The Bucs wrapped up practice on Tuesday, making it their ninth practice of 2021 training camp. So far, there have been plenty of standouts along the way, but who has stood out the most?
As usual, this will be in ascending order.
5. Joe Tryon
Tryon has yet to do anything special, but that’s ok. He’s been very, very solid and has looked really good so far. Bruce Arians even commented that Tryon has been “whipping a lot of guy’s asses” out on the practice field when talking to reporters on Sunday.
“Oh, more than [met them],” Arians told reporters when asked about Tryon meeting expectations. “He hasn’t been in pads in, what, two years? He’s whipping a lot of guys’ asses. That says a lot about him. He’s carving out a real, real nice role for himself.”
And it’s true. The Bucs’ first-round draft pick has extraordinary length and you can see the speed-to-power on the practice field. He’s out there for just about every snap with the 2s and has even been sprinkled in with the 1s on occasion.
Here’s the biggest appeal with Tryon, though: He could easily be on the 3rd and 4th teams right now since he hasn’t played since 2019 and had offseason knee surgery earlier this year. The Bucs could be easing him in during training camp or he could just not be caught up/in shape to play. But instead, it’s the complete opposite. He does not look like he took a year off and the Bucs are obviously benefiting from it.
The second-year back has improved mightily during his second offseason. Or should we really call it his first offseason considering there was basically no offseason in 2020? Whatever. However you want to call it, just make sure you note Vaughn’s improvement.
He looks decisive as a runner and even better as a pass-catcher. There have been several instances where he has come up with tough catches and overall, he just looks more natural in this context.
Arians said Vaughn has been “spot on” a few days ago and his practice performance has certainly reflected that through the Bucs’ first nine training camp practices.
“Ke’Shawn’s been spot-on,” Arians told reporters last Saturday after practice. “I really like where he’s at. Again, we’ll see more in the preseason. He didn’t get much of an opportunity in that one, but he’s where he needs to be.”
3. Devin White
Big things are expected out of the third-year linebacker and with good reason. White led the Bucs with 140 tackles in 2020 and was just 0.5 sacks from tying Jason Pierre-Paul for the team lead.
Everyone knows White can play the run, rush the quarterback, and defend the field from sideline-to-sideline, but one area of his game that is still in question is his pass coverage.
Even though he stepped his game up dramatically during the postseason, one still has to wonder if that will continue into 2021. Well, that’s certainly been the case during Bucs training camp, so far.
White has made a ton of splash plays while in pass coverage, including two interceptions during the first six practices. One of those interceptions came off Tom Brady, which is always put-a-feather-in-your-cap-worthy.
#Bucs LB Devin White with another interception. This time it’s off Brady.
— Evan Winter (@evan_winter) July 31, 2021
There is no doubt about it: If White can become solid in pass coverage, he will finish 2021 as one of the top-3 off-ball linebackers in the NFL.
Trust me, it was very, very hard to not give Cockrell the No. 1 spot on this list. He’s been sensational for the Bucs throughout training camp so far. And the best part about his story is that he’s making waves at safety instead of his natural position, cornerback.
The Bucs were having issues with their safety depth during the first few days of training camp, so they had to move Cockrell over to the position. He’s been running with the 2s at safety pretty much since Day One and he’s been one of the best players on the practice field as a result.
Cockrell’s camp culminated in a three-interception performance on Sunday and he nearly had a pick three days in a row during the first week of Bucs training camp.
This development is key for a lot of reasons, but the biggest advantage to Cockrell’s play so far is it could allow the Bucs to save a roster spot and use it elsewhere. That would be huge when considering the heavy competition at receiver, tight end, cornerback, and defensive line.
1. Mike Evans
I get it. Evans is arguably the best player on the Bucs roster, therefore, he should show out during camp. And he’s one of the best players at his position in the NFL. So, when considering the latter, he should definitely show out during camp.
And that’s exactly what he’s done so far. In fact, he’s been the Bucs’ best player over the first nine practices. When you think about all the injuries he went through in 2020, it makes what he’s done during camp all the more impressive.
We’ve seen him do it all. He’s made the tough, contested catches that have become his trademark over the years. Evans has roasted corners en route to deep balls. And then there’s Evans playing his role as the best red zone threat in the league, recording numerous, “grimy” (as Arians likes to call it) catches in the end zone.
The Brady-to-Evans connection has been the most consistent theme during Bucs camp so far and if it bleeds over into the regular season -which it most definitely should- then Bucs fans should expect a big year out of Evans.