Five Buccaneers With The Most To Prove In 2024


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are poised for another run at winning the NFC South and making a deep playoff push. They are one of the best teams in the NFC and have a very promising young foundation to continue to build on. There is no doubt that the Bucs are in a very good place.

However, that’s not to say that every aspect of the team is perfect. In fact, it’s not out of line to look at this roster and say that they still have holes. At the very least, they have players who still have a lot to prove.

Whether the Bucs live up to their potential or fall short of expectation will be in large part depending on if those players can step up this season or watch their career start to fizzle out. Here are the five players on the Buccaneers roster who have the most to prove in 2024.

5) Baker Mayfield

Most people were projecting the Bucs to be one of the worst teams in the NFL last season in large part because they didn’t believe in Mayfield. However, as this writer has said all along, Mayfield played very well in the Buccaneers new offense that was brought to town by offensive coordinator Dave Canales. Canales had a reputation of working with quarterbacks after helping revive Geno Smith’s career in 2022.

Now, Canales is gone and the Mayfield doubts are back in force. This isn’t an unreasonable thought process if you believed that Canales was the key to Mayfield’s success. However, I am of the belief that the system that was put in place (what many would refer to as the Sean McVay offense) had more to do with that than any specific coaching.

Fortunately, that system is still in place and the Buccaneers hired an offensive coordinator, Liam Coen, who comes from the same coaching tree and runs largely the same system. This means that Mayfield still has all the tools and support that he did last season. We will learn quickly if he is the leader the Bucs believe he is or if he’s the guy who was run out of Cleveland or Carolina.

4) K.J. Britt

A year ago at this time, I would have told you that Britt was nothing more than a depth piece and special teams player. It wasn’t until the preseason that we saw a quicker, more agile K.J. Britt which was a huge part of him finding a pathway to the playing field. Fast Forward to the end of the season and he had overtaken Devin White as the starting linebacker of the defense. 

Britt is tough, intelligent and a gritty run defender. It’s easy to see why coaches and teammates gravitate to him as a leader. However, at the end of the day those things are enough for any player to be successful in the NFL.

At this point, I still question if Britt has the raw talent to keep his position as a starter long term. It’s one thing to step in and replace White for a few games, but it’s another to keep that job long term. Britt needs to show that he’s fluid and athletic enough to stay on the field, particularly in coverage, to not be a liability.

3) Cody Mauch

Most people would tell you that Cody Mauch struggled as a rookie and they wouldn’t be wrong. Coming from North Dakota State and stepping into the NFL as a starter is a massive jump. Not to mention the position switch from left tackle to right guard naturally comes with growing pains.

To be honest, I actually thought that Mauch looked much better than expected last season. He came along as a run blocker towards the end of the year and his technique was trending in the right direction. Now with a full offseason where he has added about 15 lbs of muscle, it’s more than fair to expect him to take a big jump in year two. 

However, there is always the possibility that this doesn’t happen. Mauch could continue to struggle and ultimately prove that he just isn’t the man for the job. This would be surprising to me, but the saying “put up or shut up” definitely applies to Mauch this season.

2) Zyon McCollum

It has been an interesting career path for McCollum so far. He was a day three draft pick after proving to be a freak athlete at the NFL combine. We always knew he was going to be a developmental project and that was more than confirmed over the course of an incredibly rough rookie year. It was fair to doubt if he would ever be able to put it all together.

Fortunately, we saw a fair bit of growth last season when he was pushed into starting duty for a large part of the year. In this time he played fairly well, although there were still aspects of his game to clean up. Regardless, the development was obvious and things seem to be heading in the right direction.

The coaching staff thought so highly of him that they were willing to part ways with Carlton Davis in the offseason and put McCollum in position to be the opening day starter this season. If he can build on or even just repeat what he did last season then the Bucs secondary should be just fine. However, if he regresses then it’s time to hit the panic button, both of the Buccaneers starting outside corner position and McCollum’s.

1) Logan Hall

Perhaps there is some bias here because I’ve always been low on Logan Hall. I didn’t think he was a good college player and I was frustrated when Jason Licht and the Bucs drafted him with the 33rd overall pick in 2021. Since then the self fulfilling prophecy has come true and Hall has been a fringe starter and incredibly underwhelming.

With that said, we always knew that this was a developmental pick. He was more potential than production coming into the league and needed to add weight and refine his pass rush moves. Now, going into his third season it’s time to see some return on investment.

Hall is in position to win the starting defensive end job. Playing next to Vita Vea and Calijah Kancey should make his job much easier, so that means he should be able to clean a lot of sacks up for raw production. It would be nice if Hall were disruptive enough to take some pressure off Vea and Kancey, but let’s just take it one step at a time and hope for a 4-5 sack season at minimum.

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