The Tampa Bay Buccaneers underwent one of the most catastrophic changes on the defensive front as their 32nd ranked run defense from 2011-12 was leaps and bounds better in 2012-13. Now the Buccaneers have the best run defense in the entire league, allowing a mere 82.5 yards on the ground this past season.
Surely the Buccaneers could address their lacking passing game again, but I think they need to give Mark Barron time to mature and go tight end with the 13th overall pick this April.
Josh Freeman is one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the NFL and it’s largely because he lacks a play-making tight end who can soak up the middle of the field. Finally Freeman has a running-back who can eat yardage like an animal in Doug Martin, who gained over 1,400 rushing yards in his rookie campaign. Adding a player like Zach Ertz will help both the running game and the passing game as his 6-foot-6 frame will pay huge dividends.
Ertz is everything that the Buccaneers are lacking. He can make plays after the catch and is twice the player that Dallas Clark is at this point in his career. If the Bucs want the most out of Freeman and Martin, they will invest in Ertz and reap the benefits of a pass-catching tight end.
While with the Stanford Cardinal, Ertz was a four-year starter and finished his senior campaign averaging 13 yards per catch–by comparison, last season Clark averaged a mere 9.3 yards per reception. Ertz also provides Freeman with another red-zone target to compliment the always dangerous Vincent Jackson, who the team invested $55 million in last offseason.
In a jam-packed NFC South, I believe drafting Ertz would increase the growth of Freeman and give the Bucs a punchers chance in such an offensive heavy division.