NFL Nation: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs need to keep RB Doug Martin

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
TAMPA, Fla. – On the surface, Buccaneers running back Doug Martin looks very expendable.

He’s coming off an unproductive season and the coaching staff seems to have big plans for Charles Sims in his second season. The Bucs should be able to get a decent draft pick in exchange for Martin. So why not deal him?

Because it would be a mistake. I’m not sure Martin ever gets back to being the 1,400-yard runner he was as a rookie in 2012. That sure didn’t seem likely last year when Martin gained only 494 yards and averaged 3.7 yards per carry. But some of that had to do with injuries and some of it had to do with poor blocking by the offensive line.

There’s no question Sims is a talent. He might be the feature back next season. But the Bucs still need Martin. In the current NFL, you need two quality running backs. Sims isn’t the kind of back who can handle 25 carries a game.

The Bucs need Martin to handle some of the carries. Yeah, they have Bobby Rainey and Mike James. But those two rarely played when Martin and Sims were both healthy last season. Rainey and James are special-teams players who can fill in at running back in a pinch.

Martin is more than that. When healthy, Martin still can be a productive back, especially if he gets some help from the offensive line.

Even if Sims is the main guy going forward, the Bucs still need Martin as insurance.

Bucs should trade Mike Glennon

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Mike Glennon trade rumors have started with a report the Cleveland Browns are looking into a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the quarterback.

Glennon is the only quarterback on Tampa Bay's roster at the moment, but trading him makes a ton of sense. Let's be really honest here. The Bucs are going to draft a quarterback -- either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. Glennon's only future with the Bucs is as a backup. The Bucs can find a backup that's just as good, if not better, than Glennon in free agency.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to keep Glennon around if the Bucs can get something decent in return. I'm thinking they can get something like a third- or fourth-round pick for Glennon and they should pounce on a deal like that.

Glennon is a promising young quarterback, but he has little value to the Bucs. The current coaching staff has benched him twice -- once when Josh McCown was signed and a second time when McCown came back from a thumb injury.

Glennon has more value elsewhere. That's why the Bucs should deal him. If the Bucs can get a draft pick for Glennon, that should make everyone happy. Glennon is a competitor, and he's not going to be content to sit around as a backup.

Get something in return for Glennon, and the Bucs should be very content.
TAMPA, Fla. -- The scouting combine is over and it looks like Jameis Winston has a clear lead on Marcus Mariota as the No. 1 overall pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Coach Lovie Smith said he is comfortable after looking into the series of off-field incidents Winston has had. Smith said he can see Winston as the face of the franchise.

That’s largely because there are no questions about Winston on the field. He has played in a pro-style offense and can make all the throws.

"I think with Jameis Winston, even though there are all the off-the-field issues and all of the concerns that you have there -- there are so few concerns when you put on the tape and so few concerns when you talk to him from a football I.Q. standpoint," ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Monday. "I just don’t think you pass."

The only way I can see the Bucs passing on Winston is if Mariota lights it up in the two months between now and the draft. Mariota threw well at the combine, and his numbers were better than Winston’s in the speed and agility drills. Those are minor victories for Mariota, who played in a spread system in college.

Smith has said Mariota is a consideration at No. 1. But he needs to do a lot to overtake Winston. He needs to continue to interview well. More importantly, Mariota needs to perform well on the field.

He needs to use his pro day to show he can handle a huddle and that he has mastered three-, five- and seven-step drops. If he can do all that, the Bucs might have a difficult choice to make between Winston and Mariota. But that would be a good thing.
TAMPA, Fla. -- There is another question the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to ask Jameis Winston, and it goes beyond any of the inquiries about off-field incidents.

The Bucs need to ask Winston if he’s given up on baseball forever. That is what Peter King asked Winston, and he got a less-than-definitive response.

"I can’t speak on that," Winston said when King asked him if he ever would want to play both sports as a pro. "It always has been my dream, but I’m just playing football right now."

All indications are Winston, who was a pitcher at Florida State, is focused totally on football. But his answer left the door open just a little bit.

The Bucs need to make sure that door is closed. It looks as if the Bucs are getting ready to spend the No. 1 overall draft pick -- and millions of dollars -- on Winston. They need to make sure he is not going to want to pull double duty and play baseball down the road.

It’s been done before, most notably by Deion Sanders. But Sanders was a cornerback. Winston is a quarterback, which is a year-round job. If the Bucs draft Winston, they need him at every offseason practice session, because a quarterback is the center of a football team’s universe.

By all accounts, Winston has been saying all the right things in his interviews with NFL teams. He needs to say one more thing -- that he’s done with baseball.
During the scouting combine, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tipped their hand for the first time about what they’re going to do with the first overall pick in the draft.

General manager Jason Licht said the Bucs already have a favorite, but declined to reveal who that is. But coach Lovie Smith seemed to connect the dots when he said, rather emphatically, that he would have no problem making Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston the face of the franchise.

That’s much more information than we knew before and it sure sounds like the Bucs are leaning strongly toward Winston. His football skills are unquestioned and nothing changed in that department with his performance at the combine.

From an on-field standpoint, Winston has a big edge on Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Winston has played in a pro-style offense while Mariota spent his college career in a spread system.

The bigger question, though, had to do with off-field issues. Winston has had several and there was some thought that might scare the Bucs off. But Smith was quick to point out that Winston never was charged in an alleged sexual assault and the coach went on to say he believes in the legal system. Smith implied that Winston’s other off-field incidents were youthful mistakes.

The Bucs already have done a lot of homework on Winston. They’ll continue to do more right up until the draft. But, barring new information or a misstep, it seems like Winston has passed the off-field tests.

Smith isn’t the type to blow smoke. He said he’s fine with Winston. For the moment, all we can do is take Smith at his word.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Observed and heard at the NFL combine on Thursday.

Winston's weight not a problem: A photo of an apparently pudgy Jameis Winston caused a stir on the Internet recently. But Winston showed up at the combine in good shape. He weighed in at 231 pounds. That’s one pound more than he was listed at by Florida State. Winston’s height was listed as 6-foot-4 last season. He checked in just a bit shorter (6-foot-3 3/5) than that. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota came in at the exact same height as Winston. Mariota weighed 221.

Longer visits coming: The Bucs have yet to use their official 15-minute interview sessions with Winston or Mariota. But there’s only so much you can do in such a short time. That’s why the Bucs are planning visits with both quarterbacks on their college campuses and at One Buccaneer Place.

Man of few words: Winston was scheduled to speak to the media Thursday. But that was postponed until Friday for unspecified reasons. That left Mariota in the spotlight and it quickly became obvious he’s not a media darling. Mariota was polite, but his answers were full of clichés and weren’t very lengthy.

Underrated? UCLA's Brett Hundley, whom some draft experts have ranked third behind Winston and Mariota, said he thinks some people are taking this quarterback class too lightly. “We are ready to show the nation we’re more than we’re put out to be.’’

Hometown hero: USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor, a Tampa native, said his favorite player growing up was former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Marcus Mariota has heard the swirl of rumors that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to take Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in the NFL draft. He doesn’t care.

"It doesn’t really affect me at all," the University of Oregon quarterback said Thursday. "That’s going to be their opinion. That’s going to be their decision. All I can really control is how I prepare and get ready for whatever team picks me."

Mariota said he believe he’s the best quarterback in the draft.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Mariota
AP Photo/Jae C. HongMarcus Mariota on his rookie season: "My goal is to make an impact from Day 1."
"Any player will stand in front of you and say they’re confident in their abilities," Mariota said. "I’m no different. I feel what I’ve done at the University of Oregon and what I’ve learned has prepared me for this level."

Don’t rule out Mariota going with the first pick. Coach Lovie Smith mentioned his name repeatedly Wednesday, and made it sound like the Bucs are deciding between Winston and Mariota. That’s a safe assumption, because scouts and analysts are high on both prospects.

Winston and Mariota are very different. Winston comes with a history of off-field issues while Mariota has none. But Mariota comes with more on-field questions. While Winston played in a pro-style offense in college, Mariota played in a spread scheme.

That means Mariota hasn’t been in a huddle since high school, and I don’t see Smith suddenly switching to the spread. Mariota has been preparing for a potential switch to a pro-style offense for the past month.

He had been working with Kevin O’Connell in California until O’Connell recently was hired to be the quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns. But Mariota has continued the work O’Connell started by working out with San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

"I think for any rookie quarterback it’s going to be an adjustment stepping up to this new level," Mariota said. "I’m going to continue to absorb as much as I can. Learn from all the people that I can and do my best in whatever situation I get into."

Mariota said O’Connell got him started working on calling plays in the huddle and also working on his footwork.

"(The huddle) seems like a little detail, but that is kind of a big thing," Mariota said. "There are other things as well in terms of the three-, five- and seven-step drops. That’s all stuff I’ve worked on the last month and will continue to work on."

Mariota said he realizes the combine is a tool to make teams believe he can play in a pro-style system.

"It starts with the interviews," Mariota said. "It’s not just blurting out all the football information that you know. It’s kind of processing and showing how you think and how you progress in your reads. Just telling them whatever you were asked to do at whatever school you’re at, and hopefully they’ll believe in what you’re saying and give you an opportunity."

There’s been talk that Mariota might be the type of quarterback who needs to sit for a year while he learns a new style of offense. But Mariota doesn’t buy into that.

"My goal is to make an impact from Day 1," Mariota said. "I’m going to continue to have that mentality and find ways to improve myself to be ready for Day 1."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Two of the biggest moments of the combine will take place Thursday when quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota meet with the media.

Winston is sure to be swarmed by questions about the various off-field incidents he has dealt with. And Mariota likely will be asked about how he will transition from a spread offense in college to a pro-style scheme.

We’ll bring you all the highlights of what Winston and Mariota have to say as soon as they talk. But, in the meantime, let’s look ahead to what could be a couple more big combine moments.

The quarterbacks do their throwing drills Saturday. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has reported that Mariota will throw and there is a 50-50 chance Winston will take part. In recent years, top quarterbacks often have not thrown at the combine.

Since 2007, 21 quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round and only nine of those have thrown at the combine, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

It’s even less common for the first overall pick, which the Bucs hold this year, to throw at the combine. Since 2007, five quarterbacks have been taken at No. 1 and Cam Newton was the only one of that group to take part in throwing drills at the combine.
INDIANAPOLIS – Three things we learned at the combine.

Lovie wasn’t blowing smoke. Coach Lovie Smith sang the praises of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Smith made it a point to say Winston was never charged after sexual assault allegations in college and that, as of the moment, he wouldn’t have any trouble making him the quarterback of the future. A lot of people are going to say Smith simply was blowing smoke. But I don’t think that was the case. Smith reminds me a lot of former Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy in that he’s very truthful. Smith didn’t have to talk so highly of Winston, but he did and I think that says a lot. I also believed Smith when he said Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota isn't out of the picture. There's still a lot of time for the Bucs to make a decision on which quarterback they prefer.

Mankins isn’t going anywhere. General manager Jason Licht said very strongly that guard Logan Mankins will be back with the Bucs. There had been some speculation that Mankins could be a salary-cap casualty as the Bucs overhaul their offensive line. But that’s not going to happen. Mankins is going to be a building block along with right tackle Demar Dotson and, possibly, center Evan Dietrich-Smith. But there are definite changes coming at left tackle and the other starting guard spot.

Mike Glennon has a future. Wednesday was the first time Smith and Licht have talked publicly since the release of quarterback Josh McCown. They thanked him for his contributions but said it was time to move on. Instead of keeping McCown, the Bucs kept Glennon. Smith and Licht both said Glennon has a future with the Bucs. I think it’s pretty clear the Bucs plan to start a rookie right away and use Glennon as the backup.
INDIANAPOLIS -- There's been speculation in Tampa Bay that guard Logan Mankins could be a salary-cap casualty in the offseason.

Think again. Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht emphatically said Wednesday that Mankins is part of the team's future.

"We think the world of Logan," Licht said. "He's part of the solution. He wasn't part of the problem. Having him for another year, the full offseason, which he already has told me he wants to be there for the whole offseason. I think it's going to be extremely valuable to this football team moving forward. Yeah, he has a future with us."

Mankins has a $7 million cap figure, and the Bucs are looking to upgrade a line that was a big part of the reason the offense ranked 30th last season. Mankins was acquired in a trade from New England last August and there has been speculation on talk radio that the veteran didn't want to be in Tampa Bay. Licht said that's not the case.

"I have a great relationship with him," Licht said. "He texts back and forth. He's very excited. He said he's never started training this early. He's very excited about the future here and what he can bring to the Bucs."
INDIANAPOLIS -- There's a growing school of thought that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already zeroed in on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in the NFL draft.

But coach Lovie Smith made it clear several times at the scouting combine Wednesday that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota remains in the picture. For that matter, Smith and general manager Jason Licht wouldn't say with certainty that the Bucs will draft a quarterback. But all indications are they will.

Although the majority of questions asked of Smith were about Winston, the coach made it clear he likes Mariota.

"He's big, he's strong, he's got a strong arm, all of the throws that a quarterback is to make, we've seen him make those throws," Smith said. "He's athletic, he can buy time with his feet. The amount of interceptions he's thrown, I know a lot of the passes he's thrown are screens. But you can't blame him for the system. That's where he is and they won a lot of games with that system. But a part of that system is throwing the ball also."

Some of those already drawing conclusions that Winston will be the pick are citing that he played in a pro-style offense in college. Mariota played in a spread system. But Smith said he thinks Mariota can be a successful NFL quarterback.

"I've heard a lot about this pro-style system in college," Smith said. "But I think if you look at a quarterback, yeah, I think there are some offenses you can run in college that maybe will get you more ready to make that transition. But it's a transition for any college player coming into the NFL.

"In Marcus' case, yeah, he ran an offense that most teams in the league don't run. But I see him scrambling around, I see him making decisions, I see him -- for the most part -- making most of the throws that he'll be making in the league. If you look in our league right now, there are different quarterbacks. There are some mobile quarterbacks. There are some more drop-back pocket quarterbacks. There are guys having success doing it a lot of different ways."

Face time with QBs is important for Bucs

February, 18, 2015
Feb 18
video ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas says interviewing Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota at the scouting combine will be more important to the Tampa Bay brain trust than watching the pair of star quarterbacks work out.
A closer look at the areas the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should address in the draft. Today we look at the defensive ends, who are scheduled to work out Sunday in Indianapolis.

Position of need: The Bucs got excellent pressure from the interior last season. They led the league with 18.0 sacks from interior defensive linemen. But the pressure was lacking on the outside as the Bucs ranked 23rd with 14.0 sacks from players lined up at defensive end. Michael Johnson was a disappointment after signing a big free-agent deal. He had only four sacks and the Bucs could be looking to replace him. Although there are some elite pass-rushers, the Bucs likely will have to settle for the second tier because they’re expected to use the top overall pick in the draft on a quarterback.

Three players the Bucs could target in the draft:

Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida: The Bucs could get lucky if Fowler slides out of the first round. He’s a quick outside pass rusher with plenty of upside. He had nine sacks in his final college season.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA. He did not have a spectacular senior season as he recorded six sacks. But he’s a polished player who has the tools to do more as a pass rusher. He could be available in the third round.

Henry Anderson, DE, Stanford. Anderson is a productive pass-rusher who performed well against some strong competition. He had nine sacks as a senior and 17 for his career. Anderson is likely to be available in the third or fourth round.
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Soon after his family moved from the Domican Republic to the United States when he was six, Josue Matias' father signed him up to play baseball.

The sport was a passion for the father, but not the son. On game days, Josue frequently would "lose" is glove as a way to get out of playing. Invariably, his father would find the glove and Matias would have to play a game he didn’t like.

But Matias found a game he did like a few years later.

[+] EnlargeJosue Matias
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesMost experts project Florida State's Josue Matias as a second-round pick, and a few have him slipping into the first round.
"I started playing football in the third grade and I just fell in love with the sport," Matias said. "That was the end of baseball. I gave it up around eighth grade. My dad was heartbroken, but he had as much fun watching me play football as watching me play baseball, because I was always making plays."

A two-way lineman in high school in New Jersey, Matias focused on playing guard when he got to Florida State. Now, he’s considered one of the best guard prospects in this year’s draft. Matias almost entered the draft last year. He was told he’d be a third- or fourth-round pick, but decided to return for one more college season.

"I thought I needed one more season to secure and show them I’m a prospect for the NFL," Matias said while doing his combine preparation at IMG Academy last week.

That seems to have worked out well. Most draft experts are projecting Matias as a second-round pick, and a few even have him slipping into the first round.

Matias decided to skip playing in the college all-star games because he wanted to focus on getting ready for the combine. He said he thinks his performance at the combine will only help his draft stock and surprise some of the experts.

"I came in and I thought I was pretty good and (the staff at IMG) made me even better," Matias said. "If I told you I made an improvement on just one skill I’d be lying. It’s been a big improvement overall."

Matias could be a prime prospect for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they try to overhaul an offensive line that was dismal last season. The Bucs are expected to look for an upgrade from Patrick Omameh, and Matias could be what they’re looking for.

"I’d love to go to Tampa Bay," Matias said. "It’s a great place to be, and I think I could make their offensive line better."
A closer look at the areas the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could address in the draft. Today we’ll look at the offensive linemen, who are scheduled to work out Friday in Indianapolis.

Position of need: The Bucs overhauled their offensive line in 2014 and the results were disastrous. The line couldn’t block for the run or the pass and the offense ranked 30th in the league. The quarterbacks were pressured on 34 percent of their drop backs, second worst in the NFL. Another overhaul is needed and at least some of that will come through the draft. Left tackle Anthony Collins was a huge bust last year and almost certainly won’t be back. The Bucs also need an upgrade over Patrick Omameh at guard. But the Bucs likely won’t address the offensive line until the second or third round because they have to take care of quarterback with the top overall pick.

Three players the Bucs could target in the draft:

Cedric Ogbuehi, T, Texas A&M: There are a handful of tackles who could go in the first round. But Ogbuehi isn’t that much of a drop-off from them and he could be available in the second round. He’s polished and could start right away.

Donovan Smith, T, Penn State: He’s coming out of college a year early and that might be a mistake. Smith could have developed into a potential first-round pick if he returned for his senior season. But he could be a good value pick in the second or third round.

Josue Matias, G Florida State: A massive blocker with surprising quickness, Matias could be a second-round target. Matias is NFL-ready after playing for one of the top programs in the country. He would be an instant upgrade over Omameh and has the size and skills to be a solid pro.