Image Credit: (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
With Training Camp about to start for the NFL in a few weeks, there are questions that follow each team. Like I did with the Titans, I will be doing the Top 5 Biggest questions for every team heading into Training Camp. Next up is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who did not have a 1st round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. But there are still questions that remain with this team.
1. What running back on the roster will win the job backing up Leonard Fournette?
I think it is clear unless Lenord Fournette suffers an injury he should be the starter at running back. But if he does suffer an injury or needs a rest who will be the next guy up. Well, they have a few options. The first is 3rd round prospect Rachaad White, who the Buccaneers see a lot of potential in. If they can develop him properly, then he could produce in this offense. Ke’Shawn Vaughn showed flashes last year but was not the most consistent. Giovanni Bernard is a veteran back, but he has been a player that could be a surprise cut. I am not confident in him being on the team in week 1. Kenjon Barner is more of a special teams player, but I doubt he makes the roster due to the depth at running back the Bucs have. It is something to keep an eye on during training camp and in the pre-season.
2. The Bucs have a ton of depth at receiver, who will make the roster?
When doing my research for this article, on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense, I got to say there is a lot of talent at the wide receiver position for this team where somebody has to go. Before we go through the depth at receiver, I think it is clear Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Russell Gage are clearly not going anywhere. Jaelon Darden was mainly a special teams player last year but is still a prospect that needed a year of development. Hopefully, he can have a better season on offense. Tyler Johnson is mostly remembered for drawing that penalty on Kevin King in the 2020 NFC Championship which was one of the many moments that ended Kevin King’s NFL career. Johnson is a solid player and showed flashes last year. He just needs to have more consistent performances if he wants to have more snaps on offense and solidify his roster spot. Scotty Miller has been a hidden gem on this offense and was a very underrated part of that Super Bowl-winning squad. He did not impress in 2021, but if he can showcase his performance in 2020, then he should be a good player on this team. Cyril Grayson has been a journeyman in the league but showed flashes late last season. He impressed me during the Buccaneers matchup against the New York Jets. Breshad Perriman has been disappointing since being drafted in the 1st round in 2015. He had one great season in 2019 with the Bucs, but besides that, he has not done great. It also doesn’t help that he has durability issues too. Definitely on the chopping block. Vyncint Smith was a guy I was impressed with last preseason with the New York Jets, but has struggled to produce. There is a lot to choose from, but they have to unfortunately let go of a few talented players. I wish everyone in that room luck.
3. Who will be the new starting tight end now that Rob Gronkowski has officially announced his retirement?
Well now that it is official with Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, the Buccaneers are going to have to figure out who the new starting tight end will be. They have options on the team as of now. The First one is Cameron Brate who has been very dependable during his career with the Buccaneers. He could easily take the starting job. But he will have to go with the rookies they drafted in Cade Otton and Ko Kieft. Cade Otton was drafted in the 4th round of the draft and he has a lot of potential for the Buccaneers this season. Ko Kieft was drafted in the 6th round, but to me is more of a blocking tight end. Maybe if he has a strong camp and can produce as a receiving tight end he could take this role. The three are solid options, however, there is another option in the free agency market. Especially in Kyle Rudolph as there is growing interest in bringing him into Tampa due to his experience with the Vikings. I would say Giants, but he did not do well with them. He could be a part of the Buccaneers soon if the rumors of their interest are true.
4. Did the Buccaneers do enough to fix their issues at the secondary?
This has to be one of the first times that I legit had a tough time making a question on this defense. However a weakness last season was clearly at the secondary position, mainly due to injuries. Hopefully, those injured last year can get healthy and improve. But the Bucs also lost talent in the secondary as well, including S Jordan Whitehead, CB Richard Sherman, CB Pierre Desir, S Curtis Riley, and S Andrew Adams. So the Buccaneers during Free agency signed CB/S Logan Ryan and S Keanu Neal. The Buccaneers also drafted Zyon McCollum in the 5th round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Those are good signings, but is it going to be enough? Especially at cornerback, as apparently the Buccaneers are moving Logan Ryan to safety and while Zyon McCollum is an intriguing prospect, I would not call him a day starter as of now. They did not sign a lot of cornerbacks and last year showed that they needed depth at the position. But if this team stays healthy then the secondary should be fine.
5. How will this team perform with Todd Bowles as the head coach?
When Bruce Arians announced his retirement from being the head coach of the Buccaneers, I immediately thought that they were going to promote offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich to the job. Mainly because he was a coaching candidate, but I was wrong and they decided to promote defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. This was confusing as Bowles tenure as the head coach of the New York Jets, unfortunately, did not work out. But with the downgrade at coach, will this team be able to perform the way they did with Arians? I believe so as with the Jets he got them to a 10-win season and almost to the playoffs with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB. Todd Bowles should be in good shape with the amount of talent that is on the team, but if he makes the same mistakes he did as the Jets head coach, then Tampa might be in trouble. I wish Bowles luck and that he does better as the head coach in Tampa Bay as I was high on him when the Jets originally signed him. Plus he seems like a great guy as well as I have never heard one bad thing about Todd Bowles the person.