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2016 Team Report: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterbacks

Starter: Jameis Winston
Backup(s): Mike Glennon, Ryan Griffin, Dan LeFevour

Starting QB: Jameis Winston logged a successful rookie season under center for Tampa Bay. Despite lacking weapons for stretches, Winston showed poise, pocket mobility, and downfield accuracy. The Tampa Bay passing game targets remain the same from 2015, making Winston's Year 2 progression paramount to improving the team's 6-10 record and challenging in the NFC South.

Backup QB: Mike Glennon is one of the most sought-after current NFL backup quarterbacks. He enters the final year of his rookie contract and Tampa Bay has explored trading the upcoming free agent this offseason. Glennon offers upside if Jameis Winston were to miss time, but at a minimum is one of the more attractive free agents next offseason. Wildcards Ryan Griffin and Dan LeFevour would be the in-house battle for the No.2 spot if Glennon were traded before Week 1.

Running Backs

Starter: Doug Martin
Backup(s): Charles Sims, Mike James, Peyton Barber [R]
Fullback(s): Dan Vitale [R]

Starting RB: Doug Martin rebounded from two poor and injury-filled seasons with a strong performance in 2015. Martin was a rookie standout back in 2012, but reached a career crossroads last year with Charles Sims a challenger on the depth chart. Martin set a career-high in yard-per-carry (4.9) and averaged more than 20 touches per game while not missing a contest. Martin received a new big-money contract and now the test is to repeat his 'running hot' style in 2016. Charles Sims tempers Martin's passing game upside. Martin is expected to see a majority of the carries and goal line work.

Backup RBs: Charles Sims has excelled in his secondary role to Doug Martin in Tampa Bay. With Martin signing a new long-term deal, Sims remains in his passing game-centric role outside of a Doug Martin injury. Sims had more receptions than Martin in 12-of-16 games in 2015, matching Martin's 4.9 yards-per-carry on the ground. Sims has prototypical size and his elite receiving profile from college has translated well to the NFL. Doug Martin missed significant time in 2013 and 2014, making Charles Sims a high-upside proposition if he garners a larger role. Mike James remains in Tampa Bay on the final year of his contract. James has a strong combination of size, power, and athleticism. James missed 2015 after being waived by Tampa Bay in September. James had a strong game of 166 total yards on 30 touches as his highlight game to-date back in 2013 for the Buccaneers. Barber, a back with NFL size and surprising quickness, impressed GM Jason Licht early in rookie minicamp and could push James for a roster spot or at least earn a place on the practice squad.

Fullback: Dan Vitale graded as a top fullback of the 2016 NFL Draft class from Northwestern. Vitale is a rare athlete for the position by drill measures, while he lacks prototypical size. Vitale was regularly used in the passing game during his college career, catching at least 30 passes in each of his last three seasons. Vitale has been used more as a tight end, H-back, and moveable chess piece in training camp than a traditional fullback.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson
Backups: Adam Humphries, Kenny Bell, Louis Murphy, Donteea Dye, Russell Shepard

Starting WRs: Mike Evans shouldered much of the passing game load in his second season as Vincent Jackson was in and out of the lineup. As a result, Evans saw a host of forced targets from Jameis Winston and elevated defensive attention than his 2014 rookie season. Evans learned on the job in 2015 and saw a sharp regression from his 12-touchdown rookie debut. Evans enters 2016 as one of the strong regression candidates in the positive direction after three touchdowns on 74 receptions. With prototypical physical traits and entering his age 23 season with a developing quarterback, Evans is a strong bounce back candidate to find the end zone. While on the physical downside, Vincent Jackson offers a solid secondary wide receiver presence as Tampa Bay did little in free agency or the NFL Draft to bolster the position this offseason. While boasting a strong touchdown rate over his career, Jackson has just five touchdowns over 103 receptions his last two years with the Buccaneers. Jameis Winston's bold nature to stare down pocket pressure and deliver deep passes in coverage is a fit with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson's size and ball skills.

Backup WRs: Louis Murphy has bounced around the NFL over his career, gaining marginal traction as more than a stopgap option despite appealing physical traits. Donteea Dye had opportunities amidst the myriad of injuries Tampa Bay absorbed at wide receiver in 2015 and did little to flash potential upside. Kenny Bell is the young name to monitor behind starters Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. The University of Nebraska product was a marginal producer in college, but torched the athletic drills leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft. Bell had a redshirt rookie season due to injury and enters a critical ramp-up to his second season to carve a role, but the team wants him to win the #3 wide receiver job. However, low-upside Adam Humphries has been running as the No.3 in camp as Bell has yet to gain much hold on the role.

Tight Ends

Starters: Cameron Brate
Backups: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Luke Stocker

Cameron Brate, a favorite of the coaching staff, emerged in Seferian-Jenkins' absence in 2015, showing quality ball skills and the ability to win down the seam and in the red zone. Brate has been running with the first team more than talented, but inconsistent third-year Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Seferian-Jenkins has enviable physical tools and has flashed at times. However, staying on the field and rounding out his game are paramount to being an NFL starter and living up to his NFL Draft profile potential. With a shaky wide receiver depth chart beyond starters Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay projects to run more multiple tight end sets, making for a murky production split between Brate and Seferian-Jenkins. Luke Stocker has been a career backup through five seasons and offers limited upside outside of an additional blocker and occasional secondary pass-catcher.

Place Kicker

Roberto Aguayo [R]: Aguayo comes into the NFL with the added onus of being a kicker taken in the second round. If that isn't enough pressure, the Buccaneers traded up to get him. To be fair, the Bucs lost multiple games because of kicker woes last year, but now Aguayo will have the added pressure of living up to a move to vastly overpay for his services in draft capital terms, at least according to some draft analysts, who believe no kicker is worth a second-round pick. Aguayo has an unblemished track record under 40 yards, but he was only 5-for-9 from 41 or longer. The Buccaneers apparently determined that he did not miss any kick in college that came from between the narrower NFL hashmarks. While Aguayo has been a clutch kicker over the years, and for fantasy he inherits a situation that gave kicker 40 attempts last year, tied for second in the league behind Pittsburgh. He could pay off, and Aguayo is worth a pick in the last round of your drafts if only to get a chuckle out of your leaguemates.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Kenny Bell, Donteea Dye, Bernard Reedy

No player handled a higher percentage of his team's total return attempts in 2015 than Bobby Rainey's 96% for the Buccaneers. (Technically, Tyler Lockett of the Seahawks edged him by five hundredths of a percentage point.) Unfortunately for Tampa, Rainey is now with the Giants, leaving them with very little experience. Kenny Bell, Donteea Dye, and Bernard Reedy are all leaders for the job, but the race is still wide open.

Punt Returners: Adam Humphries, Bernard Reedy

No one currently on the Buccaneers' roster returned a single punt in 2015. Adam Humphries is the favorite to do so in 2016, but Bernard Reedy will push to make the final roster as a return specialist.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Donovan Smith, LG J.R. Sweezy, C Joe Hawley, RG Ali Marpet, RT Demar Dotson
Key Backups: Evan Smith, Gosder Cherilus, Kevin Pamphile, Caleb Benenoch [R], Garret Gilkey

The Buccaneers' offensive line lost their best player this offseason when Logan Mankins retired. In his place the team signed J.R. Sweezy from the Seahawks to start at left guard. Sweezy is an aggressive run blocker and an overall solid veteran but he can be compromised in pass protection. The team will look for second year players left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Ali Marpet to continue their progression after promising rookie seasons. The center position will be a competition between Joe Hawley and Evan Smith (formerly Dietrich-Smith). Both are solid but not special options. Right tackle will be a competition between Gosder Cherilus and Demar Dotson, who was the starter until he was injured for most of last season. Look for Dotson to win this battle, but the lineup might actually be better with both players on the field at the same time. Mid round draft pick Caleb Benenoch could compete for playing time at several spots. Overall the Buccaneers' offensive line has interesting prospects but the unit lacks elite talent and needs several players to take the next step. Tier Ranking: Low Tier.

Team Defense

The Bucs were one of the worst scoring defenses in the league, but they were in the top 10 in forced fumbles and scored three defensive touchdowns, so they still had their moments in QB Jameis Winston's rookie year. The team added impact rookies CB Vernon Hargreaves and DE Noah Spence, and a swift pair of linebackers (Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David) and underrated defensive line anchored by Gerald McCoy give some hope for a D/ST that is going in the bottom 10 in early drafts. Opening at Atlanta and Arizona is a tough draw, but the following home games against Los Angeles and Denver might put the Bucs on our streamer list early in the season.

Defensive Line

Starters: DT Gerald McCoy, NT Clinton McDonald, DE Robert Ayers, DE William Gholston
Backups: DT Henry Melton, DT Akeem Spence, DE Noah Spence [R], DE George Johnson, DE Howard Jones, DE Jacquies Smith

Starting DL: The Buccaneers bolstered their starting defensive line with the signing of veteran pass rusher Robert Ayers, who should step right in as a starter opposite William Gholston. Ayers has been a solid if unspectacular player for the Giants the past few years; the Bucs are counting on him to produce in 2016 and beyond. Gholston will more than likely retain his position at left defensive end after a strong campaign in 2015. The interior features All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who has been a stalwart for the team since they drafted him. McCoy played hurt at times last season but nevertheless remained a consistent thorn in the side of offenses. A committee of Clinton McDonald, Akeem Spence and Henry Melton will line up at nose tackle.

Backup DL: Second round draft pick Noah Spence is the pick of the bunch among the back-up players on the defensive line. Spence is a quick-twitch athlete with an unrefined game that will need polishing before he can be exposed to a high snap count. He has already been turning heads at training camp. In his rookie year Spence profiles as a high-impact subpackage rusher who can get to the quarterback - but may be a liability against the run. Jacquies Smith held down the third-down rusher role last year and notched seven sacks in 12 games after notching 6.5 sacks in 2014. The duo of Henry Melton and Akeem Spence provide a nice one-two punch to spell Clinton McDonald and Gerald McCoy, while George Johnson and Howard Jones - a practice squad player from last year - round out the defensive line reinforcements.

Linebackers

Starters: WLB Lavonte David, MLB Kwon Alexander, SLB Daryl Smith
Backups: LB Jeremiah George, LB Cassanova McKinzy [R], LB Devante Bond [R], LB Josh Keyes, LB Adarius Glanton

Starting LBs: Lavonte David remains one of the most consistent linebackers in the league, as adept in coverage as he is playing sideline to sideline. His presence in this defense will allow new defensive coordinator Mike Smith the freedom to blitz more and be more creative in his play calling. Kwon Alexander served a four-game suspension at the tail end of his impressive rookie season, tacking a sour footnote on to a highly encouraging campaign. Alexander should slot in at middle linebacker, with veteran addition Daryl Smith lending his experience and savvy to the strong side. Smith could also move inside in a pinch if Alexander's play falls off.

Backup LBs: Among the backups, Jeremiah George was re-signed by the team after his standout performances on special teams last season. Cassanova McKinzy was undrafted out of Auburn this year and is an athletically limited prospect who will perform best as a thumper between the tackles. He profiles as a special teams contributor. Devante Bond was a sixth round pick and will make his mark on special teams, and is the most likely backup of a lackluster group to make the team. 2015 UDFA Josh Keyes, and Adarius Glanton, who was plucked from the Carolina practice squad, stuck with special teams contributions last year and could crack an unimpressive backup linebacker group with a good camp and preseason.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Brent Grimes, CB Vernon Hargreaves III [R], FS Chris Conte, SS Bradley McDougald
Backups: CB Alterraun Verner, CB Johnthan Banks, CB Jude Adjei-Barimah, CB Ryan Smith [R], CB Josh Robinson, S Keith Tandy, S Elijah Shumate [R], S Major Wright

Starting DBs: First round draft pick Vernon Hargreaves should start right away at corner and get targeted very often. The undersized but feisty cornerback has an uncanny feel for making plays on the ball and timing his breaks. He will likely play opposite Brent Grimes, signed to a two-year deal this offseason. At safety, everything is muddy but the veteran tandem of Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald should get the first crack at nailing down the positions, with McDougald the most likely to start, and Conte a favorite over Keith Tandy and Major Wright to lock down the other spot.

Backup DBs: The Bucs have plenty of depth at cornerback, though the talent may not be there if one of their starters went down. Alterraun Verner, who signed a decent $25m contract with the team in 2014 is a top backup. Verner was benched early last year and the signing of Grimes is a shot across the bow to the veteran, but he figures to be the slot cornerback in subpackages and a useful player to have in a pinch in the event of an injury. Former second round pick Johnthan Banks missed time last season and made little impact when on the field. Among the safeties, Keith Tandy and Major Wright appear to the biggest threats to presumptive starting tandem Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald, but the team might only keep one of them with fourth-round pick Ryan Smith likely to make the team in any event. Smith could move up the depth chart very quickly.

Last modified: 2016-08-17 13:28:58