TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are obviously one of the top-5 teams considered to be Super Bowl favorites entering the 2022 season.
When Tom Brady is your quarterback, you immediately become a contender. That’s just how it works.
And according to NFL Network analyst and ex-NFL executive Marc Ross, it’s the driving force behind why he thinks the Buccaneers have the most complete roster in the NFL:
For 40 days this offseason, the Bucs would not have made this list. But Tom Brady’s decision to unretire changed things significantly. He was second in the MVP voting in 2021 and shows no signs of slowing down even though he’ll turn 45 years old in August…. The offensive line underwent changes — they lost Alex Cappa in free agency and Ali Marpet to retirement — but after trading for New England’s Shaq Mason, this unit should be more than capable of keeping its QB upright.
The defense is full of playmakers at every level, and there’s room to improve if general manager Jason Licht decides to re-sign Ndamukong Suh or Jason Pierre-Paul. The front line is in good hands with rookie Logan Hall joining veteran edge rusher Shaq Barrett and defensive linemen William Gholston and Vita Vea, the best nose tackle league-wide.
Devin White is the best linebacker in the league and Lavonte David is still steady heading into his 11th season. The secondary shouldn’t be overlooked, as there are young, versatile game-changers throughout the defensive backfield.
The Buccaneers’ multiple roster questions renders Ross’ analysis as rather stunning
Hey, I’m sure the Buccaneers love what Ross wrote and I’m sure Bucs fans do, too.
However, I can’t buy it on my end.
Now, I’m not saying the Buccaneers don’t have a good roster, or even a very good roster. I definitely think the Bucs have a top-5 roster, at worst.
But No. 1 across the NFL? I’m not so sure.
For starters, Tampa Bay has holes or big questions at the following starting roster spots:
- Left guard: Ali Marpet -a top-3 guard in the NFL- retired and is not coming back. The Buccaneers will have rookie second-rounder Luke Goedeke, 2021 third-rounder Robert Hainsey, and journeymen/undrafted free agents Aaron Stinnie and Nick Leverett battle it out for Marpet’s former position. While 4/5 of the offensive line is in great shape, Marpet leaves a giant hole and there is no clear-cut solution, currently.
- Tight end: Rob Gronkowski’s probably-eventual return will solve this, obviously. However, Sessler’s analysis is based off now (even if he went ahead and included Gronk’s return), and right now, Gronk is not on the roster.
Cameron Brate has been a great story and he’s still a capable player, however, he is not a starting tight end in the NFL. Rookie Cade Otton has yet to return from a season-ending ankle injury in 2021 and while Ko Kleift’s NFL future remains to be seen, he’s not convincing anyone that he’s starter material -or even TE2 material- right now.
- Defensive end: Yes, the Buccaneers drafted Logan Hall, however, he’s got big shoes to fill if Ndamukong Suh doesn’t return. It’s rare for rookie defensive linemen within the context of Hall’s role to have a big impact in Year 1. Rakeem Nunez-Roches is a good backup, but 2020 showed that’s limited in a starting role. Hall should carve out an effective role in 2022, but right now, it’s a stretch to call this position a complete position. If Hall doesn’t pan out, the Buccaneers will see a big drop in production at their second defensive end position.
- Outside linebacker: Is Joe Tryon-Shoyinka ready to become a starting pass rusher in the NFL? Can Anthony Nelson continue the upward trajectory we saw last year? Can Cam Gill stay healthy and provide quality depth?
- Safety: Who will replace Jordan Whitehead? If it’s Mike Edwards – is he ready to be a starter? How do Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal fit in?
- Kick returner: Can Jaelon Darden prove he’s the man in 2022? Who replaces him if he can’t?
- Kicker: Can Ryan Succop hold off Jose Borregales? If Borregales does win the job, how reliable will he be in 2022?
- Punter: Will Jake Camarda live up to his fourth-round billing and will his high level of play continue into the NFL?
Those are all just starting positions. The Buccaneers also have uncertainty at WR3-WR6 until Chris Godwin returns, then it becomes WR4-WR6. And at the same time, there are questions around Godwin, e.g., will he be the same player when he returns?
The Buccaneers have questions at swing tackle. They also have questions at ILB3 and then, Sean-Murphy Bunting really has to rebound from a disappointing year.
And, Devin White is certainly not the NFL’s best linebacker, either. He has a lot to prove, himself, in 2022.
In all, there are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to the Buccaneers 2022 roster. It’s far from a complete product, even when comparing it to the other top teams in Ross’ column: the Chargers, Bills, and Chiefs.
You can read Ross’ full column, here.
Featured image via Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports