The RookiesFebruary 16th, 2017
So, how would you grade out the Bucs’ rookie class of 2016?
Joe knows how Bucky Brooks would.
The NFL Network draft analyst recently looked at every rookie class and passed out end-of-the-season grades.
For the Bucs, Brooks hands out a “B.”
The Buccaneers’ three-win jump in 2016 (to 9-7) was fueled by a defense that gradually improved with young defenders in key spots. Noah Spence quietly enjoyed a strong rookie campaign as a designated edge rusher. He finished the season with 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles as a rotational player. Spence could blossom into a double-digit sack guy if he masters the nuances of pass rushing in his second year. Vernon Hargreaves played well on the island opposite Brent Grimes. He flashed outstanding footwork, movement skills and instincts occupying the CB2 spot on the perimeter. GRADE: B
Joe just loved the way Spence balled out this year, especially with a bum wing that needed shoulder surgery in January. His right arm just hung by his side the final week of the season yet Spence still found a way to gut it out. Very impressive.
But will that injury have lingering effects? At one point it seemed Spence would make a run at double-digit sacks, but Joe has to wonder if that injury was a temporary setback or something that will hinder Spence throughout his career?