Tampa Bay is not one player away from a championship by any means, but there is some reason for optimism. And that optimism is pretty much squarely on the shoulders of Josh Freeman. He showed flashes of quarterbacking goodness, but also a whole lot of ball control problems, which thankfully can be corrected. He will be limited in his development due to a dearth of wide receivers after Antonio Bryant hits the bricks. So they do need wide receivers, but they also need help in about every aspect of the game, especially on the defensive line.
The two defensive lineman that looked like they would go before the Bucs could get a sniff of them, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, seem like they are more of a possibility now that Sam Bradford is getting a ton of #1 pick buzz. Many mock drafters are looking at Tennessee safety Eric Berry as the logical pick for Tampa, but if McCoy or Suh fall, they will grab either without batting an eye. Of course it looks like McCoy would be the one to fall since Suh has a slight edge over him in most scouts minds.
But what if all this Bradford talk is just that, talk? For one, there is a chance that Bradford won’t be up to snuff medically, which would almost certainly drop him from #1 contention. For two, Suh is considered the best player in the draft and Spagnola is a defensive minded coach. Adam Schefter could be wrong about the Rams wanting Bradford (say it ain’t so!). So, is Berry the pick if Suh and McCoy go #1 and #2?, gross. I don’t see why not. Berry fits the Tampa 2 well with his big play ability. It is very hard to believe that someone with his skills would be a bust. Not too many safeties have gone in the top 5, but all of them have ended up pro bowlers. The Bucs need help in the secondary; not as much as they do on the D-line, but enough to make the Berry pick completely reasonable. Berry and Talib could be a force together, and quickly.
An upgrade in defense could keep Freeman from playing catch up constantly, but for all intents and purposes, the first round choice of the Bucs won’t make a big impact fantasy wise in 2010. The Bucs need a wide receiver and for any of their running backs to stay healthy and I don’t see either happening soon. They will draft a receiver later in the draft, but whoever that is won’t matter much this season. With an improved D, I can see the Bucs winning 5-6 games next season. If they are lucky.