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The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic related to the Tampa Bay Bucs each week.

This week’s topic: Which Bucs’ rookie from last year rebounds?

Scott Reynolds: OL Alex Cappa

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I was not a fan of former Tampa Bay offensive line coach George Warhop. I know, I know – shocker, right? The Bucs front office gave Warhop 14 new linemen over the last five years to work with and develop, including six draft picks. Outside of team captain Ali Marpet and left tackle Donovan Smith to a degree, Warhop didn’t do much to elevate the play of the players he was given, and my hope is that run game coordinator Harold Goodwin and offensive line coach Joe Gilbert will be able to take a lot of the Bucs’ young offensive linemen to the next level.

One of those players is Alex Cappa, the Bucs’ third-round pick from a year ago. Cappa had a difficult transition from small school Humboldt State to the NFL. It wasn’t nearly as smooth as it was for Marpet, who played at small school Hobart College, during his rookie year in 2015. Not only was Cappa making a big jump in the level of competition during his initial season in the league, he also was transitioning from left tackle to right guard.

Bucs OL Alex Cappa

Bucs OL Alex Cappa – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Moving from tackle where linemen have more space to work with to inside at guard where the action happens much more quickly can be a challenge, as Caleb Benenoch, who was the starter ahead of Cappa last year, found out last year. Benenoch was a right tackle at UCLA and struggled with the move inside. Word out of One Buccaneer Place is that Benenoch will move outside to tackle after failing miserably at guard last year, and Cappa will get a look at both right tackle and right guard.

Cappa’s development was rather slow last year, as he didn’t get any playing time until the last two months of the season. The hope is that Goodwin and Gilbert can fast track him to success in his second year and refine his technique. I like the fact that he’ll get a look at both guard and tackle this offseason, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up as Demar Dotson’s eventual replacement at right tackle sooner rather than later. He may not wind up as a starter this year, but I think Cappa makes some serious strides towards becoming a starting-caliber player with this new coaching staff.

Mark Cook: CB Carlton Davis

Davis wasn’t necessarily a bust in 2018, in fact, he started 12 games while playing in 13 games while notching 40 tackles as a rookie, along with a forced fumble. That isn’t terrible. However, as a starting cornerback, to only have four pass breakups all season is a pretty revealing stat. A player can get credited with a pass breakup if a ball hits him in the back of the helmet when running down field with his back to the quarterback. And to not record a single interception? Yikes. Not many saw that coming.

We all loved Davis’ introductory conference call when he was drafted by the Buccaneers last April. He was excited and came across as supremely confident. That’s something you very much want in a defensive back. Davis had a solid training camp and showed flashes in the Jacksonville preseason that made you take notice. The game didn’t seem to big for the young former Auburn standout.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Bucs CB Carlton Davis – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Then Week 1 arrived and the Bucs went on the road to New Orleans to face future Hall of Famer Drew Brees and the Saints. It was a whole different ball game for Davis and the young Bucs defense. Brees was no Ryan Tannehill. Davis quickly learned that the level of play is amped up by 100 once the regular season starts.

To Davis’ credit, he never backed down. Not to Brees, or any of the NFL receivers and quarterbacks he faced. But he and the Bucs found out the learning curve as a rookie is steep, and as good as the SEC was in college, it’s another level of speed on the game’s biggest stage. Davis was an inch away from about a dozen more pass breakups, and the hope is that with new cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross that he can become more of a playmaker and create turnovers in his second NFL season.

Having survived the bumps and bruises of his rookie season should be a good thing for Davis. There shouldn’t be any more deer-in-the-headlights looks from Davis in his second year. He faced, Brees, Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Dax Prescott and others as a rookie and lived to tell about it. With better coaching and a better scheme, expect Davis to become more of what people expected him to be as a second-round pick in 2018. There will still be some bumps and bruises in Year 2, especially learning a new system, but there also should be a renewed confidence for Davis and his teammates.

Trevor Sikkema: WR Justin Watson

I’ll go a little outside the box here with my pick.

I think Vita Vea came along plenty well enough in the second half of 2018 to not necessarily call next year a “rebound.” I thought safety Jordan Whitehead played above expectations. We’ll see what happens with defensive back M.J. Stewart depending on which position they can play him at. Linebacker Jack Cichy will be coming back from an ACL injury, so he was an option, but who knows when he’ll be back. Mark Cook and Scott Reynolds named two of the others. And as for Ronald Jones, you’ll have my answer to that in an upcoming Cover 3 column.

Bucs WR Justin Watson - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs WR Justin Watson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

I think Watson, who was relegated to special teams for much of his rookie year, could really be poised to have a breakout season. I guess I can’t really called it “bounce back” or “rebound” since his limited production last year was more a product of being in a crowded wide receiver room than anything else, but his 2019 outlook is promising.

The Bucs will assuredly be without DeSean Jackson next year, as it has been well documented that he is not happy in Tampa Bay and the team needs his $10 million in cap space, but then you also have to factor in that Adam Humphries might be elsewhere, too. If Humphries is going to command $8 million or more per year, he won’t be getting that in Tampa Bay – or at least he shouldn’t.

If that happens, Watson, who showed some good chemistry with Winston last preseason, would be in line as the team’s No. 3 wide receiver.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983(@bucsfan1983)
2 years ago

I’m going with Scott’s favorite player, Ronald Jones.

BigSombrero
BigSombrero(@bucwild02)
Reply to  Bucsfan1983
2 years ago

I sure hope you’re right. He’s the only RB under contract. Arians has been able to use RB’s like Willie Parker(Pit), Rashard Mendenhall(Pit then Az), and Vick Ballard(Indy) successfully.

Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983(@bucsfan1983)
Reply to  BigSombrero
2 years ago

Improved O Line in ’19 hopefully and more carries. He only had 24 carries in 9 games.

DT25
DT25(@dt25)
Reply to  Bucsfan1983
2 years ago

Improving the OL is key to the running game in general. If that’s fixed, Jones will absolutely have a better season (and likely Barber too). If not, we’ll see much of the same from whoever is carrying the football. Can’t continue to give up the fewest YPC before first contact and pretend it’s all the RB’s fault.

seat26
seat26(@seat26)
Reply to  Bucsfan1983
2 years ago

I agree. I have watched so much tape on Jones. He is a massive talent. It is hard for me to comprehend why he flopped. Good coaching and better OL play should turn him around.

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0(@alldaway)
Reply to  seat26
2 years ago

Coaching matters for young players. ROJO clearly didn’t have confidence in his game you could see the hesitation.

flarick
flarick(@flarick)
2 years ago

I have a question about Justin Watson. Didn’t Watson run a faster 40-yard time than Adam Humphries? Just wondering, because I don’t agree with you that Humphries isn’t worth $8 million. If the Bucs can afford the $8 or so million, they should resign Humphries, in my opinion. He has clearly developed a chemistry with Jameis Winston that is rivaled only by Cameron Brate’s red zone connection with Winston. Maybe, I’m putting too much emphasis on chemistry, but too me it’s important especially in the red zone where you gotta just know where that receiver is or is going to… Read more »

BigSombrero
BigSombrero(@bucwild02)
2 years ago

Nice picks PR Staff! Cappa and Benenoch have ideal size and measurables for RT. Cappa is 6’6″ 306 and Benenoch is 6’5 305 according to Buccaneers.com. Those two guys are definitely in the Bucs future at RT if they can’t be coached up. Davis had some nice flashes last year. Sky is the limit for the guy. He has great length and instincts to matchup against Julio, Mike Thomas, and whoever emerges in Carolina. Like Mark Cook said, Davis was an inch away from about a dozen pass break ups. Justin Watson had a few nice catches during the preseason… Read more »

BigSombrero
BigSombrero(@bucwild02)
Reply to  BigSombrero
2 years ago

Oops…I meant to say Cappa and Benenoch are in the future if the CAN be coached up.

surferdudes
surferdudes(@surferdudes)
2 years ago

It’s hard enough for college O linemen stepping up into the NFL why make it harder drafting small school projects? Everyone talks about the success of Marpet, but the reality is he’s played three different line positions in four years, and hasn’t sniffed a pro bowl at one of them. None of those positions being what he played in college LT. Now we have Cappa who like Marpet played LT in college, failing to start ahead of Benenoch at RG, and Bene played RT in college. Now Scott thinks Cappa will eventually play RT, does that mean he’ll fail at… Read more »

Spitfire
Spitfire(@spitfire)
Reply to  surferdudes
2 years ago

First off… Scott, Mark and Trevor, you guys do an Amazing job on a daily basis, no matter what some of these Constant Hate these Troll posters might try to spew… Please keep up the good work… Marpet has been moved around the line because he is our best lineman. He hasn’t made a Probowl because he has had to learn a new position each year and yet STILL is our best lineman and holds his own on a consistent basis. Cappa and Benenoch could very well stand a better chance at RT, even though they didn’t pan out at… Read more »

Easythe great
Easythe great(@easythe-great)
2 years ago

Cappa is the unknown player for me. He needs some polishing for sure as i know of several plays where he didnt even touch any defender rushing lol. I mean as bad as Benenoch was Cappa was just as bad if not worse.

BucRy
BucRy(@bucry)
2 years ago

I think Carlton Davis will have a good year under Todd Bowles.

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
2 years ago

For me it’s V. Hargreaves 111. The injury was disappointing i think he was going to have great year. I still think he can be a dominant CB with right coaching and right scheme. Playing 12 yards off guys in Smith’s scheme was stupid and not to his strengths.

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
2 years ago

Hargreaves not a rookie though so for rookie pick I’ll go Vea as well….

DT25
DT25(@dt25)
2 years ago

I’m going with Ronald Jones. Cappa should be relegated to backup duties and we should be drafting or signing a starting RG. Fix the OL, fix the running game. I think Jones should carve out a nice role for himself in Arians’ system, rather than being relegated to running the occasional stretch play that our OL wasn’t athletic enough to block for.

DT25
DT25(@dt25)
Reply to  DT25
2 years ago

I’m also saying Vea will have an impressive season if he stays healthy too, but I don’t necessarily consider him a “rebound” candidate because he rebounded pretty nicely during the season last year just by getting healthy and more reps under his belt.

Spitfire
Spitfire(@spitfire)
2 years ago

I think all of those, Davis III, Cappa, Watson will have a much better year along with much more. Davis III – It took Ronde Barber 3 years before it clicked for him. Davis has all of the measurables, drive and even competition experience to find great success very quickly. He had nobody helping him out last year in the secondary, Grimes had checked out because his Wife kept his bait and tackle in her purse and the Secondary was so young otherwise that it was all learning on the fly because we know DC Smith did absolutely nothing to… Read more »

e
e(@e)
2 years ago

Ronald Jones has the most room to improve. If this kid clicks, watch out.

owlykat
owlykat(@owlykat)
2 years ago

Good picks by all the PR Staff. You are right about Warhop, Scott. I don’t believe Warhop even developed D. Smith and Marpet. It was Logan Mankins who ran wind sprints with them and took them both under his wing to train. Warhop also ruined Cappa’s training because he insisted Cappa first learn to play Center despite the fact Warhop was instructed to train Cappa at RT by Koetter. Once Cappa gets trained there by our new Coaches he will blossom into a starter there. I hope Benenoch can now be trained as an OT backup. However when Warhop threw… Read more »

surferdudes
surferdudes(@surferdudes)
2 years ago

Cappa could be our next RT for the next 15 years, or he could be another in a long line of Licht’s draft busts. It’s nice to be optimistic, but the fact remains we need a RG, and RT yet Cappa can’t beat out Benenoch who was awful, or Dotson who’s on his last legs. Talent rises to the top no matter who’s coaching them. Marpet is our best O linemen, that’s not saying much, reality is he has played three different positions, and hasn’t sniffed a pro bowl at either one of them. Remember when he was moved to… Read more »

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy(@eastendboy)
2 years ago

There sure are a lot of George Warhop haters around here. I couldn’t pick the guy out of a lineup with just him and a bunch of 8th graders. And, I couldn’t really care less who the OLine coach was/is. I am no Warhop supporter, but who the heck is George Warhop? How many folks know who our OLine coach was in 2002? Hint, we didn’t even have a dedicated one – and those guys seemed to do just fine. I find it extremely hard to believe that the reason our Oline has struggled is because Warhop couldn’t teach them… Read more »

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0(@alldaway)
2 years ago

Carlton Davis and MJ Stewart are going to benefit from this new defensive scheme.

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
2 years ago

What a great topic. Last year’s Draft class sure has a lot of uncertainty heading into the off-season. Of the group, Jordan Whitehead surprised me the most in a positive way. I thought Carlton Davis showed some promise. Especially when we consider the fading Brent Grimes was no help in guiding the youngster. Once Vita Vea recovered from his injury, he quickly disproved Buc Ass Bob’s assertion that he was “fat and out of shape”. When we recognize he did this with zero Training Camp, I’m anxious to see him in 2019. Justin Watson had but a handful of opportunities,… Read more »

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
Reply to  scubog
2 years ago

I’d like to think it was coaching though I have no way to prove that, but our coaching staff was under tremendous pressure to win this year and may have not put him in the best positions to succeed. Confidence play a huge role in player development and I think the coaches missed it.

DT25
DT25(@dt25)
Reply to  Captain Sly
2 years ago

Also agree with this. The coaching staff did him no favors whatsoever. We became too predictable when he entered the game, then would pull him out after a few tries. It’s no way to develop a player. Using the sink or swim mentality with predictable play calling and our awful OL was a surefire way to guarantee he sunk.

DT25
DT25(@dt25)
Reply to  scubog
2 years ago

Again, it’s not that big of a head scratcher when you consider the space he had to run in college vs his first year in Tampa. The OL’s ability to open running lanes at USC was night and day compared to the ineptitude showed by our OL last season. Fix the line and we’ll see a much better RoJo. We don’t, and we’ll likely see more of the same.

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