Commentary | Who has Lovie Smith's ear as Buccaneers contemplate seventh pick in draft?

Will new coach try to please GM, QB, OC -- or himself?

adell@bradenton.comMay 7, 2014 

Buccaneers Ring of Honor Football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith, right, and former head coach Tony Dungy smile during a news conference Tuesday in Tampa after it was announced that former linebacker Derrick Brooks would be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor. ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHRIS O'MEARA — ASSOCIATED PRESS

TAMPA

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first choice in Thursday's NFL Draft may come down to whom Lovie Smith wants to please the most.

The Bucs head coach would like to take care of GM Jason Licht, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and quarterback Josh McCown, but satisfying all three with the seventh pick is impossible.

And then there is Smith himself. His reputation is at stake.

Does he please himself or acquiesce to one of the other three?

You have to believe McCown, who at 34 has a limited quarterback life, wants the Bucs to choose Mike Evans, the 6-foot-5, 211-pound receiver out of Texas A&M.

A perennial backup, McCown had his best season last year with the Chicago Bears, thanks to Alshon Jeffrey (6-3, 216) and Brandon Marshall (6-4, 240), whose best skills are going up and wrestling the ball away from defensive backs.

Evans is a nice complement to Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson (6-5, 235), giving McCown a duo similar to the one he had in Chicago.

Tedford might have other ideas. He hears the cries that the Bucs need speed at receiver, and Evans (4.52-second 40-yard dash) is too much like Jackson.

Then there is the consensus opinion that the draft is deep in receivers and there will be other good ones on a list that includes eight guys (other than Sammy Watkins) who have run a sub-4.45 40. The group includes Clemson's Martavis Bryant (6-4, 211 pounds), who has run a 4.42, and 5-10 sleeper John Brown from Pittsburg State (4.43 40).

Licht has gone on record saying don't hesitate. If your guy is there take him.

But he has tried to spread his desires all over Roger Goodell's kitchen table.

He said the Bucs feel good at quarterback with Mike Glennon as the backup, but by their actions Licht and Smith make him look like trade bait.

You sense Licht wants a quarterback.

But if the Bucs are successful next season, they will never again be in a position to draft this high, and history shows the longer you wait to pick a quarterback the less likely you get a franchise guy.

Licht makes no secret that what he learned with Philadelphia, New England and Arizona is don't go into the draft scared.

"All of the places I worked the common thread with those successful teams is making swift decisions and not looking in the rear-view mirror," he said.

Does that mean that quarterback Johnny Manziel will be a Buc if he is available at 7?

"We had a great day with him. Lovie and him both have Texas roots. We enjoyed every minute that he was here. Sharp guy," Licht said.

Smith and Licht have said the Bucs need to get faster and more athletic, which makes you think they are leaning toward Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater as their next quarterback and maybe LSU's Odell Beckham (4.43) at receiver instead of Evans.

The Bucs' biggest needs are receiver and offensive line, but there is enough talent in the draft to fill those positions in the later rounds. meaning this could be the time to go for a first-round quarterback.

"There are a lot of good players a little bit further down in the draft," Licht said.

Minus a trade for Aaron Rodgers, the best way to please Tedford is find a quarterback who fits his style.

Of all the quarterbacks in this draft, Bridgewater seems to possess what Tedford likes the most, and he could be available early the second round when the Bucs get their second pick.

One could argue Manziel has the least of the attributes that Tedford wants in his quarterback, but if Smith and Licht want Johnny then it's up to the offensive coordinator to tailor the offense to meet his needs.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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