As the game is transitioning to a focus on analytics, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have caught the eye of Pro Football Focus as the 2019 season approaches.
NFL writer Peter King of NBC’s Pro Football Talk is well known for his column Football Morning in America, and in today’s post he had guests from Pro Football Focus take over while he is on vacation. In the column, there were multiple references to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their young players.
As PFF is covering for King, today’s column featured articles such as “How data is changing the game,” and “What the data says about the 2020 draft.” However one that should catch the attention of Buccaneers fans is on titled, “5 Rising NFL Players” as it features not one, but two young players of the core in Tampa Bay.
The first Buccaneer mentioned in this column by PFF’s Sam Monson was last year’s first round defensive tackle Vita Vea:
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"“Vea ended up with only three sacks, but had 23 additional pressures as a pass-rusher, 17 of which came in the final six weeks of the season. Over that stretch of play, his overall PFF grade was 86.4, and he had a top-20 grade at his position, hinting at what’s to come” (Sam Monson of PFF via PFT)."
As previously mentioned on The Pewter Plank, Vea has also slimmed down this offseason in hopes of staying on the field longer and shifting towards some reps as a 3-4 defensive end and not strictly as a nose tackle. Vea could pay return big dividends on his first round investment for the Buccaneers in 2019.
Secondly, Monson made mention of one of the most athletic Buccaneers, tight end O.J. Howard. Fighting off injuries over his first two seasons and still managing to post productive numbers, Howard could be a gem of a fit in Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich’s offensive system and put up gaudy numbers this year for the pewter and red.
"“His PFF grade last year was 89.4, higher than any other tight end outside of San Francisco standout George Kittle. And on a yard per route basis, he was third behind only Kittle and Kansas City star Travis Kelce… and now the vertical threat he brings is being linked up with new Bucs coach Bruce Arians and an offense that lives down the field” (Monson of PFF via PFT)."