Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Get to know undrafted free agents

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The NFL Draft has come and gone, and the mad scramble for those who slipped through the seven cracks of the Draft has cooled down. The reigning, defending, undisputed Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to terms with nine undrafted free agents at this point.

With all 22 starters returning, and the draft basically being for depth/a glorified farm system, the Buccaneers didn’t need to scramble as much for these players. That’s not to say they aren’t worth tracking, as these are the guys who play the game with massive chips on their shoulders, as they have more to prove than anyone. Some may make the team, one or two may even thrive, and the majority will fade to obscurity. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t get to know these future Bucs. So let’s get into it.

Augie Contressa – S (Stony Brook)

At 6 feet tall and 210 pounds, Augie Contressa is a good size for an NFL safety. A safety that big is expected to be physical, but also fly around the ball. Contressa did just that playing at Stony Brook, compiling 212 tackles, 24.5 of which were for a loss, seven sacks, one interception, as well as nine defended passes. Contressa also notched three forced fumbles in college, showing that he knows how to lay the wood. With stats like these, it would appear Contressa is out of the Jamal Adams school of safety, so it’ll be interesting to see how his offseason goes. With Antoine Winfield Jr. firmly entrenched in the starting lineup but Jordan Whitehead set to be a free agent, we shouldn’t rule any safeties out.

Sadarius Hutcherson – G (South Carolina)

The offensive line may not be a “pressing need” at the moment for the Buccaneers, but luckily this offseason after re-signing everyone was about depth. Sadarius Hutcherson can bring just that plus versatility. Hutcherson started 39 games for the Gamecocks at both guard and tackle. Hutcherson is known as an animal in the weight room, with brute strength to boot. It makes up for his small hands and slightly shorter arms, but with coaching, he could become a player for the Buccaneers down the line. Hutcherson was projected as a sixth or seventh-round pick, so the Bucs may have gotten themselves a steal. He’s certainly one to watch.

Leighton McCarthy – OLB (Florida Atlantic)

Leighton McCarthy is the kind of hybrid linebacker that has the potential to thrive with the Buccaneers. McCarthy was a constant presence in opposing backfields, racking up 18.5 sacks and 34 tackles for loss in his four seasons at FAU. With Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul firmly entrenched as the starting pass rushers, and the Bucs using their first-round draft pick on Washington pass rusher Joe Tryon, McCarthy may be a long shot to make the final roster. However, the linebacker room in Tampa is full of players McCarthy can learn from, so perhaps a spot on the practice squad is just what the doctor ordered.

Elijah Ponder – DL (Cincinnati)

The Buccaneers defense is absolutely stout. They proved that in front of the world during Super Bowl LV, and will certainly be living in the nightmares of Patrick Mahomes for years to come. If there’s one spot that could use a little tweaking though, it’s the three down linemen of their 3-4 defense. That’s not a knock either, basically, the unit is deep, but not top heavy. William Gholston is solid, but Ndamukong Suh is no spring chicken. Vita Vea is the key to the whole defense and potential that is through the roof but is coming off of an injury. The depth comes in the form of guys like Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon.  Elijah Ponder can fit in here nicely as well. He has an absolutely lethal inside pass-rush move, but unfortunately not much else in the repertoire, yet. In three seasons with the Bearcats, Ponder had four sacks, 63 tackles,12 of which for a loss. Ponder may be a project, but if he can fine-tune his pass-rushing, he could be a potential roster sleeper.

Lawrence White – S (Iowa State)

Another safety, White may not be as big as the aforementioned Contressa, but he’s better in coverage. The 6-foot tall, 197 pound White notched 214 tackles, and two sacks to go along with his three interceptions and eight pass breakups with the Cyclones. White was an honorable mention for All-Big 12 in 2019 and 2020. We mentioned that any safety shouldn’t be ruled out, but if White wants to make the roster, he’ll more likely than not have to beat out Contressa for that spot.

Calvin Ashley – T (Florida A&M)

Calvin Ashley is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-7 inches and 315 pounds. Undrafted free agents always have chips on their shoulders, as do players from historically black universities. They have a rich history of producing NFL talent, but not always through the draft. Ashley opted out of the 2020 season, and with the current state of the Buccaneers offensive line, Ashley will have his work cut out for him. Ashley has also spent time and FAU and Auburn, and reportedly 11 NFL scouts attended his pro day, so there is certainly some intrigue here.

Cameron Kinley – CB (Navy)

The cornerback position is another interesting group on the Buccaneers defense. They are a solid, deep group, but don’t possess what one would call a real “star”. Cameron Kinley is a big, physical corner at 6-feet-2 inches and 204 pounds. In his four-year college career at Navy, Kinley intercepted one pass and broke up six. Those aren’t exactly gaudy stats, but that also has to do with him not being targeted as much. The other thing to consider is, while a lot of college prospects may enter the NFL seen as “kids”, make no joke that those who graduate from the military academies are men. Kinley was not only the team captain but also the class president. Of all the undrafted free agents for the Bucs, he is the one to watch the closest.

Jose Borregales –  K (Miami)

After spending some time at FIU, Borregales transferred to the U. Over his college career, Borregales connected on 168/171 extra points and 70/88 field goals. While he may not have to travel far to get to Bucs training camp, his NFL journey will most likely take him elsewhere. With the team recently re-signing Ryan Succop, Borregales should be a training camp leg and body if not much else.

T.J. Simmons – WR (West Virginia)

This Mountaineer wide receiver possesses good NFL size at 6-feet-1 inch and 208 pounds and caught 86 balls for 1,1197 yards and nine touchdowns in college. The problem going for T.J. Simmons however, is that he faces an uphill battle when it comes to making the Buccaneers. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown are quite possibly the best-receiving trio in the NFL, and that’s not to mention up-and-comers/already here’s in Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller behind them. Simmons has the size, athleticism, and talent, but now it’s time to see if he is better than one the Bucs have. He should be a top practice squad candidate.

It’s hard not to root for undrafted free agents. The pressure of making an NFL team without being drafted is one of the hardest and most pressure-filled assignments to accomplish. If it’s any consolation, the Buccaneers are so loaded there is zero pressure for them to perform on the field should they be so fortunate to make the team. We wish nothing but the best of luck and are looking forward to seeing just what they are made of.

Next. Five greatest undrafted free agents in Bucs history. dark