Friday started the Buccaneers rookie mini-camp, and all of us fans are excited because that means football season is almost here! The Buccaneers have 56 people participating this weekend and there are a bunch of people to watch for, but I am going to talk about ten big names that can seriously contend for a roster spot.
Starting with the offense we have:
O.J. Howard: (6’6, 251)TE. Obviously, it’s almost automatic that he will make the roster, being that he was our first round pick. That is not why he is on my potential roster list. At Alabama, they weren’t huge on throwing to the TE position usually. In the past 4 years, Howard’s stats significantly increased. He earned over 1,700 yards. The Buccaneers used the two tight-end packages 49% last year. We all know how much Winston loves Brate. Now he has another tremendous catcher and blocker on the other side.
Jeremy McNichols: (5’9, 214) RB. This was one of my favorite picks in the draft this year. McNichols is an instant upgrade to our backfield. If you don’t know anything about this kid go do some research. This guy is a converted RB, played his first year as a receiver at Boise. He has speed, power, hands and he’s a tremendous pass blocker. He already has an advantage to start because he played the same system at Boise as they do in Tampa. He rushed for over 3,200 yards, and almost 1,100 yards receiving.
Chris Godwin: (6’1, 209) WR. We all know that Mike Evans is a monster, but he needs help. The Buccaneers have brought in lots of receivers to compete. We already know it’s going to be Evans and Jackson on the outside starting. But who’s going to be the slot? Humphries is the usual starter in the slot but doesn’t be surprised if Godwin bumps him. Godwin has had a great three season at Penn State. Godwin has compiled over 2,400 yards. His best game was probably last year in the Rose Bowl against USC, where Godwin compiled 187 yards on 9 receptions and scored twice.
Anthony Auclair: TE, (6’6, 260) This is a guy you might not know a lot about, most likely because he had played in Canada. He is 9 pounds heavier than Howard and can catch like a receiver. Currently, we have 6 tight ends on the roster. I believe we will keep 4. We run a lot of double tight-end sets, so we need to have a couple backups barring any injuries. Auclair has a great skill in blocking and catching. He would be a great third tight end on the roster. He only had 17 receptions for 229 yards and two touchdowns. The NFL throws it quite more than in Canada, plus we all know how much Winston loves Brate.
Cole Gardner: T, (6’5, 295) Cole played two different positions at Eastern Michigan, TE and T. In his first two years he played TE and then in 2015, he switched to tackle. In 2015 he was awarded EMU’s Harold E. Sponberg Lineman Scholar-Athlete Award, and in 2016 Gardner was named Team Captain. Gardner brings versatility and depth to the offensive line. He can bring competition for Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson.
And now for the defense:
Justin Evans: SAFETY, (6’1, 199) I was EXTREMELY EXCITED when the Buccaneers picked this guy! Evans had 165 tackles (6 for loss) and 5 interceptions in two years. He is a hard hitter and can stretch the field. I see him as a free safety with Tandy starting at strong. He needs to work on his wrap up and tackling but I believe he is going to be a great player. He can cover any slot receiver, or come down and line up in the box for a blitz.
Richie Brown: LB, (6’2, 240) Linebacker is one of our most needed positions depth wise. With the loss of Daryl Smith, we have an open starting position at LB. Brown is a tackling machine, he finished his career at Mississippi state with 298 tackles. 20 tackles went for a loss and had 10 sacks, also had 5 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. He has great play recognition and can shoot the gap if needed.
Kendall Beckwith: LB (6’2, 252) Beckwith is another tackling machine like I previously stated with Brown. Beckwith racked up 263 total tackles, 24.5 went for a loss and 7.5 sacks. Brown also accumulated a pick six and 3 forced fumbles. He is my projected starter at LB. He is currently recovering from a torn ACL injury but should be ready for training camp. He played with Kwon for two years at LSU.
Tyquwan Glass: DB (5’11, 190) In 2 seasons at Fresno State, Glass had 6 Interceptions, and 15 pat downs. Grimes is getting older and this guy could learn a lot from grimes since there both undersized. Glass would be a good slot corner to start out with.
Stevie Tu’ikolovatu: DT (6’1, 320) Stevie is a HUGE man on the defensive front. He is a rotational role type player. I can see him playing a lot of run situations. Stevie played at Utah and USC. He didn’t start at first, but his last year in Utah and first year at USC his production skyrocketed. Stevie accumulated 89 tackles (9 for loss), 2.5 sacks and 4 fumble recoveries. I believe he and McDonald would be a force to be reckoned with in the run game.
Now, these are just people I think that can make a huge impact fast. Keep an eye out during training camp and in the preseason to see who stands out. Now onward to OTA Workouts! GO BUCS!