2013 Buccaneers draft needs: Defensive backfield the primary focus in Tampa Bay

LAST SEASON Rush Offense - 114.8 ypg (15th)
Pass Offense - 248.9 ypg (10th)
Total Offense - 363.8 ypg (9th)
Scoring Offense - 24.3 ppg (13th)
Rush Defense - 82.5 ypg (1st)
Pass Defense - 297.4 ypg (32nd)
Total Defense - 379.9 ypg (29th)
Scoring Defense - 24.6 ppg (23rd)
MOST PRESSING NEEDS Offense: Tight end and wide receiver
Defense: Secondary


3rd round Tyler Bray, Tennessee (6-6, 232) 4th round Matt Scott, Arizona (6-2, 213)

Josh Freeman is heading into 2013 as the starter, but he only has one year left on his contract. The former Kansas State star has plenty to prove to garner unquestioned support within the organization. There is plenty of speculation that Greg Schiano and the Bucs' hierarchy would like to bring in competition for Freeman. As it pertains to the draft, there isn't a quarterback that can push Freeman for the starting role, but there are a few that could be intriguing developmental options in the middle rounds.

Tyler Bray probably has the strongest arm in the draft, but he uses that cannon to spray the ball all over the field, in many cases to a different colored jersey. His ceiling is quite high, but his floor is lower than any other quarterback in the draft. Matt Scott, on the other hand, doesn't have the physical gifts that Bray possesses, but he's calm, cool and poised in the pocket.


Doug Martin was magnificent for the Bucs last season, rushing for nearly 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns. LeGarrette Blount re-signed for two years and provides value as a competent backup to Martin. The team has no reason to draft any rookies given a depth chart that includes Martin, Blount, D.J. Ware and last year's seventh-rounder Michael Smith.


3rd round Ryan Swope, Texas A&M (6-0, 204)
Stedman Bailey, West Va. (5-10, 193) 4th round Tavarres King, Georgia (6-0, 189)
Chris Harper, Kansas St. (6-1, 229)
Josh Boyce, TCU (5-11, 206)

Vincent Jackson was everything the Bucs expected and then some. Even more importantly, Mike Williams rebounded with a solid third season, tripling his touchdown output from 2011 with nine scores. But Arrelious Benn caught only four passes in eight games and has been a major disappointment, and Tiquan Underwood has been up and down as a complement to Jackson and Williams. It won't make sense to target a receiver early in the draft, but there are viable complementary options in the middle rounds that might.

Ryan Swope is tremendous in the slot, but not in a Wes Welker sort of way. With his 4.34 speed, he can stretch defenses vertically by getting deep down the middle of the field. He also catches everything and was a running back in high school, so he's great after the catch. Stedman Bailey catches everything, everywhere on the field and would be a terrific No. 3 complementary pass catcher alongside Jackson and Williams. Chris Harper is an X-factor in that he has the size and strength to make any catch, but can he get separation?

TIGHT END The Draft Board

2nd round Zach Ertz, Stanford (6-5, 249) 3rd round Vance McDonald, Rice (6-4, 267) 4th round Chris Gragg, Arkansas (6-3, 244) 5th round Matt Furstenburg, Maryland (6-3, 242)

Dallas Clark had a decent first season as a Buccaneer. He played last year on a one-year contract and is an unrestricted free agent. No matter whether Clark returns or not, the team may look for a tight end to add to the crew. In two years in Tampa, Luke Stocker hasn't developed as the team had hoped and it can't wait any longer to provide a viable pass-catching option at this position. Expect the Bucs to target a versatile and athletic tight end early in the draft.

If the Bucs eschew drafting a receiver, then they can satisfy their pass-catching need with these tight end/receiver hybrids. Zach Ertz lined up as much at receiver as he did at tight end and could even play out on the perimeter in a pinch. When healthy, Vance McDonald is a Swiss Army knife, able to do it all, including run the ball out of the gun from an H-back position.


6th round T Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas (6-5, 298)
T Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin (6-6, 308) 7th round T Brennan Williams, UNC (6-6, 318)

The Buccaneers spent a ton of money on G Carl Nicks last year to be the key piece in the middle of the Bucs offensive line. That investment has paid off and it helped to solidify this offensive group, made even stronger after the insertion of T Demar Dotson on the right side of the line. The team's quintet has very few issues, but could always use some depth, especially at tackle behind Dotson.

Tanner Hawkinson was a former tight end before he moved to defensive end and then to tackle. He doesn't drive guys off the ball and he's more of a position blocker, but he has excellent feet and will have some time to grow. Ricky Wagner was a bit of a disappointment this year at Wisconsin, but he's physical and appreciates swapping paint with defensive linemen and linebackers. Brennan Williams is a finesse tackle that missed the last four games of the 2012 season, but he's a good value in the seventh round.


3rd round DE Michael Buchanan, Illinois (6-5, 255)
DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida St. (6-2, 251)
DE Corey Lemonier, Auburn (6-3, 255) 4th round DT Bennie Logan, LSU (6-2, 309) 5th round DE Lavar Edwards, LSU (6-4, 277)
DT Kwame Geathers, Georgia (6-5, 342) 6th round DE Quanterus Smith, WKU (6-5, 250)

Former No. 3 pick in the 2010 draft DT Gerald McCoy was a first-time Pro Bowler in 2012. DT Roy Miller and Gary Gibson were solid opposite McCoy, especially against the run, but Miller is an unrestricted free agent. Compounding that situation further is the unrestricted free agent status of defensive end Michael Bennett. The team has made it known that Bennett is not a priority, even though he'd like to return. That said, the team has a pair of 2011 draft picks, Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers, that must step up and take over if Bennett indeed leaves Tampa Bay. At least the team has DE depth if they can re-sign restricted free agent Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. The Bucs may not target defensive linemen early, but it will start investigating at some point on Day 2.

Michael Buchanan may be better suited to play 3-4 OLB, but he did play well as a 4-3 DE in 2011. Now that was with Whitney Mercilus on the other side, but he showed he can play with his hand down if necessary. Brandon Jenkins suffered an injury in the opening game of the season and his draft stock has suffered as scouts question how explosive he'll be when he returns. Bennie Logan is an effort player and never stops playing hard, while Kwame Geathers is massive and can play over the nose opposite McCoy.

LINEBACKER The Draft Board

3rd round OLB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers (6-1, 241) 4th round OLB Kevin Reddick, UNC (6-1, 243)
OLB Steve Beauharnis, Rutgers (6-1, 240) 5th round OLB A.J Klein, Iowa St. (6-1, 250)

The selection of Lavonte David in the second round paid huge dividends last year and he should be the WLB in Tampa for a long while. MLB Mason Foster was second on the team in tackles behind David with 105 stops. Expect that duo to be together for a while in Tampa. The third piece of the puzzle isn't as easy to figure out. SLB Quincy Black's arm, apparently, has not responded well to surgery. The Bucs have depth behind Black, but David's success as a rookie may encourage Bucs brass to draft another young playmaker to join David and Foster.

Greg Schiano knows all about Khaseem Greene, having recruited and coached him at Rutgers. Greene is a tackling machine that some think is just a product of the system. Schiano knows full well that's not true and understands what Greene can offer the Bucs. There is no perfect fit at SLB in this draft class, but Greene has the versatility to find playing time early. Klein has a nose for the football, reads and deciphers plays well and tackles with the best of this linebacker class.

SECONDARY The Draft Board

1st round CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida St. (6-2, 210)
CB Desmond Trufant, Washington (6-0, 190) 2nd round CB Johnthan Banks, Miss. St. (6-2, 185)
S Eric Reid, LSU (6-0, 213)
CB Logan Ryan, Rutgers (5-11, 191)
CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon St. (6-0, 191) 3rd round S D.J Swearinger, S. Carolina (5-11, 208)
CB David Amerson, NC St. (6-1, 205) 4th round S Bacarri Rambo, Georgia (6-1, 211)

The Bucs secondary can only get better as they were last in the league in passing yards allowed, yielding nearly 300 yards per game. The only piece in the secondary set for the 2013 season is safety Mark Barron who had 89 tackles as a rookie. FS Ronde Barber has yet to decide whether he's coming back for another season in Tampa. CB Eric Wright was one of the team's three significant free agent signees last year, but his first year in Tampa was awful and the team is looking to release him at some point. Complicating the situation is the fact that CB E.J. Biggers is an unrestricted free agent. Nothing is set in the secondary, hence the team's flirting with potential free agent safety Dashon Goldson. No matter what the team does in free agency, it'll have to focus its draft on the secondary as well.

Xavier Rhodes is a physical marvel who can play either man or zone. Desmond Trufant is more of a man corner than a zone corner, but he's definitively the No. 3 corner in this draft class. The Bucs can't get picky; they needs playmakers and Trufant is just that. Logan Ryan has played for Schiano, so the Bucs targeting him makes sense. Jordan Poyer may be the best fit in Tampa's defense and can return punts as well. If the team has the opportunity to take Reid in the second round, he and Barron will make a great safety duo in the future.

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