Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith says his team has big needs at nearly every position. But he believes a franchise quarterback will be available with the No. 7 overall pick. If so, don't be surprised if they select a QB in the first round.
"I know enough about that draft to know, yeah, there's someone that would be worthy of the seventh pick because everything is on the board right now," Smith said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "Whenever you have a chance to get a franchise quarterback, you have to consider that."
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Central Florida's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater are expected to be among the top 10 players selected in the 2014 draft according to many experts, perhaps in the top five. Fresno State's Derek Carr, who was impressive in the Senior Bowl and will throw Saturday at the combine, could elevate himself to a high first-round pick with a good workout.
Glennon, who was named to the All-Rookie team after throwing 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 59.4 percent of his passes last season, has been a fixture at One Buc Place this offseason. Smith says he and his staff have spent time evaluating Glennon and all players on the Bucs roster but he is not ready to just hand the job over to the former third-round pick from North Carolina State.
Glennon went 4-9 as a starter and passed for more than 200 yards in only six of his 13 games.
"Mike did some good things. But he did some good things as a rookie," Smith said. "To say right now that Mike is the answer and he's our quarterback of the future and we're going to build around him and give him a 20-year contract right now, you're not there.
"You just like the things he brings to the table. Strong arm. Great guy. He is a guy that seems like he doesn't have an offseason because he has been working his butt off in the facility. But again, I just know I like him on the football team as one of our quarterbacks right now. As you mentioned, we have just two quarterbacks signed. We're going to have at least four in camp, at least one guy will be in the mix and you can let that all play out."
Smith says he and new general manager Jason Licht already have a plan on how to replenish the Bucs roster.
"In all, it becomes obvious which way you should go. We do have a road map for what we're going to do. Jason and I and the rest of the staff, scouting and coaches, we have pounded it and we have a pretty good plan on the direction we're going to go. I'll just say we're trying to upgrade our entire roster.
"You have a plan. But if you ask me do I think we can win games with Mike Glennon? I'm going to say, 'Yeah, we can win games with Mike Glennon.' If you ask me would you like to upgrade the position? I'm not running around the question. That's a yes, too. If you ask me, would you like a veteran? Yeah. Really, that's the case. It all has to go together. You have to look at what's available at other positions, too."
--The most disappointing unit on the team last season was the offensive line, coach Lovie Smith said, whose play did not live up to their paychecks.
Left tackle Donald Penn had a sub-par year. Left guard Davin Joseph played poorly coming off major knee surgery. Right guard Carl Nicks played in only two games due to a recurrence of MRSA.
Added Smith, "Offensive line-wise, we didn't play as well. I think it's documented, we didn't play as well as we need to. We have a lot of, the way we paid at the position said we should've been the best team in the league almost and that wasn't the case."
--Smith says he's disappointed in some of the off-field issues facing wide receiver Mike Williams. He is facing misdemeanor charges and has been linked to a rap band that has taken up much of his time.
"Have I been disappointed in Mike Williams? Of course," Smith said. "There's a standard. We're just not going to put up with it, no matter who it is. You have to be good on the field and off the field. Simple as that. And if you're not doing what you need to do in one or the other, you have problems and that's where Mike has to take care of a few things.
"Again, we're not going to compromise who we are as an organization."
Williams is now due in court March 27 for a pre-trial hearing on the misdemeanor chargers after entering a written plea of not guilty Monday (Feb. 24). Williams was to be arraigned, but was granted an arraignment waiver because of his plea.
--Look for the Bucs to approach defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to do a contract extension. He is in the final year of his deal and has made two straight Pro Bowls.
"It's safe to say Gerald McCoy is going to be around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for awhile," Smith said. "I don't like talking specifics on players, but it's safe to say we're going to build around Gerald, who's an inside guy as good as there is out there but we need to get him help."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--The Buccaneers re-signed free agent linebacker Jonathan Casillas to a one-year contract. Casillas was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.
He joined Tampa Bay in 2013, playing in 12 games, with four starts, recording 24 tackles, two passes defensed and one forced fumble, while adding nine special teams tackles. Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Casillas spent four seasons with New Orleans (2009-12), where he was a member of the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV championship team as a rookie.
--Running back Bobby Rainey signed a one-year contract with the Buccaneers.
Rainey was an exclusive-rights free agent, which meant the Bucs needed only to offer him a contract to keep his rights. The one-year deal puts him back on the traditional NFL cycle of being a restricted free agent after his third NFL season in the spring of 2015, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Rainey stepped into a starting role with the Buccaneers after starter Doug Martin and backup Mike James suffered injuries and rushed for 163 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns in his first extended playing time (Nov. 17 against the Atlanta Falcons). He also had a touchdown catch. He added a 127-yard game Week 14 in a win over the Buffalo Bills.
Rainey led the Buccaneers with 532 rushing yards in 2013.
The Western Kentucky standout started last season with the Cleveland Browns and entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens.
--The Buccaneers signed quarterback Mike Kafka, and released tackle Gabe Carimi, running back Michael Hill, defensive tackle Derek Landri and quarterback Jordan Rodgers.
Kafka, 26, did not play last season after spending part of training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kafka was drafted in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010 and spent two seasons there as a backup. He recently worked out for the Dallas Cowboys.
Kafka has attempted 16 passes over four seasons in the NFL.
Carimi, a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 2011, was acquired by the Buccaneers for a sixth-round pick in this year's draft. He played 14 games, including three starts.
Hill had nine carries for 23 yards in six games in 2013. He was arrested for failing to obey a lawful order and resisting arrest in Missouri in January.
Landri made nine tackles in nine games.
Rodgers spent most of the season on the practice squad.
Scheduled to be unrestricted in March
--CB Michael Adams
--TE Nate Byham
--LB Jacob Cutrera
--LS Andrew Economos
--DT Gary Gibson
--CB Danny Gorrer
--LB Adam Hayward
--FB Spencer Larsen
--G Ted Larsen
--RB Brian Leonard
--PL Rian Lindell
--FB Erik Lorig
--OL Jamon Meredith
--QB Dan Orlovsky
--DL Daniel Te'o-Nesheim
--PK Lawrence Tynes
--WR Tiquan Underwood
--LB Dekoda Watson
DEFENSIVE END: The Bucs need an edge rusher to complement Gerald McCoy inside. Adrian Clayborn had 5.5 sacks and could improve in the new system under Lovie Smith, but he has been a disappointment.
OFFENSIVE LINE: The last offensive lineman the Bucs drafed was tackle Xavier Fulton in 2009. Tackle Donald Penn is on the downside of his career.
WIDE RECEIVER: Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams have been productive, but what the Bucs lack is speed to stretch the field.
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