Unique Challenges Facing Buccaneers 2020 Rookie Class


During a normal season and so much more so now in 2020, NFL rookies have a lot to prove. Even if they play a position that lacks depth, these young players must come in and impress from the get-go. They must prove that whatever the Buccaneers coaches saw on tape, still applies. They also must display the skills that will make them a necessary component of the team. The rookies must make the best sales pitch of their young lives. The product is them.

Under Perfect Conditions

With the NFL COVID-19 protocol changing daily, rookies will be forced to showcase their talents every way they can. There will be no rookie OTA’s or mini-camps and very little time to build team chemistry. Once teams report at the end of the month it will be full steam ahead.

During a normal training camp there are mistakes, struggles, and bad days. For rookies, free agents, and veterans alike. For a player that is transitioning from college to the NFL, these things are to be expected. The margin for error is so very slim in a preseason that will be defined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Which Rookie Needs to Impress Most

The simple answer is all of them. There are specific players that will need to hit it out of the ballpark to solidify their spot on the 2020 roster. Offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs will need to come in and own his position. Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. will need to start ball-hawking from the moment he steps on the field at the Advent Health facility. Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn will need to come in with an attitude to prove he can immediately contribute in the Buccaneers’ backfield.

The player that will really need to prove something is wide receiver, Tyler Johnson. The Golden Gopher impressed the coaching staff with his career at the University of Minnesota. Head coach Bruce Arians liked what he saw from Tyler Johnson in this year’s Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Considered a steal in the fifth round, there is little doubt he has the skills and tools to contribute to a team that loves their wide receivers.

So Why the Immediacy?

Johnson just so happens to be a skilled receiver on a team that has a plethora of skilled receivers. With wide receivers as big as tight ends. With tight ends as fast as wide receivers. Breaking into the starting lineup immediately will be tough. Work that Tyler Johnson will be ready to do. This camp will be like no other camp in team history. While adhering to the daily changing COVID-19 protocols, rookies will be asked to digest, memorize, and with very few reps, display that they get the concepts and philosophies the coaches are laying down. Players will have to take every opportunity to prove themselves ready to make the Buccaneers opening day roster. Rookies and veteran alike.

There will be a lot of learning on the fly. Coaches, veterans, rookies and even fans will approach the 2020 season with more questions than answers. It’s going to be a minute before everybody has any idea what the new normal will be. Rookies already have a lot to prove this time of year.

So which Buccaneers rookie has the most to prove going into camp?

How about all of them!