Bucs' fans have endured some bad seasons, but it never seemed like they were bad enough to get one of the first picks in the following drafts. While that might have been the case in previous seasons, if the Bucs have done anything right this season, it's that they haven't allowed a meaningless late season victory derail them from taking one of the top quarterbacks in next year's draft.
By strength of schedule, the Bucs are now guaranteed one of the top two selections in the 2015 NFL Draft. If they lose to the Saints this upcoming Sunday, the Bucs will receive the first overall choice in the draft.
As shown on this site on Sunday, the biggest game of the weekend for the Bucs and their draft positioning was between the Ravens and the Texans. With the Texans winning, that made the Bucs overall strength of schedule weaker, while giving the Titans strength of schedule twice as big a boost as the Bucs due to the Texans getting the victory and being in their division, which means you count the win twice.
Bucs opponents this season have 115 wins combined, while the Titans opponents have 118 wins. Since every NFL team will be playing divisional opponents in week 17, the most ground the Titans can gain on the Bucs in terms of the strength of schedule tiebreaker is two games. With a 3 game advantage, the Bucs now own the tiebreaker.
If the Bucs were to win on Sunday against the Saints, the worst draft pick they could have would be the 2nd overall pick due to that same tiebreaker formula. The Jaguars, Raiders, and Jets all have much tougher strengths of schedule, so the Bucs are guaranteed a top 2 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
By ending with one of the top 2 picks in the draft, the Buccaneers are now guaranteed to be in a position to draft one of the draft's top 2 quarterbacks. Oregon's Marcus Mariota and FSU's Jameis Winston each have their positives and their flaws, but one of them needs to be selected by the Buccaneers.
If Lovie Smith went to the Glazers this off-season and said he didn't want to select one of those two quarterbacks, I'd fire him immediately and find a coach who knows that a quarterback is necessary to win consistently in this era of the NFL.
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