Lovie: Bucs could take QB with first pick have a draft plan

UCF’s Blake Bortles is among the Bucs’ possibilities.
UCF’s Blake Bortles is among the Bucs’ possibilities.
Published Feb. 21, 2014

Bucs coach Lovie Smith believes a quarterback worthy of the seventh overall pick will be available when the team makes its first-round selection in the NFL draft.

So don't be surprised if the Bucs take him, Smith said.

"I know enough about that draft to know, yeah, there's someone that would be (a quarterback) worthy of the seventh pick because everything is on the board right now," Smith said Thursday at the NFL combine. "Whenever you have a chance to get a franchise quarterback, you have to consider that."

Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, UCF's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater are expected to be among the top 10 players selected in the 2014 draft, according to many experts, perhaps in the top five. Fresno State's Derek Carr, who was impressive in the Senior Bowl and will throw Saturday at the combine, could elevate himself to a high first-round pick with a good workout.

The Bucs have only two quarterbacks under contract: returning starter Mike Glennon and former Eagle Mike Kafka, who played at Northwestern University.

Glennon, who was named to the All-Rookie team after throwing 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 59.4 percent of his passes last year, has been a fixture at One Buc Place this offseason.

Smith said he and his staff have evaluated Glennon and all the players on the roster, but the coach is not ready to hand the job over to the former third-round pick from North Carolina State. Glennon went 4-9 as a starter and threw for more than 200 yards in only six of his 13 games.

"Mike did some good things. But he did some good things as a rookie," Smith said. "To say right now that Mike is the answer and he's our quarterback of the future and we're going to build around him and give him a 20-year contract right now, you're not there."

While many draft analysts believe only Manziel, Bortles and Bridgewater are worthy of possible "franchise quarterback," status this year, Smith says that designation can be misleading.

"I think people really make it out to be about that guy, that quarterback," Smith said. "You've got to have that 'franchise quarterback.' What is a 'franchise quarterback?' I mean, is it Russell Wilson that you got a little bit later? Is it Peyton Manning? There are different degrees of quarterback that you can get to win with, the things we're looking for, leadership, all those things … It's a deep draft at a lot of positions, quarterback being one of them. You want that option out there available to you."

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, will draw interest from the Bucs and Jets, according to reports. Chicago Bears backup Josh McCown, who played for Smith, also could become a free agent.

Smith wouldn't comment on Vick or any free agents, except to say that he and general manager Jason Licht have a plan. It includes signing a veteran and drafting a quarterback.

"In all, it becomes obvious which way you should go," Smith said. "We do have a road map for what we're going to do. … I'll just say we're trying to upgrade our entire roster."