Tampa Bay Gang Of 5 Will Drive The Season

April 29th, 2019

BY IRA KAUFMAN

Draft weekend has come and gone. We’re three months from training camp and the season opener will be here in a flash.

So where does your favorite football team stand? On shaky ground.

After the smoke settled from those victory cigars handed out in the draft room, the Bucs appear to have major depth issues all along the watchtower. A new coaching staff has a challenging role to fill if this franchise plans on playing relevant games in late fall.

GM Jason Licht

Jason Licht is right about one thing — you can’t address all your needs in a single draft class. Not if you have as many needs as the perennial basement dwellers of the NFC South.

What happens if Jameis Winston or Peyton Barber goes down?

Can the Bucs realistically expect the same durability from the offensive line?

Can anyone replace Jason Pierre-Paul, if necessary?

Every NFL team craves more depth, but Tampa Bay’s holes seem deeper than most, even after adding eight draft picks.

Devin White has the look of an impact performer. He shares Kwon Alexander’s natural leadership qualities, plus he’s a better player. He’s not on this team unless Todd Bowles leads the charge, so White will be given every opportunity to showcase his prodigious skills.

Buc fans haven’t seen a defensive player with White’s closing speed since Derrick Brooks was roaming Raymond James Stadium, laying out Michael Vick. But let’s not get caught up too much in the rest of this draft class in terms of the upcoming season.

“Lost Souls”

Sean Bunting, Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards may have their day, but that day figures to be sometime in 2020. My focus is on former premium draft choices who have yet to make their mark, the lost souls of Buccaneer past.

Start with Winston, saddled with a 21-33 career record and a penchant for giveaways. Enter Bruce Arians, Byron Leftwich and Clyde Christensen, all vowing to raise Winston’s game, even as the stakes are raised regarding his NFL future.

And we haven’t forgotten about you, Ronald Jones. You averaged 1.9 yards per carry as a second-round pick, which is hard to do even if you try. Yes, you were hit in the backfield too many times because of poor blocking, but you gave Buc fans no reason to believe you’re a keeper.

Another former second-round choice, Noah Spence, has spent the past two seasons both injured and ineffective. He was drafted as a defensive and in a 4-3 scheme and will now be asked to play linebacker in a 3-4 base. He’ll either rise to the challenge or hit the free-agent market in 2020, desperate for a job.

C’mon down, Vernon Hargreaves, and take a seat. You teased Buc fans with a decent rookie season, starting all 16 games in 2016 and posting your only NFL interception. Bowles wants you back at your natural outside position at corner, playing press coverage. You’re excited, but don’t get too excited … Julio Jones and Michael Thomas are waiting for you.

And as for you, Justin Evans, you’ve got some explaining to do. Instead of building on a solid rookie year at safety, you took a step backwards in 2018, before a toe injury landed you on injured reserve in December.

There’s your Gang of Five, a group which will largely determine the fate of the 2019 Buccaneers.

They say coaching matters. I say prove it.

40 Responses to “Tampa Bay Gang Of 5 Will Drive The Season”

  1. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    I couldn’t find the Derrick Sharp
    “sharp stick in the eye ! ”
    but
    I feel it

  2. TOM Says:

    Nothing to look forward to. Maybe 2020.

  3. kyle Says:

    Fantastic article Ira, thanks as always!

  4. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    Dirk is smiling and HUGE sigh of relief…

  5. Not there yet Says:

    Lol sad logic of fans. It apparently doesn’t matter that it is a completely different defensive scheme and coaching staff. So willing to say it was coaching up until the draft when the new coach actually shows confidence in some of the underperformers playing out of position. Funny how people think a 5th 6th or 7th rounder would actually come in and take a guard spot. Or a late round running back is going to jump the head of the pack so people are actually mad about that lol to people thinking late round picks matter so much that it will change the complexion of the team. It will be guys in year 2-4 that make the most difference not guys picked in the 5th round come on buc fans your better than that

  6. Jeff Conover Says:

    unfortunate that we Bucs fans had hope but this draft OMG a Non impct ILB and a bunch of secondary dudes 4-12 this year sad but true

  7. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Perhaps the additional coaches and reps in practice will accelerate the development of some of the rookies

  8. Etzel Says:

    I have faith in BA and Jameis, but this article is f**king terrifying.

  9. pelbuc Says:

    This article is an indictment on the incompetence our the GM.

  10. 813bucboi Says:

    1 injury to the trenches and we’re screwed….again…

    im done with licht….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  11. Dreghost Says:

    I’m sorry but at this point Jason Licht has to go along with the rest of his scouting department! Year after year it seems like they have no idea what the heck they are doing ESPECIALLY when it comes to the draft, we sick sooo bad that we pray for plates like Adam Humphries or Cameron Brate to emerge from the bottom to save us! Being a bucs fan SUCKS i love my team but geesh can they please give us something to praise for once as a fan. Year in and year out it’s the same story! It’s loke everyone around the league can see that we suck but US

  12. Dreghost Says:

    I’m so pissed off that i have have like 50 typos in my last post…sorry bucs fam lol

  13. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “You averaged 1.9 yards per carry as a second-round pick”

    23 carries for 44 yards, 47 yards after contact

    We don’t know sh*t about Ronald Jones because we barely saw him play.

  14. down in the dirt doug Says:

    Coaches-hope you have plans to get another running back,offensive lineman and a defensive lineman.Do it please or we will be 7 and 9 at best.However I have been surprised that many have us with a somewhat positive draft.

  15. Buc4evr Says:

    How many seasons has Jason had to fill the “holes”? Bottom line is that he can’t evaluate talent past the first round and keeps making boneheaded decisions. Bucs need a new GM and better scouting. Same story different year… sad to be a Bucs fan.

  16. The Coroner Says:

    After Devin White I felt like I watched the Saints ‘ draft – Who Dat?

  17. Buc You Says:

    “you can’t address all your needs in a single draft class.”

    Well this is Licht’s 6th for the Bucs and our roster still looks like Swiss Cheese and we still have no depth. What’s Licht’s excuse now?

  18. rrsrq Says:

    We will see what coaching does, all they have to do is change the culture. Easier said than done.

  19. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    rrsrq Says:
    April 29th, 2019 at 3:33 pm
    We will see what coaching does, all they have to do is change the culture. Easier said than done.
    .
    .
    .
    sure that can always help if coaching is @ NFL PAR
    but talent ALWAYS
    trumps
    PAR Coaching
    ALWAYS

  20. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Doug this team ain’t gonna get anywhere near 7 wins. I would say 5 would be a major accomplishment. I think we are a 3-4 win team at best.

  21. Wausa Says:

    joe and the rest of the local media need to hammer the GM and coaches on why they continually neglect the line of scrimmage.

  22. Bird Says:

    💩

  23. Lord Cornelius Says:

    It’s not like we completely ignore the trenches we just don’t prioritize them in the DRAFT enough and use FA too much:

    Our O-line has 2 2nd rounders on new contracts, plus a C who was a top rated guy when we signed him and he’s paid like it. That’s big investments in 3/5 of the line already before mentioning Dotson who has been a consistent starter but is not the future, with Benecoch behind him (who did well at RT not RG) and at least 1-2 other names I can’t remember that have been developing behind the scenes at OT.

    Biggest hole is at RG and interior OL depth IMO – where we have a 3rd round prospect from last year expected to step up. We signed some guy projected as a 5-7 rounder as well.

    Our D-line has a 1st rounder from last year, JPP who is a top DE and paid like it (3rd rounder invested), and another vet 1st rounder if McCoy returns, on top of a 2nd round DE investment in Spence, and depth signings in Barrett/Nassib and they added Anthony Nelson (4th round) this year. Allen/Gholston as depth.

    So in summary, under Licht we have spent a 1st rounder (Vea), 3 second rounders (Spence/Marpet/Smith), & 2 3rd rounders (Cappa/JPP) on lineman.

    That’s not nearly enough but it’s also not completely ignoring it.

  24. Lord Cornelius Says:

    For comparison here’s us vs the Eagles the last 6 years:

    Round 1 Eagles- 1 QB / 1 WR / 1 TE / 1 OL / 2 DL or edge
    Round 1 Bucs – 1 QB / 1 WR / 1 TE / 1 DL / 1 CB / 1 ILB

    Round 2 Eagles – 1 TE / 1 WR / 1 RB / 2 CB
    Round 2 Bucs – 1 TE / 2 OL / 1 DE / 2 S / 2 CBs

    Basically same amount of premium picks invested in OL / DL in the draft, and the Eagles are known as a good trench team.

  25. Defense Rules Says:

    Wow Sage, you sure did stir up a hornets’ nest with this one. Indictment after indictment on Jason Licht, and all he did was hand in the pick cards. Winston-RoJo-Spence-VHIII-Evans … they’ll ALL make it through this year ($30.2 mil dead money against the Cap works in their favor?). Whether ANY of them see a spot on the 2020 roster is anyone’s guess however.

    But instead of limiting it to the ‘Gang of 5’ we could just as easily expand it to the ‘Dirty Dozen’. We’ve got another 7 players on 1-year ‘Try Before Buy’ contracts, and those players have just as much to prove to this new coaching staff if they expect to stick. Guys like Perriman, Barrett, Bucannon, Nassib, Barber, Minter and Ellington. Could add a number of other guys on 1-year contracts to that list (like Bond, Brice, Santos) but limiting it to 7 gave a nice even ‘Dirty Dozen’.

    Of course we could expand all of that even further if we chose, to the top of the pecking order. JPP’s contract expires 2021, and based on what he makes, I’d say he’s got a lot to prove. So does LVD, whose contract also expires in 2021. Ryan Jensen should probably be looking over his shoulder this season, because at $10 mil annually he’s replaceable with a rookie. Cam Brate, same thing. Beau Allen, same thing. Come to think of it, with BA running the show, EVERYONE on this roster has a LOT to prove to the new sheriff in town. Not a one of them will take it lightly I bet.

  26. Dlavid Says:

    Right on Ira !

  27. Jackwagon Says:

    Justin Evans and VH III aren’t going to “determine” d*ck for the Bucs in 2019!?! That’s preposterous. First of all, we have two other qualifies starting Safeties, and like 17 CB’s as of yet, and the FLA dwarf is only useful in the slot, or zone, thus mitigating his importance.

    Spence could help, not relied upon. Strike three.

    Just a very whimsical, factually erroneous article. Normally good takes by Kaufman.

  28. WhatTheBuc Says:

    These players will be fine. They just need time. The players that Licht drafts are successful at a higher rate then the league average. Success rate in the 1st is 57% through the league. Licht is exceeding that mark even if you say VH3 and Winston are busts. The 2nd round has a 46% success rate. You have to consider Marpet, Smith, ASJ success because they are starting. I think Davis is a successful pick. Rojo, Spence not so much. I think Evans will be good. Jury is out on MJ but not looking good. That puts him somewhere around 50%.

  29. Chris Simms 2020 GM Says:

    “Nothing to look forward to. Maybe 2020.”

    I agree.

  30. richbucsfan Says:

    Just another typical Bucs draft. By mid-November, they’ll be so thin at critical positions that the season will once again be for the highest draft pick possible.

  31. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    DR, i agree there are much more that need to be added, i would think d white oj & & ME, are keepers, i guess d smith has to be, but everyone else including gm needs to have their head on a swivel, 5-11 season is going to cost a ton of jobs

  32. Jackwagon Says:

    Post my prior posted comment @Joeys…

  33. Jim Says:

    Will the Bucs make the play-offs? Joe, a poll, please…

  34. BringBucsBack Says:

    A paragraph into this article I had forgotten that I was reading one of Ira’s articles. It felt like the unhappy Joe, complete with typos and all.

    This article’s content is low-hanging fruit. Everyone knows Licht has performed poorly, except the owners and the blind.

  35. Destinjohnny Says:

    We can’t win with Jason I’m sorry

  36. Licht Headed Says:

    This year’s Buc draft looks like recipients of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

  37. Big Stinky Says:

    Wow Ira! That doesn’t sound good for the Bucs. I was hoping at least one of these CB’s can make an immediate impact for us. Can you please tell Jason Licht that defense wins championships, along with a QB that doesn’t make mistakes? That being said, I am glad to see we used 6 of our 8 picks in the draft on defense. We needed it. I just wish we wouldn’t have passed on Drew Lock in the 2nd round. Winston needs to have competition for his job or we are just going to hand him a new contract he doesn’t really deserve. Lock is a QB that doesn’t make as many mistakes as Jameis. He had 72 TD’s over the last 2 years and only threw 21 INT’s. Does Bucco Bruce think that because he told Jameis he needs to cut back on his mistakes that he will? Dirk has been telling him the same thing for 4 years now and it goes in one ear and out the other. JW3 is a slow starter and a bad decision maker, period! He is not worth $30+ million per year, not many QB’s are. Licht is NEVER going to build us a winner in Tampa either. He has had 6 seasons to bring talent to this team and we are STILL lacking at many positions. Licht has drafted 6 CB’s and 3 S now in the last 4 drafts, all but one in the first 3 rounds, and what do we have to show for it? He will probably STILL be looking for more next year though I hope not. How can we ONLY have 2 elite players (Evans and Howard) with all the high draft picks we have had in 6 years? Our OL can’t run block and he has been looking for a K since he got here. All the coaching in the world isn’t going to all of a sudden help teach these guys how to run block, that is a joke! They get pushed back at the LOS and rarely ever open a hole for our RB’s. Licht is responsible for that as well, he just can’t evaluate talent. This team is weak at heart and I seriously doubt that was Koetter’s fault. We are going to regret we let him go as soon as Leftwich starts calling plays this year, mark my words. Dirk set records on offense 2 of the 4 years he was here and we let him go because the defense couldn’t hold a lead or keep us in games. How is that his fault? Everyone blames his coaching for us losing the last 2 years, I don’t get it. All we needed was a new DC and better talent on defense. Everyone says that coaching is going to turn this around and I hope they are right. But I am of the opinion that we need a new GM with a vision and one that can evaluate talent. Hope we get Tua next year since we didn’t get Lock this year unless JW3 can miraculously turn his career around and finally look worth a #1 pick.

  38. QueenCityBucFan Says:

    Just think if this were the first 3 picks the Bucs had made last weekend:

    1st round: Devin White (or Josh Allen)
    2nd round: Greedy Williams
    3rd round: Darrell Henderson

    Us Bucs fans would have been feeling a whole lot different today. Oh well…

  39. bucnole Says:

    When you whiff on high round draft picks the way JL has done its puts your team behind for yrs trying to catch up.
    Add in overpaying some players contract extensions and paying too much for FAs, poor coaching choices and this is what your team looks like.

  40. robert edwards Says:

    May 2, 2019 R. Edwards, Lakeland, 863-514-4125,
    rea[email protected]

    Letter to Mr. Ira Kaufman:

    Hi. I have been a tremendously big fan of the Bucs ever since they came into the league. I am an analyst both by nature and profession, and for some unknown reason this year for the first time was compelled to really delve into analyzing the Bucs Draft this year, beginning back around February or so.

    First, to me it is clear that the number one goal in the draft each year is to Maximize Value. It is not to get the one or two players that you have allowed yourself to fall in love with the most (i.e. Devin White and Sean Bunting this year). Maximizing value in my opinion means drafting the most high-quality players as possible, at positions of need, assuming the grades are comparable to non-need positions.

    This year was unique in its depth of quality defensive line players, which is a huge need of the Bucs since Mccoy will either be cut or has to be replaced in a year or two at most, and since we are still weak at DE. CB is another position of need, but probably less so than the incredible need for quality and depth of the OL. Yes, LB is also a significant need, but is always less valuable than a quality DL. Always. This year’s crop also had about 5 premium players at the top, but very good to excellent players from 6 to into the 3rd round.

    As a lay person, the game tape and inside information (regarding desire, work ethic and character) is not available, but I studied and compared all of the various draft grade and ranking information available (NFL.com, Walter football, Bleacher report, USA Today-Draftwire, CBS, Chris Landry, and others) from many different sources, which wound up being pretty consistent and accurate except for a few players who had wildly different grades, such as Chauncey Gardner and several others. From this it was possible to create a “board” for the first three rounds or so. The actual draft confirmed the accuracy of these sources and the resulting board, especially for players who had consistent rankings from the various sources. The highest rating for Bunting, by the way, was as the 75th best player by NFL.com, but all other sources had him considerably lower.

    Given that Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, and Devin White were all available at number 5, I would doubt very, very much that the Bucs didn’t receive any offers to move down in the draft. Before the draft, I estimated that moving to the number 11 spot would be as far down as we could risk going in order to get the number 1 target in a move down situation, Christian Wilkins. The Bucs should have been willing to accept compensation as low as a fairly high 2nd round pick and a 4th round pick to make this happen, rather than demanding much more than this for this particular draft due to the talent at the 9 to 15 spots, and fairly high in the second round. With 2 fourth round picks as well as their 3rd rounder, the Bucs then could have moved into the latter 1/3 of the 2nd round from their 3rd round pick and probably still kept one of the 4th round picks. Assuming this could have been done, and I’m pretty sure that it could, the haul could have been the following for the Bucs:

    Pick, say, 11 – Christian Wilkins
    Pick 39 – G/T/C Dalton Risner
    Pick, say 42-49 – S Adderley/CB Justin Layne
    Move up pick to, say 55 – DE Zach Allen
    Pick 105 – Best LB, CB Love, S Edwards, who would have both been there, as well as chance Bunting would have been there as well

    If no deal could have been made to move down, then yes, White was the best pick. Allen scares me a bit as a possible bust, but Oliver is going to be a star, so there’s that. But, Risner HAD to be the pick at 39, and then Bunting would have almost certainly been there at 70, and Edwards at 105 since they liked them both so much. Dean was a wasted pick based on his injury history. Not only do the above picks include high quality players, which is critical, but also address known certain near future departures at OL and DT, both helping now as well as later. A quality LB then could have been a priority for next year’s draft.

    By the way these were my picks prior to the draft based on careful analysis of who was likely to be available at the spots, though I wasn’t sure at all if Risner would fall to us at 39, and was only about 85% to 90% certain that Wilkins would be there no later than 11. Of course, Bunting was not on my radar as Adderly and Layne were rated by everyone to be much better players. I liked Love an awful lot too.

    I am writing this to you in hopes that you happen to have some rapport with the Glazers, or with someone who is close to the Glazers. Licht has done a very poor job drafting, and a very poor job managing the salary cap and with free agents. We had plenty of money in the past two off-seasons, and he should have resigned Kwan Alexander and made sure there was room to pay McCoy the money that he was promised, as he is still a productive and solid player. Not taking Risner and drafting Bunting as high as they did were simply mind-boggling mistakes this year, not even mentioning the kicker or the selection of the injury waiting to happen Dean. The fact that we still have so many holes to fill, as well as the impending hole at DT when they cut Mccoy, provides ample evidence as to the primary weaknesses of Licht.

    Looking at what should have or could have been changes nothing now, but it does provide additional confirmation as to the ineptitude of Licht. In finding a new GM, I believe that talking to the commissioner’s office for recommendations and hiring a consultant – Jimmy Johnson would be excellent if he were willing since he is an excellent decision maker and judge of talent and no doubt has lots of contacts, or some recently retired excellent GM, would be the best way to identify an excellent candidate. This new GM should override Arians and Bowles, who I believe showed that they are not good decision makers by insisting on White (I heard Arians tell him in the draft call “I told you we were going to pick you”) rather than moving down, and Bunting, over Risner. By the way, Bowles’ defenses were not good in New York.

    Thank you for your consideration. I love my Bucs!

    Bob Edwards, Lakeland, Fl