overall, Freeman finished with 1,857 yards, 10 scores and 18 picks in nine-and-a-half games. His completion percentage (54.6) and YPA (6.4) really must improve.
Freeman's two starting receivers are both rookies. Arrelious Benn, selected atop Round 2 this April, is the more renowned player. However, it's been fourth-round selection Mike Williams who has been sharper in minicamps. Williams was a first-round talent who slipped into the middle of the 2010 NFL Draft because of character concerns. So far those issues haven't been prevalent. There's still plenty of time for Williams to blow up, but he's currently the favorite to lead all Buccaneer wideouts in receiving yardage.
Tampa's leader in receptions once again will be Kellen Winslow Jr. - as long as he can stay healthy. Winslow just endured his fifth knee surgery in six years, which is hardly a good sign. If Freeman wants to develop some sort of consistency, he'll need his Pro Bowl tight end on the field.
Speaking of health, Cadillac Williams was able to play all 16 games for the first time in his injury-plagued career last year. Williams rushed for 816 yards and four touchdowns in 2009. If he can stay off the IR, he could break the 1,000-yard barrier; with Freeman having more experience, and Benn and Mike Williams on the roster, opposing defenses won't be able to focus on Tampa's ground attack as much.
Of course, some improvement up front would help as well. Tackles Donald Penn and Jeremy Trueblood were downright horrific last season, combining for 15 sacks allowed and a whopping 20 penalties. Trueblood lacks talent, but the same can't be said about Penn. Penn's problem was lethargy; he finished the 2009 campaign at 370 pounds. Penn reportedly is in better shape right now, which isn't surprising considering that it's his contract year.
The Buccaneers' line is stronger in the interior. Right guard Davin Joseph is serviceable, while talented center Jeff Faine struggled through a triceps injury this past season. Left guard Jeremy Zuttah was awful in 2009, so Tampa will hope that second-year Xavier Fulton can take over at the position.
2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense:
The 2009 Buccaneers finished 27th in points allowed, 27th in yardage surrendered and dead last versus the run. However, that doesn't really tell the whole story.
In the first 10 games of the season, Tampa allowed a depressing 29.4 points per contest. In the final six weeks, however, that average dropped to 17.7. The difference? After a 38-7 loss to the Saints on Nov. 22, Raheem Morris relieved defensive coordinator Jim Bates of his duties, taking over the play-calling himself. The improvement was instantaneous.
However, scheme can only take defenses so far in the NFL. Talent is also prevalent - particularly players who can rush the passer. That's why the Buccaneers spent their first two selections in the 2010 NFL Draft on defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. McCoy, seen by some NFL Draft experts as the next Warren Sapp, compiled 15.5 tackles for loss and six sacks with Oklahoma in 2009. Price, meanwhile, notched 23.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks with UCLA.
Tampa will need McCoy and Price to contribute immediately. They'll join right end Stylez G. White (6.5 sacks) and left end Kyle Moore (excels against the run) on a defensive line that will be tasked to disrupt Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Carolina's dual rushing attack. That's a lot to ask from two rookies, a second-year player and a guy named after a character on Teen Wolf.
Luckily, the Buccaneers are much more experienced in their back seven. Barrett Ruud is one of the top inside linebackers in the NFL, while Geno Hayes played surprisingly well as a first-year starting weakside linebacker in 2009. Quincy Black rounds out the linebacking corps as a solid two-down player on the strong side.
The secondary is led by third-year cornerback Aqib Talib and stellar free safety Tanard Jackson. Long-time Bucs corner Ronde Barber recently told the media that he expects the talented Talib to break all of his records. Unfortunately, the 35-year-old Barber is a liability as a starter. Rookie corner Myron Lewis could easily unseat Barber in training camp.
Lewis is one of two new members in Tampa's secondary. The other is starting strong safety Sean Jones, who struggled in Philadelphia last season because he was curiously miscast as a free safety. Jones is a natural strong safety, and has played well in that role prior to his stint with the Eagles.
2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Schedule and Intangibles:
Prior to the 2009 season, the Buccaneers were 68-36 at home. However, they were a shameful 1-6 at the New Sombrero last season. They somehow beat a talented Packers squad, but suffered five double-digit losses as hosts.
Back in 2007, the Buccaneers returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the first time in franchise history. Well, when it rains, it pours because Clifton Smith took another kickoff to the house in 2008. In fact, Smith had two special teams touchdowns that year. Last season, Sammie Stroughter had two special-teams scores of his own. Tampa Bay didn't allow the opposition to score.
The Buccaneers had kicking issues all last year, but may have found their guy in Connor Barth. Barth was just 14-of-19, but drilled 3-of-4 attempts from 50-plus. He finished his 2009 campaign on a 7-of-8 run. Meanwhile, rookie punter Brent Bowden is an unknown.
Tampa Bay plays in a really brutal division, so some winnable games against non-NFC South foes include: Browns (home, Week 1), the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers (home, Week 3), Bengals (road, Week 5), Rams (home, Week 7), Cardinals (road, Week 8), Redskins (road, Week 14), Lions (home, Week 15) and Seahawks (home, Week 16).
2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Analysis: Tampa fans have plenty to be excited about. The Buccaneers are a young, talented team that will grow together over the next few years. The 2010 season figures to be an inconsistent and frustrating one, but as long as the players continue to progress, Tampa Bay will contend for a playoff spot in 2011 and beyond.
The Buccaneers had a ton of needs going into the 2010 NFL Draft, which is why I was shocked when they spent their first two selections on under tackles. Gerald McCoy was the obvious pick at No. 3, but Brian Price atop the second round? Maybe he was the best player on the team's board, but the Bucs aren't stacked at most positions to make a move like that.
Tampa also double dipped at wideout, which made more sense because the team had nothing at the position besides slot receiver Sammie Stroughter. Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams both have their issues, however. Benn's production declined at Illinois and he dropped a ton of passes later in his collegiate career. Williams, meanwhile, quit the team and laughed it off at the Combine. Williams just doesn't seem like he's interested in playing football.
I liked the Bucs' Myron Lewis, Cody Grimm and Dekoda Watson picks, but they will continue to have major issues with their pass protection and pass rush.
Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: B-
2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
3. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Unlike Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy has no knee concerns. He's also a great fit for Tampa Bay's defense and fills their No. 1 position of need. (Pick Grade: A)
35. Brian Price, DT, UCLA
I like the player, but I really don't understand the pick. The Buccaneers have Gerald McCoy, Chris Hovan and Roy Miller inside, and now they're adding Brian Price? The Buccaneers need an outside pass-rusher, a receiver and a corner. Why not address one of those needs? (Pick Grade: C)
39. Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
Arrelious Benn is a great physical talent. His problem is that he drops too many passes and has lapses in concentration. Still, he fits the draft range and fills a huge need for the Buccaneers. I really like this pick. (Pick Grade: A)
67. Myron Lewis, CB/FS, Vanderbilt
A slight reach, but it's possible that the Buccaneers just liked Myron Lewis a lot. He's certainly a great fit for their defense and fills a big hole across from Aqib Talib. (Pick Grade: B)
101. Mike Williams, WR, Syracuse
The Buccaneers had some positive meetings with Mike Williams, so this is not a surprise to me. Williams is a first-round talent, but he quit on his team and then laughed it off at the Combine. I don't want a guy like that on my squad. Yes, he has upside, but his history speaks for itself. (Pick Grade: C)
172. Brent Bowden, P, Virginia Tech
A punter was definitely needed. Not a bad time to take one in Round 6. (Pick Grade: C)
210. Cody Grimm, SS/ST, Virginia Tech
The son of Russ Grimm, Cody is a great special teams player. I really like this pick. (Pick Grade: A)
217. Dekoda Watson, OLB, Florida State
It's unbelivable that Dekoda Watson lasted this long; he was a legitimate Round 3-4 prospect. He fits this Tampa defense perfectly. (Pick Grade: A)
253. Erik Lorig, DE, Stanford
Pretty indifferent here; Erik Lorig was a borderline draftable prospect. It's hard to believe that Tampa Bay waited this long to take a defensive end. (Pick Grade: B)
When the Buccaneers jettisoned Jon Gruden and many of their veterans, we knew this would be a transitional year for them. Even though they finished 3-13, they exceeded my expectations; in my 2009 NFL Season Preview, I had them going 2-14. The good news is that Tampa has a franchise quarterback. The bad news is that there are tons of needs to fill.
Buccaneers announce retirement of OLB Derrick Brooks
Saints sign WR Mark Bradley
Buccaneers re-sign OT Donald Penn
Buccaneers waive QB Jevan Snead
Buccaneers re-sign OT Donald Penn
Buccaneers sign G Keydrick Vincent
Buccaneers cut OLB Angelo Crowell
Buccaneers cut WR Mark Bradley
Rams sign DT Chris Hovan
Buccaneers re-sign RB Cadillac Williams
Buccaneers re-sign OT Jeremy Trueblood
Buccaneers re-sign RB/KR Clifton Smith
Buccaneers cut DT Chris Hovan
Buccaneers cut G Arron Sears
Buccaneers cut FB B.J. Askew
Buccaneers re-sign ILB Barrett Ruud
Buccaneers re-sign CB Elbert Mack
Steelers acquire QB Byron Leftwich from Buccaneers for 7th-round pick
Saints sign DE Jimmy Wilkerson
Buccaneers re-sign WR Maurice Stovall
Buccaneers re-sign WR Mark Bradley
Buccaneers re-sign OLB Angelo Crowell
Redskins sign P Josh Bidwell
Seahawks sign OLB Matt McCoy
Buccaneers sign SS Sean Jones
Buccaneers sign OLB Jon Alston
Bengals sign WR Antonio Bryant
Buccaneers acquire WR Reggie Brown from Eagles for 2011 6th-rounder
Lions sign WR Brian Clark
Steelers sign S Will Allen
Buccaneers cut CB Torrie Cox
Buccaneers cut P Josh Bidwell
Buccaneers cut P Dirk Johnson
Buccaneers tender OT Donald Penn
Defensive Tackle: Ryan Sims cannot be allowed to start again next year. If it takes banning him from the facilities, then that must be done. Tampa Bay will be praying for Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy to fall to them at No. 3. If there was a rookie payscale in place, I'd almost guarantee that they'd trade up to No. 1 in an attempt to obtain Suh. Drafted Gerald McCoy and Brian Price
No. 1 Wide Receiver: Antonio Bryant is a head case who isn't worth the trouble. The Buccaneers would be wise not to re-sign him. They'll likely draft a receiver with one of their second-round selections. Drafted Arrelious Benn
Cornerback: There's nothing across from Aqib Talib. Ronde Barber turns 35 in April, and Elbert Mack is nothing more than a solid nickel corner. A Round 2-3 selection will be spent on a corner. Drafted Myron Lewis
Right Defensive End: It's not good when a guy named Stylez G. White leads your defense with 6.5 sacks. White is a good nickel pass-rusher, but he's not a capable starting right end. An early pick should be used to fill this need.
Strong Safety: Sabby Piscitelli needs to be upgraded. If both Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy are off the board at No. 3, Eric Berry is the likely pick. Signed Sean Jones
Left Tackle: The Buccaneers will likely tender Donald Penn and bring him back for another year, but he had problems keeping his weight down in 2009. He allowed eight sacks and was whistled for eight penalties.
Right Tackle: Jeremy Trueblood had a horrific 2009 campaign, allowing six sacks and getting called for 12 penalties. He's a solid run-blocker, but he can't keep a plastic bag from blowing into the backfield. A Round 2-4 selection will have to be used to upgrade this position.
No. 2 Wide Receiver: Michael Clayton is a lazy bum and needs to be jettisoned. With a weak free-agent market, the Buccaneers should come away from the 2010 NFL Draft with two wideouts. Drafted Mike Williams; traded for Reggie Brown
Left Defensive End: Jimmy Wilkerson tore his ACL in late December, meaning he probably won't be ready for the 2010 opener - if he's even brought back. Some competition will be needed for Tim Crowder and Kyle Moore.
2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Keydrick Vincent, G, Panthers. Age: 32. Signed with 49ers (2 years)
Keydrick Vincent has plenty of starting experience, so he would be a solid backup guard going forward.
Sean Jones, SS, Eagles. Age: 28. -- Signed with Buccaneers
Jon Alston (RFA), OLB, Raiders. Age: 27. -- Signed with Buccaneers
Divisional Rival History: Atlanta Falcons: Michael Vick could never solve the Buccaneers. Matt Ryan is 3-1 against them. Of course, it helps that Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch are no longer around. Carolina Panthers: Domination. Carolina has claimed 11 of the past 14 meetings, including a season sweep in 2009. New Orleans Saints: A road-dominated series. The visitor has won 10 of the last 16 meetings.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)