Buccaneers UDFA profile: WR Thomas Sperbeck, Boise St.

Dec 23, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Boise State Broncos wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck (82) is defended by Northern Illinois Huskies cornerback Anthony Brooks (31) and safety Marlon Moore (2) in the 2015 Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Boise State Broncos wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck (82) is defended by Northern Illinois Huskies cornerback Anthony Brooks (31) and safety Marlon Moore (2) in the 2015 Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Our Buccaneers UDFA profile focuses on wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck from Boise St.

Wide receiver was an off-season priority for the Buccaneers, and with good reason. Behind Mike Evans, the cupboard was a bit bare. Evans was taking all of the targets, and the majority of the physical pounding. If Cameron Brate hadn’t emerged, one might have wondered who would ever get the football besides Evans. The Bucs needed to get better.

They added DeSean Jackson, arguably the biggest move of free agency across the league. Jason Licht didn’t stop there, adding O.J. Howard in the first, and Chris Godwin in the third round of the draft. To their credit, the Bucs were tired of making Evans the target on every play so they sought out to change that.

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That quest has continued into the undrafted free agency period. You guys know the drill by now, the teams sign as many players as possible, and maybe a few of them stick around past minicamp. Fewer still remain until training camp and fewer than that make the final roster.

But that doesn’t mean that finding a gem is impossible. After all, there are 16 undrafted free agents enshrined in Canton, compared to only 14 number one draft picks. Talent is talent and it can be found anywhere.

There were two undrafted free agents that particularly stood out to the Bucs during rookie minicamp. The first was Jonathan Moxey, who we profiled last week. Today, we take a look at the second player that stood out, Thomas Sperbeck, WR from Boise St.

Jason Licht seems to like this school doesn’t he?

Anyway, let’s look at the statistics:

*2013Boise StateMWCFRWR55408.000005408.00
*2014Boise StateMWCSOWR115187717.232115.505388816.83
*2015Boise StateMWCJRWR1388141216.085428.4093145415.68
2016Boise StateMWCSRWR1380127215.9911534.8091132514.69
CareerBoise State224360116.120181065.90242370715.320

Too many college players leave early nowadays. They enter the league lacking experience, and it hurts them when they take the field in the NFL. That’s why it is always encouraging to see a player like Sperbeck that has stayed in school for all four years. He played in 42 games while at Boise St. There is no substitute for game reps, in the pros or any other level.

The numbers are good for any level. Back to back 80+ catches is nothing to sneeze about, no matter what level of competition you are facing. Sperbeck was consistent and he could find the end zone.

His measurable aren’t “ideal”, take a look:

HEIGHT: 5-11

WEIGHT: 187 pounds

On its face, his forty time is concerning. At Boise St. pro day, he ran the dash in 4.59 seconds twice in a row. However, another guy ran the forty yard dash in 4.59 seconds. His name? Jerry Rice. The moral of the story is that you don’t have to run that straight line sprint fast to be a successful NFL wide receiver.

The size is a bit concerning, though. He may want to put on a bit more bulk to stand up to physical NFL cornerbacks. Here are some thoughts from his Pro Football Focus scouting report:

"What he does best:•Possesses excellent playing speed and is explosive after the catch.•Very quick to turn upfield after the reception, which leads to easy yards after catch on accurate passes.•Has versatility to line up wide or as slot receiver too and ran all routes on the route tree at Boise State including jet sweeps.•Uses his hands to catch passes and does not let the football in to his body.•Quick out of his breaks and has a second gear he can use after his break to separate from defenders.Biggest concern:•Numbers were inflated by screen passes, quick hitches, and plays where he was schemed open.•He is an extremely raw route-runner as he tends to round off his breaks and give away his routes occasionally.•His physicality is a concern as he does not win contested situations on a consistent basis and can be easily disrupted during his route.•Has inconsistent hands and had 11 drops in 2016, tied for second-most among wide receivers."

Let’s look at some videotape:

There wasn’t a lot I could find so I went with what I have. If there are any Boise St. fans out there, please feel free to write in some comments about him below.

Looking at this tape, there are two things that stand out. The first is his hands. Notice how he uses them like a seasoned professional. He doesn’t “double catch” the football, he secures it with his hands and brings it into the body. It’s no wonder that this young man posted at least 80 receptions over his last two years. His catching fundamentals are spot on. In traffic, on the sidelines, or anywhere else, he makes the catch with soft hands.

The second is his ability to track the ball in flight. There is one catch Sperbeck makes in particular where he is looking over his inside shoulder, and adjusts to the outside at the last second to make the catch. That’s a lot easier said than done period, much less with a defender chasing you. It takes an innate tracking ability which really can’t be taught. To disregard this player as a simple “project” would be a mistake.

The knock on him as noted above is that he isn’t a polished route runner. He rounds off his routes and sometimes tips them off. That is where coaching comes in. This is technique that can be taught. You can’t teach a player to have hands like he has, or the ability to track the ball like Sperbeck can.

Next: How the Bucs addressed off-season needs

What do you guys think of Sperbeck? Think he can make the team? It’s a longshot, but can he do it? Let us know…