May 3, 2013; Tampa Bay, FL, USA; A general view as Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookies work out during rookie mini camp at One Buc Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Looking back on the Saints draft, we can infer why some picks were made. Kenny Vaccaro, S, helps the Saints attack a position of weakness last year with one of the draft’s best prospects. Terron Armstead, T, is a potential starter but, if nothing else, provides great depth and security at a position where there is much to worry about. Jonathan Jenkins, DT, and Kenny Stills, WR, both have a chance to contribute and could even win major roles on the defense and offense, respectively. Finally, Rufus Johnson, DE/OLB, while an intriguing pick, would be a great pick even if he ends up as depth at outside linebacker or defensive end.
Oct 27, 2012; Lawrence, KS, USA; Texas Longhorns safety Kenny Vaccaro (4) comes onto the field for the game with the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium. Texas won the game 21-17. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
In addition, free agents Victor Butler, OLB, Keenan Lewis, DB, and Benjamin Watson, TE, all vastly improve areas of need. Butler helps bring much needed pass rushing ability as well as familiarity with Rob Ryan’s defensive system. Lewis instantly becomes the Saints’ best cornerback and his potential as a shutdown corner will be tested. Finally, Watson not only brings some veteran presence to the offense but is a great complement to Jimmy Graham and will help to take some pressure off of him and the rest of the receivers.
Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler (57) in action against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
These picks attack areas of need and paint a picture of how the Saints want to improve for next season. But, there are thirty-two other teams in the NFL that got better through free agency and the draft. Who Dat Dish is taking the offseason to show you each team in the NFC South and the other 2013 Saints opponents who got better this offseason. We will review their additions, do some analysis on how these players improve the team, and whether the Saints have a great deal to worry about. This week, we highlight the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With a pass defense that was worse than the Saints last year, the Bucs had to find some answers in their defensive backfield. After their additions of Dashon Goldson, to pair with rookie safety sensation Mark Barron, and Darrelle Revis, the Bucs got even better with the selection of Johnathan Banks, DB. These four may team up to give the Bucs a dangerous defensive backfield for years to come. Ronde Barber may have been a sad loss but the Bucs were preparing for this day with the addition of Goldson and Banks. Mike Glennon, QB, gives the Bucs security at quarterback behind Josh Freeman, who likely has one last chance to prove he is the franchise quarterback. Even if Glennon doesn’t steal the job, the NFL is a brutal league and having great depth cannot be overstated.
Jan 26, 2013; Mobile, AL, USA; Senior Bowl north squad quarterback Mike Glennon of North Carolina State (8) throws against the Senior Bowl south squad during the first half of the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
William Gholston, DE, and Akeem Spence, DT, give the team great depth with a shot at starting roles. Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers are set at the end positions but Gholston may find some chance to leapfrog one of them if injuries or production becomes a concern. Spence plays a similar position to Gerald McCoy but, due to injury concerns about McCoy, could be a great fallback option or rotational player. Steven Means, DE/OLB, has a steeper hill to climb, as he needs some coaching and has a now crowded situation in front of him. His upside, especially as a pass rusher, might be worth the investment. Mike James, RB, provides the Bucs a chance to have a short-yardage rusher, especially with dealing LeGarrette Blount to the Patriots. If nothing else, he would be a great special teams contributor.
November 5, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Jonathan Casillas (52) against the Philadelphia Eagles prior to kickoff of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Considering the other Buccaneer offseason additions, Tom Crabtree, TE, Jonathan Casillias, LB, and Wide Receivers Steve Smith and Kevin Ogletree all have a chance to make significant impacts opening day. Crabtree is better known as a blocking TE but may have something to offer in the passing game. The Bucs will be counting on him after losing Dallas Clark in the offseason. Casillas comes hungry after being starved behind the rotation at LB with the Saints. He may or may not be a significant upgrade to Quincy Black but he will get his chance to prove it. Smith and Ogletree are great depth after the trade of Arrelious Benn to the Eagles. Benn never met the high expectations given to him after his rookie season. Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson will need at least one of these two receivers to step up and help take the pressure off of them. Not to mention both have great special teams experience.
Worry or Stay Cautious?
Worry. Tampa Bay had a great talent base but was held back by their awful pass defense and issues with Josh Freeman. Now, the defense will be better in pass protection and more solid in the pass rush and Freeman has a few more options to throw to. This year will truly show if Tampa Bay is back on the rise or still needs some work. Greg Schiano is only in his second year but will have many questions to answer if his new team doesn’t improve from last season. This season seems to ride on Freeman and his ability to improve. The selection of Glennon helps to light a fire under Freeman and the Bucs are counting on one of these quarterbacks taking the team to the playoffs.
The Saints biggest worry? Finding the weak spot in an improved pass defense. One thing they have going for them is Josh Freeman. This is way premature but, If they can improve their pass rush, the Saints might be able to rattle Freeman and tip the scales in the Saints favors. Needless to say, the Saints have some homework to do on these guys before they go to Raymond James Stadium on September 15.