Buccaneers: 2021 Draft class shines in preseason opener

Kyle Trask, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Trask, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the biggest takeaways from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals was the strong performances of their 2021 draft picks. If this is any indication, it looks like the Buccaneers may have hit big on yet another draft class.

It was never going to be perfect. Preseason never is and that point is always exacerbated during the preseason opener. Veterans are still getting their sea legs back under them, and roster bubble players are doing everything they can to make a statement in hopes of keeping their NFL dreams alive. One of the most exciting parts of preseason is also the first look at the incoming rookies. Due to that, it’s very easy to overreact to the performances of these rookies. For the Buccaneers, fans have plenty of reason to be excited based on what they’ve seen though.

For starters, Joe Tryon looked like an absolute stud. When the Bucs drafted the University of Washington pass-rusher with the final pick in the first round they had the luxury of choosing who they felt was the best player available. Tryon was seen as a bit of a project, due to being perceived as raw and opting out of his final college season. It’s safe to say a lot of those concerns can be put to rest. Tryon’s burst and first step off the snap is something to behold, and that was on full display Saturday night. The unnecessary roughness penalty that took his sack away was bogus but hey, it’s preseason for the officials as well.

Elsewhere on the defense, fifth-round pick K.J. Britt out of Auburn at himself a nice game during his second-team reps, and really popped on the field. Britt ended up finishing with three tackles, two of which were solo, and recovered a fumble forced by Ross Cockrell.

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Britt was flying around the field, and clearly has a nose for the ball since he was around it seemingly every play. With the Bucs obviously set with their starting linebackers, Britt has been making a name for himself when it comes to the depth spots, both with his strong camp, and preseason debut.

As far as the offense goes, it’s hard not to get excited about Jaelon Darden. The Buccaneers traded up to draft Darden out of North Texas in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft, and the rookie had already been turning heads in camp. The short, yet hyper athletic receiver saw time both on offense (obviously) as well as starting the game as the return man. He finished with two catches for 19 yards, but his athleticism jumped right off the screen, and it’s clear why the Bucs love him. It’s only a matter of time before fans do too, if they don’t already, and the rest of the NFL hates him.

Then we have perhaps the most intriguing rookie coming in with Kyle Trask. The Bucs made headlines when they drafted Kyle Trask out of the University of Florida in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he for his first taste of NFL action Saturday. It was an up-and-down performance, but the exact performance one would expect from a rookie quarterback in his first live action that wasn’t a first round pick. Trask may not have shined as bright as his fellow draft classmates, but it was still a notable debut.

It’s been well-documented (to put it lightly) how the Buccaneers became the first team in the Super Bowl era to bring back all 22 starters (and a little something on the side) in their quest to “go for two” as champions. It’s all the more exciting when it’s becoming apparent that they were able to reload during the Draft, and hit another tape measure home run. That’s great news for Bucs fans, and bad for the rest of the NFL. For now, let’s see how the rest of the preseason plays out, but it’s hard not to overreact.

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