Sink or Swim: The Buccaneers Biggest Risers And Fallers vs Steelers


The first preseason game is in the books for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs kicked off their exhibition season with a 27-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. And while the final score of this game doesn’t matter, the play that led to it does.

This game had the feel of a first preseason game. It was sloppy with lots of ups and downs throughout. Here are some of my biggest risers and fallers from tonight’s action.


Baker Mayfield

If there was any doubt as to who the front runner was in the quarterback competition, Baker Mayfield erased it in this game. He was decisive and accurate with the ball. This led to completing 8/9 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown.

The touchdown pass to Trey Palmer was particularly impressive, lofting the ball over a defender to the back of the endzone. All in all the passing game just clicked under Mayfield. He’s taken a firm grasp of the starting job at this point.

First Half Luke Goedeke

Through the first 30 minutes of the game Luke Goedeke looked like the Buccaneers best player. He put defenders on the ground multiple times in the running game. He also did a very good job protecting the edge as a pass blocker.

This was a pleasant surprise for me. It’s no secret that Goedeke is changing positions back to right tackle which he played at Central Michigan. This made me, someone who viewed him as a guard at the NFL level, more optimistic about his ability to play this new position at a high level.

Trey Palmer and Deven Thompkins

These two young receivers solidified their position on the team tonight. Both made plays on special teams and both flashed as pass catchers. They seem like the clear fourth and fifth receiving options on the team right now.

Palmer worked himself open a couple of times. His highlight moment was a great catch in the back of the endzone and getting both feet down in bounds. We already knew how dangerous his pure speed was, but he looked like a well rounded player tonight.

If you just checked the box score then you might not think much of DevenThompkins two catches for nine yards. However, on one he bounced off a vicious hit in the backfield to turn nothing into something. The other was a tough contested catch in the middle of the field. It was a big showing from the little receiver.

Sean Tucker

Sean Tucker looked like the best running back on the field for the Buccaneers tonight. Although his best plays were all negated by penalties, he showed all the play making I had hoped for.

Playing only in the second half, Tucker made the Steelers depth defenders look like you’d expect. He broke a touchdown run and also created yards after contact. I would love to see Tucker get some opportunities with more of the starting offense.


Zyon McCollum

Despite a nice interception off Mitch Trubisky, I came away a lot more frustrated with Zyon McCollum than anything else. He gave up a long touchdown to George Pickens on the first drive and was out of position as a run defender. It was a lot more bad than good for the Buccaneers primary backup at corner.

McCollum struggled mightily as a rookie last season. Although he has excellent athletic ability, McCollum looked like he was in over his head last year. After reports of improvement in training camp, it was more of the same in this game.

Kyle Trask

As good as Mayfield was to pull ahead in the quarterback competition, Trask’s struggles helped widen that gap. Despite his 99 passing yards, I will only remember a bad interception and a lack of pocket awareness from this game.

Kyle Trask looked like someone who has minimal NFL experience. It seemed like things processed slowly for him and the entire offense felt out of sync. Trask will get his turn to start next week, but he has dug himself a hole after this preference.

Third Quarter Luke Goedeke

As good as Goedeke was in the first half, my red flags with him showed up in the second. Goedeke gave up a pair of sacks to speed rusher Nick Herbig. This has potential to be a reoccurring problem.

There is a reason Goedeke projected as a guard coming out of college. Even with good athletic ability, his fluidity to kick out and protect the edge is a question. I’m not hitting the panic button yet because of how good he looked in the first half, but if Goedeke can’t handle speed off the edge then it will be a long year for him.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Ke’Shawn Vaughn was the starter in this game with Rachaad White inactive. With this opportunity he racked up a whopping 4 yards on 7 carries for a 0.6 yard average. For those keeping score at home, that’s not good.

Frankly, Vaughn just doesn’t bring anything to the table. He plowed ahead for whatever the offensive line opened up for him and if they didn’t create his space then the play was shut down. If not for his draft status then I truly believe he would be at the bottom of the Bucs preseason depth chart.

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