FAB 3. Bucs Training Camp Grades

Now that training camp is done and we’ve reached the midway point of the preseason it’s time to dole out the grades for each Buccaneers player who participated in most or all of training camp. These grades aren’t necessarily based on talent, rather they are based on how the player performed in camp practices and in the first two preseason games.

GRADE A
LG Ali Marpet
Marpet had a dominant camp in both run blocking and pass protection and seems poised for a Pro Bowl-caliber year. He’s Tampa Bay’s best offensive lineman.

C Ryan Jensen
Jensen has been as good as advertised as the league’s highest-paid center. He and Marpet will be a force inside for Tampa Bay’s ground game.

DT Gerald McCoy
This might have been McCoy’s best training camp in his nine-year career in Tampa Bay. He’s been dominant and made every guard aside from Marpet look silly.

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by Mary Holt

DE Jason Pierre-Paul
The Bucs need Pierre-Paul to be a double-digit sacker this year and he has shown tremendous ability and vigor as a pass rusher. He’s a freak and becoming a leader, too.

WLB Lavonte David
David is bulked up to 235 pounds and is primed for a great season as a playmaker that can blitz and sack the quarterback, as well as score on some pick-sixes.

MLB Kwon Alexander
Alexander is ready to pick up from where he left off as a Pro Bowler last year. He’s become the vocal leader of the defense and is entering a contract year.

WR Mike Evans
Evans looks like he’s ready to take his game to another level and earn every penny of his rich, new contract that made him the second-highest paid receiver in the NFL.

WR Chris Godwin
Godwin has the look of a NFL starter due to his supreme concentration and blend of size and speed. He’s confident and has routinely been dominating in practice.

K Chandler Catanzaro
Don’t want to jinx the Bucs’ new kicker, but Cantanzaro looks legit – as he should for someone making $3 million per year. He’s been accurate on kicks and deep on kickoffs.

QB Jameis Winston
Winston has been much better in games than he has in practice where he still has a tendency to stare down receivers and throws too many picks, but games count more.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick looks comfortable and in command as the QB who will be starting the first three games of the season. Fitz has had a really good training camp.

RB Peyton Barber
Coming into camp in phenomenal shape has helped Barber win the starting running back job. He has a great blend of power, determination and wiggle as a runner.

FS Justin Evans
Evans looks ready to take the next step as a safety and play up to a Pro Bowl-caliber level. With a better grasp of the defense he has become a steady playmaker.

TE O.J. Howard
Howard has looked better in practice than he has in games. He needs to work on his concentration when catching the ball, but he’s just so hard to cover. He makes plays.

Bucs TE O.J. Howard - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs TE O.J. Howard – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

TE Cameron Brate
Brate continues to do everything right. He’s so dependable. Put him in Howard’s body and you have the league’s best tight end – ahead of Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce.

GRADE B
LT Donovan Smith
Smith was having a fine training camp and preseason until a scary knee injury occurred. He’s in a contract year and is playing for a lucrative deal.

RT Demar Dotson
Dotson is on his way back from offseason knee surgery and had a good camp with limited work. If he is at 100 percent he’s still one of the league’s best right tackles.

CB M.J. Stewart
Stewart just has a knack for making plays on the ball, whether it’s interceptions or forced fumbles. He’s smart, physical and doesn’t look like a rookie at all.

CB Carlton Davis
Davis has long arms and is a pass breakup machine. He’s better in press coverage, but is learning how to play off coverage and should be a Day 1 starter at cornerback.

CB Vernon Hargreaves III
Hargreaves has missed some time during camp due to injury, but when he’s on the field he’s confident and aggressive. He looks ready to make a big jump as a nickel corner this year.

Bucs DE Vinny Curry - Photo by Mary Holt
Bucs DE Vinny Curry – Photo by Mary Holt

DE Vinny Curry
Curry has been as good as advertised. He’s an upgrade over Will Gholston as a pass rusher and is solid, tough and dependable against the run. He’s also a good leader.

DE Noah Spence
Spence is bigger this year, healthier this year and just as fast, but he still needs a lot of reps as a pass rusher to simply gain experience. He’s flashed a lot in camp, though.

DT Beau Allen
Allen is big, massive dude that has gotten better going up against Marpet every day. He’s the guy inside doing the dirty work and doing it really well. He’ll free up McCoy.

LB Riley Bullough
It’s night and day for Bullough this year as he has slimmed down and become more athletic while having a firmer grasp of Mike Smith’s defense. Bullough is confident and tough.

LS Drew Ferris
The Bucs have only had one long snapper in camp this year, which let’s you know everything about how they feel about Ferris. He’s locked up the job and doing well.

C/G Evan Smith
Smith is quietly having a solid training camp and could go in and start at right guard in Week 1 and hold his own. He’s so valuable to have because he can also play center.

LB Adarius Taylor
Taylor has made some strides in camp and has learned a new position at SAM linebacker and done well filling in for the injured Kendell Beckwith.

Bucs OT Caleb Benenoch - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Bucs OT Caleb Benenoch – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

G Caleb Benenoch
Benenoch has been nicked up by several nagging injuries, but has played well enough to earn the right to start at right guard in Week 1.

P Bryan Anger
Anger looks ready to bounce back from a bit of a disappointing season last year. He’ll need help from Tampa Bay’s gunners to make that happen.

QB Ryan Griffin
Griffin has played very well in both games and practices and has really earned the trust and confidence of the players and coaches. He’s a third-stringer, but a good one.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers
Rodgers has had a really solid training camp as a runner, receiver and special teamer. The coaches trust him more than Ronald Jones at this stage.

FS Keith Tandy
For a backup, Tandy is having a very good camp. He’s had his share of interceptions. He’s healthy this year and it shows. He’s one of the Bucs’ core “glue guys.”

TE Antony Auclair
Auclair has made huge strides learning the offense and working on his physique. He’s a big, 270-pound tight end that can run and catch, in addition to blocking so well.

Bucs FB Alan Cross – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

TE Alan Cross
The Bucs love Cross and his versatility. He can play fullback and H-back, has great hands and is a core special teams player. Like Tandy, “Honcho” is a “glue guy” in Tampa Bay.

WR Adam Humphries
There is no one steadier than Humphries, who is Mr. Reliable in terms of running the right routes at the proper depth and catching the ball. He’s not spectacular, but he’s dependable.

WR Justin Watson
Watson has come a long way quickly and is in the mix for a roster spot. The Bucs’ fifth-round pick could be special in a year or two and the team loves his size and work ethic.

WR Sergio Bailey
Bailey has been a real surprise and has come on lately. He had a great week of practice in Tennessee and had a TD in the game. He’s one to watch in the last two preseason games.

WR DeSean Jackson
Jackson has been really good working inside as a slot receiver using his speed to get yards after catch, in addition to working outside catching deep balls. He’ll be more productive this year.

GRADE C
SS Jordan Whitehead
Whitehead has a knack for making plays on the ball as well as big hits. He’s missed some time with injuries, and needs more reps, but could contend to start later this year.

SS Chris Conte
Conte is a good, solid safety that knows the defense inside and out. The coaches like him better than the fans do, but he could stand to make more plays on the ball.

Bucs CB Brent Grimes – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

CB Brent Grimes
Grimes is still a very good cornerback, but if we’re being honest, he didn’t have a great camp. He was injured and routinely beaten on some days.

CB Javien Elliott
Elliott had a boom or bust camp. It was either a good day or a bad day. The Bucs need him to be more consistent in coverage if he’s going to stick around.

DE Will Gholston
Gholston really struggled in camp and if not for his versatility to play inside at defensive tackle where he showed real value, he might be in jeopardy of being cut.

DE Patrick O’Connor
O’Connor flashed some quick twitch and pass rush ability in camp and in the games. He just needs to be more consistent and take his game to another level with productivity.

DE DaVonte Lambert
Lambert is solid, but not spectacular. But don’t be surprised if he makes the team. He always does enough to stick around, and he’s versatile enough to play inside.

G Ruben Holcolmb
Keep an eye on this guy for a practice squad spot if he doesn’t make the roster. Holcomb is strong and stout. He just needs more experience. The Bucs like him.

LB Jack Cichy
Cichy has been a pleasant surprise and it seems like he’s recovered from his ACL injury last year. He’s not a lock to make the roster, but he has a chance if he can make plays in the final two games.

LB Cameron Lynch
Lynch has a shot to make it as a special teams contributor and a backup linebacker. He has good energy and the next two preseason games will be big for Lynch.

LB Nigel Harris
Harris has great speed and has flashed some in the preseason. The big thing he’ll need to do in the preseason is make some splash plays on defense and special teams.

C Adam Gettis
Gettis has been a fine backup center, and could be a practice squad candidate. His problem is that Evan Smith has more experience and versatility and is ahead of him on the depth chart.

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, DT Vita Vea and G Alex Cappa - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, DT Vita Vea and G Alex Cappa – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

G Alex Cappa
Cappa has flashed some strength and nastiness in the run game, but has really struggled in pass protection. It’s a big jump from Humboldt State and will take some time to get used to NFL speed.

OT Michael Liedtke
The Bucs like Liedtke despite his physical limitations. With Donovan Smith’s knee injury, Liedtke could make the 53-man roster as a backup left tackle.

RB Dare Ogunbowale
Ogunbowale has been a nice surprise in camp. He has a nice blend of power and speed and shows versatility as a kick return candidate.

RB Shaun Wilson
Wilson missed the first preseason game, but showed well against Tennessee. The Bucs like his ability to catch passes and use his speed on third downs and on kick returns.

RB Ronald Jones
Jones has great talent, but needs to be more consistent. He’s struggled to find yards in the preseason games and needs to show more power. Jones also needs to work on his hands.

WR Bobo Wilson
Wilson has made some splash plays, but has also had too many drops in practice. He needs to work on becoming a consistent playmaker in order to make the 53-man roster.

WR Freddie Martino
Martino knows Dirk Koetter’s offense inside and out. The coaches trust him, but he has to make more big plays in the passing game in order to stay in Tampa Bay.

SUB-PAR GRADES
S Josh Robinson
Robinson is simply a special teams ace and nothing more. He rarely plays on defense as a result.

S Isaiah Johnson
Johnson has to step up and make some splash plays in the last two preseason games to stick around. The depth at safety isn’t great, so he has a chance to make a good impression.

OT Brad Seaton
Seaton struggles in pass protection and is nothing more than a reserve offensive right tackle. He’ll need a solid showing in the final preseason games to warrant keeping.

Bucs CB Ryan Smith - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs CB Ryan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

CB Ryan Smith
Smith has really struggled in coverage in practice and in games and has not made the strides the team hoped he would make. But he’s an excellent special teams player and will stick because of it.

CB Marko Myers
Myers has the look of a practice squad cornerback. He’s done enough to make a decent impression on the staff, but still has a ways to go after coming from Southeastern.

WR Jake Lampman
Lampman has stood out and made some decent plays in practice. He’ll need a huge showing in the final two preseason games to stick around on the practice squad, but has a chance.

DE Evan Perrizo
Perrizo is a try-hard defensive end that needs to add size to be able to hold up at the NFL level. Not sure if the Bucs view him as a practice squad candidate or not.

DE Demone Harris
Harris has flashed and has some ability. The next two preseason games will determine if he can win a practice squad spot or not.

Bucs DE Will Clarke - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs DE Will Clarke – Photo by: Getty Images

DE Will Clarke
Clarke has flashed in some games and in practice, but is strictly a right defensive end. His lack of versatility hurts and he’ll need a big finish to the preseason to stick around.

LB Eric Nzeocha
As the Bucs’ international player, he’ll stick around due to the roster exemption, but he’s really not a factor on defense.

LB Devante Bond
Bond has been outplayed by other reserve linebackers like Cichy and Taylor, and hasn’t made enough plays on special teams or on defense to warrant remaining a Buccaneer.

QB Austin Allen
Allen is strictly a training camp arm. He lacks the talent to make a 53-man roster, although he’s better than Sefo Liufau.

RB Charles Sims
Sims was placed on injured reserve, which may have been a blessing in disguise for him as he struggled in camp and was probably going to get cut anyways.

S Godwin Igwebuike
Igwebuike has not stood out as a playmaker on defense or on special teams. Time is ticking and he needs to shine in the final two preseason games to make the practice squad.

OT Givens Price
Price hasn’t shined despite the opportunity with so many offensive tackles injured during training camp. He has to pick up his level of play – quickly.

TE Tanner Hudson
Hudson has done enough to stay in camp on the 90-man roster, but with the talent at tight end, it will be next to impossible for him to make a roster spot. The practice squad is more likely.

Bucs RB Charles Sims - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs RB Charles Sims – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

WR Ervin Phillips
Phillips has yet to make his mark in practice or in the games at wide receiver. He’s at the bottom of the depth chart right now and is running out of time.

WR Bernard Reedy
Reedy has gotten lost in the shuffle at wide receiver, as Watson, Bailey Wilson and Martino have all looked better.

INCOMPLETES
LB Kendell Beckwith
DT Vita Vea
DT Mitch Unrein
OT Cole Boozer
OT Cole Gardner
OT Leonard Wester
CB Amari Coleman
CB De’Vante Harris
DT Jerel Worthy
DT Adam Reth
DT Nathan Bazata
S Josh Liddell
OT Jarron Jones
OT Jerry Ugokwe
TE Matt Weiser

Incompletes Summary: Beckwith, Vea and Unrein are locks to be on the Bucs roster this year and see some playing time. Tampa Bay has seen enough of Boozer, Gardner and Wester to probably pick one of those players – likely Gardner – to stick as a reserve offensive tackle. The rest of those players will have to really stand out in the final two preseason games to avoid being cut, and that’s a tall order because of the competition and talent ahead of them on the depth chart.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

17 COMMENTS

  1. This is a hopeful Fab 5, Scott. The roster sounds solid across the board. I hope the depth is there to sustain, what seems to be, the constant Achille’s heel for this team. I saw the 5-11 prediction from SI for the Bucs this year. That seems insane to me. I hope that Monken has continued success as the play caller and Koetter can take advantage of that new freedom to hone his HC skills. This team is solid. I suppose it could be 5-11 or 11-5? I’ll feeling 8 or 9 wins at this point.

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  2. I haven’t seen Kwon stand out in preseason games so far. Being a vocal leader is all well, and good but to many times I’ve seen him fill the wrong gap, or completely whiff on a tackle, not to mention he gets completely blown away by any guard who reaches him. Maybe he’s looked better in practice, but he hasn’t had one oh wow play during the last two games, so I don’t know where the A grade is coming from. To me he’s an average MLB. I think he’s to small for the position, and might be better suited to play WILL.

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  3. What about Stevie T? Is he headed to practice squad?

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    • Wasn’t he cut or waived injured?

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      • Waived (injury), I think.

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  4. It seems as though GM Licht has learned his lesson from last moving on from the likes of Chris Baker to absolute workhorses like Allen, Unrein, and Curry. From everything I’ve seen of him so far, JPP was well worth what it cost Licht from the trade with NY. Preseason games don’t always show what we’re going to see during the regular season, but both games have shown me this team is going to play hard every snap – unlike what I saw during last year’s preseason games. What I’ve been most impressed with this season is all three QBs – our 3rd stringer QB looks like he might actually be able to hold his own if called upon this season, which hasn’t been the case since he arrived in Tampa.

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  5. Wester is a better tackle than Seaton or Liedtke

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  6. Hard to disagree with any on that proposed roster, but I would not be surprised if some shuffling or trades happened before NO.

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  7. Really good job with your fab 5 Scott. I like the player grade analysis as well.

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  8. I like everybody on the team as to their personalities and the efforts they are trying to make. I just don’t see Spence and Gholston better than Clark or O’Connor. I would go short at defensive end position rather than keep those two. As of right now I see Ryan Smith not making the team unless he shows something tonight.
    Did I miss injury status as to Safety Evans? Anybody know his injury status?

    This is the best defensive team we’ve had in a long time, and I believe Coach Smith is going to bring nothing to the plate if he continues to play conservative defense. I sure hope I am wrong as to Coach Smith as the way I look at it right now we’ll be lucky if we win 6 games. You just can’t play vanilla defense in the NFL; we’re very predictable on defense. Maybe some of our injuries are due to players trying to do more because of this scheme?

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  9. Baker got closer to that tree in Hard Knocks than any QB’s over the last few years.

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  10. Great Fab Five Scott, and thanks for bringing back the thumbs up and down! You guys have done a great job with the website – and just in time for the season!

    Going to the game tonight and can’t wait! Go Bucs!!!

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    Rating: +9. From 9 votes.
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  11. Kwon as an A? Ehhhhhhh. Haven’t been impressed. Barely notice him in the few times he played. Hopefully he shows up in the season like he has in the past.

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  12. Loved your roster and comments, Scott. Seaton did have to hold to prevent a sack but every other play he looked solid to me not allowing the first sack. I think he has some potential and glad to see you included him on your roster. I have never seen Wester playing that well. I wish there was a way to keep Ogunbowale because he has the potential to replace Barber if he goes down. I hope Jones gets a good run tonight. Go Bucs. Shoot the canons tonight. Detroit has not gotten a single sack this preseason so Fitz and Jameis should have time to carve them up. I know Detroit can run the ball and our defense needs to show they can stop them!

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  13. Winning this game at the half but the defense is not good. The kicking situation is not acceptable, the coaches and GM are suspect along with this dud of a kicker.

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  14. lol sergio bailey was never going to make the team over bobo wilson maybe not even over martino

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  15. also probably less than 10% chance lambert makes the team over clarke . clarke was being used as the no 3 de in the game last night. that doesn’t just happen spontaneously obviously been showing something in camp to warrent getting those snaps . i thought y’all were supposed to be out there everyday watching practice getting a read on what’s going on. but you come out with a 53 man roster prediction with a guy who’s solidly been in the rotation thus far in preseason not making the cut? makes me wonder just how much cred i can put into those practice analysis yall like to do.

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