As the preseason rolls along, big plays from undrafted cornerback Mazzi Wilkins are becoming a ritual; can he make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers final roster?
It seems every day there are more tweets and highlights involving Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Mazzi Wilkins. Undrafted out of Tampa’s University of South Florida, Wilkins had a feel-good element to his story as he attempts to make the hometown Buccaneers.
No longer can Wilkins be viewed as a hometown longshot, but as a legitimate threat to unseat another player in the cornerback room for their roster spot. Making plays in practice seemingly everyday, Wilkins showed the ability to make a big play in game simulated experience as well, forcing a fumble in the fourth quarter of a tight game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Buccaneers’ preseason opener.
Today in a joint practice with the Miami Dolphins ahead of their preseason matchup, Wilkins again made a play, picking off former Buccaneers’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone. While the Buccaneers may have added two cornerbacks in this year’s draft class, there is room on the roster for Wilkins to claim on the final 53-man roster.
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With Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean joining Carlton Davis and Vernon Hargreaves III as virtual locks to make the final roster, the fifth and final cornerback spot could be Wilkins. Fourth year cornerback is facing a four game suspension to start the season, and in his absence, Wilkins could see his name on the final roster heading into the regular season.
Head coach Bruce Arians spoke on Wilkins earlier this week and about his chances of making the final roster in Tampa Bay:
"“It’s really tough. Keep playing like you’re playing, then you’re going to have a chance… He’s playing smart right now. He did get a couple of penalties today. That’s the stuff that’ll kill us, especially on third down. I love his aggressiveness, but let go of his shirt. Things like that. He’s a good, young, aggressive player. He’s going to have a good future” (Arians via ESPN)."
Throughout his four year career at South Florida, Wilkins recorded three total interceptions, all in his junior year for the Bulls, and added an additional 18 pass breakups over the last two years in college. While going undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft, Wilkins has made his name heard with the Buccaneers after being signed.
Whether or not Wilkins makes the Buccaneers’ final 53-man roster, it would not be shocking to see him land somewhere as teams cut their rosters down and make waiver claims. Keep an eye on the Tampa product as he has gathered some genuine steam behind his journey to make the Buccaneers this summer.