The Tampa Bay Bucs have been a young team on an upward trajectory since the day they drafted Jameis Winston number one overall, and after barely missing crashing the postseason party a year ago, the squad in southwest Florida believes the upcoming campaign will be a breakthrough season for them. Already armed with an elite wide receiver in Mike Evans, Winston has been given more toys to play with by Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht, with speed burner DeSean Jackson added on a free-agent pact, and Alabama tight end O.J. Howard selected in the first round of the draft.
2016 Record: 9-7
Notable Additions: WR DeSean Jackson, T.J. Ward
Notable Subtractions: QB Mike Glennon
Notable Rookies: TE O.J. Howard, S Justin Evans, WR Chris Goodwin
Analysis: The Bucs are a popular pick to take the next step in their ascension and seriously compete for a playoff spot in 2017, and whether they make it or not, they should be one of the more fun teams to watch. Adding DeSean Jackson makes this offense drastically more difficult to defend, as if opposing defense’s choose to try to take Mike Evans away, Winston has a legitimate deep threat that will be one on one against the other team’s number two corner. O.J. Howard was a matchup nightmare in college and his skill set as a big bodied tight end should make him a dangerous red zone target, while incumbent tight end Cameron Brate scored eight touchdowns in ’16. Doug Martin struggled last season and will miss the first game of the year due to a drug suspension, and for this team to go where they want to in the year ahead they’ll need him to rebound and provide a consistent running game. Gerald McCoy leads a bend-but-doesn’t-break defensive unit that shouldn’t have to try to win games on their own like Bucs’ teams of old, as this offense should in theory put up a lot of points.