Scott Smith is asking questions about the offensive line and the running back corps this week. Among them, he breaks down who on the line and of the backs will be unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents or exclusive rights free agents as of next month. The biggest question mark of the o-linemen is of course, left tackle Donovan Smith, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent as his four-year rookie contract comes up. Smith was drafted by the Bucs in 2015 and has expressed a desire to stay with the team that drafted him. He even went on NFL Network's Good Morning Football to say as much. Consistency is good in a unit like the line that thrives off working together – probably more than any other singular unit on the field. The offensive line has to work as one, so a rotating door of players helps no one, in my opinion.
With the running backs, Peyton Barber will be a restricted free agent come March. He had his best year yet in 2018, tallying 963 all-purpose yards with 10 touchdowns. With a line that ranked 31st in run-blocking, according to Football Outsiders, being that productive shouldn't go overlooked. Of course, Barber is contending with a new coaching staff that doesn't know him that well. But Head Coach Bruce Arians has expressed confidence in the Bucs' running backs and also alluded to a focus on running the football if for no other reason than to help quarterback Jameis Winston develop. What ends up shaking out once the new league year hits on March 13 will be very interesting to see.
In some front office news that doesn't have to do with the draft, the Buccaneers have earned the top ranking among all NFL clubs in customer service experience satisfaction. The survey is conducted by the league's Voice of the Fan report and it's the fifth time in seven years the Bucs have come away with the top spot.
The analysis of the year-round customer service experience by season ticket holders is done every year across all 32 NFL franchises. It evaluates the in-stadium experience specifically, so when the Buccaneers say in Season Pass Member collateral that they strive to bring the best experience in the league to their Members, it isn't just lip service. They actually deliver.
Buccaneers.com Mock Draft 1.0 dropped this past Mock Draft Monday, the first of Scott and I's futile attempts to predict anything that may happen come end of April. I got to go first in this round and therefore, got to pick for the Bucs. I took linebacker Devin White out of LSU. With uncertainty swarming around the linebacking corps due to injuries and free agency, White being as good as he is, is an attractive prospect at fifth overall. I'm a big proponent of taking the best player available when picking that high, so while there may be needs ahead of linebacker for the Bucs, White's talent makes it hard to pass on him. In my opinion. The mock draft comes with the usual disclaimer that these picks are entirely the opinion of Scott and I. They are not indicative of anything Jason Licht and Co. are planning on doing.
We'll have a new mock every other week for your ridiculing pleasure.
View photos of the top draft prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft.