Many have predicted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to steadily improve in 2019, but the success of the team depends on the development of their youngsters.
The oldest cornerback on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster is 2016 first round pick Vernon Hargreaves; he is just 24 years old. All of the safeties on the roster have less than four years of experience, and the Buccaneers will rely heavily on youngsters like defensive tackle Vita Vea and linebacker Devin White on the defensive side of the ball as well.
Offensively both Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones are 25 years old or younger, and their quarterback Jameis Winston is among the most experienced players and he is just 24 years old. Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, and Chris Godwin are going to be the leading receivers for the Buccaneers this year, and Evans is the oldest at just 25 years old.
Outside of Demar Dotson, every member of the Buccaneers’ offensive line is under 30 years old and is one of the more aged groups on the roster. Needless to say, the success of the Buccaneers completely hinges on the growth and development of their young roster.
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This has its pros and cons, as at just 25 years old, Evans is already one of the best in the league and still has plenty of time to continue to strengthen his game. However, players like Jameis Winston, the young running backs, and the entirety of the secondary will become the entire backbone of the 2019 season in Tampa Bay.
If the Buccaneers cannot stop the pass and see inconsistency offensively, both running and throwing the football, then they could be heading for their third season in a row in the basement of the NFC South and with a losing record. It would be difficult to find a roster in the NFL starting a younger roster than the Buccaneers this season, as many of the 2019 draft picks like White, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Mike Edwards will see significant playing time immediately.
The good news for the Buccaneers, however, is that experienced youngsters (a paradox if there ever was one) like Hargreaves and Winston, who have had their struggles early in their career, have had an impressive start to their summer. This year will have a much different tone if the Buccaneers can get the production expected out of their first rounders for once.
Over the past two practices, Winston has had a touchdown to interception ratio of 12 to one, while Hargreaves has been tasked with covering Evans in man coverage and has done well; he has also made more than one play on the football, forcing turnovers.
While this is just practice and a better indication will be given on Friday night, the Buccaneers’ first opportunity to see live action. Before week one rolls around, these young players, who will be counted on tremendously this season, must continue towards growth and development.