Which rookies are fighting for starting spots? Which rookies will be fighting an uphill battle to make Tampa Bay's final roster? PewterReport.com's Eric Dellaratta breaks it all down in this article.
With spring practices in the books, it's time to turn the focus towards training camp and some of the players that will be battling for playing time and roster spots. The Buccaneers rosters is stocked with talented rookies that have high upside, but there won't be room for all of them. Here are some rookies to watch when training kicks off on July 25.
RUNNING BACK CHARLES SIMS
The Buccaneers added West Virginia running back Charles Sims to an already crowed stable of runners, selecting him in the third-round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Sims, who was a PewterReport.com Best Bet at the running back position heading into the draft, is a tremendous receiver out of the backfield and is a quick, one-cut runner. His style of play is a fabulous fit in Jeff Tedford’s offensive scheme, which features lots of stretch running plays and designed passes to running backs. Sims looked excellent during spring practice and played with improved pad level compared to his college tape. It will be interesting to see if he stays low when the pads come on. Skills to watch: Pad level, Hands CENTER JOSH ALLEN
Allen had some issues snapping the ball during spring practices. The Louisiana-Monroe offensive lineman botched a few snaps with quarterback Mike Kafka at the helm and looked uncomfortable at times. With experience at left guard and center at the collegiate level, Allen’s versatility could factor into his chances to make the roster. He will need to play lights-out football if he wants to make the Buccaneers final roster. Evan Dietrich-Smith is entrenched as the starter at center with Jace Daniels and Jason Foster battling for reps. Allen will need to play lights-out football to make the roster over each of the second-year players Skills to watch: Snapping, Strength LINEBACKER NATE ASKEW
Undrafted linebacker Nate Askew opened eyes during spring practices with his natural athleticism and excellent play in pass coverage. Because he was a part-time player at Texas A&M, Askew brings limited experience to the next level, but he has god-given physical attributes that can be developed. There is an interesting battle between Askew, Dane Fletcher, Ka’Lial Glaud, Danny Lansanah, and Damaso Munoz for roster spots at the linebacker position. Askew could carve out a niche role on special teams and act as a reserve linebacker as a rookie if he develops throughout training camp.
Skills to watch: Athleticism, Pass coverageRUNNING BACK BRENDAN BIGELOW
One of the Buccaneers priority undrafted free agent signings was running back Brendan Bigelow, who had experience with Jeff Tedford’s offense at California. Bigelow has great speed and agility but his size and injury history was the main reason he went undrafted. The 21-year old will have to make an impact on special teams in order to make Tampa Bay’s final roster. He’ll be competing with Jeff Demps, Skye Dawson, Solomon Patton and Robert Herron for the roles of kick and punt retuner. Skills to watch: SpeedTIGHT END CAMERON BRATE
The Buccaneers signed Harvard tight end Cameron Brate during rookie mini-camp in May and he made some standout plays as a pass-catcher. At 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, Brate could use some extra weight to help his blocking, an attribute that will be on display when the pads come on later this month. With Austin-Seferian Jenkins, Brandon Myers, and Tim Wright taking up three spots, it’s unlikely that Brate makes the team’s final roster, but he could be a good candidate for the practice squad if he impresses at training camp. Skills to watch: Blocking strength and footworkDEFENSIVE TACKLE EUCLID CUMMINGS
Cummings is a very explosive athlete that can get off the ball with lightning speed. The knock on Cummings as he entered the NFL ranks was his “tweener” size. At 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, he doesn’t possess prototypical weight for a 4-3 defensive tackle, but his explosiveness and athleticism could make him an intriguing option as a pass-rushing specialist with upside. Cummings has a legitimate chance to crack the Buccaneers’ final 53-man roster as Gerald McCoy’s primary backup at the three-technique position.Skills to watch: Explosiveness, Violence GUARD KADEEM EDWARDS
The Buccaneers used one of their two fifth-round picks on Tennessee State offensive guard Kadeem Edwards, a beefy blocker that oozes of raw potential. It’s hard to take a lot away from offensive line drills with no contact or pads, but during spring practices Edwards showed a nice punch and solid leg drive. His college tape showed some inconsistencies with leverage and positioning, so Edwards will need to clean up some of those issues before he can be relied upon as a starter. The 6-foot-5, 310 pound offensive guard did not seem to have stars in his eyes when he got his chance to run with the starters during OTAs. Quarterback Josh McCown praised Edwards after a practice where the rookie ran with the first-team offense. Edwards has been training at both left and right guard positions and will fight for a starting spot when training camp begins. Skills to watch: Pad level, Strength WIDE RECEIVER MIKE EVANS
The rookie who created the most buzz on Tampa Bay's roster is Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, who was selected by the Buccaneers seventh overall in the 2014 NFL draft. Evans showed early on in rookie mini-camp why he was worth the seventh-overall pick, making a phenomenal one-handed catch over the middle on a deep route, drawing a boisterous "wow" from the media members in attendance. Route-running and the ability to separate were the big question marks on Evans coming out of the draft, but the 21-year old was shockingly explosive in and out of his cuts on short and intermediate routes. Evans suffered a hamstring injury during OTAs and sat out for a good portion of spring practices, which was likely set back his development because of the missed reps. Despite the injury, Evans is on track to start right away across from Vincent Jackson in the Bucs’ offense.Skills to watch: Route-running, Quickness WIDE RECEIVER ROBERT HERRON
Speed kills and sixth-round pick Robert Herron’s 4.3 burners flashed throughout the Buccaneers’ offseason program. Herron is a strong route-runner that with big-time play-making skills. The Wyoming product has tremendous body control and leaping ability for a 5-foot-9, 193 pound receiver, which was displayed on multiple occasions at spring practices. Playing with consistency will be important for Herron if he wants to take hold of a big role in the Buccaneers offense as a rookie. He needs to continue to work on his technique relating to beating press coverage in addition to being more consistent catcher. Heading into camp, Herron will be battling Louis Murphy, Chris Owusu, Lavelle Hawkins and others for snaps behind Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Skills to watch: Speed, ReleaseOFFENSIVE TACKLE KEVIN PAMPHILE
The Buccaneers traded up in the fifth round to select Purdue offensive tackle Kevin Pamphile, an athletic lineman with upside. Pamphile worked as the primary backup at left tackle behind free agent acquisition Anthony Collins during spring practices and looked comfortable working with the second-team offense. The 6-foot-5, 315 pound lineman has impressive athleticism and is a natural mover, but it will be interesting to see how he fares at training camp during one-on-ones and other physical drills. Heading into training camp, Pamphile looks like he has the inside track for a roster spot as the backup left tackle. Skills to watch: Footwork, Athleticism TIGHT END AUSTIN-SEFERIAN-JENKINS
Second-round selection tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins missed a lot of valuable time during spring practices because of a Pac-12 rule that prohibits participation until the players’ school semester is over. PewterReport.com believed that Seferian-Jenkins was valuable player because of his ability to play on every down as a blocker and a receiver. With a 6-foot-5, 260 pound frame, the former Washington standout has the prototype size for a NFL in-line tight end, which could be a huge benefit for Tampa Bay’s offense in the redzone. He will be fighting for a starting spot with Tim Wright and Brandon Myers at training camp. Skills to watch: Hands, Blocking DEFENSIVE END CHAZ SUTTON
Playing across from college superstar Jadaveon Clowney, defensive end Chaz Sutton didn’t garner much attention from the draft community, but he’s a talented player that could develop into a threat as an edge-rusher. He looked explosive and played his heart out during spring practices and defensive line coach Joe Cullen said good things about Sutton and his development. His main competition is with second-year pass rusher Steven Means as the backup right end. Skills to watch: Explosiveness, Hand usage
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