The Buccaneers share a division with the reigning conference champion Panthers, but, according to Pro Football Focus, Tampa Bay heads into the 2016 season as the most improved team in the NFC South. PFF recently broke down the most improved team in every division, with the Bucs, Eagles, Dolphins, Browns, Bears, Jaguars, Raiders and Rams all being selected for their respective divisions.
The Buccaneers added a handful of players in free agency, including Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes, defensive end Robert Ayers and guard J.R. Sweezy. All three will enter training camp hoping to secure starting spots. The team may have also found a few starters in the draft after selecting cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, defensive end Noah Spence and kicker Roberto Aguayo, among others.
Should Grimes and Hargreaves start at corner and Ayers and Spence start at defensive end, the Buccaneers could enter 2016 with new starters in two areas where they struggled a year ago.
“Robert Ayers and Noah Spence will seriously increase the Buccaneers’ edge-rush production,” PFF wrote. “The Buccaneers also upgraded their pass coverage with two free-agent cornerbacks (Brent Grimes and Josh Robinson) and two cornerbacks in the draft (Vernon Hargreaves III and Ryan Smith). Hargreaves was one of the top coverage cornerbacks in the draft, only allowing a passer rating of 82.3 when targeted, and will instantly make the Buccaneers’ secondary better.
READ: NFC SOUTH DRAFT REVIEW
“Although trading up to draft a kicker in the second round is a decision that was heavily scrutinized, Roberto Aguayo’s intermediate accuracy should turn extra points into less of an adventure for the Buccaneers, and could lead to a scoring increase next season. The Buccaneers improved their pass rush, their secondary and their special teams to take the largest step this offseason in the NFC South.”
PFF handed the Buccaneers a B- for both their free agent signings and draft class. For more from them on their most improved teams, click HERE.