See Who Mel Kiper Has the Buccaneers Taking with the Seventh Pick in the 2018 NFL Draft

Mel Kiper’s first mock draft is out – and the draft ‘expert’ has the Bucs going offensive guard in round one, taking Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson with the seventh overall pick.

Here’s the tweet with the breakdown of the first 10 overall picks.

Will the Bucs Turn it Around in 2018? One Former Player Personnel Guy Feels They Are Close

The Bucs were a team expected to make a playoff run in 2017, but instead won just five games and were hit with a number of key injuries that stopped the team from moving forward.

One person who for sure took notice of the Bucs is that of Gil Brandt, long time player personnel guy for the Dallas Cowboys, and now NFL Media senior analyst.

Thursday Brandt released an article on NFL.com talking about teams that have chances to go from ‘worst to first’ in 2018, and while he doesn’t say the Bucs will do that, they do have a very good chance to be back and ready to compete in 2018.

Here’s what he had to say about the Bucs:

3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC South, 5-11)

Jameis Winston is primed for a breakthrough 2018 season. His yards-per-attempt mark of 7.93 ranked fourth in the NFL in 2017, ahead of players like Tom Brady (fifth, 7.88) and Carson Wentz (11th, 7.49), while his completion rate (63.8 percent) ranked 12th. The offensive line needs to stay healthier — by the end of the season, the unit was relying on backup-types. The 32nd-ranked defense was a weakness, and with the team compiling a league-low sack total (22), it’s clear that pass rusher is a big need. Yes, the NFC South includes three other formidable teams. Still, this is a well-coached group, and if Winston can continue to learn to incorporate coaching going forward, he can be a factor and make Tampa Bay truly dangerous.

Dirk Koetter Staying as Head Coach of the Buccaneers in 2018

Dirk Koetter will return as the Bucs head coach in 2018, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The Glazer family, which owns the team, made the decision Friday afternoon and general manager Jason Licht informed Koetter that he would be back next season despite a 4-11 record which includes a pair of five-game losing streaks.

“Obviously, I’m very grateful to the Glazer family of their support,” Koetter said Friday night on his weekly radio show. “But I think that anything further on my status or the status of the staff or what we’re going to do in the future should wait until after the game on Sunday.

“Everybody is evaluated at the end of the year, including me, and we’ll start that process come Monday.”

Koetter is 13-18 in his two seasons as head coach but has been instrumental in the progress of third year quarterback Jameis Winston.

In coaching a third season, Koetter is getting an opportunity not afforded to to former Bucs Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith before him.

Among the reasons for sticking with Koetter includes the fact that Winston suffered a shoulder injury that forced him to miss three games and saw him struggle to play three others while hurt.

Over the past four weeks since returning from his injury, Winston leads the NFL in passer rating (114.5) and yards per attempt (9.25) while ranking third in completion percentage (72.0), fourth in yards (1,221 and tied for the fourth most touchdown passes with eight.

There had been much speculation in the past few months that former Bucs coach Jon Gruden, the star of Monday Night Football, was closer to returning to coaching and that he might considering taking his old job in Tampa Bay if it became available.

Gruden was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor on December 18 as the Bucs lost to the Falcons 24-21 on Monday Night Football.

A year ago, Dirk Koetter went 9-7 and the Bucs missed the post-season by the third tie-breaker to the Detroit Lions.

Could Jon Gruden Be Back as Buccaneers Coach in 2018? Sounding More and More Like It

The Buccaneers may very well be in the market for a new head coach after Sunday, but the coach they may want the most may not be that all new.

Pro Football Talk reports that none other than Jon Gruden might be the number one name on the list for the Buccaneers, and there’s a growing sense around the league that the move very well may happen.

As the end of the regular season (and the launch of the annual coaching carousel) approaches, no one is saying anything about Jon Gruden returning or not returning to coaching. And that potentially says everything.

There’s a growing sense in league circles, as explained by multiple league sources to PFT over the past two days, that Gruden will return to Tampa Bay as the next coach of the Buccaneers.

Gruden last commented on the situation three weeks ago, at a Tampa-area press event that, coincidentally, a handful of reporters covering the team were told about. Said Gruden on the possibility of returning to coaching, “I’ve got a job I’m trying to hang onto. I love football, I love what I’m doing and I can’t control all the reports.”

He may not be able to control some of the reports (like this one), but it was Gruden who pulled the rip cord on the lawnmower by musing about coaching at a time when most assumed he’d migrated to the Bill Cowher don’t-bother-to-even-ask phase of his career.

Some Buccaneers Question DT Chris Baker’s Effort

Teammates and coaches believe the effort of defensive tackle Chris Baker has been poor since signing a big free agent contract with the team this offseason according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

The problems surfaced publicly after Sunday’s last-second loss to the Carolina Panthers. .An ugly screaming match that erupted into a scuffle between teammates in the locker room over an offsides penalty by Baker that allowed Panthers QB Cam Newton to score the winning touchdown. Apparently, several Bucs players took issue with Baker smiling and lack-of-remorse attitude following the game. And word was leaked that Baker’s attitude has been poor in terms of effort since arriving in Tampa in March.

Those comments echo reports from Baker’s former team the Washington Redskins that teammates and team officials were “lukewarm” on bringing Baker back for the exact same effort concerns. Bakers opted to sign a three-year, $15.75 million contract with the Bucs in March with $9 million in guaranteed money. To say that the Buccaneers have not gotten a lot of value from that investment is a massive understatement-32 tackles and only half a sack in 14 games. While the entire Bucs team has been a massive disappointment in 2017 and all of the blame cannot land on Baker’s shoulders, it would surprise no one if the 30-year-old DT was one-and-done in Tampa.

Buccaneers Coach Dirk Koetter Admits Talk About Job Status Has Been a Distraction

When your job is on the line it’s not easy to stay focused, and that very well might be the situation right now with Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter.

On Tuesday he said that rumors surrounding his job status have been a distraction.

“Of course,” Koetter said when asked if rumors have been a distraction. “It’s your life, it’s your life. It’s what you do. So just flip it around. Of course it is. But we all as players and coaches, we’re paid to do a job, and you try to do it to the best of our ability. That’s all you can do.”

Right now the Bucs are 4-11, and even if they finish the season with a win Sunday to get to five wins, that might not be enough to keep the coaches job.

Last season the Bucs won nine games, and were supposed to be one of the up and coming teams in the NFL, but this season the team has underachieved, and it could cost him a job.

Bucs WR DeSean Jackson Out for Sunday’s Game vs Carolina

Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been ruled out for the team’s Week 16 game against the Carolina Panthers according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.

Jackson hurt his ankle in Monday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons and has been unable to practice all week. Rookie Chris Godwin will likely take Jackson’s spot in the starting lineup. The 31-year-old Jackson has had a disappointing first season in Tampa Bay, with 50 catches for 668 yards and three touchdowns, but that word could be used to describe the entire Buccaneers team in 2017.

Buccaneers Place Five Inlcuding Rookie TE Howard on IR

The Bucs got pretty banged up on Monday night in their three-point loss to the Falcons, as the team lose a couple key players, including tight end O.J. Howard, who caught at touchdown pass in the loss.

Howard, along with four other players, were all placed on IR on Wednesday by the team as reported by ESPN.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed first-round draft pick O.J. Howard, safety Justin Evans, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, offensive guard J.R. Sweezy and linebacker Adarius Glanton on injured reserve.

Evans, Howard, Sweezy and Glanton were among the 10 Bucs who suffered injuries during the team’s 24-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football.