tom jones' two cents
Who will be the Bucs' quarterback one year from today? ¶ If everything had worked out the way it was planned, it would have been Josh Freeman. The first-round pick of the 2009 draft was supposed to be this franchise's franchise quarterback. But that prospect came crashing down last week when Freeman was released after five roller-coaster seasons. ¶ So what happens now? Who will be the starter come next season? Will it be Mike Glennon, the Bucs rookie and third-round pick who started for the first time a week ago? Will it be some kid who is tossing it around in college right now? Will it be a current NFL quarterback who is serving as a backup? A look at some of the possibilities and the probabilities of those possibilities.
He's big. He has a strong arm. And although he has the mobility of a boulder, he has many of the intangibles that a quarterback needs, such as leadership skills, maturity and intelligence. But there's a reason he wasn't drafted higher than the third round. And, other than a few exceptions (Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Tony Romo), it's unusual to find good starting quarterbacks drafted in the third round or later. Ultimately, it will come down to how Glennon plays the rest of this season. If he plays well enough, the Bucs likely would put their future in his hands. Plus, if he plays well, the Bucs will win too many games to be in the running for a top-five pick in the draft.
Chances: Higher than you might think, say 50-50.
Most scouts believe that not only is the University of Louisville quarterback the best college prospect but that he will play immediately. If everything stays the same (if he doesn't get hurt and doesn't forget how to play the position), Bridgewater probably won't last much beyond the first couple of picks. Unless the Bucs go 2-14 or something, or trade up in the draft, they likely won't have a shot at Bridgewater. Then again …
Chances: If the Bucs finish with a top-three pick, this will be their man.
The University of Oregon quarterback is just a sophomore, but if he has a big season, he probably will enter the NFL draft early. He's a dual threat, kind of like a Robert Griffin III, but that really doesn't suit the style of Bucs coach Greg Schiano. Plus, when you see RG3 get hurt, you wonder if a lot of teams would be scared of that type of QB.
Chances: Risk too great for Schiano.
Like Mariota, Hundley is only a sophomore at UCLA, so he might not make the NFL jump after this year. He has a prototypical QB body (6-3, 222) and great footwork, but he's 20 years old and just three years removed from high school.
Chances: This kid will be a good QB, just not in Tampa Bay.
The Clemson University quarterback has freakish skills with a strong arm and the ability to move around, extend plays and run. But he is not always the most accurate quarterback. Hmm, kind of sounds like Freeman, doesn't it? Boyd isn't going to end up being an average NFL quarterback. He's either going to be really, really good or a bust.
Chances: I can't see Schiano taking a gamble on Boyd.
The Texas A&M QB is a gunslinger and the most exciting player in college football. But his style of play matches his personality. He's unpredictable. I'm guessing that if Schiano is still the coach, he's not going to put his NFL coaching career in the hands of a wild card such as Manziel.
Chances: .00001 percent.
Murray went to Plant High and has that pro football look. The University of Georgia quarterback has his fans, including former Bucs coach Tony Dungy, who said he would have taken Murray a year ago if he had decided to come out of college early. But others have him as more of a tweener — a late first- or early second-round pick.
Chances: I'd love to see Murray come back to Tampa, but it just seems like his draft position and where the Bucs might pick will not line up.
During his limited playing time, Cousins has looked sharp as Robert Griffin III's backup with the Redskins. But you have to be careful not to be fooled by such a small sample size. Don't forget, Cousins wasn't a high draft pick. He was a fourth-rounder. Even if the Redskins are willing to trade him, they probably would want a pretty high pick, maybe too high.
Chances: I still think Washington keeps him as insurance for RG3.
He's the Jets' version of Freeman — a 2009 pick who started his career well and hen flamed out. Hey, the Bucs have lost plenty of QBs who went on to star somewhere else (Doug Williams, Vinny Testaverde, Steve Young, Trent Dilfer); maybe it's time for a little reversal by taking someone else's castoff and turning him into a star.
After playing one good game with the Packers as Aaron Rodgers' backup in 2011, Flynn was the next big thing. He signed a hefty deal with the Seahawks, then promptly was beaten out for the starting job by third-round pick Russell Wilson. He moved on to Oakland and can't start there either.
Chances: A last resort-type plan.
The Patriots backup could be being groomed to become Tom Brady's successor, but Brady is making noise about wanting to play another five years. If that's the case, the Pats could do Mallett a favor and trade him somewhere he could play. Pats coach Bill Belichick also would be doing a favor for old buddy Schiano. The risk would be parting with, perhaps, a first-round pick to get Mallett. Would the Bucs be willing to trade their first-rounder two years in a row?
Chances: If the Bucs go the current NFL QB route, this makes the most sense.
There are always a bunch of journeymen floating around, and next year's list could include Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne and Michael Vick. Not much there, eh?
Chances: Let's hope there is a zero percent chance of this being the plan.