If the Bucs learned one thing from falling short in the 2021-2022 playoffs, it was that they can’t have enough depth at wide receiver. In the team’s 30-27 loss to the Rams, the Bucs finished the game with Mike Evans, Scotty Miller and recently-signed John Brown as the only healthy wideouts. Gone for the season were Chris Godwin (ACL) and Antonio Brown (cut), while Cyril Grayson and Breshad Perriman also missed the game with injuries. In the fourth quarter, Tyler Johnson left the game with an injury.

Now, good luck surviving that severe of an injury situation. Deep down, the Bucs know that. Unfortunately, the stars did not align for the team’s health in 2021. A big part of winning championships in the NFL is luck, whether we want to admit it or not. And the Bucs didn’t have enough luck last season.

However, the team is making every effort this offseason to prepare their roster to absorb more unluckiness this season, if it comes. This offseason, the Bucs have signed Chris Godwin to a long term contract, while adding a brand new No. 3 receiver. Russell Gage will fill Brown’s void to the tune of a 3-year, $30 million contract. That’s a lot more than Brown was making at any point in Tampa Bay. And it show how far the Bucs are willing to go to upgrade their receiver depth.

In addition to Gage, veteran Breshad Perriman is back on a cheap, one-year contract. The Bucs liked his flashes last year, and it’s hard to argue with them. Given the affordability and the fact that Perriman has played his best career football in Tampa Bay, it’s a good move. Johnson and Miller will return as well, despite disappointing 2021 campaigns for both. Last year’s fourth round pick Jaelon Darden also remains in the mix.

Bucs Not Done At WR Yet?

So the Bucs are set at wide receiver. Right?

Not so fast.

According to several reports, the Bucs are hosting multiple wide receivers on Top 30 visits over the next few weeks. Each NFL team is allowed to invite 30 non-local prospects to their facility during the pre-draft process. Right now, the Bucs are slated to host Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave and Arkansas WR Treylon Burks.

New Bucs WR Russell Gage, Jr.

New Bucs WR Russell Gage, Jr. – Photo by: USA Today

So not only are the Bucs bringing in wideouts for visits, they are bringing in projected first round wide receivers! This is very interesting for several reasons. First, the Bucs have their top three wide receivers all under contract for the next two seasons. And when Evans’ contract is extended, you can bump that number to the next three seasons. That’s a long time for a top draft pick to wait for playing time! Or a lot to pay Gage to be your No. 4 wideout.

But honestly, screw all that. Having more weapons than everyone else enhances your ability to create offense. Teams that create the best offense have the highest chance to win Super Bowls. The past few years has unequivocally taught us all of this. It might not fit typical roster-building for the Bucs to draft a wide receiver in Round 1, but that shouldn’t stop them from doing it.

Which WRs Could Bucs Target?

In addition to their upcoming visit with Olave, the Bucs have also met with the receiver formally at the Combine. In many ways, Olave fits the Bucs scheme very well. He’s primarily a vertical threat, well-suited for a Z-receiver role in the NFL. Olave is an excellent route runner and has the speed to win downfield as well. But he’s not a very physical player, nor will he be a factor after the catch. Those could be issues in the NFL.

It’s safe to say those things won’t be a problem for Burks. He’s one of the draft’s premier deep threats despite being 6-2, 225 pounds. On tape, Burks shows it all. He can stretch the field and run by cornerbacks, or he can adjust and make the tough catch. Plus, the big receiver is a factor after the catch as well. Burks played mostly in the slot at Arkansas, but has outstanding reps outside vs press in his 2021 tape.

If there’s a concern with Burks, it’s that his Combine was good, not great. A 4.55 40 at his size isn’t a big deal, but many thought he’d be faster. He also only jumped 33 inches, although his 10-yard split and broad jump were fantastic. But Burks’ timed speeds at Arkansas are very impressive. The SEC star nearly hit 23 miles per hour in a game this year, a measurement which the Bucs pay attention to. Tampa Bay’s interest in Burks shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, except in relation to their loaded wide receiver room.

But, based on their pre-draft activity, the Bucs are invested in this wide receiver class. Tampa Bay attended North Dakota State receiver Christian Watson’s Pro Day a few days ago. That fit makes too much sense, as the Tampa native has talked about looking up to Evans’ skill set in his training. Watson is raw, but has elite athleticism and size, which he used to dominate the Senior Bowl.

Tampa Bay has also had a formal interview with Cincinnati wide receiver Alec Pierce. It’s no surprise the Bucs are interested after Pierce’s Combine performance. If you’ve read my research on GM Jason Licht’s draft preferences at wide receiver, you’ll see that Pierce checks every box. He’s big (6-3, 211), fast (4.41) and has great hops (40 1/2 vertical). But Pierce also struggles to separate at times, which could be problem in the NFL. He’s a mid-round option, unlike the aforementioned trio.

Whether you want the Bucs to draft a receiver or not, it’s becoming clear the team is interested in doing so. Last year, the Bucs saw what happened when they ran out of weapons. In a system that relies heavily on receivers to win one-on-one, they can’t have enough depth at wide receiver. If the team can add a big-play rookie, it could take a great offense over the top this season.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Horse
Horse
3 months ago

I don’t see us taking a WR in the early rounds because we don’t have this luxury in this draft. Now if Marpet was to return,the situation for me would change.

geno711
geno711
Reply to  Horse
3 months ago

Marpet has lost considerable weight since he retired. It seems that is another indicator that he is not intending to play any longer.

danielob
danielob
3 months ago

I can see the Bucs going this way in the draft but extending that thinking about shoring up a position of need I think the Bucs draft a corner early, especially with Dean and SMB ( our achille’s heel in the secondary) on contract years, the position was devistated by injuries, we need an up and comer. Maybe another Auburn CB in the second/third. I’m also concerned about the D line depth, we need a good D tackle, not too many after the second round.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  danielob
3 months ago

All good point.

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
3 months ago

I feel confident about the Bucs drafting a WR. But in the the first round? Could be a smokescreen but there is something else to consider. If the Bucs sign a bunch of veteran FA defenders in the coming weeks leading into the draft then that is an indicator. It is an indicator they are all in on going WR in round 1.

Last edited 3 months ago by Alldaway 2.0
fredster
fredster
3 months ago

I hope they aren’t going WR early we have too many holes on a defense that played poorly all year.

fredster
fredster
Reply to  fredster
3 months ago

The opening statement “one thing they learned was you can’t have enough weapons.” to me is not the main issue. We had enough fire power to almost come back. No the defense was putrid and Brady had no time. It was a factor for sure no AB and Godwin, but I am 100% sure the bigger issue was Brady under duress by a great Rams pass rush and our O line was hurt. No Wirfs and Jensen hurt. I seriously doubt if he had another weapon would have mattered much. You can have all the best weapons doesn’t matter if… Read more »

Horse
Horse
Reply to  fredster
3 months ago

Another good point on this subject.

geno711
geno711
Reply to  fredster
3 months ago

No doubt that was a horrible end of the game and season.
Not sure why Bucs fans suggest that the defense that allowed the 5th fewest points in the NFL in 2021 was horrible, or putrid.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  fredster
3 months ago

Do you just base everything on the Rams game and even more so on the play leading up to the FG? Perhaps you didn’t notice the offense being unable to do much until the defense created the turnovers to give the offense a chance while fans were going down the escalators. The defense, in particular the secondary, was wounded all season. Then injuries and a dramatic exit hit the offense later in the season and playoffs. There’s a big difference between the team “sucking” and hurting.

Kimba
Kimba
Reply to  fredster
3 months ago

so true–we need decent early round fast corner we do not have luxury picks like receiver

BDOG
BDOG
3 months ago

freddie boy ur right, its the hogs, and we have zero OL depth on wing, but can get quality OL in 2nd rd for depth, we got starters, but starting quality WR or DBs don’t grow on trees. Godwin isnt guaranteed to be ready until mid-season, so maybe Bucs looking at getting a rook WR time early to be ready and develop for playoff run? Luv Burks or Watson. Would also consider Auburn db roger mccreary too, a player! If Nakobe Dean ILB drops, thats the Defensive field general to replace LVD or white. I think our D sucks bc… Read more »

fanofdabucs
fanofdabucs
3 months ago

The two biggest reasons the Bucs lost to the Rams was lack of OL depth and horrible communication in the secondary. Ofcourse Godwin would’ve helped, but win Brady has time to throw, he can make a lot of average WRs look good. I love Olave, but I believe that’s a luxury pick and doubt he’s even there. Burks is a bust waiting to happen. He looks stiff and no explosive enough. Could see him adding weight and being more of a hybrid TE. The Bucs could use depth along the oline, more youth at DL and a CB to push… Read more »

Dave
Dave
Reply to  fanofdabucs
3 months ago

Burks isn’t explo

Dave
Dave
Reply to  fanofdabucs
3 months ago

Burks isn’t explosive enough? That’s putting too much stock into his combine results, and not enough stock into his results on the field. He was clocked In a game last year at a top speed of 23 MPH. Timed 40 speed in shorts doesn’t always reflect live game speed. He’s plenty explosive. They said the same about Deebo. And he’s a big play waiting to happen. IMO, Burks is the safest WR in this draft. He has stud written all over him

Theydidwhat
Theydidwhat
3 months ago

Doesn’t seem like the biggest need(s). They may have to reach for an available one. I like Weddle from Alabama. Injured, but great potential with no need to rush back. Christian Watson if he falls to the third round. Trenches, secondary, another TE and backup LB. Who is there at 27 is what it comes down to, select or trade back.

cobraboy
cobraboy
3 months ago

I trust Licht, but I’d prefer the first couple of rounds reinforcing the OL & DL with Big Uglies.

twspin
twspin
3 months ago

Would not surprise me one bit if we went WR with our 1st pick. Why not? we’ve intentionally neglected the Defense this long. Keep Going. And when we cannot get off the field? Why we will just blame Tod Bowles..AKA- Our Official Buc nation Scapegoat.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  twspin
3 months ago

Where do you get the idea “we’ve intentionally neglected the Defense”? Seems to me the Defense has been the focus of, or at least the equal to, the Offense in the Draft and free agency.

Kimba
Kimba
3 months ago

We need decent corner from 2nd round, we cannot go into next year without a corner upgrade–last year should of taught us how truly weak we are in secondary–Must have an additional if not 2 corners from this draft.

Eddie
Eddie
3 months ago

Boy only if Edelman have something left in his tank and willing to come to Tampa. Will solve the slot void until Goodwin is in full speed which won;t be until late this season

SenileSenior
SenileSenior
3 months ago

I think you have caught on to our brain trust’s thinking. (This is partly why LIcht has finally emerged to be considered as a top level GM as far as local fans and pundits go, Jon.) I don’t know what round we will grab another Wide Receiver in, but I’m convinced we will get at least one this year. I expect us to come away with a safety or corner as well. I sure hope we can get a quality defensive lineman or another edge rusher to add to the mix. We have to keep one eye on the future even if… Read more »

Bucc My Life
Bucc My Life
3 months ago

We could justify a 1st rounder at so many other positions. OL, DL, EDGE, CB, S. But yeah no lets make room for a WR4.

drdneast
drdneast
3 months ago

Sure, let’s draft more WR’sin the upper rounds, why not another rubber band armed QB with a No. 2. While we are at it, lets trade up and get a kicker at No. 3. Don’t worry about the defense, they didn’t have anything to do with the loss against the Rams.

seat26
seat26
3 months ago

This is such a deep draft in receivers, Bucs don’t need to waste draft capital in the first round on a position they have so much strength in. They need to focus on the trenches. and TE and maybe outside linebacker.

scubog
scubog
3 months ago

Every year leading up to the Draft it’s the same story. Fans want to get the best players, yet all they talk about is needs. Me, I’d sure rather add a great WR than some turd defensive tackle because we want to fill in a perceived need. Needs can and do change quickly. As we found out last season when our secondary was ravaged by injuries and Bowles was literally playing guys off the street. Then later, the offensive line and wide receiver group got hit and Leftwich was forced to field backups and hobbled players. In spite of all… Read more »

tiapanda
tiapanda
3 months ago

There probably will be a great WR prospect at 27. Green Bay will surely take a WR with the next pick. Seems like the perfect scenario for a trade down with a WR needy team..

James Taylor
James Taylor
3 months ago

Ok these are talented receivers but you don’t draft a #1 receiver unless you are planning on moving on from one of your starters. The Bucs don’t have a true strong safety on the roster so Lewis Cine makes sense. Also, the Bucs need to get younger on the defensive line and get someone who has enough explosiveness to get gap penetration. If Devonte Wyatt fell to 27 they should run up to hand in the card. Maybe a top corner falls there too and you have a guy who can play with Carlton Davis long term. This team had… Read more »

Dave
Dave
3 months ago

this

Dave
Dave
3 months ago

This is such a deep draft, that we shoul

Dave
Dave
3 months ago

This is such a deep draft, that we should just take BPA. Or even trade back into the early 2nd if we can get our target and find a trade partner. Chances are very good that there will be an elite player still available at 27. There should be plenty of elite, top of their position players still there at 27. Whether it’s Burks, Zion, Dean or Lloyd, and Hall. All of them are arguably the best at their position. Even if it isn’t our biggest position of need. Rather that, than reach on a player at a need position,… Read more »