Regional Combine Comes to One Buc

The NFL invited approximately 300 prospects to the 2013 Scouting Combine in February, and those young men will make up the vast majority of the 254 players who are drafted this coming April.  However, for some NFL hopefuls, the path to the pros won’t go through Indianapolis.

For the second straight year, the NFL is conducting a series of Regional Combines across the country, allowing some potentially overlooked prospects an opportunity to put their skills on display.  And, for the second straight year, one of those Regional events will be held on the fields behind One Buccaneer Place, the Buccaneers’ headquarters.

The Tampa Regional Combine will be held this Saturday, March 9.  It falls smack dab in the middle of 13 workout dates for position players, plus an additional eight for kickers and punters at overlapping sites.  The series of Combines began in Hawaii on January 25 and have since taken place in Los Angeles, Houston, Cleveland and New York/New Jersey.  Subsequent Regional events will be held in Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore and Seattle.  More information can be found here, although registration is now closed for all events except the Sunday, March 24 specialists combine in Seattle.

Selected participants in the Regional Combines will be invited to take part in a “Super Regional Combine” on April 7-8 at Cowboys Stadium.  That event will be covered by the NFL Network.  Last year, approximately one-quarter of the players who took part in the Super Regional Combine eventually earned NFL contracts.  While the Regional Combines may not draw a heavy number of NFL team scouts, all 32 teams were represented at last year’s Super Regional.

Polling the Krewe: Which Under-the-Radar Free Agent Would You Sign?

In the past few weeks, we’ve been putting a lot of attention on Free Agency, and even wrote this masterpiece on who we think will be the most coveted member of the 2013 free agent class.

In our most recent Point/Counterpoint discussion, we tackled the idea of a “sleeper” free agency candidate that we think could very well call Tampa Bay home. We’re talking about a player who isn’t garnering much nationwide attention, but could still come in and perform at a high level at one of the Bucs’ positions of need.

We laid out a few names, and now we want to hear from you. Let us know which selection you most agree with. Got a name that we didn’t talk about? Share it with us in the comments. Fire away!

Which, if any, of the "under-the-radar" free agents mentioned would you most like to see in a Buccaneers uniform?

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Remember, if you have a question for an upcoming “Point/Counterpoint” debate or a poll that you would like to discuss? Let us know in the comments below!

Point/Counterpoint: Which valuable free-agents-to-be are currently flying under the radar?

Andrew, a couple weeks ago, we debated which of the potential 2013 free agents would be most coveted once the market opened on March 12.  (Factoring in which pending free agents would eventually be unavailable due to franchise tags was part of the game, so my choices of Henry Melton and Anthony Spencer now add up to a major fail.  Sigh.)

Now that free agency is almost upon us and the franchise tags have been put in place (only eight, down from 21 last year), let’s take a look at the player market one more time, but from the other end of the spectrum.  The question now, with several hundred players about to flood the market, is which ones are currently flying under the radar?  That is, can you identify a player or two who hasn’t generated much buzz yet but might end up being a very valuable lower-profile signing?

We’ve all heard the top names expected to be on the market, the Mike Wallaces and Cliff Avrils and Dashon Goldsons.  Let’s find a few players outside of the obvious who can make a difference.  And, unlike in our previous exercise, let’s take the Buccaneers’ own needs into consideration.  That is, your selections should be players who not only have value, but have specific value to the Bucs at this time.

I magnanimously grant you first choice. Continue reading

Another Madden Cover Vote Coming

Nearly 20 million votes put the likeness of Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on the cover of last year’s NFL Madden 13, the latest iteration of the long-running and ultra-popular video game series.  It’s a somewhat nebulous honor for the player who is chosen each year, but it does at least indicate that he is considered among the league’s best performers.  Since fan voting became part of the process in 2011, it also indicates a player’s nationwide popularity, of course.  And if there is a so-called “Madden Cover Jinx,” it certainly didn’t bite Johnson last year, as he set a new NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards last year.

Beginning Monday, it will be time for fans to vote again, this time to decide which player will grace the cover of the milestone NFL Madden 25, which is obviously being named for where it lands in the overall series and not a specific year, as with previous versions.  Once again, there will be a nominee from each of the NFL’s 32 teams, but this time around there’s a twist.

As explained here, there will be a field of 64 candidates this year, as EA SPORTS will pit the 32 current stars on one side of the bracket against 32 of the league’s “greatest legends.”  The final vote will between the winner of the current-star bracket against the winner of the legends bracket.

The voting process will begin next Monday, March 11, at 4:00 p.m. ET, here on ESPN.com.  The exact schedule of the round-by-round voting is not indicated on the site, but last year’s final reveal coincided roughly with the beginning of the NFL Draft in late April.

RB LeGarrette Blount was the Buccaneers’ representative in last year’s bracket, but he fell in the first round to #1 seed and eventual finalist Cam Newton of the Panthers.  Last year’s Final Four was Johnson, Newton, San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  All four could be strong candidates again in 2012, but they’ll have more competition than ever with the opposing bracket of legends.  One can imagine a final vote between, say, Tom Brady and Joe Montana; Calvin Johnson and Jerry Rice; J.J. Watt and Reggie White; or Adrian Peterson and Emmitt Smith.  Check back on ESPN on Monday to see which competitors made the field.

One Week to Free Agency

Monday was the last day for NFL teams to elect to use a franchise or transition tag on any of their pending free agents.  Eight teams did, 24 declined…and now the clock is ticking on the final week before the start of free agency.

The teams that used their tags know with virtual certainty that those players will remain with them in 2013.  Conversely, the teams that had what appeared to be viable candidates for franchise tags but didn’t use the option are not necessarily saying good bye.  In fact, this last week – and especially the next four days – is a last opportunity for deals to get done before the market opens and all 32 teams are in play. Continue reading

Polling the Krewe: Turning Attention to Pro Days

NFL teams, managers, coaches and scouts are turning their attention to the next phase before of draft preparation: various college Pro Day workouts.

Pro Days give the college athletes another change to showcase their skills, this time on their own turf. While not quite as compelling as the NFL Scouting Combine, these events are well-attended by NFL teams looking for another glimpse at some of the rookie hopefuls. These individual performances can make up for a lackluster showing at the Combine and help bump names of lesser-known talent higher up the big boards.

As was so eloquently pointed out here, the Buccaneers will be among those in attendance at these college workouts around the country. And there are some big ones that might be drawing more attention based on what experts are saying the Bucs might do come draft day.

So, again, we turn to you. Let us know what you think is the most important college Pro Day for the Buccaneers to be keeping an eye on? The offensive line and defensive back talent in Alabama? A big-name cornerback and pass rush combo at Florida State? The first-round talent at tight end and linebacker up in Notre Dame?

Make your choice in the poll and share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Which is the most important college Pro Day for the Buccaneer scouts to visit in the next six weeks?

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Remember, if you have a question for an upcoming “Point/Counterpoint” debate or a poll that you would like to discuss? Let us know in the comments below!

Experts Debate Potential Landing Spots for Revis

Is all-star cornerback Darrelle Revis really on the trading block?  Only Jets management knows for sure, but there are certainly persistent rumors to that effect.

Considered by many to be the NFL’s best cornerback – he certainly has one of the league’s best nicknames in “Revis Island” – he has one year left on his current deal and would surely command an enormous deal on the free agency market.  Thus, if the Jets really are considering trading Revis, any team on the other side of the deal would be making a sizeable commitment in terms of both draft picks and dollar signs.

It’s a complicated situation, which is why NFL.com assembled six different NFL analysts to debate exactly where Revis could land if the Jets try to make a deal.  The Buccaneers figure prominently in that debate. Continue reading

Polling the Krewe: Who Would You Like To See Drafted?

The 2013 NFL Draft is right around the corner, and now it’s your turn to sound off about the incoming class of red and pewter.

In the past few weeks we’ve talked about some potential names for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first round pick. And the NFL Draft experts from around the league have chimed in with their mock drafts, trying to predict which player will be taken at Number 13 this year by the Bucs.

Which leads us to our poll question. Which of these expert picks would you most like to see lining up with the Buccaneers in Week One? Make your choice in the poll and share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Which of the following picks by expert analysts would you most like to see the Buccaneers draft with their first-round pick?

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Remember, if you have a question for an upcoming “Point/Counterpoint” debate or a poll that you would like to discuss? Let us know in the comments below!