Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ronald Jones could be a name to watch in regards to winning rookie of the year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a good football team that has been doomed by dysfunction. Jameis Winston is suspended for the first three games of the season for being an idiot. Dirk Koetter is still employed despite being one of the bigger clowns in the industry. Put this team in a different division with real grown-ups at quarterback and head coach and Tampa could be for real. The problem is that doesn’t exist at the moment so get ready for Fitzpatrick baby! Are the Bucs destined for another last place finish? What can we expect from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they open up camp in 2018?

3 Position Battles To Watch:

1: Running Back: Jacquizz Rodgers, Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber, Charles Sims

Jacquizz Rodgers is a pretty good back but I’m sure the Bucs would love for Ronald Jones to turn into the next Alvin Kamara. That’s not an impossible outcome either. Jones was taken out of USC in the second round of the draft and has great speed, quickness, and vision. He even runs with some ferocity for a guy that isn’t a big back. Jones was the top back in the entire draft analytically and could really pop out of the gates right away. If he’s not ready or can’t pass protect for whatever reason, Rodgers has proven capable.

2. Left Guard: Evan Smith, Alex Cappa

Here’s another example of a team wanting the young guy to go and take the position over. Evan Smith stinks and Tampa Bay knows it. Alex Cappa was drafted in the middle rounds out of a D3 school no one has ever heard of (Humbolt State). Cappa did not give up a sack in college but that was obviously against bad competition. He had a bit of an ugly Senior Bowl but the toughness required for the position is there. Tampa has had success going this route when they drafted Ali Marpet who turned out to be a terrific center.

3. Defensive End: Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, William Gholston, Noah Spence

Tampa had zero pass rush in 2017 so they addressed that need by signing JPP and Vinny Curry. Pierre-Paul can still rush the passer despite the fact that he has a mangled hand. He has 15.5 sacks the past two years for New York. Curry’s sack total’s don’t rival JPP but he might be a better overall player. Curry will take advantage of an increased snap count after playing a rotation role for the world champion Eagles. Noah Spence is the real X-Factor here. 5.5 sacks as a rookie compared to just 1 sack in year two has people wondering just who this guy really is?

Ready To Breakout: Vernon Hargreaves

I will die on the Vernon Hargreaves hype train. He was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft when I notoriously named him my number one corner over Jalen Ramsey. I thought Ramsey was going to be a fantastic safety, just unsure about his transition to corner. Hargreaves has the tools to be an excellent corner but he’s been burned on numerous occasions since entering the league. It’s time for this guy to tap into all the potential he has.

Rookie To Watch: Carlton Davis

Carlton Davis is a corner I really like but he comes with some character concerns. Davis is a long corner who really excels in man coverage. Add in MJ Stewart to this mix and Tampa could have a pretty solid secondary. Davis can be a bit grabby and may never be a ball-hawking corner but he could be that guy that defenses refuse to throw the football at because his man skills are that good.

NFC South 2018 NFL Draft Grades: Panthers Fail, Saints Risk It All

Fantasy Sleeper: OJ Howard / Cameron Brate

There’s no obvious candidate here so I’ll throw out two names for the price of one. Cameron Brate just locked down a long-term contract with the franchise and OJ Howard was selected in the first round for a reason. Maybe one pops as a sleeper tight end.

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