The Bucs entered the 2021 NFL Draft without many specific needs after returning all 22 starters from 2020, so it was a bit of a mystery what positions they would target when the draft actually arrived.
In round one the Bucs bolstered their defensive line depth with Washington edge Joe Tryon, one of Pewter Report’s Bucs’ Best Bets. Then in the second round Tampa Bay made a move that had been discussed for a while by drafting quarterback Kyle Trask out of Florida. Mark Cook wrote about why the Bucs should draft Trask all the way back in January but when the moment came and the Bucs had officially drafted Trask, I was floored.
Now I know that this column may ultimately wind up on the Freezing Cold Takes Twitter account in three years and it’ll surely anger some Bucs fans, along with my many dear friends who attended the University of Florida. But to put it quite simply, I believe that drafting Trask was needless use of a second round pick for the Bucs.
Florida QB Kyle Trask – Photo by: USA Today
After starting his college career at Florida as a backup to former four-star recruit Feleipe Franks, Trask finally got a chance to start due to an season-ending ankle injury to Franks early in 2019 and he ran with it. Trask then made a Joe Burrow-esque leap forward in the 2020 season. With a pair of first-round talents in Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney at his disposal, Trask put together a genuine Heisman-caliber campaign. With 4,283 passing yards, an astounding 46 total touchdowns and just eight interceptions he led Florida to an 8-4 record and a narrow loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
Trask is an accurate passer to all three levels of the field with a big frame and can, by all accounts, process the game at a high level. He’s at his best when able to stand in the pocket and make throws in rhythm and with the bevy of weapons that Florida had on offense last year he was able to rack up a ton of efficient and well-executed production. That skill set is specifically why the Bucs’ coaching staff and front office sees such a promising potential player at the next level.
“There’s a lot to like about him,” general manager Jason Licht said following the pick. “He’s a big kid. He’s tough. He’s very smart … a great teammate, great leader, has plenty of arm talent – great touch. He’s a quick processor and he’s played very well there.”
Head coach Bruce Arians loved the fact that Trask didn’t transfer despite not getting a starting role until his redshirt junior season and spoke highly of his ability to play the position as well.
“He’s accurate, he’s smart, he’s tough, he knows how to move inside the pocket,” Arians said. “We don’t draft guys to run, we draft them to throw. And he’s accurate as hell. I’m really excited about him. People always want to compare people. To me, [Trask] is like Brad Johnson – and he was pretty damn good.”
Trask isn’t by any means a bad quarterback prospect and as Licht and Arians said, there’s a lot to like about him as a player. But his limitations in conjunction with the Bucs’ situation right now leave me feeling as though he is nothing more than a wasted second round pick for Tampa Bay. He lacks experience, he lacks athleticism and he lacks upside.
In a league that is now dominated by quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen and Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson, guys who possess exceptional physical traits and the ability to create when out of structure, Trask falls flat in those areas. Trask’s arm strength is average, he lacks mobility and if he can’t develop a stronger ability to create outside of structure then that will likely always limit his ceiling in the NFL. So if Trask is the Bucs’ pick to be the eventual starter when Brady is gone, they’re gambling on him developing far past what many see as his ultimate potential.
He could become a decent starter in time, but I see a more likely scenario where Brady is gone, Trask is the Bucs’ starter with two years remaining on his rookie deal and they’re in turn looking for another high-end quarterback to lead a team that’s ready to win now. Much like the situation that the 49ers have found themselves in.
If Trask was drafted to be an upgrade at second-string quarterback then the pick doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either. Especially with Arians saying that they hope to have Gabbert re-signed soon. If Brady were to go down temporarily and Trask was drafted to step in and give the Bucs a shot to win games until their seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback is back on the field, I can understand that. But does he even provide a significant upgrade over Gabbert there in Year 1? Only time will tell. But with Gabbert’s years of NFL experience and multiple years under Arians it’s very possible that Trask winds up as the third-string quarterback in 2021.
Bucs GM Jason Licht and QB Blaine Gabbert – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Licht has found some gems late in the second and into the third round in past years, along with some disappointments.
Trask may never see the lows that a Roberto Aguayo, or Austin Sefarian-Jenkins or Noah Spence saw. But he likely won’t ever make the impact that a guy like Chris Godwin, Carlton Davis, Jordan Whitehead or Jamel Dean has made. And with a roster that could absolutely use impactful depth pieces at multiple positions and eventual starters at others, the Bucs may have been far better off targeting those spots than spending a second round pick on Trask.