There is an old football theory on how to build your team and several will not get off it when talking about how the Buccaneers should approach the draft. “You build from the inside out” they say. “Focus on drafting offensive linemen” to build the team the right way. There is no way to discredit that. But there are exceptions to that and the 2015 draft is one of those exceptions.
It’s an exception because it’s not every year that a team has the first or second pick in the NFL Draft when there are potentially two franchise quarterbacks that are projected to declare for the draft. Yet, many say Tampa Bay should pass that up and go after another position instead. Why?
Some have tweeted at me and I’ve read it on message boards, “Look at the offensive line for the Dallas Cowboys. They did it right.” Alright, let’s look at it.
Left tackle Tyron Smith
Left guard Ronald Leary
Center Travis Frederick
Right guard Zack Martin
Right tackle Doug Free
Three of their five offensive linemen (Smith, Frederick, and Martin) earned Pro Bowl honors this season. Logically, some have immediately jump all over that and use Dallas as the example as to why the Bucs should address the offensive line first and worry about the quarterback later.
What they don’t see is how their line was built. For starters, Smith is in his fourth year and this Pro Bowl marks his second consecutive selection. Frederick was selected 31st overall in 2013 when the Cowboys were highly criticized after they “reached” on a projected late second, early third round center. And Martin was 16th overall in this past draft.
As for the other two, Free was a fourth round selection in the 2007 draft and Leary went undrafted in 2012.
The Cowboys are ranked in the middle of the league for sacks given up with 30. Their 4.5 yards per game rushing ranks fifth in the league but are 12th in the league for allowing their running backs to get stuffed behind the line of scrimmage, per Football Outsiders -- something the Bucs rank near the bottom in that category.
But what truly separates the Cowboys from the Buccaneers is the fact that they have had their quarterback in place for some time now in Tony Romo. Another thing the Bucs don’t have.
Their line wasn’t built overnight. It has taken Dallas some time to put it together. The Bucs don’t have a quarterback to build around. They tried that this year and both Josh McCown and Mike Glennon have failed.
The Buccaneers can’t pass up on Florida State’s Jameis Winston nor Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. This opportunity does not come around often and when it does you go after that opportunity. A franchise quarterback can instantly lift the team out of the cellar of the league. Building an offensive line takes time and like I've written before would be a mistake to draft a lineman first.
For that reason, you take that shot at drafting a franchise quarterback before anything else.
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