Will Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Emphasis on DB, Neglect of Edge Rush Hurt Them in 2013?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ offseason has been largely a success from a technical standpoint. With Darrelle Revis being the key objective in the pre-draft process, general manager Mark Dominik did a good job of waiting out the leverage-less New York Jets and in turn only gave up the 2013 No. 13 pick and a conditional third/fourth next year. Obstacle 1 cleared with aplomb.
After the 2013 NFL Draft began, things got debatable.
There are merits for and against taking third round quarterback Mike Glennon to ostensibly challenge incumbent Josh Freeman in the short- or long-term, when a fair amount of eggs have already been thrown in the Josh Freeman basket since he was their first-round pick three seasons ago.
I guess that sort of quarterback competition via draft worked for Drew Brees when he entered his fourth year in the NFL, but my guess is that taking one of many highly regarded pass rushers still available at No. 73 would help the Bucs most in 2013. This meant passing on intriguing third round options like Damontre Moore, Corey Lemonier and Sam Montgomery.
The Bucs would, however, continue to supplement a defensive back spot that has already underwent heavy construction this offseason. The Jets traded for Revis to leapfrog 2012 free agent acquisition Eric Wright and signed highly-coveted San Francisco 49ers free safety to Dashon Goldson to complement 2012 first rounder Mark Barron. Then on Friday they drafted physical Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks to — I would assume since Ronde Barber hasn’t been re-signed — play the slot corner spot.
That’s all well and good, but of that group only Revis has proven to be consistently great in coverage at the NFL level. The best hider of coverage deficiencies, an edge rusher, was only addressed in the form of fourth rounder William Gholston and fifth rounder Steven Means. Their top defensive end in Michael Bennett was allowed to walk this offseason while Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers would need to step in a huge way to to meet his level.
Showing initiative like with the Revis trade and this concerted effort on a physical secondary is one commendable way to try and turn around the league’s worst pass defense. However, if their neglect of the edge rush bites them, this could be another long season for Tampa’s secondary even if Revis stays healthy.