Smith says QB will be at No. 7 for Bucs and 'you have to consider that.'
Bucs coach Lovie Smith says he believes a 'franchise quarterback,' worthy of the seventh overall pick will be available when the Bucs make their first-round selection in the NFL draft.
If so, Smith says, don't be surprised if they take him.
“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 NFL Scouting combine, could elevate himself to a high first round pick with a good workout.
The Bucs have only two quarterbacks under contract: Returning starter Mike Glennon and former Northwestern University and Eagles quarterback Mike Kafka.
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 year, has been a fixture at One Buc Place this off-season. 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 off-season 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.''
While many draft analysts believe only Manziel, Bortles and Bridgewater are worthy of possible 'franchise quarterback,' status this year, Smith says that designation can be misleading.
“I think people really make it out to be about that guy, that quarterback,'' Smith said. "You’ve to have that ‘franchise quarterback.’ What is a ‘franchise quarterback?’ I mean, is it Russell Wilson that you got a little bit later? Is it Peyton Manning? There are different degrees of quarterback that you can get to win with, the things we’re looking for, leadership, all those things. But I’ll just say this: I think this draft, I know enough about to know it’s a deep draft. We’re talking about the first round. It’s a deep draft at a lot of positions, quarterback being one of them.
“You want that option out there available to you. That’s why this is fun starting this process of seeing. I saw where a few quarterbacks are going to throw here. That will be good.''
Smith said the Bucs plan to bring four quarterbacks to training camp. Since Glennon is entering his second season and Kafka has attempted 16 passes with the Eagles, Smith said he would like to add a veteran passer to the roster.
“I think in an ideal world, you would like to have some kind of veteran in the mix instead of three young guys that haven’t played a lot,'' Smith said. "No, that’s not an ideal situation to be in at the quarterback position. I think you can maybe get away with it at some of the other positions. But no, that’s not an ideal situation to be in. It can work, though.
“Again, if you say that you can win with a young quarterback, it’s an added bonus to have another veteran with him. If you look right now, there are a lot of young quarterbacks in the league – Andrew Luck, Wilson, Cam Newton in our division that are playing early. Whether they have a backup with them or not, I don’t think it’s really a big deal.''
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, will draw interest from the Bucs and Jets, according to reports by ESPN's Adam Schefter. Chicago Bears backup Josh McCown, who played for Smith, also could become a free agent.
Smith scoffed at reports linking the Bucs to Vick and other players.
“Who are 'they'? I wanted to get to know this 'they' guy,'' Smith said. "Because 'they' have a lot of information. A lot of times, 'they' know more about a decision that I should know more than 'they.' This they guy we can’t get rid of.
"In all, it becomes obvious which way you should go. We do have a road map for what we’re going to do. (General manager) Jason (Licht) 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.''