Buccaneers: Breakout star vs. Saints proves new NFL strategy

Cyril Grayson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Cyril Grayson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Cyril Grayson has become very popular after his first touchdown catch with the Buccaneers.

There weren’t many silver linings for the Buccaneers after their disastrous loss to the Saints and their backup quarterback, but Cyril Grayson is one of the few stories to celebrate.

After serving as a practice squad player and on special teams for most of his NFL career, a huge touchdown reception to go up against the Saints was an exciting way for Grayson to prove that he belongs on a roster.

Grayson was given this opportunity after injuries kept Antonio Brown and Scotty Miller out of the game, and a reception like this is the first step towards solidifying a spot on the team that still needs a burner.

Years ago, players like Grayson without college football experience would rarely have a chance in the league. Why would NFL scouts watch track athletes over players with playing time in their sport?

This argument was valid in the old days of the NFL, but the modern way to build a roster creates a greater need for players like Cyril Grayson.

What he lacks in football experience Grayson makes up for in another skill; speed. The modern NFL places a greater value on speed than just about any other skill at the wide receiver position, which is usually why teams reach on players with blazing speed, such as Henry Ruggs and John Ross.

This trend is new, but teams with “track teams” for their quarterbacks to throw at have extremely difficult offenses to plan for. Just look at a team like the Chiefs. Kansas City has surrounded Patrick Mahomes by some of the fastest players in the NFL, and while they are struggling now, the results over the past few years have proven that this speed-first strategy works.

This wide receiver build plays much better with fast quarterbacks that can extend plays with their legs, but Tom Brady still needs a true burner in his wide receiver corps to force defenses to plan for that contingency. Scotty Miller played this role last season, and having someone like Grayson on their roster adds a new element to the offense.

The touchdown catch for Grayson against the Saints was obviously the result of a broken play, but Grayson did do everything right, and opportunities like that will come about often for a player of his speed.

The Buccaneers will have some difficult decisions to make when everyone returns from injury, but Cyril Grayson has done a good job to make a case for himself with his limited reps so far. Hopefully, Byron Leftwich can find some exciting ways to get one of their faster players the ball in some Chiefs-like ways over the coming weeks.

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