With Buccaneers’ training camp in full swing, a new NFL season is right around the corner. Position battles will determine who makes the squad, and who doesn’t. These are the position group battles we’re highlighting in training camp.
Every season there are intense battles across the league to make the roster as a wide receiver. This Buccaneers team is no different, with a mix of guys who have been on the roster for years and new undrafted free agents that show promise. With the signing of Julio Jones, getting on this roster will be tough for everyone.
The leader in receiving yards last year, Jerreth Sterns was the go-to target in a historic Western Kentucky offense. He caught 150 passes for 1,902 yards with 17 touchdowns in just 14 games. He isn’t the best athlete or the most physical, but he’s shown a knack of getting open across the middle of the field and making defenders miss.
Last season, Deven Thompkins dominated the Mountain West and led his team to a conference championship. He finished last season second in the league in receiving yards with 1,704 receiving yards. He has legit 4.3 speed and is a true deep threat. Furthermore, he is currently getting reps as a kick returner and that is where I can see him earning his spot.
Compared to others on the edge of the roster, Smith has a lot of NFL experience and has started games before. The 26-year-old started his career in Houston before landing a job with the Jets, where he started 5 games and racked up 277 yards. He’s 6’3 and with that size, he surprisingly runs a 4.3 40-yard dash. With his experience and physical ability, Smith could definitely make the team.
Probably one of the most unlikely battles on the team, I believe the Buccaneers love their options and could take a look at moving on from Ryan Succop and saving money in the process.
Moving on from Succop wouldn’t be a popular decision because he has brought stability to a kicking room that hasn’t been stable since Matt Bryant. Succop doesn’t have the ability to hit long-range field goals, and that is important in an offensive league. Cutting Succop would save the Bucs $2 million this year and $3 million next seasons.
After the draft last year, the Buccaneers signed Jose Borregales as an undrafted free agent, and there was high praise for what he did in training camp. The Bucs seemed to have liked him enough to keep him on, and now he could be a cheaper option if he performs well in the pre-season.
After spending a top 100 pick on Rachaad White, the Bucs have to decide who they are going to cut to make room for him. The depth in this position group is good, so someone will be losing a roster spot they deserve.
Barner, an NFL veteran who has hopped around teams and has contributed to every single team he has been on. The bad news is he only played 9 snaps last season and only played in 25% of special teams snaps. Throughout his career, he has been a great locker room guy, and it has led to him winning three Super Bowls.
Last season the signing of Giovani Bernard, it seemed like a match made in heaven, but last year wasn’t a good one and Bernard didn’t produce. Bernard needs to rebound if he wants to keep his spot on this roster, and it all starts with the passing game. He needs to be on the same page as Brady more and must be a more reliable target if he hopes to make the team.
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