Top Rookie

December 4th, 2015
Surprising selection.

Surprising selection.

Yes, virtually every football head is singing the praises of America’s Quarterback, Bucs signal-caller Jameis Winston, as he bagged yet another award yesterday: NFL Rookie of the Month.

Some football types think Jameis may be the best rookie in the NFL this season. That’s not an outrageous comment.

However, helmet head Mel Kiper isn’t going there. Though Kiper likes Jameis, not only does Kiper not have Jameis in his top-five rookies of 2015, he doesn’t even list Jameis as the best rookie on the Bucs.

No. Instead, Kiper has middle linebacker Kwon Alexander as the No. 4 overall rookie of this season.

4. Kwon Alexander, ILB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Has he been mistake-free? Of course not. Has he stepped in right away, taken on an important role for an improving defense and produced? Yes. Alexander has played more than 700 snaps already, and is 12th in the NFL in tackles. No rookie has more. He’ll improve, but he’s topped expectations already.

Joe has a personal rule of not judging a draft class for three years. Remember how we all thought after his rookie year Mark Barron would be a decent player? And let’s not forget blocking icon Michael Clayton.

But if — keyword here — if the rookies continue to develop, Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht may have pulled off a haul for the ages.

Before he blew a wheel, guard Ali Marpet was a borderline Pro Bowler. Yeah, really. Donovan Smith got abused by Colts linebacker Trent Cole in the second half Sunday, but in the past couple of games, was Robert Mathis or Greg Hardy even on the field?

Joe’s trying to contain his excitement, but the Bucs have one helluva foundation of young players. So it seems.

10 Responses to “Top Rookie”

  1. dreambig Says:

    Kiper is still pouting because Jameis didn’t give ESPN first dibs on draft day.
    Its interesting that Licht and Lovie did so well in this years draft but have missed so badly in free agency. This year was a pretty incredible draft, already much better than last year, although last years still could turn out decent if Evans cures his dropsies and Sims continues to get better. The biggest question mark is ASJ. After two years and having hardly seen the field, he is really starting to look like a wasted 2nd round pick.

  2. The Buc Realist Says:

    I am surprised that Kiper did not pick “energy drink” as the Bucs best rookie!!!

  3. pick6 Says:

    @dreambig, the hit rate all over the league in Free Agency is generally atrocious. there are some unique circumstances, but generally speaking you are getting a guy whose previous team deemed him as unworthy of a new contract. the vast majority of guys fall more on the anthony collins side of things (let some other sucker pay you) than the Suh side of things (you are incredible but we can’t blow up our roster to pay you). when you pay the former guys like stars or instant starters before you know how they fit your roster, you set yourself up to look pretty bad. FA ought to be more about getting your sterling moores, brandon myers’, and clinton mcdonalds, where even if they wash out the risk and expectation was relatively modest.

    of course, you have to draft like licht has (apparently) drafted this offseason to ever get to that point. you wanna be the team that’s choosing to lose guys to free agency, not the team that’s required to go get them there.

  4. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Lovie drafted them, not Licht. Licht handles free agents. Gives Lovie whoever he wants in the draft.

  5. BuccaneerBonzai Says:


    About the Free Agency record…while Licht has blown it on the most important positions, he’s hit gold on the unexpected positions. The big money spots he misses on. The low money spots he hits on.

    And there are more low money spots than big, so he actually hasn’t done THAT bad in that regard.

    I personally don’t like Licht. People give him credit for the draft when everyone knows a head coach gets to draft whoever he wants…after all…the draft is how a head coaches vision is fulfilled. So really, Lovie is the one drafting well.

    As to free agency…Lovie and him figure out the needs together, and Licht goes out to find players that fit the roles within the budget. When he finds them, he sells Lovie on them.

    That’s how it actually works.

  6. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Football is a team sport and so it’s hard to make comparisons when not sticking position to position..apples to apples so to speak.

    If we lump them altogether however…apples to oranges…#3 is clearly the best rookie in the league and MM is in 2nd…these two guys are playing the toughest position and one that takes time. It’s tough for a rookie to excel at QB…other positions like WR are simply walk on the field and play your best ball..same for RB. The OL positions are where I’m excited because they’re not generally a simply walk on the field and excel..and obviously Ali has come close and Donavan is playing decent if inconsistent(rookie) ball.

    And so we can look at some players who seem to be having more success than #3 but when you consider the position which player would most GM’s want to have on their team? #3 would be the hands down winner. Not that he’s outplayed Kwon just that he’s playing at a higher level than expected at the most demanding and important position on the field.

    I don’t really care which individual gets the award…#3 IS the rookie of the year.

  7. unbelievable Says:

    @Bonzai, do you have inside knowledge that Licht is solely responsible for free agents and Lovie is solely responsible for draft picks? This is the first time I’m hearing this.

  8. unbelievable Says:

    I ask, because we blame Dominick for all the bad draft picks for years, never taking o-lineman, leaving the cupboard bare, etc… So when we have good drafts, it has nothing to do with the new GM?

    I think both guys have a good deal of influence on the draft selections, unless you know something that the rest of us don’t…

  9. Jena W Says:

    Did any else read/see that rookie Kaelin Clay, 6th round Bucs draft pick, former Jameis Winston roommate, let go by the Bucs preseason, signed to the practice squad, let go again, went to the Lions practice squad and then was signed by the Ravens?

    He almost immediately paid back the Ravens for their belief in him by returning an 82 yard punt return in the game against the Browns Monday night. If I remember correctly it was only his 4th punt return as a pro. Props to Clay. I’m happy for the kid.

    He may be the draft pick from this year that Licht & Lovie didn’t invest enough time/faith in. If I remember correctly Clay had trouble with dropped balls in the preseason but seems to have found a way to make himself valuable. He wasn’t whining and crying about his bad breaks, he just kept pushing to make himself better and get another chance.

    I’d be more inclined to give Evans a break if he wasn’t always whining and trying to place the blame on something other than himself. Certainly, sometimes there are circumstances to blame but this season the majority of blame rests completely on Evans. Joe has a article today that states that Evans is going to stop being so ‘passionate’ in his play (read ‘stop whining so much’). It will be interesting to see if that makes him focus more on the ball.

    As for the Bucs 2015 rookies, I think with how Clay is now stepping up, even if for another team, it only makes this rookie class even stronger. Any other team getting so much from so many of their draft picks?

  10. godzilla13 Says:

    Kwon Alexander still has a long way to go but he has shown flashes of the outstanding LB he will be. His 25 missed tackles and struggling in coverage are the areas he needs to improve. Considering the Buccaneers drafted 4 starters out of 7 is remarkable. Just look at the Offensive Linemen taken this year. Brandon Scherff, G, Redskins. Struggled early, starting to show consistency. Ereck Flowers, T, Giants. Is not quite ready for prime time. Andrus Peat, T, Saints. Biggest disappointment of all OL drafted in first round. Cameron Erving, OL, Browns. Transition to NFL hasn’t gone smoothly. Cedric Ogbuehi, T, Bengals. Missed the entire year. D.J. Humphries, OT, Cardinal. The Cardinals lost their starter to injury and opted not to play their first-round pick. Laken Tomlinson, OG, Lions. Initially appeared overwhelmed. As poorly as Donovan Smith has played recently it still appears like he might be as good as most of the other OL taken this year (Lael Collins of the Cowboys is the exception) and Ali Marpet is looking like a gem. Lowest accuracy percentage on deep passes (20+ yards) is Marcus Mariota, 16.2 percent.