TAMPA — It starts with freshly minted quarterback Jameis Winston. From there, the only way to cure the sick dog that was the 2-14 Bucs is to surround him with as many young, fast and talented players as possible during the rest of the NFL draft.
That was the weekend plan for general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith. While the arrival of Winston, the No. 1 overall pick, quickens the pulse, it doesn't mean anything if he has no time to throw and slow, plodding weapons surrounding him....
TAMPA — Only hours after signing quarterback Jameis Winston to a four-year, $25.35 million contract, the Bucs on Friday went about the business of protecting their investment.
Tampa Bay grabbed a pair of offensive linemen in the second round of the NFL draft in Chicago — Penn State tackle Donovan Smith and guard Ali Marpet from tiny Division III Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y. — to improve a unit that gave up 52 sacks last season, tied for third worst in the league....
The Bucs search for offensive line help took them to tiny Div. III Hobart College for offensive lineman Ali Marpet.
Tampa Bay swapped positions in the fourth round (from 109 to 128) to move up five positions back into the second round and select Marpet with the 61st overall pick.
The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Marpet got a big break when he was invited to the Senior Bowl, where he caught scouts' attention. He ran a 4.98 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, the fastest among liinemen....
Wanting to protect their investment in quarterback Jameis Winston, the Bucs selected Penn State left tackle Donovan Smith with the 34th overall pick as the NFL draft resumed Friday.
The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Smith started 31 games in his career with the Nittany Lions, protecting the blind side of Penn St. quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Christian Hackenberg. He allowed 3 1/2 sacks in 2014.
Smith said he was excited to be tabbed by the Bucs to block for Winston....
Jameis Winston's crab legs weren't the only thing that landed in hot water.
The Bucs' No. 1 overall pick posted a photo on his Instagram account Thursday night of him in front of a plate of Alaskan king crab legs.
The picture received negative reaction on social media from some who felt Winston was making light of the crab leg incident at a Publix in Tallahassee in which he was given a civil citation for leaving the store wiithout paying for the $34 worth of crab legs and crawfish....
TAMPA — Time and time again, they watched Jameis Winston operate in the clutch. Give him a pressure situation, a little adrenaline, and he would block out all the distractions of linemen and lawyers and take his Florida State football team to the promised land.
He climbed out of all the holes, many he dug for himself, to produce a 26-1 record and capture a Heisman Trophy and a national championship. Everyone had confidence he could win....
Last Sunday, Lovie Smith stood only a few feet away from Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston during the Derrick Brooks Charities golf pairing party and blackjack tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Just outside the ballroom, the slot machines spun wildly and card players pushed their chips to the middle of the table.
It was the perfect venue for an analogy regarding the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Are the Bucs going to gamble on Winston, who might have few peers on the field but owns a damning pattern of poor decisions off it? Or is the safer bet Oregon's Marcus Mariota, who's more athletic and accurate but might need more time to develop?...
TAMPA — The Bucs put quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota through dozens of passing drills — watching them take three-, five- and seven-step drops while evaluating every branch of the route tree. But what might have been more valuable is determining which player can throw from their rear end.
That's because the Bucs' offensive line is among the most porous in the NFL. Last season, Tampa Bay allowed 52 sacks, which tied with the 49ers for third most in the NFL, behind the Redskins (58) and Jaguars (71)....
If there's one thing that NFL scouts and personnel executives should be ashamed of this time of year, it's serving as one of the unnamed assassins that seem to surface the week before the draft in an attempt to devalue players.
The latest example appeared last week in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in which a reporter Bob McGinn surveyed 19 NFL executives in personnel, revealing that they think Jameis Winston is much more likely to be a bust than Marcus Mariota....
NFL draft-day trades — particularly those involving high picks — are rare and risky.
For every sage, there's a sucker.
Jimmy Johnson made the Cowboys a dynasty by shipping running back Herschel Walker to the Vikings for what he turned into a collection of eventual Pro Bowl players. Mike Ditka destroyed the Saints by swapping his entire draft with the Redskins to select running back Ricky Williams....
TAMPA — Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota have both won the Heisman Trophy, played in national title games, met in the Rose Bowl and been courted by many of the same NFL teams heading into next week's draft.
But that may not even be the beginning of their NFL quarterback rivalry story.
If they are selected with the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks as speculated, they may begin their pro careers on opposite sidelines....
TAMPA — Larger than Lee Roy. Bigger than Bo. More vital than Vinny.
That's how ginormous this NFL draft is to the Buccaneers, according to general manager Jason Licht.
"Personally, I think it's probably the biggest draft in the history of the organization," Licht said Monday. "We've got a real chance to really put us over the top and get us to the level that we think we're going to be at this year, which we think is competing for a championship. It's a great draft, and it's a great draft to have the No. 1 pick."...
Ten days before the NFL draft, the Bucs have come to a 'total agreement,' as to which player they will select with the No. 1 overall choice.
But the team says it will not negotiate or attempt to sign that player prior to handing the card with the name of their choice to commissioner Roger Goodell on April 30.
Barring a last-minute trade which seems unlikley, the Bucs are expected to choose either Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston or Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and have spent extensive time with each player....
There never has been a player entering the NFL draft more thoroughly investigated by the Bucs than Jameis Winston.
"You wouldn't believe how many people we've talked to and how much research we've done," coach Lovie Smith said.
That's why none of the information contained in Winston accuser Erica Kinsman's civil suit filed Thursday — two weeks before the draft — was new to the Bucs or most likely any NFL team. Not the reference to the plaintiff's victim advocate at Florida State informing Kinsman "that a second woman had come forward and reported being sexually assaulted by Winston." Not claims that the cab driver "observed the Plaintiff appeared to be impaired,' as Kinsman alleges in her complaint....