The Bucs come into the season after selecting the best quarterback in the 2015 NFL Draft. Former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston gets to stay in the warm Florida weather. His job will be a lot harder in the pros. He’s no longer surrounded with five-star recruits, although Tampa Bay does have some blue chippers at wide receiver.
The NFC South was an embarrassment last season. Carolina won the division and made the playoffs with a 7-8-1 record. It didn’t help that Tampa Bay went 2-14 either. The Bucs wouldn’t need to improve much to contend within the division.
Winston goes into the season as the starting quarterback. Rookie quarterbacks haven’t fared well historically, but a few have done very well. Can Winston be an outlier?
Here is the 2015 NFL team preview for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 2-14
Key Additions: CB Tim Jennings, S Chris Conte, DE George Johnson, DT Henry Melton, OLB Bruce Carter, CB Sterling Moore & K Kyle Brindza
Key Losses: QB Josh McCown, OT Anthony Collins, DE Michael Johnson, DE Adrian Clayborn, S Dashon Goldson, DE Da’Quan Bowers & ILB Dane Fletcher
2015 Draft Picks: QB Jameis Winston, OT Donovan Smith, OG Ali Marpet, OLB Kwon Alexander, WR Kenny Bell, WR Kaelin Clay & RB Joey Iosefa
Non-Division Schedule: AFC South, NFC East & (Chicago/St. Louis)
Fantasy Sleeper: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – He doesn’t classify as a sleeper, but he’s undervalued. He’s a huge target and was impressive in college. He now has a quarterback with a live arm. I expect a nice year from him.
Offense – QB Jameis Winston, RB Doug Martin, WR Mike Evans, WR Vincent Jackson, WR Louis Murphy, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, LT Donovan Smith, LG Logan Mankins, C Evan Smith, RG Ali Marpet & RT Gosder Cherilus
Defense – DE Jacquies Smith, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Clinton McDonald, DE George Johnson, OLB Lavonte David, MLB Kwon Alexander, OLB Danny Lansanah, CB Johnthan Banks, CB Alterraun Verner, SS Major Wright & FS Bradley McDougald
Team Analysis: The Bucs haven’t been good in quite awhile. They have went through nearly a half dozen head coaches since they were relevant, and twice as many quarterbacks. They hope the #1 overall pick, quarterback Jameis Winston, turns out to be the QB to bring them back. He definitely had his fair share of off-the-field issues, but if he can keep his nose clean, he will be a major upgrade. He has some huge targets in Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to target. He has more weapons than most highly-regarded rookie quarterbacks have had in the past. Tampa Bay’s defense is a bit of a question mark. Head coach Lovie Smith is known for his defense, but they have whiffed on a lot of high draft picks on that side of the ball. Winston may need to pass a lot in order to dig themselves out of a deficit. Tampa is in the second year of a major rebuild. They will need to upgrade their defense, and possibly running back, if they want to have a winning season.
2015 Wins Over/Under Line: 6 (Prediction: PUSH)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 6-10 (3rd (tied) in NFC South)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.