Speed in Space? Recap and Preview of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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Dec 22, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) catches a pass during the first half against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Season Recap

Drop It Like It’s Hot

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two of the more talented wide receivers in the NFL, but the 2013 season will go down in history as a drop-filled mess rather than a showcase for their ability. Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson both disappointed in their reliability as receivers while Kevin Ogletree couldn’t even stick on the roster for half of a season due to his unreliable play.

Vincent Jackson stands out as possibly the most frustrating receiver for the Bucs during the 2013 campaign, as his 13.33 drop rate was tied for second in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus. Jackson wasn’t the only talented receiver near the top of the list, as Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Bowe and Cecil Shorts joined him in the 13+ drop rate category, but it’s still frustrating to see the Bucs’ best receiver failing to capitalize on his opportunities.

Williams did not have quite the same issue with drops according to PFF, but he was still unreliable last season. Much of that lack of reliability can be attributed to a nagging hamstring injury, but Williams’ performance followed by his off-the-field antics have led many to believe he’s not a part of the future of the franchise.

When healthy and on the field, Jackson and Williams represent one of the best 1-2 punches at WR in the league. Both are strong, athletic and can compete for any pass. But Jackson is getting older and Williams has some growing up to do away from football, so there’s as much concern as there is optimism about the Bucs’ receivers heading into 2014.

The Wright Decision

I remember the thought that went through my head when the Buccaneers announced their final cuts before the 2013 season, and I realized Danny Noble had been let go, but Tim Wright had not. It involved curse words and a frustrated groan of disbelief.

How could the Buccaneers get rid of the athletic, legitimate tight end prospect in favor of a converted Rutgers receiver? Is this just a placeholder to bring in someone new after other teams make their cuts?

Wright didn’t do much to calm my fears about him by failing to make his way onto the field early in the year. But as the Buccaneers got thinner and thinner at tight end, Wright moved up the depth chart, and eventually became a legitimate receiving threat for the team.

Wright showed the ability to separate from defenders despite bulking up from his playing weight as a wideout at Rutgers. He also showed reliable hands, something the Buccaneers needed to counteract the drop-happy receivers mentioned above.

So Wright proved everyone wrong by transitioning from making the roster as a “Rutgers guy” to playing at a very high level, and enters next season as the Bucs’ top choice at the position.

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