Draft positioning is just about the only thing fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to be excited about these days. If the season ended today, the Bucs would own the number one pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. With just two weeks to go in the regular season, it’s fairly safe to say that the Bucs will be sitting pretty on April 30th, when that draft will commence.
Speculation has predictably begun to take place surrounding the critical decision that GM Jason Licht will have to make when the time comes, but the consensus early prediction is that the Bucs will select a quarterback with their first pick, and the best quarterback in the nation is Marcus Mariota.
The junior out of Oregon is one of the most decorated players in school history, and recently took home the Heisman Trophy after amassing 3,783 passing yards and a 38/2 touchdown to interception ratio in 2014.
There’s no denying his immense talent, and Tampa Bay could desperately use a player of his skill level to take over a stagnant-looking offense. The current quarterback tandem of Josh McCown and Mike Glennon clearly are not long-term options, and Mariota, assuming he’s still on the board when the Bucs pick, would be an excellent and necessary choice.
But here is the harsh reality: Marcus Mariota can’t single-handedly fix this team. What he can do, in theory, is provide the Buccaneers with a franchise QB and stability at the most important position of all. Unfortunately, as currently constructed, the Bucs aren’t built for success, with or without Mariota.
On the offensive side, Tampa Bay has major issues in the trenches. This group of linemen, although talented, lacks confidence, and is therefore underperforming. It’s extremely difficult, from a quarterback’s perspective, to run an effective offense with a permeable line in front of you. Even the elite of the elite would struggle under these circumstances.
That’s one of the many reasons that this team sits at 2-12 and in the cellar of the dreadful NFC South. The Bucs’ soft secondary and lack of a consistent pass rush are also glaring weaknesses. The point is, this squad needs serious help. Jason Licht’s first off-season as GM, in which he dished out hundreds of millions of dollars on players like Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins, was a monumental disaster.
That’s not to say that the Bucs don’t have their fair share of talent. Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Alterraun Verner, and Mike Evans are all tremendous young players, and they make up a core that has a very bright future, but the complimentary pieces that were put in place haven’t worked out as previously envisioned.
Licht must redeem himself during the upcoming off-season, and he has a lot of work to do if he expects to accomplish that feat. Until the Bucs begin to spend their money wisely and build a team that fits into Lovie Smith’s system, this embarrassment will continue. Adding a quarterback to this team, no matter how talented, won’t eradicate every flaw.
Don’t misunderstand, this is not to discourage the potential selection of Marcus Mariota. The Bucs must obtain a QB before next season, and Mariota is arguably the best college talent to come along since Andrew Luck. However, other needs must be addressed if this team expects to complete a successful turnaround. Bucs fans should be thrilled at the prospect of Mariota bringing his talents to the Bay area next season, just don’t crown him the savior yet, he would need some help.