Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m a little bit cautious about getting excited for the Buccaneer receiver groups given that this is the same group who underperformed so badly last season. Still, this group is just too absurdly talented to fail again in 2018, so let’s just go ahead and get carried away by the hype.
You all know the names. Mike Evans is the big boss of the bunch, towering over defensive backs at 6’5, 231 lbs. He set a career low in yards with 1001 yards and nearly set another career low in catches with just 71. His five touchdowns were the spoiled cherry on top of the expired ice cream that was Evans in 2018. Still, anyone who watched the Bucs could tell this had more to do with Jameis Winston’s injury than a true regression for Evans. He should easily bounce back this year, and at age 24 the sky remains the limit for him.
DeSean Jackson was added last off-season to be the Cable to Mike Evans’ Deadpool. The Bucs badly needed a speed option to take pressure off of Mike Evans, and they found that answer in one of the fastest players the NFL has ever seen. Jackson disappointed in his first season with the Bucs, only catching 50 passes for 668 yards and just three touchdowns. His chemistry with Jameis Winston was off all season and the pair missed out on countless chunk plays by mere inches.
Like Evans, a bounce back season for Jackson should be expected in 2018. Even if Jackson has lost a small bit of a step he’s still one of the premier downfield threats in the league, and someone every single defensive coordinator in football alters their game plan for.
The most exciting prospect in the Buccaneers receiver room is Chris Godwin, who has been the talk of the off-season so far. Godwin was drafted last season in the third round out of Penn State, and started coming on strong as his rookie season winded down. He caught the longest pass of the entire Buccaneer season when he took a slant 70 yards down field against the Panthers, and finished the year as a top three rookie receiver in his class. Oh, and on top of that he scored the final touchdown of the 2017 season on a last second heave from Jameis Winston; Godwin sprinted down the right sideline, created just enough separation from the defender, and hauled in the game winning score to defeat the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints.
Getting all of these players on the field together is a strategic exercise in itself. DeSean Jackson is too electric to be taken off the field regularly, so it’s not realistic to start Chris Godwin over him opposite of Mike Evans. The Buccaneers may be best suited with starting Evans and Jackson in 2 wide sets, then in longer situations use Godwin and Evans out wide with DeSean moving into the slot. Regardless of what strategy they run with, this group – with Adam Humphries and Bobo Wilson coming off the bench – should be lethal in 2018.