Tyler Johnson was one of the more prominent talking points for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the draft, but he may not be a lock for playing as the third receiver.
Taking one of the most accomplished wide receivers in college football in the third round looks like a steal at face value. Tyler Johnson seemed like an answer to a prayer for the Buccaneers, who were still looking to build depth at receiver, but nothing is guaranteed yet.
Tamp Bay has impressive depth at wide receiver already. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are going to receive the majority of the touches, but the Bucs also have Scott Miller and Justin Watson to lean on as well.
Miller and Watson have a clear advantage over Johnson based on their experience and apparently based on their athleticism.
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The top receivers for the Bucs are skilled in their own ways, but neither possesses blazing speed. Evans has height and is a red zone nightmare while Godwin has some of the best hands in the NFL and amazing RAC ability. Both of these receivers are clearly in the top-ten at their position, just not in the speed category.
Unfortunately, Johnson would be more of the same and will find it challenging to bring something new to the table. On the other hand, Miller and Watson both possess impressive speed, and could bring more as the third receiver.
According to Bruce Arians, via Greg Auman on Twitter, Watson was able to get up to 21 miles per hour running in practice. This impressive speed with a height advantage over Johnson could give Watson a slight edge over the rookie.
Speed isn’t everything, especially on an offense led by Tom Brady, but the Bucs do need players with this skill set to help open the field. Mike Evans is one of the best deep threats in the league, but using Watson as well could create viable deep throws or open up massive lanes for Chris Godwin to make explosive plays.
Watson hasn’t been able to show much up until this point in his professional career, but 2020 could finally be the year that he gets a chance. Johnson may look like an attractive candidate to start in the third role for now, but Arians rarely tips his cap prematurely, and Watson has gained considerable momentum.
Regardless of who is chosen, the Bucs will have one of the deepest wide receiver corps in the NFL with the next man up always ready to go. Tyler Johnson’s odds of being a significant contributor early may have gotten longer, but it is still early, and opportunities to impress remain.