As expected, the Buccaneers made a couple changes to their 90-man offseason roster on Monday, sifting through the videotape from the weekend’s rookie mini-camp to find five prospects who were better fits than five players previously on the list. The roster as it stands on Monday, May 6, is surely not exactly the one that will head into training camp in late July, but it’s probably pretty close. With a few tweaks here and there, this is the group from which the Bucs will eventually carve out a 53-man roster for the regular season.
What tweaks might still take place? Well, there’s always the specter of a potential spring injury, a la Da’Quan Bowers last year (/knocking on wooden desk next to keyboard). The Bucs might not be completely done adding tryout players from the rookie camp; that process was spread out over a couple days last year? And, perhaps most likely, the team might look to massage the numbers it has at each specific position.
General Manager Mark Dominik said over the weekend that he and Head Coach Greg Schiano do have a basic outline of how many players they want to take to camp at each position. It’s not a hard-and-fast guideline – the team won’t cut, say, a talented 12th receiver just because it feels like it’s one short at running back – but it’s the structure the team wants to be able to handle all the reps at every position during training camp.
So let’s compare what the Bucs have at each position now, on May 6, and what they had at each position on the first day of training camp last year. For good measure, let’s also list the number at each position on the 53-man roster for the first game of the regular season. (Tailbacks and fullbacks counted together as RBs; tackles, guards and centers counted together as OL; defensive tackles and defensive ends counted together as DL.)
The current numbers don’t differ much from last year. The only position that is off by more than one person is running back, where the Bucs currently have six (and that includes Jeff Demps, whose status is uncertain) and they took eight to camp last year. If the team adds anywhere between now and late July, that would be a good guess as to where the depth chart will get a boost. Right now, the Bucs have the same number of receivers-plus-tight ends as they did a year ago, and the exact some totals along both lines. The cornerbacks are one higher (and a lot more promising with Darrelle Revis and Johnthan Banks added to the ranks), while the safeties are one lower. The Bucs took two punters and two kickers to camp last year; right now, there’s only one kicker on the roster after Nate Kaeding’s retirement, but the team is currently carrying two long-snappers.
As for the eventual trim to the 53-man roster, if it is constituted anything like it was for the start of the 2012 regular season, than the positions that will see the most attrition in August are wide receiver and the offensive line. Other than the specialists, the positions that might be expected to lose the least from its current ranks are cornerback and running back.