Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Needy Bucs will evaluate talent at NFL scouting combine


The Bucs went to the NFL scouting combine the past two years looking to collect pass rushers on the defensive line and invested heavily in Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers.

It hasn't exactly produced the sack attack they hoped for. But if the Bucs can't pressure the opposing quarterback, they might want to surround their own with more weapons.

Josh Freeman could use another receiver, an every-down tailback or a tight end. That's not to say there aren't just as many needs on a defense that gave up 494 points, second-most in team history.

The Bucs own the No. 5 overall pick in the draft. Here's where coach Greg Schiano and his staff will focus a lot of their attention this week in Indianapolis.


Ronde Barber is 36, has no contract and could retire, depending upon his desire to return for a 16th season and the Bucs' level of interest, contractually, to have him back.

But regardless of whether Barber, below, plays another snap, the Bucs' biggest holes may be in the secondary.

Cornerback Aqib Talib is facing a trial in March on assault with a deadly weapon charges in Texas, and if found guilty, a likely suspension from the NFL. What coach Greg Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan already have discovered in watching film of the 2011 debacle on defense is the cupboard is bare in the secondary.

"One of a few things that really stand out is the volume of big plays that they gave up here a year ago," Sheridan said. The Bucs will learn more about LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, whom most draft analysts believe is a top-five talent. North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins, a former Gator, is an interesting talent in later rounds.

Running back

There's a place for LeGarrette Blount in the Bucs offense, but it might not be in the starting lineup.

After rushing for 1,007 yards as a rookie, Blount showed limitations last season. He is not fast enough to get around the edge, he is not skilled enough as a route runner or pass protector for coaches to trust him on passing downs. His best ability is to bludgeon defenses late in games if the team has a lead and is milking the clock.

Earnest Graham , who has had two surgical procedures to a torn right Achilles' tendon, is a free a gent. The Bucs are well-positioned to select the best running back in the draft — Alabama's Trent Richardson. (Late Wednesday, the NFL Network reported he will not participate in on-field drills at this week's NFL combine due to "minor" arthroscopic knee surgery.)

"I think the last guy where you bang the table this hard was (Adrian ) Peterson when he came out of Oklahoma and was the seventh pick of Minnesota (in 2007)," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. "So, yeah, I think his height, width, speed, toughness all constitutes a pretty solid pick."

The Bucs also will take a close look at Oregon RB LaMichael James .


Mike Williams suffered through a sophomore slump and Arrelious Benn never hit his stride coming off ACL surgery. QB Josh Freeman needs more targets, so Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon will be on the Bucs' radar.

"I mean, look at the Buccaneers," Mayock said. "The Buccaneers really probably need a speed guy, because they've got a couple good, solid, young, possession receivers.

"As far as Blackmon … I think you have to look at him like Larry Fitzgerald, which is I don't think he's going to run a great 40. I think he's going to run a 4.5 or a 4.52 … and I think you have to say that's okay. He's big, he's physical, he's got tremendous body control and tremendous ball skills."

Baylor's Kendall Wright, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd and LSU's Rueben Randle are top WRs.


Get your stopwatches

What: NFL scouting combine

When: Through Tuesday

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

Workout schedule: Saturday — PK, ST, OL, TE. Sunday — QB, WR, RB. Monday — DL, LB. Tuesday — DB.

TV: NFL Network (live), 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Needy Bucs will evaluate talent at NFL scouting combine 02/22/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 12:17am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Vladislav Namestnikov is Lightning's top-line 'secret'

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov is piling up the goals. Steven Stamkos is an assist machine. They make for an impressive pairing in a league that favors scoring pairs over the more traditional three-player scoring lines.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) reacts after scoring during the third period of the game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.
  3. Ex-Lightning forward Brian Boyle returns to practice after cancer diagnosis

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — Brian Boyle, diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia last month, was back on the ice with his Devils teammates Sunday after getting cleared to practice for the first time since his diagnosis.

    Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team's doctor says can be treated with medication, the Devils announced Tuesday. [AP photo]
  4. Bucs-Bills report card: Grading the Bucs' 30-27 loss at Buffalo


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Hard to believe, but this was only the second time in their history that the Bucs played a regular-season game in Buffalo. After Sunday loss, they wouldn't mind going another 40 years without playing here again.

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, seen during the first half, had a heck of a day calling plays, Tom Jones writes. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Bucs-Bills: Social media reactions to the Bucs' 30-27 loss


    Here's a sampling of reactions from the media and fans to the Bucs' 30-27 loss Sunday at Buffalo:

    Buffalo Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka (4) is mobbed by teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]