Posted in General News

Buccaneers Team Needs: Offense

by Roland Johnson on March 3, 2009

With the 2009 NFL Draft less then 2 months away, it is time to get down to evaluating the Buccaneers roster. With the release of veterans such as Derrick Brooks, Ike Hilliard, Joey Galloway, Cato June and Warrick Dunn the number of holes the team has to fill for either depth or starter potential has gone up drastically in a few short weeks. In the coming weeks I will break down both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball to determine positions of need.


Quarterback

With the team showing Jeff Garcia the door along with the resigning of Luke McCown, the team only has three quarterbacks under contract heading into the 2009 off-season. With the rumors swirling the team contacted the Denver Broncos about the availability of gunslinger Jay Culter, it is a clear signal they are trying to upgrade the most important position on the team. The Buccaneers have both Brian Griese and Josh Johnson on the bench, but neither player looks like they will be anything more than a backup in 2009. Which, leaves the need high for the team to find a future franchise quarterback. They need someone that can potentially start as early as 2009 and resurrect this struggling franchise. NEED: PRIORIT

Running Back
The team’s running back situation is cloudy at best, the late season injury to Carnell Williams should be a clear sign that the team needs to start thinking about life without him in the coming season. The release of Warrick Dunn was a blow to the depth chart. But the signing of Derrick Ward who is more of what the team is looking for when it comes to becoming a downhill running team. The running game seemed to collapse after Earnest Graham was put on IR. With Clifton Smith they have found a good return man, but how much will an increased role ware on the return game. He is better suited to be a Dunn type back with a few carries a game. NEED: LOW

Fullback
BJ Askew is a good lead blocker here at this position, and Jammel Cook is a steady player, the real dark horse in the race is Bryan Storer as he showed marked improvement before landing on the IR. Bottom line is the team needs to remain healthy in the backfield to take pressure off of who ever is lined up under center. Both Cook & Storer are capable depth, meaning this position is not a need. There is also potential that the team is looking for more of an H-back type to this position in the future as well. And while it’s unnecessary for the team to draft a fullback, they might be in the market for an undrafted free agent that can push both Cook and Storer for time this summer. NEED: LOW

Wide Receiver
Antonio Bryant emerged as a potential star receiver last season. Michael Clayton played fairly well as the number two giving the team some hope at the position for the future. With both being resigned the team returns the number 1 & 2 receivers from a year ago, the problem comes in the form of depth with the release of Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard. The team is left with two young players in Jackson and Stovall, manning what appears to be the number 3 & 4 positions on the depth chart it is a very scary thought if the team had to rely on either player for an extended period of time. Both are very inconsistent and are not locks to make the finally 53 man roster. Making the need to get younger and more explosive along with getting better depth one of the team’s higher priorities this off-season to address in the draft. NEED: HIGH – MEDIUM

Tight End
When the Buccaneers traded for TE Kellen Winslow it sent a message to Jeremy Stevens that he would not be brought back. 2008 signee John Gilmore chipped in admirably in the passing game. Alex Smith is a decent tight end when healthy, but will be a free agent after the 2009 season the tight end is primarily a field stretcher down the seams in the current scheme, but are used in just as many blocking formations, a role that Gilmore can fill very well. The team currently has a solid group and should be fine at this position. NEED: LOW

Offensive Tackle
There is a lot of uncertainty at the tackles spots even with the team placing a tender on LT Donald Penn. Right now, if the season began no one can be for sure how Penn or Jeremy Trueblood would perform in the new scheme. There have been several reports that the Bucs are interested in OT Kalif Barnes which might be a sign the team isn’t sure about either Trueblood or Penn’s long term future with the team. With really no depth at either tackle spot it is another big issue NEED: MEDIUM

Guard
They have a pretty versatile group of blockers meaning that among the roster they should be able to find two decent starters. Davin Joseph fresh off a Pro-bowl invite and Aaron Sears are the starters. With Zuttah pushing both for playing time and a chance to start. The guard position is flush with talent and depth making it one of the teams actual strengths heading into 2009. NEED: LOW

Center
Jeff Faine was the key free agent signing of 2008, but has an out clause in his contract after the 2009 season. While second year swing guard Jeremy Zuttah has had limited reps at center in practice he could be an option at the center position if Faine opts out after 2009. Sean Mahan was brought back for insurance reasons as training camp broke last season, but his 3 million a year contract might be a little to pricey as a back up. With Faine the undisputed starter in 2009 the team needs to keep one eye towards the future at the position, depth shouldn’t be an issue. But if a good center slips later in the draft, the Buccaneers may take him with the idea that they will dub him Faine’s heir apparent. NEED: LOW

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