This is the second part of an eight-part series previewing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Today, we’ll look at the wide receivers.
The 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the number one passing offense in the NFL, averaging 320 yards per game in the air and 416 yards per game of total offense. (Total offense rank: third.)
But leading the league in yards per game does not necessarily mean that you will win your division or secure a playoff birth. The Bucs averaged just 24 points per game — despite all that offensive firepower — which was good for 12th in the league.
One thing anyone who is knowledgeable about the NFL would have to agree on is that this wide receiver group led by Mike Evans is one of the most underrated and disrespected units in the league. When you look at the receivers in the league and you want to rank Evans in the 11-20 group of receivers as some of the so-called experts have, you are ignorant.
Here’s a look at what Mike Evans has accomplished in his four years in Tampa.
Evans holds the franchise record for most receiving touchdowns in Bucs history with two seasons of 12 touchdowns. 21 times, Evans has recorded more than 100 receiving yards in a game. He also has five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Evans is the all-time Buccaneers leading receiver with 6,103 yards. He also has the team record for the most receiving yards in a single season (1,524). His NFL records include being the youngest receiver in league history to reach 6,000 receiving yards, the youngest player to have five seasons of 1,000 yards receiving, and the youngest player to have 200 yards receiving in a game (he was just 21 years and 87 days old when he accomplished that feat).
All these NFL and Buccaneers records were accomplished before the age of 25. He will not turn 26 until August 13th.
Chris Godwin is back for his third year with the Buccaneers and is ready to have a huge season. With DeSean Jackson as the number two wide receiver the last two seasons, Godwin was underutilized and was the third receiver. This season, Godwin will become the number two receiver behind Evans and has the potential to have a Pro Bowl season. Godwin has shown what he can do in small doses, but has lacked the consistency needed to perform at a high level. At times his route-running has been questioned and he has been haunted by dropped balls. Godwin is coming off a 2018 campaign where he caught 59 balls for 842 yards for seven touchdowns and averaged just over 14 yards a catch.
To replace DeSean Jackson, the Bucs signed Breshad Perriman to a one-year contract. One of the fastest receivers in the league, Perriman, who runs a 4.35 40-yard dash, has been hampered by injuries often in his career. Perriman has not come close to reaching his NFL potential as he has been bit by the injury bug at almost every stop so far in his career. Perriman was the No. 1 pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2015 draft, but did not play in his first NFL game until 2016. In 2018, Perriman was cut by the Ravens, and then went on to play with the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns. In 2018 with the Browns, Perriman had 16 catches for 340 yards and two touchdowns. The Bucs are hoping that Perriman’s injuries are behind him, and is ready to come in and be contributor the entire 2019 season.
The Bucs also drafted Scotty Miller, a small wide receiver from Bowling Green, in the sixth round of the 2019 draft, and from watching him at OTAs and minicamp, it is clear Miller is going to be an integral of this Bucs receiving group. Miller, at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, consistently got behind the defensive backs and made play after play. Miller has great hands as he seems to catch everything thrown his way, and will also be a key component in the return game.
Look for sophomore receiver Justin Watson and third-year receiver Bobo Wilson to battle it out for the fifth receiver spot on the team.
OJ Howard and Cameron Brate will be the top two tight ends on the team with Antony Auclair making the team as the third tight end if the Bucs go that route. With Howard and Brate as your tights ends, that is like having two extra wide receivers as Howard is known more for his catching ability than his blocking. Brate will get you the tough catches when needed, but is a better blocker than Howard.
Winston will have plenty of good targets to throw to. The arsenal is loaded and ready to be unleashed.
Opposing defenses, you have been warned.