Air Force WR Jalen Robinette - Photo by: Getty Images
Yesterday on PewterReports.com, we took a look at which 10 defensive players the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be keeping their eyes on during East-West Shrine Week.
Now it’s time for the offense.
With the need to get quarterback Jameis Winston some weapons being the most pressing one, this list is going to be filled with a lot of wide receivers who have the capability of making big plays down the field. With running back Doug Martin’s status up in the air, there are also a couple of tail backs who could be late-round targets for general manager Jason Light and his staff.
Stats against teams and coaches you see for four years are one thing, but it’s another to be able to produce against any defender on short notice. That’s when talent really shines, and these are 10 offensive players who have the best chance to do that in St. Petersburg at this year’s East-West Shrine Game.
Stay tuned to PewterReport.com all week as we will have complete East-West Shrine Game coverage.
UTAH RB JOE WILLIAMS – 5-11, 205 – WEST
Williams has a very unique story in this draft class, and because of it, he might just be the steal of the draft.
At the beginning of the 2016 season, after being named the starting running back, Williams, who was featured in this week’s SR’s Fab 5 column on PewterReport.com, did something often unforgivable in the world of sports: he quit.
According to his coaches, Williams was exhausted from the game of football both physically and mentally by the time the beginning of his senior season rolled around, and that began to take a toll on his production. He had a couple costly fumbles in his first two games, and his head coach said he could tell he just wasn’t there mentality. But even he didn’t expect to hear Williams tell him after those first two games that he was walking away from the game.
But that’s what happened.
However, after four games went by and injuries riddled the Utes, leaving their running back roster to only freshman and walk-ons, Williams saw his team needed him, so he opted to return – at the acceptance of his teammates.
From that moment on, no other running back in the country had the production Williams had. Over those next seven games, Williams averaged 190 yards per game which included a 332-yard outing against UCLA.
Williams’ commitment to the game will be questioned heavily for the next few months, starting next week at East-West Shrine practices. But if his commitment checks out, he’s a complete back worth having and one the Bucs will consider using a Day 3 selection on.
OLE MISS WR QUINCY ADEBOYEJO – 6-3, 195 – EAST
For whatever reason, Ole Miss decided that recruiting players with difficult names to say was going to be their main criteria. We had the Nkemdiche brothers last year, and this year they have Damore’ea Stringfellow and Adeboyejo.
But play-by-play broadcasters aren’t the only ones Adeboyejo gives a hard time to, defenders don’t like him either. Coming from a pass-happy offense that featured quarterback Chad Kelly slinging the ball all over the field for the past two seasons, Adeboyejo had some really nice highlight catches at times. The inconsistency of the offense as a whole capped the kind of production Adeboyejo had, but when given the chance to show his downfield speed, he was able to make his name as a deep threat.
We’ll see how much his speed can separate in St. Pete and the Bucs, who have a need for more speed at the receiver position, will be watching.
FLORIDA STATE KR-WR KERMIT WHITFIELD – 5-8, 178 – EAST
If you ask me, the number one player on offense the Buccaneers should make sure they get a thorough look at during Shrine week is Whitfield.
FSU WR Kermit Whitfield – Photo by: Getty Images
Whitfield is a dynamic return man, something the Buccaneers haven’t had in since Pro Bowler Clifton Smith in 2008. He’s most notably known for taking back a kickoff for a touchdown to take the lead and ultimately win the national championship for Florida State back when Winston was there in 2012.
In the receiving game, Whitfield has been used more and more each year out of the slot or the backfield to create mismatches with his speed, but he’s not a guy I would expect to see the Bucs plug in there right away if they take him. However, you cannot teach the speed he has. In fact, I expect him to break Chris Johnson’s 40-time record at the NFL Combine this February – that’s the kind of speed we’re talking about. It’s Tyreek Hill-caliber.
Winning special teams is huge, as we saw from the Bucs’ punting unit this season. Having a player like Whitfield returning punts and kicks with the chance at becoming a mismatch nightmare on offense is well worth taking a good look at.
LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE RB ELIJAH McGUIRE – 5-9, 205 – WEST
If you’re looking for this year’s Kenneth Dixon-type prospect, it’s McGuire.
After three straight 1,000-yard seasons, McGuire is ready to make his jump to the NFL. He’s a smaller, compact prospect, but he uses that to an advantageous skill set. He’s shifty in his movements around the trenches which, combined with his size, make him more difficult to get a hold of and bring down.
McGuire is a good one-cut back who uses vision and small bursts to really get up and down the field. He’s also a solid receiver with 130 catches and 1,394 receiving yards during his four-year career. He could be a candidate to challenge or replace Charles Sims in Tampa Bay.
PURDUE WR DEANGELO YANCY – 6-2, 215 – EAST
Some players aren’t the fastest or the strongest, but they still make an aspect of their position just look so easy. That’s Yancy as a downfield receiver.
Yancy is the Boilermakers’ deep threat receiver who has had moderate success up until this year where he had career highs in catches, yards, averages and touchdowns. He’s a player who knows how to separate from defenders without being a 4.3-speed guy. He averaged 19.4 yards per catch this season to go along with his double-digit touchdowns of 10. We’ll see if he has the speed to be a full-time receiver in the NFL, but he does have the skill to stick somewhere in at least a fill-in roll on four and five wide receiver sets. There’s no reason why Tampa Bay couldn’t be one of his possible destinations.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE RB I’TAVIUS MATHERS – 5-11, 205 – EAST
Before you ask, yes, that’s his real name, it’s not a typo.
Mathers, a former Ole Miss back, only played one year at Middle Tennessee State, but made it count. As the starting running back, he accumulated over 2,000 all-purpose rushing and receiving yards with 20 all-purpose touchdowns. He comes from a very fast-paced spread offense, but if you like Alvin Kamara from Tennessee, Mathers seems like he could be Kamara-lite.
ARKANSAS OT DAN SKIPPER – 6-10, 325 – EAST
Again, yes, you read that right, Skipper is 6-foot-10.
Skipper has improved by leaps and bounds over the last few years – as was needed for a player with that size being a raw talent – but it’s still hard to think he’s going to have consistent enough success in the NFL to pay a full time roll. Leverage is king when winning battles in the trenches, and though Skipper has good strength to hold his ground, being 6-foot-10 will always leave him vulnerable to losing a leverage battle, and that’s tough to make up for, even with an anchor of size.
That fact will likely keep him as a mid-Day 3 pick, but if the Bucs are looking to take a chance on a guy at right tackle, they could give Skipper a good look this week. After all, the 6-foot-9 Demar Dotson has had a successful career in Tampa Bay.
TOLEDO TE MICHAEL ROBERTS – 6-5, 270 – EAST
What’s another tight end to the Bucs’ plethora of tight ends, am I right?
Toledo TE Michael Roberts – Photo by: Getty Images
Roberts is of the Luke Stocker-mold more than say the Cameron Brate-mold. He’s a big-bodied tight end with good strength, but shows more speed and quickness than Stocker does. He led all tight ends in college football this season with 15 touchdowns, and anytime you can add a player who has a knack for scoring in the red zone, it’s never a bad idea.
Roberts will be at both the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, so the Bucs will get two good chances to see what he can do.
WYOMING C CHASE ROULLIER – 6-4, 315 – WEST
If you’re constantly monitoring what draft writers are saying about prospects, you probably noticed that Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen was gaining a ton of hype before announcing he was returning to school for his senior season.
The man doing a big portion of the blocking for his Allen in the middle was their center Roullier. He was a starter at guard for two seasons before being bumped over to center for this past year. He has the versatility, and also has some very high grades from the folks over at Pro Football Focus, and he helped NFL-caliber running back Brian Hill become Wyoming’s all-time leading rusher, too.
AIR FORCE WR JALEN ROBINETTE – 6-4, 220 – WEST
Anytime you find a guy who is 6-foot-4 and has a two seasons with more than 20 yards-per-catch averages, you take notice.
Robinette doesn’t have a ton of catches in Air Force’s run-happy option offense, but when he is involved in the game plan, he shines. He averaged 24.7 yards per catch as a junior last year, and if that isn’t crazy enough, he averaged 27.4 yards per catch this season. If he can fly past defenders at the East-West Shrine Game like he did at Air Force, he’ll be a big-play guy the Buccaneers will certainly have on their radar as they look for another receiver to step in opposite Mike Evans.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he’s not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
Can the academy guys play right away? I seem to recall Staubach had to wait and serve. Robinson in the NBA also.
What is the scoop.
In referring to the Ole Miss guy, he is now Quincy Alphabet. How in the hell can you pronounce that name.
What’s the answer on this Trevor?
They can be granted opportunities to play. For example, Navy QB Keenan Reynolds was granted permission after being drafted by Baltimore last year.
Not a strong group on offense. Not sold on a guy with a quitters history, and Whitfield made a name off that one historic return. The kid really do much else in the return game the rest of his career.
I agree with Trevor that the Bucs need a KR/PR. They should look at the FSU player, but I would like to nominate a candidate for consideration taken from my upcoming mock draft.
RD7 – KR/PR Tarik Cohen
The Bucs need a daring and exciting KR/PR. I am impressed with the toughness and vision of Tarik “The Human Joystick” Cohen out of North Carolina A&T. He could be another gadget guy ala Darren Sproles to bring another dimension to the offense.
Looking forward to your Mock Craft macabee. Prepare yourself for for the mocking that is sure to follow from the Peanut Gallery. I know, I might need to explain the Peanut Gallery to the youngsters.
The least expensive snack served at the theatre would often be peanuts, which the patrons would sometimes throw at the performers on stage to convey their disapproval. The phrases “no comments from the peanut gallery” or “quiet in the peanut gallery” are extensions of the name.
Hell scubog, I’m a geezer and did not know the origin of the phrase.
Of course I would not think that our younger generation cares about why people say the things they do.
The other day I was enjoying a cup of joe at Starbucks and in the ambient music Dylan’s song Lay lady lay came on. The manager who is a cool guy cranked it up. The millennials just looked up in bewilderment.
Of course I could not help myself and asked if any one knew who was singing that song.
They all knew. Just kidding, not one kid knew who Bob Dylan was
My reference was the collection of kids at the old Howdy Doody show. to whom Buffalo Bob would ask, “Hey kids, what time is it?”
The kid has some wiggle in him. Reminds me a little of Warrick Dunn.
The competition he faced was pretty easy though, Kent , Alcorn state , North Carolina Atlantic and some small schools in never heard of.
Still, I’d take a flyer on him in round 7.
This is why I love the draft, thanks for the link.
There is a post on FanSided by David Harrison on the two top potential WR picks that may (but may not) be available to the Bucs at our no. 19 pick – John Ross and Corey Davis. Trevor provided an indepth evaluation of Davis, but did not address Ross. In Harrison’s comparative analysis, he felt that Ross gets the edge over Davis in part due to his blazing speed, but also due to his ability as a kick and punt returner (Davis has only a single kick return in his career, while Ross has four career return TDs and multiple returns of 90+ yards).
Harrison gives the edge in speed to Ross, the edge on rout-running to Davis, the edge in ball handling to Davis, and the edge in special teams to Ross.
I saw how Bama handled Ross, but he is an excellent deep threat and KR/PR. My preference would be Corey Davis for his size and route running. But would have no problem if the Bucs chose WR Ross – two birds/1 stone. Reality is both may be gone. My draft strategy is “Weapons for Winston”, so would also be receptive of a another pass catching TE like OJ Howard.
The good news this year is that there are a lot of quality WRs in the 2017 draft, so chances are pretty good that we’ll be able to get one of the top three or four with our pick at no. 19, if that’s how Licht wants to use that pick. I would imagine that Dirk Koetter is likely pining for a speed WR to pair up with Mike Evans, and with Humph in the slot, and our Harvard man at TE.
Another pass-catching TE is also likely on Dirk’s wish list.
Who do you have in mind on either Day One or Two at TE?
Truth be told, I really would not like to take a TE round 1. And at 20, there’s little opportunity to trade down. With no Senior Bowl or Combine notes, I like Oj Howard, David Njoku, Bucky Hodges, or Jordan Leggett. But not in the 1st round. Howard is a maybe – need more intel.
FWIW, I’ve never nailed a 1st round pick for the Bucs. lol. I had Spence in the 2nd round last year but is close as I’ve gotten. So take my early observations with a grain of salt! lol.
Agree with you MAC!!! we need weapons with SPEED!!!
Can’t fault either guy. Roll the dice on whichever one is available.
I still got my man crush on Williams though.
Understandably so, Chet … but (there’s always a but!) Williams seems like a top 10 pick for someone wanting to replicate our Mike Evans’ success.
Hard to say what will occur, but , maybe JL can pull some draft magic out of his butt.
In the NFL so many games are close VERY CLOSE,so having a guy that can take it to the house,our give the offense good field position can be the difference in a game.
I can’t remember the players name he played for KC some years back almost every game he made a difference. So yes the Bucs need a player like that
Getting a good kick, or punt return in the NFL is as rare as a white Rino. I would not be surprised if kick offs are eliminated from the game, and punters are so good, like I said don’t see to many returns. Point being, don’t let a players return ability sway you into drafting them. Humpries was stellar with his decision making, and fielding the ball cleanly. So really, should we be looking for a returner?
Since the Bucs have the most room under the cap of any team next season I say forget drafting an RB, and after we sign Evans, go get Le’Veon Bell who will be free agent also this off season. It’s going to be hard for Pittsburgh to keep both Le’Veon and Brown on their roster. I think Licht should go make him an offer he can’t refuse. Then if that fails, we should look to the draft.
Here’s a commonly used cap tracker (OTC) and the numbers they report. Now those numbers could go up if the Bucs void the 7mil guaranteed to Doug Martin – they could also cut Alterraun Verner at 6.5mil and release DE George Johnson at 2.5mil. But I think the Factory of Sadness (Browns) will have the most cap space. As you suggest, we do have enough to get whomever they want.
Here’s another commonly used cap tracker – Spotrac. I could explain why the numbers are slightly different, but it would very boring. They are both correct – different exclusions in forecast.
That certainly is worth an effort, but there will be a lot of competition.
But given that Bell pretty much is the star of the PIT offense this year, it seems likely that they are also going to try to keep him.
PIT may have less room under the cap than the Bucs do, but a top running back is generally get-able at around $8M or less (AP’s ridiculous contract is a clear outlier at $12M rising to $18M in 2017, none of which is guaranteed this year). I would think that with somewhere in the neighborhood of $42M in cap space, and Big Ben’s contract running through 2019, PIT will find a way to keep Bell.
Dude- I agree BUT no way Steelers let Bell or Brown leave. They will find a way to keep both.
I am technologically challenged and have no idea how to do this.
Your avatar should be Jeffery Lebowski.
THE DUDE ABIDES
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