FAB 4. Godwin’s Ascension Won’t Diminish Humphries’ Role

Tampa Bay rookie Chris Godwin, the team’s initial third-round pick this year, has made quite an impression on the coaches, players and front office at One Buccaneer Place this offseason. The Penn State product continues to make play after play in practice, the latest was a diving, juggling touchdown catch over rookie cornerback Jonathan Moxley in the end zone during Thursday’s final OTA workout.

Godwin is already making a serious push for the Bucs’ third wide receiver spot behind Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, taking full advantage of Jackson’s many missed OTA practices by getting plenty of time in the starting offense opposite Evans.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Chris Godwin is good,” Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith said. “I like Chris a lot. He’s good. He’s big, too, and he runs good routes. He’s going to be a weapon for us.”

So what does Godwin’s ascension up the depth chart mean for third-year veteran Adam Humphries?

Absolutely nothing.

Godwin has strictly been playing outside at the Z and X receiver positions and not inside at the slot receiver spot where Humphries has lined up exclusively. Humphries won the slot receiver position in training camp last year and has looked so consistently good this year during the OTAs that it will be hard for another receiver, such as Josh Huff, Bernard Reedy or rookie Thomas Sperbeck, to oust him from that spot, which is a starting role when the Bucs go to three-wide receiver sets.

“The confidence is the there, third year in this offense,” Humphries said. “I feel like I know the plays and I feel like I can play all three positions if needed. And just knowing the guys, and being around the players and the coaches, it adds to my comfort level. With the additions we’ve had on the offense, I think it will be a great year for me.”

Humphries is coming off a career year in which he caught 55 passes for 622 yards and three touchdowns in 2017 to improve on his rookie year in which he recorded 27 catches for 260 yards and one score. The key to Humphries making the team three years as a rookie try-out player and an undrafted free agent out of Clemson was doing two things exceptionally well: get open and catch the ball.

“He gets open and catches the ball,” Smith said. “People underestimate Humphries. That boy is a dog. He’s very quick and he knows how to gets you out of place. You have to have good eyes with our receivers like him or they’ll make you look bad.”

To see Humphries drop a pass in a game or even in practice is a rarity. He might have the best hands on the team, according to his roommate, Bucs tight end Cameron Brate.

Bucs WR Adam Humphries and CB Javien Elliott - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs WR Adam Humphries and CB Javien Elliott – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I take pride in being able to catch the ball well, so I kind of have a good idea of how to do that, and I watch people and how they track the ball and secure it once they have their hands on it,” Brate said. “Adam is the best I’ve personally seen do it. With Adam there’s definitely going to be a role for him without a doubt. He’s so reliable.

“He is an unbelievable athlete. People don’t give him enough credit about how good of an athlete he is. He had Division I basketball offers. The way he works in space, whether it’s man coverage or zone, he gets separation and he’s always going to come down with the catch. Guys like that, you’re always going to find him a way to get the ball.”

Humphries’ short area quickness allows him to work the middle of the field and tests the hips and ankles of nickel cornerbacks assigned to cover him with head fakes, jukes and planting his feet at the right time coming out of his breaks to get open. Godwin is a bigger and faster receiver, but doesn’t have the ideal skill set to play in the slot, just like the 5-foot-10 Humphries, who has been compared to New England’s Julian Edelman, doesn’t have the ideal size to play outside receiver on a down-in and down-out basis.

Godwin may end up as the third wide receiver on the depth chart at the outside receiver spots, but Humphries will continue to start in the slot. The only time he won’t be there is if the Bucs want to create some mismatches inside by moving Jackson there for his speed, or moving Evans there for his size.

With so many weapons on offense – and the Bucs added three big ones in Jackson, Godwin and tight end O.J. Howard, the team’s first-round pick – Humphries’ opportunities to catch the ball might be down slightly from a year ago when he was targeted 82 times in a passing game that really only featured him, Evans and Brate due to injuries to receiver Vincent Jackson and running backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims. But don’t be surprised if Humphries ends up making the most of his opportunities. With so many bigger, faster weapons on the field in Tampa Bay’s offense, opponents might sleep a bit on Humphries, and when they do he’ll make a big play like he did with a career-long 42-yard juggling touchdown catch at Dallas.

Bucs WR Adam Humphries - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs WR Adam Humphries – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I was on the field for that play and I was the check down,” Brate said. “I was two yards away from Jameis [Winston] when he threw that. I thought Jameis was going to run it because I think it was third-and-2 at the time. He was running to his left and if he would’ve run for it, he definitely would have gotten the first down.

“I thought he would get three yards and we’d be fine, but he threw it – probably a little ill-advised – but he and Adam found a way to make a play with a big catch. He just kept tracking the ball, even after it was tipped, until he caught it. It was huge for us at the time. That’s kind of the player he is. If you throw him the ball he’s going to find a way to make the play.”

Brate marveled at the arsenal of weapons the Bucs now have on their roster, and including the rookie receiver in that group.

“Chris Godwin has looked awesome,” Brate said. “Adding a guy like DeSean to our offense is huge. There are just so many more guys and different pieces that can do so many different things in our offense – more than we had last year. It’s going to be really great for our offense, and Adam is definitely going to play his part, too.”

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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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4 years ago

Scott, Sorry for the offshoot question, but I was looking at the projected compensatory picks that were projected for next year and they were thinking that the Bucs would receive nothing for Glennon because the calculation is based on not only who a team has lost, but who a team has also signed? So, i.e., no 3rd rounder for Glennon next year?

4 years ago

Another Awesome Fab 5 Scott! Now I’m even more fired up for the Season. Last weeks Fab 5 was Great too. GO BUCS!!!

4 years ago

Nice Fab 5 Scott. Hopefully our offense line is better this year. Sweezy, who I can’t ever remember seeing play can open up run lanes. It will be fun to watch this come together. Ryan Smith aka Smooth Criminal hopefully will continue to play Special teams. He to good at it not to. Koetter and Smith seem to think that he can play CB, good enough for me. Things are looking good. One thing, I don’t think I would call Donovan Smith pudgy. At least not to his face. That is one big dude. Jeez, he slimed down to 326.… Read more »

Reply to  chetthevette
4 years ago

The pounds aren’t the important part….it’s that he lost 5% body fat. In other words by only losing 5-6lbs but 5% body fat then he’s turning that fat into muscle. He’s ready for a breakout season!

Reply to  Rob
4 years ago

Hoping so

4 years ago

Honestly, I haven’t heard that much negative rsponses about D. Smith from Buc fans. I don’t see K. Pamphile in rotation to be a LOT or ROT Back Up, if either Dotson or Smith go down, because he has more OG size than OT size. I can tell the hype is all out there for players who haven’t even played yet in the NFL or even as a Buc. Finally we don’t have to expect any of this years draft picks must be starters from the get go. Go Bucs!

4 years ago

Had to laugh Scott when you said Smith took his lumps last year thinking, yeah Jameis did too! Then you mention he’s still only 23 years old, we forget how young some of these guys are. I’m glad he’s working out, and eating better. Man we got a lot of good young players growing together. It’s a shame they all won’t be able to get paid, and we’ll lose our fair share. So no matter how young, or old, it’s win now. The days of five year plans are over.

4 years ago

Great Fab 5 Scott! A lot of good stories, individual player improvements. With each report you can see that addition of talented young players maturing and speed increasing across the board. And it seems like we’re adding thumpers on both sides of the ball to compliment speed. Can’t wait for the season, Go Bucs!

4 years ago

I’ve been hearing how we should have upgraded our OL this year. People are under the impression that we should have drafted or signed another OL in FA. I think those people are wrong and aren’t seeing the improvements we’ve made on the OL without actually adding anyone. Marpet is a clear upgrade at C over Hawley. As much as I love Joe’s attitude and drive to protect Jameis, he was undersized and overmatched pretty often. Getting Sweezy on the field is equivalent to adding a top FA. He was one of our big FA signings last year that never… Read more »

Julian Jordan
4 years ago

I hope Jaccpot’s guarantees are minimal.

CG12 will likely start at least 6 games in place of an injured DJax.