With offseason workouts and minicamps in the rearview mirror and training camps just a few weeks away, we assess the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offseason moves and assign a letter grade in the video above.
Best move: The team’s biggest move was its best move. The drafting of quarterback Jameis Winston is going to make a big impact on an offense that ranked No. 30 last season. Winston is an instant upgrade over Josh McCown, and he is starting off on solid ground with wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. The coaching staff has been very impressed with how quickly Winston has picked up the offense, and he should start immediately. The Bucs never truly have had a franchise quarterback, but Winston could change that in a hurry.
Riskiest move: The Bucs had to do something about an offensive line that was dreadful last season, and they did. They used a pair of second-round picks on offensive linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet. The hope is that they’ll start immediately. But it’s risky to expect Smith and Marpet to protect a rookie quarterback. Although Smith faced good competition at Penn State, there likely will be some growing pains for the left tackle. Marpet has good upside, but it might take him some time to develop, as he is coming from Division III Hobart.
A major question mark: The Bucs got very little out of their outside pass rush last season, and they didn’t make any major moves to fix that. They did sign free agent George Johnson, but he has only six career sacks. The Bucs could have acquired a more established defensive end in free agency, but they chose not to. The plan is to go with Johnson and Jacquies Smith, who had 6½ sacks last season, as the starters. Johnson and Smith could elevate their games, but there are no guarantees, and the Bucs are taking a big gamble on their pass rush.
Training camp outlook: On paper, the Bucs are a much better team than the one that went 2-14 a year ago. If Winston is as good as advertised and the offensive line improves, the offense should be much improved. The defense has some very good individual talent in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. If the pass rush improves, this defense has a chance to be very good. The Bucs believe they’re ready to be a lot better than 2-14.