Aside from the considerable stink that Marvin Lewis made about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers poaching Dezmon Briscoe from their practice squad last season, Bucs fans didn’t get to see much out of the talented youngster from Kansas. But that’s not to say he didn’t make an impact, by the end of the season he had scored a touchdown and factored into the Bucs only two wins against playoff-bound teams (the Saints and Seahawks).
In his first action of the season Briscoe was activated for the Seattle game and caught a modest two passes for 28 yards. In the season finale in New Orleans he added four more receptions for 65 yards and a beautiful touchdown. It was a strong finish to a season that saw Briscoe impress the Buccaneers coaching staff in more ways than one.
Briscoe was signed before the Cincinnati Bengals could add them to their practice squad on September 5, 2010. He had been picked in the 6th round after leaving Kansas as a junior. I’m sure if he had it back, Briscoe would have waited to come out until this season. Despite being named a Big 12 First Team All-American and becoming the all-time Kansas receiving leader in just three years (amassing 208 receptions, 3,240 yards and 31 touchdowns), he didn’t merit nearly the draft attention he was likely told he would.
However, the Bucs clearly saw something impressive in him and made the move to sign him as soon as the Bengals tried to sneak him on to their practice squad. They opted to pay him a little more (which is what so irritated Marvin Lewis) and he was quickly in Tampa learning the offense and getting situated. In less than three months, on November 30th, he was promoted to the active roster.
Learning a new offense in the NFL is hard for a veteran, learning to pick it up in a few months after coming in late as a rookie is even harder. Briscoe not only managed to do well enough to be promoted to the active roster, but when he did finally see the field he capitalized on his opportunities and actually made plays.
Now Briscoe enters 2011 with a better idea of what to expect from the offense and the same amount of time to prepare as everyone else (which, admittedly it would be nice if they could start preparing soon). You’ve heard plenty of talk and projections for talented young Buccaneers receivers like Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn and Sammie Stroughter. But don’t sleep on Dezmon Briscoe.
Briscoe is built very similarly to the Bucs two other talented young receivers, Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams, he’s 6’2, a bit over 200 pounds and runs well. As the Bucs wait on the health of Benn to return and start to experiment with more multiple receiver looks, look for Briscoe to begin to shine.
In all honesty, it’s a little shocking Briscoe wasn’t picked higher. Oftentimes an NFL player is defined early in his career by the draft pick that was used to select him. In Briscoe’s case he was the 191st. But the talented young 21 year-old has a much better pedigree than anyone in Tampa realizes. You didn’t hear about Dezmon Briscoe in 2010 because Kansas lost the last seven games of their season. That tends to make even the best players get next to no national attention.
Briscoe was excellent though, one of the few bright spots on a Kansas team that had a very rough year. The Big 12 is a passing conference too, as in they throw more than just about any other conference in the NCAA (except maybe some of the crazy-spread Mid-Majors). Being named a first team All-conference receiver from the Big 12 is extremely impressive, consider for a second the receivers named first team All-Big 12 the year before Briscoe, Dez Bryant, Jeremy Maclin and Michael Crabtree. It’s not surprising why that season (2008, his sophomore one) Briscoe had to settle for second team All-Big 12.
But the point remains, Briscoe was one of the most productive receivers in one of the most pass-happy conferences in football. He was on the field for two games last season in a reserve role and still managed to factor into the equation. This year with a little more time and confidence, don’t be surprised if Dezmon Briscoe ends up seeing significant time on the field. People still may not be talking about him, but don’t sleep on Dezmon Briscoe.