PewterReport.com continues its daily feature previewing the upcoming NFL Draft with position-by-position analysis. PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook analyzes what the Bucs have currently on their roster at each position and Trevor Sikkema provides a comprehensive overall ranking of the top players at that position going into the draft. Scott Reynolds makes his projections for Tampa Bay with PewterReport.com’s Bucs’ Best Bets – one early round pick, and one from the later rounds.
The series began with quarterbacks, followed by running backs and this installment previews wide receivers.
WHAT THE BUCS HAVE AT WIDE RECEIVER
The free agent signing of DeSean Jackson was a huge need-filler for the Bucs offense, as Tampa Bay added a major speed option at the position for Jameis Winston and for head coach and play-caller Dirk Koetter to tinker with in his offensive meeting room laboratory. Jackson led the league in yards per reception (17.9 avg.) on 56 catches for 1,005 yards and four scores. He can take the top off the defense and keep Mike Evans from being double-teamed as often.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Evans, who went to his first Pro Bowl, will try to improve on his career year last season in which he had 96 catches for 1,321 and 12 touchdowns. The former Aggies superstar was a dominant force for much of the season, despite seeing numerous double teams as the Bucs was never able to find a complimentary receiver to pair on the other side of him once Vincent Jackson went down with a season-ending injury.
The Bucs also welcome back former undrafted free agent Adam Humphries, who also posted career high numbers, with 55 catches for 622 yardçs and two touchdown receptions.
After that things are pretty slim on the depth chart with Freddie Martino (eight receptions, 142 yards, one touchdown), Josh Huff (three catches, 41 yards), Donteea Dye (11 catches, 112 yards one TD in 2015), Derel Walker and Bernard Reedy.
WHAT THE BUCS NEED AT WIDE RECEIVER
Despite adding the speedy Jackson, the former Redskins and Eagles star isn’t getting any younger (30), and the Bucs need to look to add a young receiver to develop to eventually succeed him. Tampa Bay also elected not to re-sign Jackson and lost Russell Shepard to Carolina in free agency.
Fortunately for Tampa Bay, this is a fairly deep draft at wide receiver. The Bucs aren’t necessarily locked into only looking for speed threat, but with Evans set to be locked up for the next several years with a new contract this summer, finding a versatile receiver to contrast Evans is something the Bucs are most likely thinking as the draft approaches. Keep in mind that Koetter likes big wide receivers, too. Look for Tampa Bay to add another receiver or two in the draft and a few more undrafted free agents shortly thereafter.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org