NEEDS RATING KEY
5.0 - High priority. This is a position that is a glaring weakness and there is the likelihood that this team cannot compete next year without making a major addition here.
4.0 - Medium Priority. This is an area that is an obvious weakness, but the team isn't quite desperate to make a major move here possibly because they have some young potential. But this is an area that if the team cannot fix via free agency, will definitely use one of their picks in the first three or four rounds to supplement.
3.0 - Upgrade Potential. This is a position that isn't a weakness per se, but there is significant room for an upgrade. If the right player comes along they will certainly snag him, but if they don't fix this position with a major free agent addition or early round pick, then it's not the end of the world.
2.0 - Depth Need. An area where there is a need to add depth. Perhaps there is an aging veteran and they might want to start to look at grooming his heir apparent or replacement. Not likely to be a high priority and a position that more than likely will be address in the middle and late rounds rather than with a top pick.
1.0 - Future Need. This is an area that is not a priority, and doesn't initially appear as a need. But there is some room to develop some depth for perhaps two or more years down the line. This is usually an area that a team will look at in the late rounds if at all.
0.0 - Non-need. This is a position that is a strength of their team, they have a solid starter, capable depth, and/or a young player at the position that they like and want to develop. Very little possibility this area is addressed and would be the equivalent of a wasted draft pick.
Top 7 Needs
1. DE - 4.5
2. CB - 3.0
3. OT - 3.0
4. LB - 3.0
5. OG - 2.5
6. TE - 2.0
7. RB - 1.5
Position by Position Breakdown
Quarterback - Josh Freeman emerged to have a very good season and looks like he is a keeper coming off an erratic rookie year in 2009. Josh Johnson was valuable in subpackages, and Rudy Carpenter is good enough to hold down the fort as the No. 3. They'll bring in another arm to camp, but this isn't a need. NEED: 0.5
Running Back - Blount's emergence this year is a major positive. Cadillac Williams is a free agent and is a valuable contributor on third downs. He could be brought back at a modest price. The team will want to see more contributions from Kareem Huggins next year, but don't be surprised if they add a speed back in the middle portion of the draft, especially if Williams isn't re-signed. NEED: 1.5
Fullback - Graham is a serviceable starter, but he's always been a stopgap at this position and they may decide to give a young guy like Erik Lorig, Chris Pressley, or Ryan Purvis a chance here. They could also add a player in the late rounds of the draft. NEED: 1.0
Wide Receiver - Mike Williams had an outstanding rookie year, and the team is hopeful he doesn't go the same way as Mike Clayton who also got off to a fast start, but poor work ethic ultimately proved him to be a bust. Arrelious Benn had his moments in the second half of the season as a complementary option, but suffered a torn ACL late in the year. Sammie Stroughter and Mike Spurlock add value off the bench, but probably wouldn't be ideal starting candidates if Benn's recovery is slow. They'll have to make a decision whether to bring Stovall back. He's a nice a veteran and adds depth, but with the injury to Benn, it might be smarter to go with a better insurance policy in free agency. NEED: 1.5
Tight End - Winslow's production tailed off, and it would be smart for the team to add a young backup that can be developed down the road as an eventual replacement. But the more immediate need is to find a No. 2 guy that can block, since John Gilmore is just serviceable in that role and is a free agent. NEED: 2.0
Offensive Tackle - Penn has been in and out of the doghouse in the past due to his inability to control his weight, but they seemingly nixed those issues with the extension he got this past summer. So they seem happy with him. Jeremy Trueblood has been fairly mediocre at right tackle, and they are expected to make a move to get a more physical run blocker there with him hitting free agency. James Lee is the likely incumbent, but this is a position they'd like to upgrade in the draft. NEED: 3.0
Offensive Guard - Davin Joseph is also a free agent that they'd like to bring back, but they won't break the bank for him. Jeremy Zuttah will likely man the other spot, but the team needs to contemplate the notion that his future may be better long-term at center. Larsen was a serviceable stopgap considering he was a rookie, but he too is better on the bench. Lee can also be in the mix here. Even if they keep Joseph, it would be smart of them to try and add another body here to provide depth and insurance down the road. NEED: 2.5
Center - Faine is coming off a triceps injury, but they shouldn't be overly concerned with depth since Zuttah is a solid injury fill-in, and Larsen is also in the mix going forward. NEED: 1.0
Defensive Tackle - McCoy had a nice rookie year, while Brian Price didn't add much. Both guys ended the year on injured reserve, but are expected to be 100% by next summer. Roy Miller, Frank Okam, and Al Woods were able to make contributions off the bench, giving them a nice young stable of defensive tackles. If anything, they might add a veteran to the mix to provide some stability, but it's not a major issue. NEED: 1.0
Defensive End - White and Crowder are free agents. White is their top pass rusher, but is not a consistent enough presence off the edge to be re-signed. Crowder is a decent option in a rotation, but was exposed as a starter. Michael Bennett and Kyle Moore provide decent depth. But upgrading their pass rush will be a big priority in the off-season, and they are likely to push hard at the top of the draft as well as potentially go after a top free agent to fix their woes here. NEED: 4.5
Linebacker - Ruud is a free agent, and it's about 50/50 on whether he would be back. The team wants him back, but he might seek greener pastures elsewhere. Geno Hayes is solid on the outside, and Quincy Black is a decent contributor as well. He too is a free agent, and probably will be back. But he might be pushed by Dekoda Watson next year. If Ruud walks, then adding an everydown middle linebacker will become a priority. NEED: 3.0
Cornerback - Barber is a free agent and might retire, although he had a pretty good year considering his age. He might give it one more go at age 36 next year, but the best he'll do is a one-year deal. Myron Lewis was drafted a year ago as his heir apparent, but didn't show enough as a rookie to think he should be handed the job unchallenged. E.J. Biggers is a decent nickel option, although there is significant room for improvement. This is a position that should be a top priority for the Bucs, as there is clearly a lack of a quality complement opposite Talib. NEED: 3.0
Safety - Injuries were rampant here. Sean Jones was a nice fit at strong safety as he's a good run defender, but limited in coverage. Grimm and Lynch filled in for most of the year at free safety for Tanard Jackson, who is indefinitely suspended. Both young guys flashed potential, but it would be smart if the team added a ball-hawk in the draft to shore up depth. NEED: 1.5
Kicker - Connor Barth is a solid young kicker, and deserves another shot. NEED: 0.0
Punter - Robert Malone was OK as a rookie, but they have little reason to not move forward with him. NEED: 0.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.