• STEWART IN FOR THE FIGHT OF HIS NFL LIFE IN CAMP: It is do or die time for cornerback M.J. Stewart in Tampa Bay. The former second-round pick was actually selected ahead of Carlton Davis, the team’s top cover corner, in what has become one of general manager Jason Licht’s most curious and questionable draft day moves.
Bucs CB M.J. Stewart – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Stewart struggled playing outside cornerback and nickel cornerback during his rookie season where his lack of speed and athleticism were exposed. Stewart rarely saw the field after Week 5 last year as the two cornerbacks Licht was forced to draft because he missed on Stewart – Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean – proved to be better than the North Carolina product.
Licht’s rationale for drafting Stewart was to potentially replace former first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves III, who struggled in his first two seasons in Tampa Bay. Stewart is similarly built at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, but was considered to be tougher and more physical than Hargreaves. Unfortunately, he was far less athletic than Hargreaves was, and that is something that the Bucs didn’t pay nearly enough attention to, evidenced by these MockDraftable.com spider charts that show the athleticism percentile from both players’ numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The difference in the vertical jump, broad jump and 20-yard shuttle – which are all used to measure explosiveness and the agility needed for change of direction – between Hargreaves and Stewart all stand out, and not in a positive way for Stewart. If Stewart is going to have any chance of beating out Mazzi Wilkins or newcomer Parnell Motley, he will need to find a way to increase his speed and agility this offseason to stick around as a reserve nickel cornerback behind Murphy-Bunting.
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• McCOY IS STILL A BUCS FAN: It was very cool of former Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to speak highly of the Tampa Bay organization and his former teammates on the Colin Cowherd show this past week. McCoy, who was the Bucs’ first-round pick in 2010, spent nine years in Tampa Bay where he became a six-time Pro Bowler before the team released him last year in a cap-cutting move in favor of signing Ndamukong Suh.
After McCoy spent a year in Carolina, he moved on to Dallas, signing a three-year deal worth as much as $20.25 million. That’s a great deal for the 32-year old McCoy, who will become a fixture upfront for the Cowboys defense. McCoy told Cowherd he hopes the Bucs go undefeated in 2020.
Former Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Getty Images
“For me, I’m a lifelong Bucs fan. OK? And until we have to play them, I’m always going to root for the Bucs,” McCoy said Tuesday on Colin Cowherd, via RJ Ochoa of ESPN San Antonio. “I’m just telling you that. I hope they go undefeated and then they lose to us in the playoffs. I’m going to be honest. I’m a lifelong Bucs fan. One of my best friends is Lavonte David. I believe he deserves all the TV time he’s going to get. I believe he’s very, very underrated. I’m excited for all of them to get all of the publicity they deserve. I believe that Tom Brady can be what they need, and I hope they win, man. I really do. I hope everything that happens except the Super Bowl, because that’s for us.”
• NEW PEWTER NATION PODCAST COMING FRIDAY: We’ve got a brand new Pewter Nation Podcast coming Friday afternoon, but here is a link to our previous podcasts in case you missed them. The entire PewterReport.com staff gathered for a Zoom conference call to record a Pewter Nation Podcast last Friday, analyzing the Bucs’ Depth Chart. Make sure you give it a listen.
The PR staff – minus yours truly, who was on vacation – taped a Pewter Nation Podcast the previous, discussing among other things the Bucs’ potential interest in Jets Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, who was drafted in New York by former Jets head coach and current Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Bucs general manager Jason Licht had a very high grade on Adams coming out of LSU years ago.
With Adams in a contract dispute with the Jets, would the Bucs be interested despite spending a second-round pick on Antoine Winfield, Jr.? Could Tampa Bay create the necessary cap space to acquire Adams in a trade? Listen and find out!
There is no better time to listen to a new Pewter Nation Podcast, which is presented by Chris Garrido of Westshore Financial, than right now or early Saturday morning during your workout or while running errands. The next Pewter Nation Podcast will be recorded Friday afternoon. Stay tuned!
• TWO BUCS VETERANS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: The Bucs are going with a youth movement for depth along the interior offensive line and at outside linebacker, and will be relying on players with only a year or two worth of experience to fill those roles. Yet there are two names to keep in mind as potential late-August signings if the young guys don’t impress in camp – Earl Watford and Sam Acho.
Bucs OL Earl Watford – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Watford, who turns 30 on June 24, was the first lineman off the bench last year and started a few games at right guard for the injured Alex Cappa. He was also the team’s backup center and can play left or right tackle in a pinch.
Acho was a mid-season signing due to injuries to Carl Nassib and Anthony Nelson. The 31-year old Acho recorded three tackles and had a sack against Jacksonville. Both Acho and Watford played for Bruce Arians in Arizona and are familiar with the coaching staff’s offensive and defensive schemes. The coaches know what both players can do, so there is no need to have them in camp, taking valuable reps away from younger players who need them. But if injuries or ineffectiveness occur, both Watford and Acho remain unsigned and could return if needed.
• FOLLOW PEWTER REPORT ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Thanks to a lot of new Buccaneers fans due to the signing of Tom Brady and the trade for Rob Gronkowski, PewterReport.com has surpassed 36,000 Twitter followers on the @PewterReport Twitter account! Thank you to all of our Twitter followers. We’re also at 10,000 followers on Facebook, so if you don’t follow us on Twitter or Facebook please take the time to do so, Bucs fans.
Here is a list of all of the PewterReport.com social media platforms. Make sure to follow us this offseason as we cover the team’s training camp in July, plus any breaking Bucs news or press conferences.
• CONGRATULATIONS, ELLIE! On a personal note, I’m so proud of my daughter, Ellie, who graduated from Wiregrass Ranch High School last week. Her graduation was part of the reason there wasn’t an SR’s Fab 5 column last Friday, in addition to some business matters I had to attend to on behalf of PewterReport.com. The Class of 2020 had to overcome a lot this spring due to schools abruptly being shutdown over the COVID-19 pandemic. Students had to quickly transition to become full-time online students and graduating seniors didn’t have the opportunity to end their high school year surrounded by their friends on a daily basis.
Scott and Ellie Reynolds flashing the “WC” Wildcat sign
Like most seniors, Ellie didn’t have a prom, a senior skip day, a senior celebration or even a real graduation where she could walk across a stage and be handed her diploma in front of her family and friends. Instead, her diploma came in the mail on Thursday. While missing these moments were unfortunate, it will strengthen her character and resolve, as it will the Class of 2020 across the country.
As I’ve told her in life, she needs not just a backup plan for when the master plan doesn’t go according to script, but she also needs an escape plan – a Plan C when Plan B and Plan A fail. Life doesn’t always go according to script, but it doesn’t mean that anyone can’t wind up working Plan C to get to their final destination with enough determination and grit. Ellie has plenty of that, and I’m so proud of her for finishing high school strong.
Now she’s off to Kansas State University, my alma mater. She’s been out there twice with me to watch two Wildcats victories over the years and she fell in love with Manhattan – which is also known as Manhappiness – during his campus tours. I love her and I’ll miss her, but I’m very happy for her.
Congratulations, Ellie – and to all of the Class of 2020 graduates, too.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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