The Bucs have quite the battle brewing for their depth receiver roles. Behind Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage, the competition is wide open.

The favorites for those WR4 and WR5 – and potential WR6 – roles are likely the team’s incumbents. Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, Jaelon Darden, Breshad Perriman and Cyril Grayson, Jr. aren’t likely to relinquish their roster spots without a fight. But could a dark horse emerge and impress enough to earn his way onto the team?

Tampa Bay has plenty of receivers on its roster. Then again, Tampa Bay has plenty of players on its roster. That’s why it felt so significant for head coach Todd Bowles to single out one undrafted free agent receiver – Deven Thompkins – when asked who impressed him during the team’s mini-camp this week.

“I would love to see what Thompkins does in training camp,” Bowles said. “He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s explosive off of the ball and he’s made some good catches. So, we want to see how he continues to learn and how he does in training camp and preseason. I’ll be looking at him.”

Utah State WR Deven Thompkins

Utah State WR Deven Thompkins – Photo by: USA Today

Bowles had more to say on the 5-foot-7 pass-catcher. When asked again later in his Thursday press conference about any players who improved their stock during mini-camp, he brought Thompkins up again.

“Nobody’s improved their stock until we get in pads. But, there are guys that run around in [a] t-shirt and shorts that look good,” Bowles said. “Like I said, Thompkins is quick and fast and I look forward to seeing him in training camp.”

Of course, the Bucs have seen stories like this before. Much was said about Kenny Bell, the team’s fifth-round pick in 2015. He starred in the summer and early in training camp, but when the pads came on, he wasn’t the same.

Even Darden, a fourth-round pick last year, struggled to acclimate to the NFL during his rookie season. So, the big challenges lie ahead for Thompkins, an undrafted free agent out of Utah State.

Thompkins’ 4.35-second 40-yard dash tells you plenty about his speed. His place as the second-leading receiver in all of college football last year – with 1,704 yards – says plenty about his ability to produce. We’ll soon see whether or not he’ll replicate that type of success at the NFL level. But for now, Bowles is among those looking forward to seeing him when the Bucs come back together for training camp in late July.

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About the Author: Bailey Adams

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surferdudes
surferdudes
23 days ago

Yeah we have heard this before, and have been disappointed. However at some point the law of averages has to swing our way. If he is really any good, Tom will find him. Looking at our wideout room Tyler Johnson just doesn’t stand out. We hoped he’d be like Chris Goodwin, not even close. Doesn’t have elite speed, or size, doesn’t have any kick returner ability. Very average, I don’t think he makes the cut this year.

inspecto
inspecto
Reply to  surferdudes
23 days ago

I agree

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
23 days ago

Glad to hear you qualify your statement this time, past PR has pumped us full of hope (Darden) only to see us get the air knocked out of us when season starts. I don’t mind getting it wrong sometimes but everytime! Man do I miss Trevor Sikiema

Eddie
Eddie
Reply to  Captain Sly
23 days ago

Yeah, really didn’t help their creditability and career too

fanofdabucs
fanofdabucs
23 days ago

First of all, trying to read an article or post something on this site has gotten so annoying with all the pop up ads. I understand you have to pay bills, but it’s just out of control.
Secondly, Darden is Dex Jackson 2.0. I super wuss with zero heart.
Hopefully this t-shirt superstar won’t crumble once the pads come on. We shall see.

surferdudes
surferdudes
Reply to  fanofdabucs
23 days ago

Pop ups are even worse when viewing on my phone. just to much going on.

fredster
fredster
23 days ago

5’7” 155 lbs? No way he makes it overall or when pads come on. One good hit he will crumple. Lol. I’m 5’8” 162 and now way I would be able to take a hit from 250 lb line backer. Lol. Same for Kenny Bell and Darden. Too small.

Last edited 23 days ago by fredster
inspecto
inspecto
Reply to  fredster
23 days ago

Darden even shrinks when the pads come on , he has no heart!
I m scared to watch him bot sure he makes the team

The Wall
The Wall
23 days ago

Totally agree on the popup ads. Scott, I hope you guys are making enough money because you’re about to lose one PR fan. So annoying!

Eddie
Eddie
23 days ago

Thats right, I remember Darden impressed everyone at camp last year, until pre season against another team. The writers keep calling him Speedy Darden

scubog
scubog
22 days ago

Poor Deven Thompkins. Youngster receives a nice compliment from the head coach, Pewter Report does a brief article about him, and all the fans can do is poo-poo it and bring up the names of a couple of other players who received early accolades and failed to live up to the hype. No doubt Kenny Bell and Dexter Jackson (the WR) ultimately were “more fluff than substance”, but I’m not quite ready to give up on Jalen Darden until we see him in his second Training Camp. Not all players shine right away.

surferdudes
surferdudes
Reply to  scubog
22 days ago

From what I’ve been reading Darden has been putting in the work, all you can ask for. Did anyone really expect him to make the pro bowl last year? That said, it’s time to bow up. Never label a player after his rookie season.

plopes808
plopes808
22 days ago

I try not to get excited about any players until at least preseason. We’ve been burned too many times before