Nobody is expecting much out of the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After a big drop-off following sky-high hype leading into 2017, it seems everyone is hedging their bets when predicting Tampa’s upcoming season.
I can’t say I blame people for underselling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 2018. The team made a lot of people look bad. Themselves mainly.
However, there’s correcting and there’s over-correcting. We, ladies and gentlemen, are in a full-blown over correction here.
If you read the news and opinions coming out across the landscape, you’re more likely than not to find the Bucs missing representation if possible. When not possible, you’ll see very middle of the road evaluations and predictions.
Well, not here. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a Top-5 NFL receiving corps. Period.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean they will have Top-5 production. That’s a discussion for another time.
But looking at this roster and these pass catchers, I’d have a hard time accepting anyone trying to tell me they aren’t Top-5 in the league as they currently stand.
First of all, none of the blame for offensive woes has been laid at the feet of the receiving group. Locally or nationally.
Depending on who you talk to, it’s either a problem with play-calling, pass protection, Jameis Winston or a combination of the three.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com took on this topic of Top-5 receiving corps in the league, and his rankings is what sparked me to write this very post you’re reading.
Brooks is a smart NFL mind, obviously. I’m not calling into question his own competence or ability to identify talent. What I am saying is he, like many others, are over-correcting on the Bucs.
He ranks the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns as having the best receiving corps in the NFL. In that order.
So, obviously, we aren’t using past performance as a measuring stick here. Cleveland’s receiving group is welcoming the addition of Jarvis Landry. The Steelers will be asking JuJu Smith-Schuster to step into an even bigger role than he had in 2017.
The Falcons don’t have Julio Jones on the field right now, and the Chiefs, well they have Sammy Watkins.
Out of the five, the only team returning their 2017 receiving corps is the Vikings. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are solid, of course, and Kyle Rudolph is one of the best tight ends around.
The Falcons may or may not have Jones (they will) and Mohamed Sanu has been quietly solid since arriving to the team. Calvin Ridley is an exciting pickup for them from the draft but beyond his yet-to-be-proven NFL status Atlanta is riding with Justin Hardy and Austin Hooper, who is so good Brooks misspelled his name in his NFL.com post and whoever edits his writing didn’t catch it either.
The Steelers have the best receiver in the game in Antonio Brown. Smith-Schuster has a ton of potential and is easily one of my favorite young receivers. Still, the departure of Martavis Bryant is something to look for.
More from The Pewter Plank
- Devin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on Twitter
- ESPN predicts surprising outcome to Devin White trade saga
- Updated Buccaneers depth chart after signing two players from rookie minicamp
- Todd Bowles sends clear message about Baker Mayfield’s role with Bucs
- The Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023
Bryant brought in 50 passes for the Steelers in 2017. Not a small number. With him gone, Pittsburgh will look to rookie James Washington to pick up some of the slack or maybe even Eli Rogers. Either way, having Smith-Schuster bring in 50 balls last year was impressive, but having another unexpected guy do it is a tall task.
Kansas City and Cleveland are in similar spots. New additions to already established receiving groups. The Chiefs add Sammy Watkins to Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Meanwhile, the Browns are adding Landry to Josh Gordon and David Njoku.
Not bad receiving groups on paper. None of them. So, this isn’t a slight towards them necessarily. But they’re all missing two key factors which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have currently.
Four quality receivers and two stud tight-ends. Pick one of those receiving corps above and choose to ship out Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries, Chris Godwin, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard for them.
You can’t. Pittsburgh’s is the only one which comes close. At least for me it is. Individually? Sure.
I’d love to see AB or Smith-Schuster in a Bucs uniform. Kelce to Tampa? Cool. Honestly though, I wouldn’t give up both Brate and Howard for him. Maybe it’s just me.
Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are both good receivers in their own right, but I think they benefitted from a defense which allowed them time to get rolling and smart coaching which really put them in a good position to make plays.
Cleveland? Yeah, you can keep all those guys. And Atlanta. Julio is the only piece there which interests me when comparing them to Tampa’s group. And he may not even be there anymore if he doesn’t get a new contract. (He will)
"Check out the latest from the Locked on Bucs podcast!"
So, I don’t blame Brooks for underselling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers here. Everyone is doing it. However, I can easily make the case for at least two of these receiving corps being shuffled out for Jameis Winston’s guys.
Again, this isn’t about production. This is about the stable of players. And if you ask me, the Bucs have a Top-5 group no matter how you slice it.