Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs dilemma: Grab hands or get armed?

If you're picking for today's game, you go with the wide receiver. No doubt about it.

If you're picking for this play, for this pass, for this shot at the end zone, you do not hesitate. You pick Clemson's Sammy Watkins, or in the almost certainty he is not there, you pick Texas A&M's Mike Evans.

You pick a guy who can get open. You pick a guy who can run deep. You pick a guy who can pluck the ball out of the sky as if he were picking apples. You pick a guy to line up beside Vincent Jackson, a guy to replace Mike Williams, a guy to make Josh McCown a happier man.

But what if you are picking for the next decade?

You pick the quarterback instead.

For the Bucs, this is the burning question about the upcoming draft. Hey, they know they need a receiver, too (doesn't everyone?) By all scouting reports, Evans would be a fine addition.

Yet the Bucs keep checking out quarterbacks. It's either a smoke screen that no one believes, or the Bucs have a genuine interest.

Granted, this might seem like a luxury to some. After all, the Bucs believe they have a quarterback in McCown. And while his resume isn't as solid as you would like — he has started only 38 games and won only 16 in 11 years — he was the top quarterback in free agency.

After him, there is Mike Glennon, the incumbent.

So why flirt with a quarterback? The Bucs' thinking is this: They plan to be pretty good, which means picking in the bottom half of future drafts. And, that being the case, this might be their best shot at a franchise quarterback in the foreseeable future. Hey, McCown is 34. Eventually, this franchise is going to have to replace him.

So what do they choose with the No. 7 pick in the May 8 draft? Quarterback or receiver? Receiver or quarterback?

If it's me, and I like the answers I get on video, I take the quarterback.

Every time.

Look, it's silly to treat all of the mock drafts out there with any degree of seriousness. There is so much Xeroxing that goes on, and so much guesswork, and at the end, everyone thinks they're a guru.

But out of interest, I took 10 mock drafts from the most prominent publications on the Internet. And in all 10, the Bucs had a choice of Evans or quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. (In two of them, they also had a chance to draft Johnny Manziel). Seven of the mock drafts had them taking Evans.

So do you take the short-term need?

Or, possibly, the long-range answer?

If the Bucs have a chance to draft Manziel, I suggest they grab him with both hands. Yeah, he's small, and the way he plays, he might be hurt a bit. But Manziel has yet to take part in a football game in which he wasn't the best player on the field. There is an energy to him that would be hard to decline, especially for the second-best guy from the same Texas A&M huddle. Sadly, though, I don't think the Bucs have a shot at him.

That leaves Bridgewater (and Blake Bortles in some drafts, and Derek Carr in all of them).

By now, everyone, including the guy at the drive-through window, is aware that Bridgewater struggled during his pro day. What no one knows is how much that will offset the four years of stellar football that came before it. If nothing else, it is a warning to teams to look harder at the video. It is fair to say that fans are less in love with him today than in January.

But we do know this: When teams evaluate players, the most important position on the field is quarterback. And it has been a long time since average quarterbacks were winning Super Bowls. These days, an NFL team only goes as far as its quarterback will take it.

Doubtless, it has to be the right quarterback (which means no Ryan Leaf and no Mark Sanchez and no Matt Leinart and no Blaine Gabbert and no Jake Locker and no Christian Ponder. Especially, no Josh Freeman.)

Think of it like this: If you knew the Bucs were going to address receiver and quarterback with their top two picks, which pair would you like?

Mike Evans and Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo?

Or Bridgewater and Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews?

It's odd that the Bucs could be back to addressing both position. Remember the end of the 2010 season? It seemed as if the Bucs had found their triplets. Josh Freeman had 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Mike Williams had 65 catches for 964 yards. LeGarrette Blount had rushed for 1,007 yards in only seven starts.

It just tells you how quickly things change in the NFL. One coach follows another, and a big contract replaces a small one, and yesterday's work ethic changes. A team keeps losing, and just like that, the franchise believes in you less today than it did yesterday.

Now? Now it's time for a fresh start. Again.

This time, the Bucs will pick wisely. This time, they'll find a star.

A quarterback?

A receiver?

Your pick.

Bucs dilemma: Grab hands or get armed? 04/12/14 [Last modified: Saturday, April 12, 2014 11:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.