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
“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?
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
“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
“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.”