2016 NFL Draft candidates to land the No. 1 pick- Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Right after the draft, ESPN released its updated NFL Power Rankings to provide a look at where each team stands. This ranking is a great way to not only look at the strongest teams in the NFL but also identify those who could be fighting for the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come in at No. 31 on their ranking which makes them a candidate to land the top pick two years in a row. This article is going to take quick look at the current roster make up, discuss reasons for optimism and thoughts on why there’s little hope.

Roster Strengths:

All NFL rookies go through growing pains and the Buccaneers can expect Jameis Winston to have his share of ups and downs. However, he has two big targets at wide receiver in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. These are players who are capable of consistently bailing out the quarterback by pulling down balls in contested situations.

The rest of Winston’s surrounding cast is subpar especially along the offensive line. Evans and Jackson need to have strong seasons if the Buccaneers want to improve on last year’s win total.

Roster Weaknesses:

Tampa Bay’s roster has several areas of concern, but the offensive line might be the most glaring weak spot. Last year, Tampa Bay’s offensive line surrendered 52 sacks and head into this year with a younger less-experienced group.

Word is the Buccaneers plan on starting rookie second-round pick Donovan Smith at left tackle. Smith has talent but struggled throughout his college career with consistency. He tends to lose focus which hurts his technique and opens opportunities for the pass rush.

Ali Marpet has a strong chance to join Smith as a rookie starter along the offensive line. Marpet will face some challenges adjusting to the NFL as he’s making the jump from facing small-school competition at Hobart to lining up against some of the best athletes in the world.

Another area of concern is the pass rush as the Buccaneers don’t have a proven edge rusher. Lovie Smith’s defense heavily depends on the defensive line’s ability to generate pressure. This is an issue because Gerald McCoy is the only real threat on the roster.

Tampa Bay is counting on George Johnson, Jacquies Smith and William Gholston to generate pressure off the edge. Johnson and Smith are coming off six sack seasons but will be expected to significantly increase those totals.

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Overall Thoughts:

The Buccaneers will likely be one of the main contenders to land the top pick in next year’s draft. Their issues along the offensive and defensive line will be too much to overcome. However, there’s optimism in the air as Jameis Winston has a chance to be special.

Landing the top pick would put Tampa Bay in position to potentially land a stud offensive lineman such as Ole Miss’s Laremy Tunsil. It’s important that the team surrounds Winston with top-end talent and the pieces along the offensive line to keep him healthy.