The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReport Twitter account. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the PR Bucs Monday Mailbag. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.
Question: Do you believe Adam Humphries’ role is in jeopardy with the addition of WR Justin Watson?
Answer: Not this year. And not necessarily next year, strictly based on talent at least. However, Humphries is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, and I am guessing he’ll want to see what he can get on the open market. If Humphries can command No. 2 wide receiver money from another team ($4-6 million per season), I’m not so sure the Bucs would be willing to pay that. A lot will depend on the type of season he has in 2018, of course. But, the Bucs like what they have in Chris Godwin and, as you mentioned, drafted Justin Watson.
Mike Evans is clearly the top receiver on the team and will be for the next several years, so the Bucs will look at 2018 and see who becomes that No. 2 opposite Evans. Tampa Bay has an option to retain DeSean Jackson after this season for $10 million, but can also walk away with no penalty after this year as well. So much of the future plans I am guessing revolves around the development of Godwin and even Watson. Everyone knows what they have in Humphries, and at his 2018 salary, it is a good value, but another team could make him an offer he can’t refuse. If that happens, unless Humphries has a monster 2018 season, I think the Bucs were wise to add Watson to be his potential replacement.
Question: Do you think Ronald Jones is a day one starter despite hearing they don’t think he is?
Answer: I haven’t haven’t heard anyone say they don’t think Jones can’t be a starter right out of the gate, at least not anyone in the organization. They won’t hand him the starting job, but Jones is all the things Peyton Barber (4.39 speed, breakaway threat) isn’t – and then some. With that said, Barber won’t go down without a fight, but the “loser” of the starting job will still see plenty of action. It is the way Dirk Koetter runs his offense. How many times was it late last season that Barber was the hot back, and Koetter still would send Doug Martin in for a few series? And then the year before it was Sims who came in for a series or two. I do understand the thinking of giving the starter a break and also giving the defense a different look. I think a platoon system of Jones-Barber is a much better idea than one of Martin-Barber.
When the dust clears after camp, I believe it will be Jones whose name is called to run out from the tunnel when the Bucs open the season in New Orleans — barring injury, of course.
Question: Which UDFA has the best chance of making this roster, or do you see a few making the roster?
Answer: It is really impossible to say at this point, as none have set foot on an NFL football field. Starting Friday at the rookie mini-camp we will get to see all the rookies up close and will have a better guess. We do know the team thinks highly of former Duke running back Shaun Wilson who is very versatile. In his Duke career, Wilson had 475 carries for 2,463 yards (5.19) and 18 TDs, and as a receiver he caught 81 passes for 725 yards (8.95) and six touchdowns. Wilson also was a kickoff and punt returner for the Blue Devils as well. Another thing the Bucs like about him is obviously his smarts. You don’t get into Duke without being a very intelligent person, athlete or not. Wilson was an ACC All-Academic selection while in college. That should help him pick up on the playbook, something that isn’t always easy for rookies.
Another name to keep an eye on is Northwestern safety Godwin Igwebuike who the team is also high on from their crop of UDFAs. Igwebuike is another mentally gifted young man and had good size (5-11) and speed (4.4 40-yard dash). Igwebuike struggled some in college as a one-on-one cover guy and would fit more in the mold of a strong safety. But that is also where the Bucs could use more depth.
Question: Of all the drafted rookies which one is most likely to get a redshirt year? i.e. Bell, Bond, Tu’ikolovatu.
Answer: This is a super tough question, and I am only guessing here, but if I had to pick on then perhaps safety Jordan Whitehead. Scott Reynolds gave Whitehead just a C+ grade after the draft and wrote: Bucs free safety Justin Evans was not known as a consistent tackler coming out of Texas A&M and Whitehead has the same struggles. He needs to be more consistent, especially for being undersized a safety. While Whitehead has the athleticism to cover, he made very few plays on the ball during his time at Pitt, evidenced by just three interceptions. Does he have any star potential, or is he just another player that can happen to start a la Chris Conte or Keith Tandy? With West Virginia’s Kyzir White and Texas A&M’s Armani Watts going later in the fourth round, did the Bucs pick the right strong safety?
I can’t remember what grade we gave Kwon Alexander after the draft and Reynolds and I have admitted, neither of us were overly excited when his name was called as a draft pick. So take the answer to this question with a grain of salt.