Dec 9, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (right) celebrates his touchdown with teammate wide receiver Mike Williams (left) during the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium. Eagles won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NFL Offseason Team Needs: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had some pretty high expectations going into this past season, even with a new head coach and a lot of young blood on the team. This is a very talented group which added a couple of big money free agents, including Vincent Jackson, who led the team in receiving. They got a really rude awakening though when their top two offensive linemen Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph hit injured reserve, along with 2011 first round pick Adrian Clayborn.

The Bucs finished last season dead last in the NFL in pass defense, and even though they finished 1st in the league against the run, that didn’t stop teams from throwing all them, even though it was the only way to get yardage. They traded Aqib Talib to the Patriots and rid themselves of a distraction, but they only had 27 sacks and finished the year with 18 total interceptions.

Here are my top needs for the Tampa Bay Bucs, in no particular order.

1. Cornerback

Without question, this is the Bucs’ top need. After trading Aqib Talib, the cupboard was left pretty bare. Ronde Barber moved to safety, E.J. Biggers is a free agent, and Eric Wright appears to have been a bust as a big free agent signing. Rookie Leonard Johnson was something of a bright spot after going undrafted out of Iowa State, picking off three passes and returning one for a touchdown, but I still think this is an area the Bucs can look to in the first round.

2. Defensive Tackle

Roy Miller is a free agent, and while Gerald McCoy is certainly one of the best DTs in the league when healthy, he has had some problems with injuries since he’s been in the league. There is not much to speak of outside of those guys on the Buccaneers’ roster at the defensive tackle position. This is a sleeper first round option for the Bucs.

3. Tight End

Dallas Clark played well after a slow start last season, catching 47 passes for 435 yards and four touchdowns. However, he is a free agent this year and his backup–Luke Stocker–has just 28 receptions in two NFL seasons after the Bucs used a fourth round selection on him two years ago. I don’t know if this will be a huge area of priority this offseason, but it’s certainly an area this team will consider.

4. Backup QB

The Buccaneers are entering into a really important season. Josh Freeman is in a contract year, and he’s struggled to be consistent in his first few NFL seasons. There have been times when the Bucs offense looks dominant, and other times when it goes stale. Will the Bucs look to this year’s draft for a potential replacement for Freeman if he struggles again? Will they simply upgrade the backup QB situation? This will be a storyline to follow closely.

5. Outside Linebacker

Quincy Black could be upgraded at the outside linebacker position, I think. The former third round pick has been solid at times throughout his career, but I think the Bucs need a guy who can come in and perhaps not only play SAM linebacker, but rush the quarterback and make an impact blitzing. This is a really important position on any team, and the Bucs should look into getting a guy who can maybe play a sort of hybrid role.

6. Wide Receiver Competition

Vincent Jackson is over 30 years old, and Mike Williams fits great in his role as the #2 receiver. Arrellious Benn has been a huge bust, and while Tiquan Underwood showed some promise last year, I still think the Bucs could look to potentially add another playmaker this offseason, someone who can maybe take Benn’s roster spot or upgrade their slot receiver situation. Either way, potentially a veteran free agent or mid-late round selection here.

Tags: 2013 Nfl Draft Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • the420bucsfan

    Vincent jackson turned 30 january,14, 2013? he is a fresh 30, not OVER THE HILL 30, like you seem to think!

    • SayreBedinger

      Sorry, feels like he’s been around forever. I’ve been watching him since his first game w/San Diego.

  • RussMillerWY

    Your point about Jackson is a valid one. Luckily he uses his size and ball skills to make plays, so the gradual dropoff in speed shouldn’t affect his longevity as much as someone like, say, Randy Moss. I’m not as convinced that Regis Benn, who’s had a lot of bad luck with injuries, is a bust. Underwood was more productive than him as the third wideout, but Benn had a much sturdier build and the elusiveness of a running back. I think that’s why they often put Williams or Jackson in the slot when they have three wide. I also like Sammie Stroughter in the slot because of how well he played in his rookie year, if only they’ll re-sign him. Stocker is okay, but he just seems too lumbering to be a good replacement for K2. Clark is a decent receiving tight end. Martellus Bennett is much more of a sure thing than anyone in the draft after coming through on his prove it deal with the Giants. I think they’ll go after Matt Moore and Drew Stanton for the backup qb job. Leo Howell likes them to surprise with Manti T’eo in the first round. That’d be a totally Mark Dominik thing to do, ignoring unfairly bad press to get a game-changing player like Williams and Bowers. Then they can spend their second and third round picks on corners, maybe throwing in some other picks to move up a few spots to grab their favorites like last year.

  • RussMillerWY

    Oh, one more point to add to my marathon response. I think they’ll re-sign Roy Miller and draft an offensive tackle in the lower rounds instead of a defensive tackle. They may not have a lot of quality depth at DT, but they have no one who can back up Penn (also about to turn 30) or Dotson, who is still more of a bundle of potentiality than a pro bowler. I’m not including Jamon Meredith because he seems to be a better guard than a tackle, and because they’d have a shortage of quality backup guards, too, if we didn’t count him there.

    • SayreBedinger

      Great thoughts all around Russell. I didn’t find the Bucs to have a ton of pressing needs, so I had to do some digging here. Where do you think they go early on after CB if they are able to secure a TE in free agency like Bennett?

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