INDIANAPOLIS — Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith has focused mostly on free agency in recent weeks, so doesn’t profess to know a lot about this year’s top draft prospects.
There is, however, one thing Smith knows — and fans eager to see the Bucs spend the seventh overall selection on a quarterback will be excited to hear it.
“I know enough about the draft to know that, yeah, there’s (a quarterback) that would be worthy of the seventh pick,’’ Smith said Thursday from the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. “And whenever you have a chance to get a franchise quarterback, you have to consider that.’’
Quarterback is considered a position of need for the Bucs because they are relatively thin with 2013 rookie Mike Glennon and former Northwestern standout Mike Kafka the only quarterbacks currently on the roster.
Glennon started 13 games for Tampa Bay last year and posted the best passing statistics of any rookie quarterback in the league. But he won just four games and, since Kafka hasn’t played in two years, many believe the Bucs can do better.
The draft offers that possibility. With quarterbacks Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville and Blake Bortles of Central Florida giving up their senior seasons to enter the draft, it is considered one of the deepest quarterback drafts in years.
So deep that Smith said the Bucs cannot look past it and must consider their options, despite the fact he has been impressed with what he’s seen on tape of Glennon.
“If you ask me do I think we can win games with Mike Glennon, I’m going to say, ‘Yeah, we can win games with Mike Glennon,’ ’’ Smith said. “If you ask me would you like to upgrade the position? I’m not running around the question. That’s a yes, too.
“Mike did some good things. But he did some good things as a rookie. So to say right now that Mike is the answer and he’s our quarterback of the future and we’re going to build around him and give him a 20-year contract right now, you’re not there.
“But you like the things he brings to the table – strong arm, great guy. He is a guy that seems like he doesn’t have an off-season because he has been working his butt off in the facility.
“But again, I just know I like him on the football team as one of our quarterbacks right now. We have just two quarterbacks signed. We’re going to have at least four in camp.’’
One of those four could be a veteran free agent. Smith said that would be the ideal scenario, because he doesn’t necessarily want three quarterbacks in the developmental stages of their careers.
Unless, of course, one of those is considered a franchise quarterback.
“I think people really make it out to be about that guy, that quarterback,’’ Smith said. “You have to have that ‘franchise quarterback.’ But what is a franchise quarterback?
“Is it Russell Wilson that you got a little bit later? Is it Peyton Manning? There are different degrees of quarterback that you can get to win with, the things we’re looking for, leadership, all those things.
“But I’ll just say this: I think this draft, I know enough about to know it’s a deep draft. We’re talking about the first round. It’s a deep draft at a lot of positions, quarterback being one of them.
“And you want that option out there available to you. That’s why this is fun starting this process of seeing. I saw where a few quarterbacks are going to throw here. That will be good.’’