The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ draft class of 2018 was, to be quite frank, underwhelming after one season. Now, if you had to pick one player as the Bucs rookie of the year, who would that be? That is certainly not an easy task. No one particularly stood out .
The choice has to be made between first-round pick Vita Vea, late second-rounder Carlton Davis and 4th-round pick Jordan Whitehead.
With Vea being picked in the first round, expectations were high for the Washington product right off the bat. However, due to an injury, Vea missed the start of the season and made his NFL debut in week 4 against the Chicago Bears. He failed to appear in the stat sheet, like he did in week 6 against the Falcons. While not collecting any stats does not necessarily mean having a bad game for a defensive tackle, Vea was not able to make much of an impact on the field at first. He got better and better as the season progressed, however, and finished the season with 24 total tackles and 3 sacks. The fact that he finished strong provides hope for next year and for the future. Yet, all in all it was not enough to be considered the Bucs rookie of the year, especially since he was drafted that high.
Carlton Davis was picked late in the second round after Tampa Bay had spent an earlier second round pick on yet another cornerback. Davis received a lot of playing time due to the Buccaneers’ severe problems at the position, especially after Vernon Davis got hurt in week 1 and missed the remainder of the season. Struggling as a rookie is nothing unusual for cornerbacks who turn out to be great at the position later on in their career. On the one hand, Davis did look like a rookie multiple times this year. On the other hand, he did have a lot of great moments and showed potential for becoming a key player for the Bucs in the future.
Jordan Whitehead was drafted in the fourth round and, like Carlton Davis, received more playing time than initially planned with the injuries of Chris Conte and Justin Evans. Whitehead finished the season with 73 total tackles and three defense passes. The only game he missed was the game in week 4 against the Chicago Bears. He seems durable and had a very decent rookie season, especially considering he was picked in the fourth round.
Conclusively, the award for Bucs rookie of the year goes to Jordan Whitehead.