Tampa Bay Bucs Primary NFL Draft Needs and Preview


The NFL Draft looms as the Bucs are looking to fill some major holes with top-tier talent.

Here are the position analysis of team needs.

Offensive Line

The Bucs have done very little to address the position signing center Ben Gottschalk and two to reserve/futures contracts in center Jeremiah Warren and tackle Matt Patchan. They’ve released tackle Anthony Collins.

Don’t be surprised if the team picks up 2-3 linemen in the draft. Here are some of the players I’ve covered in the past that might make a good fit for the Bucs.


A.J. Cann

Canns been touted as a second-round prospect, according to CBS sports. The South Carolina standouts strengths are suited for a power scheme absorbing bull rushes while recognizing stunts and blitzes.

His 6-3, 311-pound frame and solid fundamentals will definitely also get him some first-round looks as well. If the Bucs do trade down for more picks, dont be surprised if he becomes one of the guys they pick up in the process. They may still luck out should he be available in the second round.

Cann can learn a lot from Mankins to help reach his full NFL potential.

Tre Jackson Florida StateTre Jackson

If Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston gets drafted by the Bucs with their first pick, dont be surprised if Jackson follows. As a two-year starter and All-ACC second team selection, Jacksons been known to pick up blitzes and rushers. He can also run block effectively downfield.

Jackson wields a 6-4, 330-pound frame and his biggest asset of his play is his strength, but at times has shown struggles against speed rushers and isnt often called upon to pull on plays.

Jackson is projected to go within the second or third round.


T.J. Clemmings

In a draft loaded with top-tier first-round caliber talent at tackle, the opportunities are primed for the Bucs to capitalize if theyre to trade down from the top pick. First on this list is T.J. Clemmings. Standing at 6-foot-6, 315 lb., the Pittsburgh standout is a converted defensive lineman with long arms who utilizes his strength to keep defenders at bay. A stronger run blocker, Clemmings can be coached up to be a staple at the left tackle position. If the Bucs were to trade down, he may be available at the mid-late first round.

Cameron Erving

The Florida State tackle has versatility at his side playing both left tackle and center. Erving, who stands at 6-feet-5, 309 lb., has shown the ability to fend off edge rushers while remaining stout against defensive tackles at center. Ervings versatility may be his biggest strength in a unit that often demands its players to play multiple positions. While Erving is a smooth puller, he loses track of his target at times.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Iowa vs Louisiana StateBrandon Scherff

CBS Sports ranks Scherff as their top offensive tackle in the 2015 draft. Scherff provides one of the most sound run and pass blocking in the current crop of tackles. He is considered by scouts as one of the countrys most pro-ready lineman. With a 6-foot-5, 315 lb. frame, Scherffs been known to have some hip and joint tightness in his technique.

Scherffs been compared to four-time Pro Bowler Joe Staley of the San Francisco 49ers, which is certainly not too shabby. If Scherff becomes the Bucs first overall pick, he could very well fulfill the staple force at the position Paul Gruber was for the team for 12 seasons.

Defensive End

The positions accounted for 15.5 of the 36 team sacks among six players compared to the 16.5 among three players in 2014. Here are a couple of players who can make an immediate impact.

Mario Edwards, Jr.

This prospect from Florida State stands at 6-foot-3 and 300 lb. with first and second round potential. Edwards versatility can allow him to function as a 3-4 defensive end or a 4-3 defensive tackle, according to CBS Sports. His power and height can present problems for quarterbacks as an edge rusher and run stuffer. Edwards was a main factor in helping the Seminoles runs in 2013 and 2014 compiling a combined 72 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks within their title and Rose Bowl runs.

While the Bucs may focus on QB and offensive line help within the first two picks, Edwards could be an option should the Bucs invest an extra pick within the first three rounds by trading down.

Trey Flowers

Flowers is an ideal defensive end for a Tampa 2 system with his speed off the corner posting a 4.8, 40 time. The Arkansas prospect stands at 6-foot-2 and 268 lb. Voted second-team All-SEC in 2014, Flowers amassed 44 tackles, including 13.5 for loss and five sacks, plus three forced fumbles and an interception. He posted similar numbers in 2013 with 50 tackles, including 13 for loss and six sacks.

According to CBS Sports, he may not have the ideal flexibility, explosive quick twitch or the straight-line speed to be a featured stand-up rusher in the NFL, but makes up for it with his versatility and pursuit.

Should Flowers drop to the third round, dont be surprised if the Bucs pick him up to shore up their pass rush.

It’s very possible the Bucs can trade for extra picks to pick up at least 1-2 of these guys on this list. I predict if no dramatic trades are made with the Bucs the team pick up offensive lineman and defensive end in the second and third rounds, respectively.


The main reason why this will likely be the first overall pick is because this will essentially be job security for Lovie Smith as the player can share the blame for any struggles the team will face in the coming year. Here is a look at the two top picks.

Jameis WinstonJameis Winston

Winston’s success has definitely benefitted by very talented FSU team. Make no mistake, FSU stands to be one of the most represented draft classes in 2015. Does that diminish any of his raw talent? That seems to be a huge question.

Standing at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Winston possess the raw athleticism and psychological game to go through his progressions scoring 25 touchdowns through the air, significantly down from the previous year where he threw for 40 in winning the Heisman. While most of his 18 interceptions were deflections, he has the ability to recover through adversity.

Winston’s biggest test in transitioning to the NFL level is if he can be successful in the Bucs system without having Jimbo Fisher‘s offense and his talent around him.

The off-the-field issues are a non-factor since the Bucs have stated that it’s not playing a factor in his decision. I’m 90 percent sure he’ll be their first pick.

ncf_a_marcus-mariota_mb_576 (1)Marcus Mariota

If any other NFL team is convinced the Bucs could make a move on him, he could very well be the trade fodder the Bucs need to build more depth. One big difference between Mariota and Winston is that Mariota plays in a spread offense while Winston plays in a more pro-ready system.

Mariota’s a much a physical specimen as Winston is standing at 6-foot-4 and 219 pounds. While the 2014 Heisman winner is highly efficient with his throws with 36 touchdowns and five interceptions, the product of Oregon does have a tendency to fumble the football. He’s been compared to Ben Roethlisberger, who ran the shotgun a lot in Ohio.

I consider Mariota a five percent chance at no. 1 and the possibility of trading down the pick is also at five percent.

Breaking down career numbers in averages per season since Mariota played three seasons and Winston played two.

Name Completions Attempts Completion Percentage Yards TD INT Rating
Marcus Mariota 260 389 66.8 3599 35 5 171.8
Jameis Winston 281 426 66.0 3982 33 14 163.3

About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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