The 2014 NFL schedule will be released later today, but we already know the opponents and the team's strength of schedule.
The NFL will release its 2014 schedule tonight at 8PM EST. Unless they change their mind at the last minute, again, but that seems unlikely. We already know what that schedule will look like in general terms, though, as the team's opponents are determined by a fairly simply formula.
BUCCANEERS 2014 OPPONENTS
That slate of games represents the 19th-hardest schedule in the NFL, if we go by last year's winning percentages. That's not a very accurate indication of the real strength of schedule, of course, but it's better than nothing. If we go by Las Vegas odds, though, we end up with the 10th-hardest schedule in the NFL. Lovie Smith doesn't have a particularly tough or easy road to success in his first season as the Bucs head coach.
Some intriguing games on that list include the home matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, as the Bucs signed Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins off that team's roster. The games against the NFC North (and especially the Chicago Bears) should provide plenty of good storylines as well, given Lovie Smith's long history with and against those teams.
We also know the schedules for 2015 and 2016, assuming the formula for determining opponents doesn't change. The Bucs will face the NFC East and the AFC South in 2015, while they'll have to beat the NFC West and AFC West in 2016, in addition to their division opponents and two more NFC opponents, who will be decided based on where in the divisions the teams finish.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers want a quarterback, but most mock drafts seem rather ignorant of this fact.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will draft a quarterback this year. We don't know in what round. We don't know which player. But they've made it very clear that they want to add another player to the group of Josh McCown and Mike Glennon. Most notably, Jason Licht has repeatedly talked about franchise quarterbacks in this draft, and the need to take one. Ian Rapoport reported they want to draft a quarterback at number seven. They've been linked to both Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles, and they've brought in at least five quarterbacks for a visit, and worked out a few others.
Somehow, though, this doesn't appear to have sunk into the minds of the draftnik community, which by and large mocks Mike Evans and an offensive guard to the Bucs, regardless of the quarterbacks available.
Rotoworld's Evan Silva, Mocking the Draft's pair of Matthew Fairburn and Dan Kadar as well as Mel Kiper, and Eric Edholm and Shaun King all chose the trusted Mike Evans/offensive guard combination for their two-round mock drafts. Todd McShay instead picked up Mike Evans and a defensive end. Pat Kirwan, Bucky Brooks, Mike Huguenin, Daniel Jeremiah, Don Banks and Charles Davis stuck with one round, and all went with Mike Evans. Matt Smith went a little insane, as did Bryan Fischer, and both gave the Bucs Taylor Lewan which, as original as it may be, is just not going to happen. Doug Farrar at least made the sensible pick of Sammy Watkins.
That's fourteen mock drafts without a quarterback, against six with a quarterback: Dane Brugler and Chase Goodbread both gave the Bucs a quarterback at number seven in Blake Bortles. Rob Rang went with Teddy Bridgewater in the second round, while Pete Prisco chose Johnny Manziel in the first round, and Pewter Report and Justin Pawlowski both think the Bucs will go with Derek Carr. That's just four national draftniks giving the Bucs a quarterback, three of them with CBS Sports.
None of this is to say that the Buccaneers will definitely select a quarterback in the top two rounds of the draft. But the collective ignorance of the possibility is curious, to say the least. Don't be surprised if you see Tampa Bay with a new quarterback after the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL draft.
All the Tampa Bay Buccaneers news.
Bucs are $13 million under cap - Tampa Bay Buccaneers Blog - ESPN
Can spend around $5-$7 million.
Russell Allen suffered on-field stroke playing linebacker for Jaguars | The MMQB with Peter King
Whoa. And his career is over. Damn.
Carl Nicks eagerly anticipates return to Bucs | Tampa Bay Times
But will he be back?
Bucs LG Nicks eyes return for training camp
Smith thinks it's realistic.
Bucs notes: CB Banks adjusting to changes
Everyone has to, no?
Inside The Bucs' New Offensive Scheme, Depth Chart-Pewter Report
Quick throws seem to dominate, for now.
Smith Says Good First Day Of Camp; Praises QBs and RBs-Pewter Report
Press conference notes.
The Redskins spent the entire 1970s without a first-round pick. | SportsonEarth.com : Mike Tanier Article
That's pretty impressive. And also, hilarious.
Building the NFL's best over-30 team - CBSSports.com
That's actually a pretty good group. For one or two years.
NBC, ESPN announce NFL postseason coverage changes - SBNation.com
Does this mean less Phil Simms? Please?
The Notebook: What to make of Ra'Shede Hageman - SBNation.com
Would be a great pick in the second round.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened their first mini-camp of the year today, and they had full attendance. We have all the notes from this afternoon's practice session.
Carl Nicks hopes to be ready for training camp. Lovie called that "realistic" in his press conference.
It looks like Leonard Johnson, D.J. Moore and Deveron Carr will compete to be the nickel cornerback, according to Greg Auman.
Greg Auman notes that Oniel Cousins, Patrick Omameh and Jason Foster got reps at guard, besides starter Jamon Meredith.
Pewter Report called Josh McCown "razor sharp" and in sync with the wide receivers, and they noted that Doug Martin, Jeff Demps and Bobby Rainey all looked good at running back. They note the offense seems focused on quick throws.
Chris Owusu ran with the first team, according to Roy Cummings, who also notes that Eric Page took most of the reps as a punt returner.
Jeff Demps is focusing on football this year, has gained 15 lbs, and is working as a kick returner, running back and receiver, according to Pewter Report.
Lovie Smith noted that there was 100% attendance, noting that if you want to get better, why would you not be there? There were a few mistakes with the high tempo during minicamp, but Smith praised Mike Glennon's performance today when asked. He also praised the running backs, noting that "all three will get some playing time.
When asked about the defensive performance, Lovie Smith went off on a bit of tangent praising both Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David into the high heavens.
Carl Nicks wants to be ready for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp, but the former All-Pro has a long way to go.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened their three-day mini-camp today, and offensive guard Carl Nicks was in attendance, if not participating. His injury has been a topic of concern lately, but he seemed optimistic on his return from it. That would mean being recovered by mid-June, two months from now.
Nicks says the plan is to get him ready for the start of training camp, and he thinks he will hit that goal.— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) April 22, 2014
Yesterday, Rick Stroud noted that he was not hearing great things on the big guard's progress on his rehabilitation, but which conflicted with earlier reports (which were cautiously optimistic). We can do little but wait and see what happens, which is exactly what the Bucs are doing, too.
Incidentally, cutting Carl Nicks is not really a useful option for the Bucs. As Gur Samuel in January, Nicks' contract is set up so that cutting him would likely increase his 2014 number, or at most not make a huge difference in the team's cap situation. Not that the Bucs could spend that cap space on anyone useful this far into free agency.
Overall, the Bucs probably have to proceed as if Carl Nicks is not going to be available while they wait for his rehabilitation to progress. That means adding an offensive lineman who can play guard in the draft, and probably adding some veteran depth at some point as well.
In related news, it seems both Luke Stocker and Jonathan Casillas have fully recovered from their season-ending injuries, per Greg Auman, so the team does at least have some depth at tight end and linebacker.
Wondering whether your favorite target for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would actually fit the team? Would he be a realistic option? We're evaluating all of the top prospects and their potential fits with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers right here.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a bit of a pickle in the 2014 NFL draft. They've managed to create some massive holes at wide receiver and offensive guard for themselves, but they'd like to draft the best player available with no regard for their needs. Making matters more complicated, we don't know who they see as the best player, and we know they want a quarterback at some point.
So what about Teddy Bridgewater? How would he fit the Buccaneers? Would he be a realistic option for the Buccaneers?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers want to add a quarterback in the draft, as they've noted so, so often since the offseason began. Despite signing Josh McCown, Lovie Smith is not ready to hang his long-term job prospects on the 35-year-old -- and the team is apparently not in love with Mike Glennon anymore. That means a quarterback -- and that means Teddy Bridgewater is in play.
Whether the Louisville quarterback will even be available for the Buccaneers is a different question, though. Most NFL-level leaks suggest that teams aren't nearly as high on him as draftniks are, but the pre-draft period is ruled by misinformation.
Jeff Tedford's offense, is all about structure getting speed in space, and getting the ball in the hands of playmakers. Of all the quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL draft, Bridgewater fits that kind of offense best. He has a quick delivery, is very accurate, displays the skills necessary to dissect NFL defenses and find the right playmakers to get the ball to, and he stays composed under pressure. No other NFL quarterback can say all of that.
In addition, Lovie Smith has talked about wanting mobility at quarterback: the ability to make plays outside the pocket, run for first downs and make something happen when plays break down. Bridgewater has the skillset to do that as well. And then there's the fact that the Bucs brought him in for a visit -- which means they at least have
More than that, Bridgewater could step in as an NFL starter immediately, and win. The Buccaneers aren't ready to throw their season down the drain because their quarterback can't (yet) handle the pro game. That's why they signed Josh McCown. But it's also proven near-impossible to keep high draft picks on the bench in recent years, with Jake Locker being the only case in which that has happened in a rookie season.
The question is how concerning his limited physical frame and arm strength are to the Buccaneers, and the offense they want to run. If they want a strong-armed passer to take shots down the field (this seems unlikely based on my analysis of Tedford's history), Bridgewater won't be their guy. If that doesn't matter much, Bridgewater should be one of their top options.
Bridgewater is, effectively, the ultimate game manager at quarterback. If that's what the Bucs want -- if they want to win with an offense that more than anything won't hurt your team, then Teddy Bridgewater should be their quarterback.
"I think that [Bridgewater's] throwing skill set and his movement will remind some of Russell Wilson," Cosell said. "I think he throws the ball very well. I think he's got a very good feel. Now he's a guy who understands windows, understands timing, understands anticipation."
"He was asked to make decisions before the snap of the ball at the line of scrimmage and I thought that he did that extremely well."
"You would say he's got the arm strength to make all the necessary throws, but he doesn't have a gun. He's not an extreme talent where you go 'Wow, look at this kid throw the football.' But I think overall he's got very light feet, he sets up quickly. His delivery's compact, there's not a lot of moving parts, which is always good. He showed pocket movement. I think for the most part he was a very efficient player."
"The issue with Bridgewater is he's very slight, he's not a big body, he's got a good arm, not a great arm. Theoretically he can make every throw, but making every throw when you have clean pockets is different than making every throw when you don't. He doesn't really drive the ball, Bridgewater, he's a bit of a short-armer.
"He bulked up to 214 lbs for the combine. I've spoken to people that late in the year he weighed 188 lbs, so he probably bulked up just for the combine so the number would be good. So, you know, that's something you have to think about. He's not a big kid, he's a slight kid."
"Louisville's success is because of Teddy Bridgewater," one scout said. "He's calm and composed, like you want in a quarterback. I'm not real crazy about his build. He has a linear build. I can't say he's a better scrambler than Russell Wilson, but he's not a statue, OK?" Ranked fifth in NCAA passer efficiency in 2013. Career completion mark of 68.4%. "I think you can win with him," another scout said. "He's not an elite talent but he's got a good enough arm, he's a good enough athlete and he's a leader. The big thing is his intangibles. He wins. He's clutch."
"I've seen a lot of Teddy. I don't have him in [Andrew] Luck's class as a prospect," one veteran NFC scout told SI.com.
"I don't see Bridgewater as a franchise savior like RGIII was in Washington ... Now if he went to the Houston Texans, which is a damn good team already, could he turn them around kind of like the Chiefs did this year? Yeah, he could."
"That’s what I love about him the most, that’s the student aspect of it that I just love," Watson said. "Because when he’s covered, he goes to his checkdown. When he gets in trouble, there’s pressure, he goes to his checkdown. He doesn’t try to create something that can hurt a football team with forced throws. He’s the greatest manager in college football. There’s nobody better than him in college football. There’s a lot of great players out there, but he’s the best."
Bridgewater is our top-ranked quarterback and our No. 2 overall player. He's a potential franchise passer due to his mental makeup, advanced pocket presence, accuracy and anticipation when throwing the football. Those knocking Bridgewater as overrated are over-thinking things. In addition to his skills, he's proven to be tough as nails and doesn't get overwhelmed in big moments. Both of those traits will be important in the NFL.
Give us your draft rankings for the top edge players in the 2014 NFL draft.
We're ranking the draft prospects by position this year, and we're doing it via polls. Today we're looking at the top 5 edge players: who would you list at the top of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' draft board, and who would you drop? You can rank the top 5 here -- we'll do 6-10 later, and maybe 11-15 even later.
The ultimate goal here is to get a serviceable list of prospects for the Bucs -- not just just for any NFL team, so keep that in mind. This has a particularly large effect here, as a lot of players who would play (3-4) outside linebacker for other times are likely to be defensive ends for the Bucs. I've grouped those hybrid players with more traditional defensive ends in a general "edge player" category.
Big thanks to Dawgs By Nature for putting this thing together.
So, vote and let us know how Bucs Nation thinks about the top edge player prospects in the NFL. It'll be really interesting to see how the wisdom of crowds does compared to the Buccaneers themselves.
Here are the results for yesterday's running backs poll.
We continue our Making the Case series by taking a look at Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Manziel is the most polarizing prospect in the 2014 NFL draft, which makes it fun to discuss him. He was an exciting playmaker in college, someone who demolished Nick Saban's defenses repeatedly and who was the talk of the nation every Saturday. But does that the mean the Buccaneers like him? And does that make him a good fit?
Because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to add a quarterback, have openly praised Johnny Manziel, have been linked with him in various reports, and because there's a chance he'll be available to take with the seventh overall pick.
Johnny Manziel may also be the best player available with that pick, depending on how you would define "best player available", that is. Some people will look at Manziel and see exactly what they want out of a quarterback, and it's certainly possible Lovie Smith would be one of those people.
The Buccaneers have consistently emphasized mobility in their discussions of quarterbacks this offseason. They signed Josh McCown, a mobile quarterback who thrives on structure, to replace Mike Glennon -- a pocket quarterback who has shown many positives, but mobility isn't one of them. Meanwhile, Johnny Manziel is probably the most mobile quarterback in the NFL draft.
There's much more to Manziel than just that, however. He's an easy thrower of the football, is generally accurate and has no problem pulling the trigger on tough throws. He remains composed, even when escaping the pocket, and has solid arm strength. He also has terrific foot quickness, even if he can be a bit lazy with his mechanics and footwork.
For the Bucs, though, the question is how much emphasis they'll place on playing within structure. Jeff Tedford's offense is all about structure, while Manziel's best asset is improvisational play outside of structure -- and he has a tendency to abandon structure a little too often and too quickly. That could also lead to general issues in the NFL, as we don't know how well his improvisational skill will translate to the NFL. He's an exciting player, but exciting and NFL-production are not the same thing.
Another question mark is his character and how that would fit the locker room. Manziel is a flashy player, both on and off the field, and he's known for loving the party life in college. Nothing wrong with that, really, but that's not what every NFL coach wants to see in the face of their franchise. He is generally seen as a hard worker and leader on the field, but it's still a bit of a concern.
Overall, though, he certainly displays enough positive traits as an explosive athlete and playmaker where any coach could look at him and see a potential star. Pairing him with a strong running game and quality defense, which is what the Bucs plan to do, will also help limit Manziel's negatives and emphasize his strong points.
"Hit or miss? What the hell are they talking about?" one scout said. "He's a better passer than the guy (Russell Wilson) who won the Super Bowl, and he's got a better arm. Here comes the pressure, a guy breaks open and he finds the receiver. Does he have a gun? No. But he doesn't have a bad arm at all." Has had a colorful if not controversial career off the field. Nicknamed "Johnny Football." Said another personnel man with more than 15 years of NFL scouting experience: "I'm fine with him on the field. He's probably the most unique guy I've done at that position. Just the way he kind of controls the game when he's on. But it's the other stuff. He's not a worker. He doesn't show up. He does what he wants to do. They need him. Everybody just kind of shrugs it off. You try to pull some of the stuff he does in an NFL locker room and it's just not going to work."
"[Manziel] is a see it, throw it passer," Cosell told Zierlein. "He's not an anticipation thrower. He's not a patient pocket player. If he doesn't see it right away, he'll be gone, he'll leave the pocket. That's what he does up to this point, that's all we have to judge."
"Then you have to decide if the random improvisational play, which obviously he's unbelievably phenomenal at, you have to decide how many of those he can make in the NFL. Can you live on those plays in the NFL? These are what evaluators have to determine. You also have to look at his overall play."
"There's a wide variation in his play. And I think the consistency issue will always be concerning for any evaluator. And then you have to decide, even when he plays well, how is he playing well? Does that translate to the league?"
"There's no question he makes throws from the pocket. I went through all of his 15+-yard completions, and the large majority came from the pocket, contrary to what people might think. I view that as a positive. Then you have to break those down in detail and see what kind of throws they were, and he's not an anticipation thrower. And you know in college, guys tend to be wide open."
Overall, Manziel is unique. He is not for everyone. The team that drafts him has to have a plan and play to his strengths. He is not nor will he ever be a conventional pro style drop back passer. While Manziel lacks ideal NFL quarterback size, there are top quarterbacks in the league that also possess less than ideal size. Drew Brees is list as being 6'0, but he isn't. Russell Wilson is under 5'11. If I had to compare Manziel to another NFL quarterback I would say he is part Wilson, part Brees and part Brett Favre. It obviously remains to be seen if he will have the success of those players.
Manziel's immaturity off the field is well documented and the team that drafts him has to be sure that he will buy into their program. The one thing I do know is that on game day, Manziel is as competitive a player as you will ever see. Scouts have told me that he has matured in the last year and his game preparation and leadership were much better in 2013 than in 2012. I think there is a lot of "special" to Manziel and he will be a very good NFL player. It would not surprise me to see him drafted in the top-five. He could very well be the first quarterback selected.