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June 20, 2011 @ 7:09 am
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Top 10 Breakout Bucs in 2011

Written by Charlie
Charlie Campbell


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Which players are poised to be the Buccaneers' top 10 breakout performers in 2011? Which Tampa Bay rookies make the list? Find out right here.

The 2010 season saw many players have breakout performances for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quarterback Josh Freeman, running back LeGarrette Blount, wide receiver Mike Williams, guard Ted Larsen, cornerback E.J. Biggers, and safety Cody Grimm were some of the young players that had breakout performances for the Bucs. In 2011, Tampa Bay is hoping to see some more of their young players emerge as playmakers in the NFL. Pewter Report takes a look at the top 10 players that could surprise and have breakout years in 2011. First we will look at a few players that narrowly missed the top 10. 



Typically in the NFL defensive ends take some time to develop and do not break out with big sack totals as rookies. Bowers is also working his way back from offseason knee surgery. The expectations for a rookie defensive end should be around a handful of sacks, but expecting them to have a breakout year of close to double digit sacks immediately in their NFL career is unrealistic and unfair.

Black could be a sleeper that has a big impact on the Bucs defense in 2011. Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris would like to work with suspended safety Tanard Jackson again, but the Buccaneers are not including him when planning for 2011. Grimm is the favorite to start opposite Sean Jones when the season starts, but Black could force his way onto the field. Black would have to have a dominant training camp and preseason to become a starter. It definitely is possible, but right now Grimm is the likely starter with Black serving as a backup and special teams contributor.


The Bucs feel they got steals in signing both Woods and Okam during the season. Each player provided Tampa Bay with some quality run defense during their playing time in the second half of 2010. The Bucs would like to keep both on the roster in 2011 and go with five defensive tackles. If that is the case one of Woods or Okam is likely to be inactive on game days. The other player will rotate into the game in run and goal line situations. If there is an injury to one of the top three defensive tackles, especially starting nose tackle Roy Miller, Woods and/or Okam would take on a much bigger role.


There is a real possibility that Foster could be a starter on defense early in the season at one of the linebacker spots, Mike (middle) or Sam (strongside). If Tampa Bay does not re-sign veterans Barrett Ruud and Quincy Black, Foster is likely to be starting sooner rather than later. If that is the case, he would be much higher on the list. As it stands with both Ruud and Black potentially returning to the Buccaneers, Foster may work his way on the field more gradually. Ruud, Black, and many other future starting linebackers started out as core special teams players, and if Foster isn’t a starter he definitely will be a special teams first-teamer. Also, Foster would figure to get rotated into the defense for series periodically.

The Bucs really like how Lorig finished the season, and he has spent the offseason mastering the fullback position. Lorig figures to get an expanded role as a lead blocker in 2011. If Cadillac Williams is not re-signed, Lorig could become a major part of the Bucs offense. If Williams leaves in free agency, the Bucs would probably move veteran Earnest Graham into the role of the third-down back. Graham has the trust of the coaching staff in blitz pickup, know’s the offense exceptionally well, is a good receiver and a strong runner. Using Graham in that role would reduce the snaps that Tampa Bay would play him on early downs and Lorig would get increased playing time to serve as a lead blocker. If Graham stays at fullback the Bucs plan to use Lorig more at fullback anyways to save Graham some wear-and-tear, and keep him fresh to get him the ball more.

Briscoe finished the season strong with six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown in two games. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Briscoe has good speed, body control and leaping ability. He has been adding muscle to his frame and looks like he could be a mismatch threat for the Buccaneers offense. Entering the 2011 training camp, Briscoe is going to compete to be the third slot receiver, and potentially push starting Z ‘flanker’ receiver Arrelious Benn. Beating out Benn will be difficult, but Briscoe has the best skill set of any of the other receivers outside of Mike Williams and could easily prove to be a dangerous weapon for the Bucs offense as a slot receiver. It wouldn’t be surprising if Briscoe takes advantage of some favorable coverage matchups to produce a season with significant totals in receptions, yards and touchdowns as teams roll coverage towards Williams, Benn and tight end Kellen Winslow.

The driven McKenzie could be poised to force his way into the lineup at either Mike or Will linebacker. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Bucs have veteran Barrett Ruud back in 2011, in that case McKenzie could push Geno Hayes. McKenzie is bigger, more physical, and a better student of the game than Hayes. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder could upgrade the Bucs run defense, which has ranked at or near the bottom in the NFL the past two seasons. The New England Patriots' 2009 third-round pick is healthy and focused. In order to have a breakout season all he needs is an opportunity for playing time.

The Buccaneers defensive coaching staff is extremely high on Bennett and it plans on using him all across its defensive front. The 6-foot-4, 274-pound Bennett started two games in 2010 and recorded one sack with 21 tackles. The Bucs will likely turn to Bennett to be the starting left defensive end if rookie Da’Quan Bowers is not ready due to offseason knee surgery. Bennett also figures to see snaps at right defensive end and defensive tackle. Bennett is the favorite to be the third defensive end to rotate into the game and keep the starters fresh. He figures to get a lot of playing time in 2011, so he should easily improve on his tackle and sack total next season.

The Bucs plan on using Stocker as a quasi-starter as long as the rookie is up to the task of picking up the offense in a crash-course due to the NFL lockout. Stocker is projected to be an integral part of the Bucs offense as a drive blocker, and Tampa Bay believes the running game is going to improve with Stocker as a blocker. They also like his receiving ability, and the rookie figures to get many favorable coverage matchups as defenses focus their attention on established weapons like tight end Kellen Winslow, wide receiver Mike Williams, and running back LeGarrette Blount.

Tampa Bay is very excited to see Lewis in 2011. The Bucs believe that he has a superb skill set that will make him an excellent man corner. Injuries held Lewis back from competing to be the nickel corner last year, a role he was projected to have after being the team’s third-round pick in 2010. Lewis saw the field late in the season and the Buccaneers liked how Lewis competed against some of the top receivers in the NFL, like Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. Lewis (6-2, 203) had 10 tackles and four passes broken up last year. If starter Aqib Talib is unavailable for part or all of the season Lewis is could be the Bucs starter at left cornerback and at the very least will likely be the nickel corner. The Buccaneers feel Lewis has a high ceiling and are looking forward to seeing him start towards reaching it in 2011.

At the start of training camp Price was the talk of the organization for the way he was dominating practice. The 6-foot-1, 303-pound Price was routinely winning matchups against Tampa Bay's veteran starting offensive linemen like center Jeff Faine and guard Davin Joseph. A hamstring injury that was part of a deeper problem knocked Price out of the lineup and after some time he was placed on injured reserve. Tampa Bay is excited to get Price back in 2011. They believe that he can push Roy Miller for the starting nose tackle position, and also serve as the backup three-technique to Gerald McCoy. Beating out Miller is going to be tough, but Price is a pure pass rusher that will get plenty of chances to sack the quarterback in 2011. Last year, he had six tackles with one tackle for a loss and three quarterback pressures. Price could be a player like Biggers that lost his rookie season to injury, but came back to have an eye-opening second season.

Benn has been a fast healer from his late season ACL tear, and right now it sounds as if he should be ready to play when training camp starts. Benn was finishing the 2010 season strong when he went down with the injury against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16. He totaled 25 receptions for 395 yards and two touchdowns. Benn’s production started to take off mid-way through the season as defenses were devoting extra attention to Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow. That should be the case early in the 2011 season. Benn enters the season in position to retain the starting Z ‘flanker’ receiver position. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Benn is a very good blocker and is a dangerous run after the catch receiver due to his ability to power through tackles. Benn has clutch hands and he could prove to be a valuable position receiver that consistently moves the chains for the Buccaneers offense in 2011. If he is healthy it would not at all be surprising if Benn doubles his yardage and more than doubles his receptions and touchdowns in 2011.

The Bucs' second-year defensive tackle has been a driven workout warrior this offseason as he shoots for a breakout season in 2011. Last year, McCoy recorded 43 tackles with three sacks, six tackles for a loss, 17 quarterback pressures, five passes broken up, and one forced fumble. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound McCoy was playing well when he went on injured reserve with a torn bicep. Once McCoy got over some initial growing pains and figured out what was needed from him in the Bucs scheme he started to flourish. McCoy has been hard at work to get faster and more explosive. McCoy has been studying lots of film, and has a better knowledge of how to attack guards. Of all the players on the Bucs roster, McCoy sounds like the player that is most ready to breakout across the NFL with a banner 2011 season.

Last modified on Tuesday, 21 June 2011 08:59

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  • avatar

    Also, Dekoda Watson should be here as well as Daquan Bowers
  • avatar

    Yeah, I don't know about this list. I don't see McCoy becoming the next Sapp like everyone says. Also, Price has bust written all over him. There's no way that Michael Bennett will be anything other than a servicable backup, especially with the additions of Bowers and Clayborn.
  • avatar

    Dekoda Watson is going to have a break out year. I would take ALL rookies off this list. Lately Bucs rookie HAVE been doing great, but thats due to offseason work. This year there WAS NO offseason work, and thus rookies will have to wait until next season to shine.
  • avatar

    McCoy was moved all over the defensive line last year until mid season when Morris got a clue. Then he started to learn his job (unlike Morris who is still doing rookie things). Price was found to have a pelvic crack which was adding to his other problems. The staples should stabalize that and the McCoy-Price combination will rule. The return to the play that defensive genius Montie Kiffin used should be interesting. In the NFL the plays only last 3-4 seconds. That isn'ta lot of time to read the defense and protect the gap and then rush the QB as an afterthought. Kiffin attacked the gap and therefore the QB with good results. The return to a Tampa-like defensicve scheme should come as a surprise to a lot of teams. Go Bucs.
  • avatar

    At his age and frequency of his injuries, I just don't think "Insurance Graham" is a strong candidate to make this young roster. A year ago Pewter Report was talking up OT Demar Dotson. He was even getting rave reviews from his fellow offensive linemen. What is the outlook for him? We sure would have a solid DB group if both Talib and Jackson are able to be a part of the team. Say what you want about their questionable character, they are the two best back-end defenders on the team and potential Pro-Bowlers.
  • avatar

    I believe that as many young fair to good defensive linemen we have that we will have a productive line. I do not really care who does it as long as it gets done. Go bucs.
  • avatar

    Actually the Talib thing has gotten interesting lately. 1 item the players are looking for in the new CBA is for no disciplinary action to be taken against players who get into legal trouble during the lockout. Also according to Talib’s lawyer, a trial date isn't going to happen until after the 2011 season. If no discipline is given until after a verdict is handed down--which has been the case at least with the QB's of late--then Talib could play the entire season unhindered by the NFL or the Texas court system. As righteously indignant as some of you sound, I hope it doesn't upset you too much for the Bucs' to have a shutdown CB on the field for the entire season. He has a punchers chance of being there.
  • avatar

    Yeah, I would imagine the Bucs are moving forward as if TJax and Illcapyour@ss will not be available. They'll be fine either way. This team will be very much better this season even with the lockout. Very exciting. Jonesing for some football!
  • avatar

    If McCoy does have a break out year then I woould argue one of the rookie DEs benefits and gets 10 sacks
  • avatar

    We absolutely need McCoy to have a breakout season! He doesn't neccessarily need 10 sacks, but he needs more than 5 and needs to take up more attention for our DEs. However my I'm the biggest fan for Lewis to breakout. We most likely wont have Talib for at least part of the season and our safeties all have their own issues. If Myron Lewis could have a breakout, the Bucs would have a physical corner to play across from Barber that would be awesome!
  • avatar

    I like the list and agree with it from top to bottom. One thing I don't think Benn gets enough credit for is his downfield threat ability. He got open deep several times last year. One was a game where he got 99 yards receiving. He was also overthrown in the Ravens game when he beat someone deep. I think he is every bit as fast as Williams if not faster. Between Williams, Benn, Briscoe and Stroughter I think we've hit the jackpot at WR.
  • avatar

    Price got a hamstring in TC, I believe, but it was part of a nagging pelvic injury. That just sounds bad. But stapled together? Man. Hope his staples work out better than the ones I use in office....lol. Otherwise, poor guy will come apart. Good article. I don't know how much more exciting this new season could possibly be. Gotta buy some NFL network privileges so I can rewind, freeze and really study game this year.
  • avatar

    roger4680- The answer is both. He was drafted with the injury and injured his hamstring at the rookie mini-camp and training camp because of his hip injury. If Price is healthy he is going to be a monster. My biggest concern is the Bucs won't use him right. He is a natural three technique and is not a nose tackle. The Bucs might have a more dominant line if they platoon Price and McCoy as three techniques. That will allow them to be fresh and dominant all game.They have the depth at nose tackle with Miller, Okam, and Woods to do a platoon of run stuffers there.
  • avatar

    I sure do hope that Price is able to play with his hamstring stapled to his pelvis. Apparently no one has ever played in the NFL with such a procedure. He's a tough guy so there certainly won't be a lack of effort. I for one am praying for the guy.
  • avatar

    I still don't know: was Price injured in training camp or was he drafted with a pre-existing injury? Or was it both?
  • avatar

    Love the list. Looking forward to seeing Price play a whole season!
  • avatar

    Like the list Charlie. All we need is for players/owners to get it done an get back to football.......
  • avatar

    "The eel they got steals in signing both Woods and Okam during the season." QFT!
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