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NFL draft: Assessing Bucs at quarterback

Overall draft assessment

The Bucs are a legitimate candidate to select a quarterback — though not necessarily in the early rounds. Coach Greg Schiano's desire to promote competition with starter Josh Freeman can't be accomplished with the current backups. Plus, the team wants to have a more viable backup and/or replacement for Freeman, who is entering the final year of his contract. Tyler Bray of Tennessee and Zac Dysert of Miami (Ohio), among others, are possibilities in the middle rounds.

Breaking down the Bucs

Who's back: Josh Freeman, Dan Orlovsky and Adam Weber. Freeman, 25, is coming off his best season in many respects despite throwing nine interceptions over the last three games and recording his lowest completion percentage (54.8) in a season since 2009. Freeman posted career highs in yards (4,065) and touchdowns (27), but his 17 interceptions left a bad taste in many mouths. The Bucs released Orlovsky, who turns 30 in August, two weeks ago only to re-sign him days later to a cheaper, one-year contract. Weber, who turns 26 in August, is a candidate for the practice squad.

Who they picked up: No one.Who left: No one.

Top five in the draft

Geno Smith, West Virginia, 6-3, 218 — Along with good size, he has good mobility and NFL arm strength; has been mostly a high-percentage passer in his career.

Matt Barkley, USC, 6-3, 227 — Despite uneven results in 2012, Barkley is experienced and savvy, running a pro-style offense that will translate well as he enters the NFL.

EJ Manuel, Florida State, 6-5, 237 — His athleticism makes him a tantalizing prospect; so, too, do his big arm and great size, provided he can be a good decision-maker.

Ryan Nassib, Syracuse, 6-2, 227 — Another quarterback well-versed in the pro-style game, this pocket passer should make a nice transition to the NFL.

Tyler Wilson, Arkansas, 6-2, 215 — Suffered a drop-off last season but much was attributable to his supporting cast; arm strength will be attractive to teams.

Stephen F. Holder, Times staff writer

NFL draft: Assessing Bucs at quarterback 04/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 8:59pm]
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