There is always competition at most positions in every NFL off season and then, training camp. Teams are always looking to get younger and cheaper (under the salary cap) and the recently completed draft is part of that process.
For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they have a luxury right now at the receiver position. They have two legitimate Pro Bowl players in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson that are the key components to the pass game. And, a year ago, rookie Chris Godwin developed into a go to wide out or slot receiver in Dirk Koetter’s offense.
Also, included in the mix is veteran Adam Humprhries, who has built a career out of being that slot receiver and underneath routes, as a favorite target of QB Jameis Winston for the last three years. And, the Bucs have a mix of other young receivers who were around in 2017 and one that they drafted this year, too.
So the logical question as the summer unfolds, who will be the “odd man out” come this September.
First, the Bucs held an OTA on Thursday, and one of those young guys who is emerging is former FSU WR Bobo Wilson. Wilson (above) was an undrafted player who had a good preseason in 2017, but ultimately was cut and brought back to the practice squad.
He’s a former teammate of Winston’s at FSU, and eventually, he battled his way onto the active roster and caught a touchdown pass in the week 16 game at Carolina. And, he’s a player that is also standing out to coach Dirk Koetter at the moment.
“Yeah, Bobo’s having one of the best offseasons of anybody. I said at the end of last year he was one of the most improved players. Two guys, receiver-wise, that stick out almost every day are Bobo Wilson and Freddie Martino. They’re going with the second group because we’ve got four guys going with the first group. So they get to go with Fitz [Ryan Fitzpatrick] and with Griff [Ryan Griffin], whoever’s working the second quarterback that day, and they’re getting a lot of balls thrown to them.”
Koetter continued, “Bobo has gone from a guy that could only play one position to a guy that could play all three, which helps his chances. He’s just become so much more coachable. Part of that is knowing what you’re doing, it makes it easier to play fast, and he has no problem playing fast.”
Koetter mentioned veteran Freddy Martino, who has been on and off the Bucs roster over the past four years, knows the system and has 13 career catches in 22 career games. However, he may be caught up in that numbers game, eventually, too.
And now, Tampa Bay has also brought back St. Pete native speedster WR Bernard Reedy, who has been on their active roster as a kick returner and extra receiver over the last two seasons. However, he was the 2017 odd man out during the season and was released. He eventually got picked up by the Patriots, and he returned kicks for them at the end of the year.
However, New England did not re-sign Reedy. So, he’s back where he knows the offense, and they know him, and is battling for a spot.
And finally, a newcomer in rookie Ivy League draft pick speedy Justin Watson of Penn was taken in the fifth round in April. One of his specialties is returning kicks, also. Watson would also have the chance to be on the Bucs practice squad, like Wilson last year, for 2018.
You simply cannot keep everyone, and whether it’s the veteran Humphries or youngsters like Wilson, Reedy and now, Watson, the battle will be on, and there are “not enough chairs, when the music stops,” and final cuts come.
Still, it’s a good problem at this point for Koetter and the Bucs to have.
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