Can Buccaneers Jalen McMillan Establish Himself as WR3?


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were very busy over the weekend. They drafted seven new players to continue to build the future of the franchise as well as sign more than a dozen undrafted free agents. There is a lot to be excited about with this upcoming group of rookies.

Even in a very good draft class, there is one player that stands out to me above the rest. That is Washington Wide Receiver Jalen McMillan. We knew the Bucs would be targeting a pass catcher as Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning, but it’s hard to ask for a better match than this one.

McMillan will now have a chance to come in and contribute as a rookie. His first gaol will be to establish himself as the third wide receiver in this offense. However, this is a title that he will have to take away from last year’s rookie wide receiver, Trey Palmer.

This projects to be a very interesting training camp battle. Two promising young players going toe to toe for playing time in an offense that needs to be improved from last year. Here’s how I think it shakes out.


Last year was very successful for Trey Palmer. As a rookie he had 385 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He could have had more if not for some off target throws while he was open down the field. He proved that even as a 6th round pick that he can be a legitimate weapon for the Buccaneers.

McMillan had a very different experience last year. While there is no doubt that he played well, an injury took him off the field for several games. This left his stat totals underwhelming and him being the third wide receiver of note in the explosive Washington offense that went to the national championship game.

With that said, let’s keep some perspective. There is a reason that McMillan was a 3rd round pick and Palmer was a 6th. I trust McMillan more as a rookie in terms of route running and catching the ball. They are very different skill sets, but I have a hard time not seeing McMillan as the better player, even as a rookie.


Palmer and McMillan are two very different styles of wide receiver. Palmer’s game is based on pure speed as someone who ran a 4.33 40-yard dash. He is at his best stretching the field and forcing defenders to try to keep up with him.

McMillan is more of a quicker than fast type of guy. He did most of his damage from the slot in college and was very good as a route runner and at making difficult catches. He is really the perfect guy to fill the Puka Nacua role in this McVay style of offense.

This is to say, that these two really do different things. Palmer is more of an outside wide receiver who can play some inside, where McMillan is the opposite. So really, they should take much away from each other in terms of snaps due to where they are lining up.

The one reason this might lead to more playing time for Palmer next year is that the Bucs already have an elite slot receiver. Liam Cohn has said that the team will use Godwin more in the slot next season. This means more opportunity for an outside type guy such as Palmer. 


Considering who these players are and the situation they are in, I believe that McMillan will emerge as the third option for this Bucs offense. I believe he is the better overall player and an incredibly natural fit in the offense. I believe he will absolutely thrive in Tampa Bay.

Even if Palmer does get more opportunity due to Godwin’s presence in the slot, there are going to be a lot of four wide receiver sets and times the Godwin lineup outside as well. This will give McMillan a chance to establish himself and once he does I think it will be difficult to take him off the field. 

When it all comes down to it, the offense is set up for someone like McMillan to thrive. There isn’t any reason why Palmer can’t either (and I think he will to a degree), McMillan to the Buccaneers is one of the best fits of the entire draft. Don’t be surprised to see him have between 70 – 80 catches as a rookie and flirt with around 750-800 receiving yards mark.

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