Bucs rookies shine during OTA’s

The OTA’s are underway for the Tampa Bay Bucs as preparations are underway for the 2018 season. The veterans, the 2018 draft class and the FA invites are all at One Bucs place participating in the OTA’s.

No pads are allowed though. Everything is shells, shorts and a t-shirt. Players can look very good in this setting, but when the pads come on and the games begin you get to see what kind of players you have.

These OTA”s are not manadatory and a few key pieces are missing. Newly acquired Jason Pierre Paul, and veteran Brent Grimes were not at OTA’s this week, and JR Sweezy and Donavon Smith will miss the OTA’s due to rehabbing injuries.

A couple of rookies are making big impressions early on. Let’s start with Ronald Jones the second round pick from USC. Koetter says he has a gear on the team that no one has. Jones can get up the field quickly and can score from anywhere on the field. Jones and Barber will compete for the starting role. With a good off-season and good training camp, Jones could be in the starting role by the time Sept. 9th is upon us. Peyton Barber is No. 1 on the depth chart right now and getting the majority of the reps with the first team.

Carlton Davis the second pick from Auburn is the rookie that has turned the most heads. On Thursday, Davis and fellow rookie MJ Stewart had a field day picking off numerous passes and causing a lot of the problems for the QB’s.

Davis will compete with Vernon Hargreaves for the starting CB spot opposite Brent Grimes and don’t be surprised if Davis beats out Hargreaves. We all know about the struggles of Hargreaves last year, and Davis can play both inside and out. Davis has done good work in the classroom and done an excellent job of studying the playbook and being ready when his number has been called, wether in the classroom or on the field.

Davis will be part of that nickel coverage when the Bucs go to five DB’s joining Grimes, Hargreaves, Evans, and Conte.

MJ Stewart is also raising some eyebrows with his play. Stewart the second round pick out of North Carolina, will play mainly at corner to start the season, and as he learns the defense and shows some mastery, may be given an opportunity at safety. With his size, strength, and instincts he will get an opportunity to play both inside and out.

The Bucs had just 13 picks last year and with the upgrade on the DL to get more pressure on the QB, and with the talent upgrade in the defensive backfield through the draft, we should see an increase in the number of picks this year.

One veteran that has taken a big leap in his second year is Chris Godwin. After getting off to a slow start, Godwin came on in the second half of the season finishing with 34 catches for 525 yards and a TD. Mike Evans went on record as saying that Godwin could challenge for a staring spot this season.

Godwin has improved every aspect of his game this off-season. Route running, pass catching and his ability to separate have all Improved. Godwin will definitely take some playing time from Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson as the Bucs need to get his speed and playmaking ability on the field.

The Bucs also re-signed WR Bernard Reedy after cutting him late last season. Reedy was the leading return man for the Bucs on both punts and kick-offs, averaging 10.4 Yards per punt return and 20.7 on kick returns.

It will be a tall order for Reedy to make this team as the Bucs have four recievers with roster spots secured. Evans, Jackson, Humphries and Godwin. There will be at least two spots up fro grabs as Reedy will compete with Bobo Wilson, Freddie Martino and a couple of other FA’s for those two final spots.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports