I continue to break down the depth chart for the 2010 Bucs and grade each position; next on the list is the kick returners/punt returners. Bucs are not known for their explosive returners, how long did it take them to get a kick return? But coming into the 2010 season, the Bucs have pretty good depth and skill among their returners that should give the Bucs a boost at the battle of field position and could win a game as well.
The Bucs main kick return/punt return man is Clifton Smith, the 5’9″ 190 lb. running back from Fresno State. Smith has good speed and can change field direction fairly well. He has 46 punt returns in his career for 556 yards and 1 touchdown. He also has 67 kick returns in his career for 1894 yards and 1 touchdown (Bucs don’t get too many kick returns for touchdowns). Smith can handle both duties, his speed and field vision allow him to create for the Bucs and helps change the battle of field position, something the offense is happy about.
Second on the depth chart is wide receiver Sammie Stroughter. Stroughter is also penciled in at the Bucs slot receiver position, but has good filed vision on returns that has aloowed him to be teamed up with Clifton Smith on kick returns and will see time on punts as well. Stroughter has 11 kickoff returns, totaling 324 yards and 1 touchdown over his short career. He also has 12 punt returns for 119 yards. He was a dangerous return man while at Oregon State and his skills are following him to the NFL level as well.
Last on the depth chart is Micheal Spurlock. Spurlock made Bucs history when he returned the first kickoff for a touchdown in franchise history. He has been in and out of the lineup at returner, but finds himself behind Smith and Stroughter. He is very talented at returning and should find some time on the field this season and provide a spark for the team.
Overall grade: B-. The returns all have skill, speed, and good field vision, but are not that elite yet. There is not much difference between the 3 when it comes to size on the field, but all of them are solid returners for the Bucs. The Bucs should see some good production from the return game this season.