TAMPA — With FSU quarterback Jameis Winston drafted No. 1 on Thursday, the Bucs addressed a huge need for the franchise's future.
In today's second and third rounds, Tampa Bay has the opportunity to address two key needs: protection for its new quarterback and getting to other teams' prized passers.
The Bucs have the second pick — No. 34 overall — in the second round and hope to take advantage of what is thought to be a deep group of offensive linemen. Tampa Bay did not address the line in free agency, cutting last year's left tackle, Anthony Collins, and opting not to re-sign veteran Oniel Cousins, who filled in as a starting tackle.
Seven offensive linemen went in the first 28 picks — Iowa's Brandon Scherff, Miami's Ereck Flowers, Stanford's Andrus Peat, FSU's Cam Erving, Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi, Florida's D.J. Humphries and Duke's Laken Tomlinson. Among the offensive line options available today are Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings and Oregon's Jake Fisher.
Complicating matters relating to the offensive line for the Bucs is the case of LSU tackle La'el Collins, whose stock has dropped due to his potential involvement with a shooting death in Louisiana. While he is not classified as a suspect, police have asked to speak with him about the death of a former girlfriend, who was pregnant.
Because of the investigation, Collins' agent asked the league to remove his client from the draft and place him in the supplemental draft this summer. The league denied the request, with speculation that it would set a bad precedent.
The Bucs could have had another risk-versus-reward choice to make in whether to take former Missouri defensive end Shane Ray, whose stock dropped after he was arrested on a charge of marijuana possession this week. Ray attended the draft and surrounding events in Chicago and said he made a mistake, promising he wouldn't repeat it.
Denver picked Ray with the 23rd pick of the first round.
Contact Greg Auman at email@example.com and at (813) 226-3346.
The Bucs have the second pick Friday — 34th overall — as the second round begins. Here are five players who are available and potential matches:
T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: Athletic former defensive end has been two-year starter at right tackle since switching to offense.
Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon: Started 35 games for Ducks. Good length at 6-6, Bucs would have seen plenty in scouting QB Marcus Mariota.
Landon Collins, S, Alabama: Thought by many to be first-rounder and best safety available.
Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State: Father played for Bucs for one season. Bucs got close look at him at FSU's pro day.
Preston Smith, DE, Louisville: Had nine sacks as senior — solid against run but may lack quickness Bucs want from pass-rusher.
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Greg Auman, Times staff writer