With the first depth chart of the preseason being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We take a look at the lack of rookies with starting spots out the gate. Is it a good thing that the Bucs can let their rookies take their time? Or is it a bad thing a big name rookie hasn’t cracked the starting line-up yet.
More often than not a team is judged by how it performs on the field. Usually the higher you draft the worse your team was the year before and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are no exception. The Buccaneers were originally slated to pick at number nine overall, but decided to trade down two picks still getting the player the wanted all along. Vernon Hargreaves III was the player the team selected at 11th overall and a pick that made a lot of Bucs fans happy. Now the NFL isn’t like the NHL or MLB both of whom have minor league systems where rookies can grow before joining the pro roster. This is both a good thing and a bad thing if you ask me.
Most rookies drafted in the first or even the second rounds are expected by not only the team, but the fan base to start in their first years as pros. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. The NFL has seen plenty of rookies thrust into the limelight too soon and burn out into obscurity. Organized team activities (OTA’s) in the off-season aren’t enough time to get a rookie ready if you ask me. Training camp is usually only a month long and even that’s not enough time for a rookie to truly be prepared. More times than not, a rookie should watch those above him on how they prepare, game plan and play in an NFL game before getting to that step.
Now some rookies like Roberto Aguayo, the team’s new kicker, don’t really have that amount of time to sit and watch as a team normally only carries one kicker. To me quarterbacks and maybe running backs are truly the only players who if drafted high enough should start out the gate, pending they prove they are ready. Other positions such as cornerback, defensive end and offensive line if you have the ability to let a guy sit and watch and contribute at times is the best way to bring a rookie along in his progression.
Last season saw the Bucs start a number of rookies at key positions such as Winston, Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith and Kwon Alexander, all of which flourished in their first seasons. At cornerback, however, you have a surplus of veteran players Hargreaves could learn from. Noah Spence, another 2016 rookie, will also benefit from spending potential time behind free agent acquisition Robert Ayers and veteran Buccaneer William Gholston during at least the preseason.
So for me to close this out I think with the team being as strong as it is sitting Hargreaves and Spence is a good thing to give them more time to learn and perfect their craft. Only time will tell following the release of the team’s first preseason depth chart where those two end up at the start of the regular season when the Bucs fly to Atlanta to take on the Falcons.
The 2015 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a rebuilding year, anyone who says otherwise needs to reevaluate their perspective on football. Season after season the Bucs have struggled to gain any momentum on becoming a better team than they were the previous year. Finally, after drafting Jameis Winston and a pair of offensive line starters in 2015 this team was heading in the right direction to become a legit contender. However, the defense was still in need of a lot of help. Enter the 2016 preseason. They nabbed some free agents to help bolster a few positions that needed to be addressed and become a better all-around team. Then the draft came and the Buccaneers were in a good position to add young talent to build upon the 2015 team. Tampa had the 9th overall pick and traded back to 11th to pick up a corner in Vernon Hargreaves III. Pair him with free agent pickup Brent Grimes, these two could become a solid dual threat for corners in the NFL. In Miami, Grimes tallied 4 interceptions in 2015. In college, Hargreaves also amassed 4 interceptions as well. These two starting the season together is the direction Tampa’s defense needed to be headed towards.
The first depth chart has finally come out and the fans get their first look into who will get the start for the season and where the best battles during preseason will commence. After the draft Tampa had produced, there is somewhat of a surprise in this first look at the team, there are no rookie starters. I’m sorry, what? No starters? Really? The Buccaneer fan base could over analyze this matter till Week 1 of the NFL. However, let’s keep a few things into perspective. 1) Tampa likes their rookies. There were three players starting one game a piece in 2003. After that, rookies have always had plenty of chances to showcase their talent as starters. The previous success or lack thereof shows that the team as a whole needs all the help they can get, no matter the amount of NFL experience 2) Tampa’s defense is in shambles. After allowing the 7th most points a game, 5th most touchdowns through the air and 8th fewest interceptions, Tampa adding a ball hawk like Vernon is crucial to help build this defense into a contender. The corners need to match the production of the defensive line and their run stopping capabilities. 3) This is the first depth chart. A rough, rough draft of sorts. Plenty of room for improvement.
Tampa is in need of improvement and maybe this is just showing everyone that nothing other than Jameis Winston starting at quarterback is guaranteed. Making others play harder and work harder for their position. However, Vernon is not the one that needs improving. It is the surrounding players that need to get the memo that a rookie is going to be playing above them, do better. Either way, there is a ton of football to play and lots of moves to be made. The Bucs need to make some important decisions, and one of those decisions is getting Hargreaves on the field as week 1 starter.
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