The Winning Draft Gumbo

February 28th, 2020

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How do you get out of a 7-9 rut? You truthfully assess your team, then show your NFL rivals how it’s done on draft weekend.

That’s what the Saints accomplished in 2017 and hopefully, the Buc brain trust has noticed the results. There are striking similarities between the 2016 Saints and the 2019 Bucs beyond their 7-9 finishes.

Drew Brees threw the ball all over the field from 2014-2016, but New Orleans was stuck in NFL purgatory at 7-9 each year. The offense had no balance and the lack of an effective ground game left a suspect defense on the field for too many snaps.

Sound familiar?

That 3-year dip by the Saints ended with a 2017 draft harvest that is still stunning three years later.

Cornerback Marshon Lattimore and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk were drafted in the first round and Alvin Kamara was selected in Round 3.

The next thing you knew, Brees was averaging 33 pass attempts per game instead of 42 and the running game vaulted to No. 5 in the league.

All of a sudden, a battered defense ranked 10th in fewest points allowed and it took the Minnesota Miracle to prevent the 2017 Saints from reaching the NFC title game.

So here sit the Bucs, two months removed from the season finale and still wondering what to do with Jameis Winston.

Guess what? Whether or not No. 3 returns under center this fall, he can’t lead the NFL in pass attempts again.

He just can’t. It’s a losing formula — and Bruce Arians knows it.

This isn’t a recent problem. During his 5-year pro career, Winston has averaged 35.4 throws per game. That ranks seventh all-time, ahead of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Dan Marino and Brett Favre.

The Bucs should look to New Orleans, writes Ira Kaufman.

In those three 7-9 seasons, Brees never threw for less than 4,870 yards. Twice in that span, he led the NFL in pass attempts.

And the Saints went nowhere.

Three-pronged Approach

Lattimore picked off five passes as a rookie and shadowed the opposition’s best receiver. Ramczyk is a mauler who was named a first-team All-Pro last season. Kamara is a matchup nightmare.

The lessons for the Bucs are clear: ramp up the run game, add a key defensive piece and enjoy the winning gumbo.

That brings us to free agency and the 2020 draft. The Titans can’t afford right tackle Jack Conklin, but he’d be a proven road-grader for Tampa Bay and an instant leader up front.

Grab Conklin, re-sign Demar Dotson at a lower salary as a backup and suddenly this offensive line has a chance to be ornery.

Take the best defensive lineman still on your board at No. 14 and pounce on LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire in Round 2. He’s the kind of productive 3-down back Arians craves, intending to turn a weakness into a strength.

In Round 3, the Bucs need to look hard at a quarterback Arians believes he can develop over time. Jake Fromm springs to mind.

The point is that games are won and successful seasons are forged by decisions made in March and April. If you sign Conklin or another veteran right tackle in free agency, you won’t feel a pressing need to draft one with a premium pick.

Old blood

Even if Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh and Carl Nassib all return, the Bucs should still be adamant about upgrading an aging defensive front. You’ve got to make teams pay for pouring resources into containing Shaq Barrett.

With 47 sacks and 28 takeaways, this defense may be one disruptive player away from being a force.

The 2017 Saints showed Jason Licht and his scouts how it’s done in the Big Easy. What’s really hard is identifying which prospects will make it big at the next level.

Run more, throw less and keep rotating those defensive horses up front.

Free advice and simple enough.

Git ‘Er Done.

Ira hanging out with his good friend Sean Sullivan, GM of Bill Currie Ford. Sean is giving all Bucs fans a special Ira/JoeBucsFan discount, and he personally will work with you to meet your vehicle needs (and talk Bucs).

31 Responses to “The Winning Draft Gumbo”

  1. martinii Says:

    Sounds like a plan. You’re not getting a rookie lineman. You are looking at a versital run game and reinforcing an already established defense. Ira gets credit for a game plan already detailed at least 50 times over the past several weeks by frustrated fans.

  2. Clean House Says:

    Pretty smart article

  3. Bucsfanman Says:

    Hmmmmm, did someone say run-game and defense?!
    LESS Jameis=more wins!
    That’s why the stats don’t matter. 5,000 yards and what?! A participation trophy?!

  4. stpetebucsfan Says:

    We need Suh back and it’s totally a function of his desire to continue to play. He is a proud man and I do not believe he’s the guy who shows up for a check. He’s already wealthy and growing wealthier by the day because of his business acumen and old Nebraska connections to folks like famous investor Warren Buffett. $$$ will not be as normally important but he won’t wish to be disrespected with a lame offer either.

    IF…IF…Suh wants to play we should absolutely bring him back. He’s just turned 33 and I could toss out names like Jim Marshall and Reggie White and guys who played up till 40…but they are the exceptions. Still 33 is well short of 38-40…

    A more significant stat for those who freak out on numbers…is when charted for production over their careers DL play well through 12 years but their production takes a significant drop somewhere between 12 and 15 years.

    Suh has played 10 seasons and could easily have several more very productive years. He displayed leadership and imagine if we do draft another fierce rusher and we have Vea and Suh clogging up the middle.

  5. Eric Says:

    I’m waiting on one of you so called expert to tell me one 3rd round QB The “Whispers “ has developed so if I find point 3 ridiculous don’t mind me! Fromm Lol get real this kid is a career backup at best!

  6. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Agree with Ira with one reservation. If we spend the money on an FA OT do we have enough to sign our stud D FA’s?

    Seems like the choice may be either save on the D by letting one go and drafting a young replacement at 14 and take that money and buy Conklin or draft the OT at 14 and save there enabling us to sign all the defenders.

    Perhaps with Perriman’s 2 million and Brate’s 6 shipped out the door and some more creativity we can have Conklin…draft the BPA DL at 14..sign our D FA’s..and still sign a QB….

    BTW agree with Ira’s idea about trying to retain Dot as a backup for depth. His old legs won’t handle another full season could be a way for him to extend his career. But when he’s healthy he can still block.
    Fun times ahead…

  7. WhatTheBuc Says:

    Conklin is going to command Trent Brown money. That’s 16.5 million per year. This whole 10 million dollar pipe dream isn’t happening. Maybe a less expensive RT will be signed but the bucs can’t dedicate that percentage of the cap toward the O-line.

  8. WhatTheBuc Says:

    Eric, Fromm looked bad vs. air in combine drills.

  9. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Seahawks RT Germain Ifedi is a UFA and will not break the bank , but will provide instant integrity to the O-line. ROJO was 2nd in runs over 20 yards per attempt in the NFL , and getting much better as a pass catcher , no wasting picks on a RB that is NOT NEEDED.
    Do yourself a favor LICHT BRAIN and trade away whatever picks are necessary to move up and get Joe Burrow. Burrow is the best QB to come out in over 20 years. Burrow is a generational talent and will be on the cheap for his first 4 or 5 years due to rookie salary constraints.

  10. Eric Says:


    Yeah but the Bucs should waste a 3rd round pick let me guess because he is a nice kid and won’t have to worry about him, we’re have I heard that before on I know that is exactly what they said about Trash-iota!

  11. German Buc Says:

    ’76: Imagine you were the GM of the Bengals. What would be your price to tell your Ohip fans you traded away their very own hometown kid? No way you’d pay that price if you are the GM of the Bucs.

    Let’s go with Ira’s suggestion.

  12. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    Great article, but I would argue that every year in the draft is make it or break it.

    Too bad Gump treats it like a fishing expedition. He gets more pleasure out of uncovering hidden gems (long term projects) than filling holes with top quality players.

    Take last year’s 2nd round where instead of selecting an OT, he went fishing for a small school unheard of CB. Keep in mind that SMB would have been available in the 5th round and the two best CB’s in the draft were still on the board, Treyvon Mullen and Greedy Williams.

    Then in the 3rd, he traded the greatest RB in college football history (8.2 YPC) to the Rams for a CB with 3 bad knees and a guy with a honey badger hairdo.

    Both high risk, long term projects.

  13. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Interestingly, Brees threw 43 picks from 2014-2016 and only 17 picks 2017-2019.

    Hmmmmmm….. you know, there might just be something to this turnover thing being a major reason for losing…..

  14. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    If you combine Brate & Perriman money… can sign Conklin. Would the team be better off……probably…….Brate’s production can be replaced easily and either Miller, Watson or a draft pick could fill Perriman’s role.
    Do it…..
    We will likely need to draft a QB no matter what happens with Jameis…..but I don’t think BA is keen on “developing”…..

  15. BringBucsBack Says:

    The items Ira listed here are the ONLY defense of #3’s penchant for INTs!

    I’m not sure if BA is humble enough to change thier offensive approach or #3 to play nearly error-free football for 3-4 consecutive weeks in playoff games.

    Is this QB worth 27-30 mil per year.?

    It seems there is an epidemic of the “Too Cool” disease down at OBP.

  16. Miller5252 Says:

    You think when Brady comes to Tampa Godwin is going to give up the #12 jersey?

  17. Bird Says:


    Godwin is only good cause of jameis
    Says the nugglers?

  18. WhatTheBuc Says:

    Eric, I was agreeing with you but apparently you lack reading comprehension

  19. Jim Says:

    Yes on Clyde Edwards-Helaire…

  20. ModHairKen Says:

    You had me until you dropped this gem, “Jake Fromm springs to mind.”

    No, he does not. Weak-armed, inaccurate and inconsistent. Did not perform in big games.

  21. AKickInTheBucNuts Says:

    “Hopefully, the Buc brain trust has noticed the results.”

    We’re doomed.

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    I’m disappointed Ira. I thought that you were the voice of reason at JBF World HQs. Signing Conklin or any high-priced OLineman is a pipe dream given our salary Cap situation ASSUMING that we bring back Winston, Shaq, JPP, Suh & Nassib. And even THAT’s assuming that we release Brate & don’t re-sign Perriman.

    Our fixes have to come through the draft, solely because we’re STILL in salary Cap he11 after we re-sign our own UFAs We MIGHT be able to afford a $5 mil or so veteran Safety if we’re lucky, but that’s about it. There are some quality Tackles in this year’s draft … grab one in the 1st Rnd. Add a quality RB in the 2nd Rnd & the combination of the two SHOULD go a long ways towards fixing our running game.

    Jake Fromm even in the 3rd Rnd would be a waste (use it on a DLineman). Fromm was very average (or below) in competition against South Carolina, Missouri, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU this year. He’s accurate, not a real running threat, and is really just a game-manager QB at best IMO. He’s NOT the Bucs’ future, so why draft him.

    Do agree wholeheartedly on offensive BALANCE. We NEED a better running game, and we NEED a better BALANCE between our passing game & running game. Gut feel is that just about all JBFers already recognize that.

  23. BucsNation08 Says:


    Hmmmm, its almost like having a better D and a good run game lowers turnovers

  24. Swampbuc Says:

    Arians isn’t going to develop a rookie. Period. They’re not drafting a QB. Period.

    And Jake Fromm sucks. But otherwise, I like Ira’s gumbo.

  25. Brandon Says:

    So overpay for a very good RT to bring our average OL salary to about $10 million per guy? Does this look like a $50 million dollar offensive line? Not even close with Conklin. Sorry… .by the way, you don’t sign or re-sign guys to be right tackle only. That is a dead position as a backup… DOES NOT HAPPEN

    You were at least making a little sense until you threw out the name of Eric Zeier… i’m sorry, Aaron Murray… nope. Jake Fromm State Farm… no thanks. There’s ZERO Matt Stafford in Fromm. No arm talent, little athletic abilty, just a good college game manager. Talk about wasting 3rd round picks. This guy will be out of the league in three seasons. Even in the right offense, Fromm will struggle… but in THIS offense? No way. Arm strength is at a premium… downfield accuracy and Fromm has neither. I’d be willing to bet that Fromm isn’t even on the Bucs DRAFTABLE list.

    I do like Edwards-Helaire. My hope that he would be there in round 3 is probably just that, a hope, but following the Saints blueprint of how they turned it around would be great, if we were the Saints… but we’re not.

  26. chris L Says:

    preach ira preach! we dont need 5100 yards from winston. less passes and less risks. run game and a stout defensive front. you can never have too many. football is won at the line of scrimmage, even in today’s NFL. we need to be tougher!!

  27. saskbuco Says:

    This is a well written article, very intelligent. I’ve also been saying all off season to try and get Conklin, Yes all members on the Oline (minus Cappa) would be over 10 Million per season. We can re-coup 6 million from trading or releasing Brate (if it means Conkin at RT then yes to this). I don’t see any way one of the OT in the draft fall to 14 and coach BA doesn’t want to draft O-line. Arians has said at the combine needs a RB that can catch, as Ira made an excellent connection to Clyde Edwards-Helaire who had 55 catches last year. This would be an absolute as good as gets offseaon,

    Conklin RT, Edwards-Helaire RB (2nd round), Kinlaw (1st round pick)

  28. Cobraboy Says:

    Great. But who is your QB?

  29. Brandon Davidson Says:

    Fromm will be great he won’t be there in the 3rd so the fans who have no clue what they are talking about win its funny how anyone can have a bad day but in game even with no receivers this year beating Justin fields out last year eason the year b4 that and oh yeah besides a bogus call that cost Georgia the chip against Bama he would of won a national championship also not to mention ability to read progress and make the right decision has plenty of arm strength and Peyton Manning told him to go to the NFL yeah Peyton Manning believes he is ready but you guys know it all 😆 😆 😆

  30. Love me some Mahommes Says:

    How bout those Chiefs right Ira?

  31. Buczilla Says:

    Awesome article, I aree.