They’re better. Everyone agrees they’re better.
They’re faster. They’re deeper. They’re better pass rushers.
But are the Tampa Bay Bucs good yet?
Ranking the team’s offseason acquisitions (returning players and coaches not included):
1. Vernon Hargreaves, cornerback: In an ideal world, the Bucs have drafted Ronde Barber all over again. He can play outside, he can play in the slot, and he’s instinctive. Yes, you can quibble that he could be a little taller. If he can cover, however, he can play.
2. Mike Smith, defensive coordinator: There was a passiveness to Lovie Smith’s defense in the last two years. The guy drawing the X’s can’t always change that overnight, but Smith seems as if he’ll have a higher standard. We’ll see.
3. Noah Spence, defensive end: Spence is undersized as an end, but he supposedly has that rare burst that will make quarterbacks uncomfortable. He might not be a three-down end, but he should lead the team in sacks.
4. Roberto Aguayo, kicker: For all of the controversy about how high the Bucs took him, Aguayo just made field goal distance 10 yards closer. In the end, no one will grumble he didn’t come later.
5. J.R. Sweezy, guard: The reviews were lukewarm when the Bucs signed Sweezy, but the team thinks he can step in and take the place of Logan Mankins. Keep repeating: This was the guy the Bucs wanted in free agency.
6. Brent Grimes, corner: The whispers are that he’s slowing down, but the Bucs have been impressed with Grimes so far. Between him and Hargreaves, it should be harder to get deep on the Bucs.
7. Robert Ayers, end: Ayers is a pro. He might not have the sack total he did last year for the Giants, but he’ll help the group, and in particular, he’ll help Spence.
8. Daryl Smith, linebacker: Smith is another guy who will help the room by his leadership. They swore by Smith in Baltimore. The Bucs are thin at linebacker. He’ll have to be good.
9. Ryan Smith, safety: Smith is an intriguing prospect at a position where the Bucs can use some help. He’ll be the fastest safety the Bucs have, and it’s a speed league.
10. Brett Maxie, secondary coach: The Bucs’ defensive backs weren’t even coached a little bit the last couple of seasons. With Hargreaves, Grimes, Smith and Josh Henderson, Maxie’s input should be immediate.