Pictures of Jackson during the Buccaneers' mini-camp practices.
It's safe to say that expectations are high for the Buccaneers as they prepare for the 2017 season. The team finished with a 9-7 record a year ago and was knocking on the door to the playoffs as the regular season came to an end.
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With training camp on the horizon, many believe this year's Buccaneer team can be better than last year's, thanks to a stellar offseason. Tampa Bay put together a strong free agent class, headlined by DeSean Jackson, and landed a handful of potential starters in the NFL Draft, including O.J. Howard.
According to ESPN, the Buccaneers' offseason was one of the best of any team in the league. ESPN.com's staff graded every NFL team's offseason, giving the Buccaneers an A-. Just three teams – the Bucs, Bills and Patriots – received an A for their efforts. Five other teams received a B+.
"The Bucs had two clear goals this offseason: get more speed on offense and get more physical on defense," ESPN's Jenna Laine wrote. "They signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who runs a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash and is one of the fastest players in the league, and they drafted Chris Godwin, who clocked a 4.42 at the NFL combine.
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"They got one of the most impactful safeties in the draft, Justin Evans, and signed a true thumper, J.J. Wilcox. Stopping the run has also been a point of emphasis going back to last season, which is why they re-signed William Gholston, whose 21.5 run stuffs are ninth-most in the NFL among defensive linemen since 2013."
Gholston will be joined on the defensive line by Chris Baker, who is expected to play a significant role on the interior after signing as a free agent this spring.
In addition to the aforementioned players, the Buccaneers will also have the services of J.R. Sweezy this season. Sweezy was one of the Bucs' prized free agents a year ago, but missed all of 2016 recovering from an injury. In essence, he's another free agent stepping into Tampa Bay's starting lineup.
For ESPN's full list of rankings, click **HERE**.