TAMPA, Fla. -- From a team that went 2-14 last season, there is room for improvement all around.
But after looking at the roster, I came up with a list of the five Tampa Bay Buccaneers I think will be most improved in 2015. Let’s take a look.
Logan Mankins: The guard joined the Bucs in a trade during training camp. He didn’t play poorly, but he wasn’t up to his previous Pro Bowl level. That led to questions about whether or not Mankins wanted to be in Tampa. But team officials have said Mankins has made it clear to them he wants to be with the Buccaneers and wants to help turn around the offensive line. If Mankins can get back to a Pro Bowl level, that’s going to make the offensive line much better.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: As a rookie, the tight end was limited by injuries and held to just 21 catches. But when he was healthy, Seferian-Jenkins showed signs he could be a productive pass catcher. He’s going to get that chance because coordinator Dirk Koetter’s offense uses the tight end a lot in the passing game. If Seferian-Jenkins stays healthy, he easily could triple last season’s production.
Alterraun Verner: The cornerback was the team’s best free-agent signing last year, which isn’t saying a lot. Verner turned in a solid season, but he still can improve a lot. Last season was his first in the Tampa 2 defense and he admitted he had problems with it early on. With a year in the system, Verner should be better this season. He might even be able to reach a Pro Bowl level.
Jacquies Smith: The defensive end was a late pickup and he surprised everyone by recording 6.5 sacks. Smith will have the benefit of taking part in the entire offseason program this time around, and that can only help. He might be able to make a run at double-digit sacks.
Evan Smith: The center wasn’t bad in his first season with the Bucs, but he didn’t play to a level that satisfied him or the team. Coming from Green Bay, Smith wasn’t used to losing. He’s motivated to make sure the 2015 season doesn’t go like 2014. With Smith and Mankins poised for better years, an offensive line that was horrible last season suddenly could become good.