5 Potential First Round Scenarios For The Tampa Bay Buccaneers In 2014 NFL Draft
5 Potential First Round Scenarios
It's safe to say that the 2013 season was a huge disappointment for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Former head coach Greg Schiano's team began the year as losers of their first eight games and were the last club to earn victory No. 1.
Still, for all of the problems Tampa Bay had, most namely coaching and at quarterback early on, they possess a roster that isn't void of talent. Cornerback Darrelle Revis and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy headline a defense that is arguably a consistent pass rush away from becoming one of the NFL's best. The new regime, which includes head coach Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht, doesn't have the massive rebuilding project ahead of them, as the team's 4-12 standing in 2013 would suggest.
Sure, the roster has many needs heading into the offseason, but with a few beneficial additions, it's not out of the question to assume that the Buccaneers will be more competitive in 2014. That said, equipping the roster with the upgrades it needs will be far easier said than done.
The looming free agency period will provide an opportunity for the Buccaneers to fill some of their needs, but like with any rebuilding effort -- even those that don't require a complete overhaul -- the 2014 NFL Draft will be the most pivotal event this offseason for the club.
Tampa Bay is scheduled to select seventh overall during the first round of May's draft. Here are five scenarios that could transpire during the first round for the Buccaneers.
5. Take Best Quarterback Available
Quarterback Mike Glennon played decently for the better part of his 13 rookie starts, but there is some doubt in Tampa concerning his status as the long-term answer at the position. With a new GM in town, chances are the Buccaneers will at least seek some competition for Glennon in 2014. One way to do that would be to select a quarterback with the seventh-overall pick.
There are four passers who are being projected as top 10 caliber -- Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Central Florida's Blake Bortles and Fresno State's Derek Carr -- but all four could be off the board within the top five picks. There is no telling which team will fall in love with which quarterback, but if one of the four is available when Tampa Bay is on the clock, my money is on it being Carr.
4. Trade Down
If the top four quarterbacks and the consensus top pass rusher are already off the board, like many mocks are projecting, the Buccaneers could look to trade down. With needs along the offensive line and at defensive end, Tampa Bay might be reaching by taking a player from either position with the seventh overall pick.
Trading back and selecting a pass rusher like Missouri's Kony Ealy would provide the Buccaneers with more value and would likely help them score another pick in the second round.
3. Select Sammy Watkins
Although wide receiver isn't a huge need for the Buccaneers with talented pass catchers like Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams already in place, it might be difficult to pass up on a dynamic playmaker like Clemson's Sammy Watkins with the seventh pick.
Tampa Bay owns productive receivers, but it doesn't possess a weapon like Watkins, who has the speed to blow the top off of any secondary. If the Buccaneers plan to employ a best-player-available drafting strategy, Watkins could certainly be the pick.
2. Trade Up for Jadeveon Clowney
The Buccaneers only tallied 35 sacks in 2013, which ranked 23rd in the league. Needless to say, snagging a consistent pass rusher or two during free agency or the draft will be key. If they hope to land a potential superstar, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney might become the target with their first round pick. If he does, trading up into the top five will likely be required.
Once considered to be the consensus top player of the class, Clowney has slipped some in projections thanks to an underwhelming junior season. His raw ability and athleticism will surely entice a team within the top six picks to select him though. A talent like Clowney could be the missing piece to one of the league's most dominant defenses.
1. Trade Up For Quarterback
Don't be surprised if new GM Jason Licht wants his own guy at quarterback so badly that he's willing to trade up into the top five in order to nab one. It's hard to pinpoint who that quarterback would be, but Manziel, Bridgewater and Bortles appear unlikely to survive the gantlet of teams in need of a signal caller, with the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders all selecting inside the top five.
The St. Louis Rams, who sit at pick No. 2 and are still committed to Sam Bradford at quarterback, would be a potential trading partner.