What’s the Missing Ingredient Tampa?
Football fans watch in nervous excitement as the clock runs out and the 2018 NFL Draft nears. The lovers of the game, have spent weeks researching statistics, watching the contradicting coverage and analyzing their teams’ area of need. For this Bay Area girl, the upcoming draft feels like a temporary distraction from the overall concern that still lingers from the previous Buccaneer’s season. In frustration, I allow myself to cling to the fictitious hope that one of the upcoming first-round picks could be the missing ingredient in the Buccaneer’s recipe for success.
Tampa Bay has two distinctly different paths to take in the draft. Should they play it safe and shore up a talented player during the first round, filling an area of need? Or, could they shake it up and excite the fan base by bringing in a player that has us all running out to buy his jersey?
We certainly aren’t starting from scratch here. Our team has a grocery list of notable names on both sides of the ball. Lead by Jameis Winston with a 92.2 QB rating and completing 63% of his passes last year. Gerald McCoy, the face of our defense and his get-off, is just sick! Mike Evan’s physicality and ability to make stunning plays should have us salivating with anticipation about what this team could be. Our roster is nothing to dismiss but something is not cooking with gas.
The unpredictable nature of the draft makes all who speculate on the ultimate outcome, potentially look like a fool. However, for the sake of my sanity, let’s continue to believe the Bucs will have the seventh pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. If management feels the team has most of its key players already established, then why wouldn’t we grab one of two safest picks. Take Quenton Nelson who will immediately have an impact as a Guard from day one and shore up better protection for the quarterback. Winston is on a short timetable to gain respect and legitimacy as the team’s long-term franchise quarterback. It doesn’t matter if his numbers are impressive overall, fans are becoming impatient!
The other safe bet is to address our crippled secondary and go with the Safety from Florida State, Derwin James. This kid comes with a lot of bark, and he will be able to play in the sizzling heat and humidity that only Florida boys can handle! This pick proclaims to fans that a team is built around the understanding that defenses win championships.
Even though the chance is slim to none, I allow myself to crave the Saquon Barkley pick. I vehemently disagree with those who say running backs are a diamond a dozen or their shelf lives should deter you from the early investment. Sure, go ahead and pick a running back in the second or third round of the draft and tell me how that works for you! Wake up and smell the coffee, have you seen this guy play? The adjectives to describe him would start with something like poise, character, ambition, wicked talent and a competitive nature that will serve him well in the league. He is the piece of pie with whip cream and a cherry on top. This pick would electrify the fan base. In case anyone is wondering, we are begging for some pizzazz on the offensive side of the ball.
Historically, most of the buzz is all around the picks coming out of the first round, but this girl is far more interested in a pick I passionately want the Bucs to make later in the draft. If the game is about production, work-ethic and the ability to use the NFL platform to make a difference in one’s community, then the Bucs need to be knocking down doors to acquire UCF’s, Shaquem Griffin.
It boggles my mind that people continue to define what this kid will and will not be able to do at the professional level. The majority of experts seem to believe he will land on a team’s special team squad. Really? Don’t be surprised if Griffin changes the conversation about what is required to meet one’s dream in the NFL. If he wants to play on the defensive side of the ball, I certainly won’t bet against him! This catch deserves the right to be featured on the menu. The Bucs would be silly not to take a bite.
What continues to nag at me is highly unlikely to be fixed by the draft. The picks will be a distant memory come pre-season. Honestly, the fate of the Buccaneers lies with the coaching staff in Tampa Bay. Clearly, they have the opportunity either with trades or during the draft to strengthen the team’s areas of weaknesses. However, for Tampa to become a contender in the NFC, the coaching staff has to revitalize the game plan. The playbook needs spice, and the plays must lend themselves to the skills and talents of the players they have been dealt. This team’s youthful energy has to be directed in the right direction. We can’t come on the field and play lukewarm. Relentless conditioning, creative coaching and a culture that fosters the love of the game while teaching; will bring this team to a boil and victory will taste good.
Kara Owen (Fantasy Queen)