The Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the present are a savvy veteran team. Players like Tom Brady, Mike Evans, and Lavonte David garner headlines. And new additions like Tristan Wirfs have already established themselves as the future of the franchise.
But there are several key elements to this 2022 Tampa Bay team that have yet to emerge into the national spotlight. Here are the four most likely Buccaneers to have their breakout season in 2022.
1. Russell Gage
Russell Gage is the popular fantasy prognosticator’s pick here, but his real-world potential shouldn’t be diminished at all. Gage has been a solid WR2 for the Atlanta Falcons, and he does his best work from the slot position. This, of course, is where the Bucs signed him to play.
The loss of Chris Godwin is a huge blow to the early-season Buccaneers, but Gage allows Brady and company to continue their style of offense – centered around slot receivers – without too much of a hitch. Godwin last season finished with more than 1000 yards despite an injury that caused him to miss the last part of the season.
Gage fulfills that hole left by Godwin’s injury, a replacement that could launch him into national prominence if he gels with the NFL’s most prolific QB to provide a devastating interior weapon to compliment Mike Evans.
2. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka
Tryon was a depth pick at the end of the first round last year and, sure enough, ended up backing up Jason Pierre-Paul for the entirely of last season. That being said, despite the limited playing time, Joe Tryon flashed a lot of potential. It should not be a surprise for Bucs fans to see him rack up double-digit sacks in his first campaign as a starting member of the ferocious Tampa Bay defense.
Especially opposite a revamped and out-for-blood interior defensive line starring Vita Vea and Akiem Hicks, Joe Tryon will be capitalizing on a lot of pushed-back pockets. This, combined with the Buccaneers’ continued national relevance, could launch Joe Tryon into a well talked about player.
3. Rachaad White
The only rookie to grace this list, Rachaad White steps into the backup RB role vacated by Ronald Jones. Already a good start, RB is a position primed to capture media attention. But also, Brady has a well-documented history of liking his pass catching backs, with names like Rex Burkhead and James White coming to mind.
Rachaad White, of course, was perhaps the best RB in all of college football at catching passes last season. And with Leonard Fournette being the true starter now, the Bucs could definitely look to rest him on passing downs. This leaves the door wide open for the rookie White to put his stamp all over the NFL.
4. Cameron Brate
Breakout players aren’t exclusively young guns though, as Cameron Brate is also primed for an attention grabbing 2022 season. Much has been made of Brady’s penchant for pass-catching RBs and slot receivers, but he has a long history of loving his TE mismatches as well. And with the departure of longtime Brady buddy Rob Gronkowski, the field is wide open for savvy veteran Cam Brate to make a big splash.
Brate is hardly an under-the-radar name for longtime Bucs fans, after all who could forget his peak as a Red Zone machine under Jameis Winston – or the Harvard-to-Harvard connection with Ryan Fitzpatrick? But outside of dedicated Bucs fans, Cameron Brate doesn’t have much name recognition. With the size to beat corners and safeties, plus the build and smarts to uncover against linebackers, expect him to change that as he becomes a favorite target of the greatest quarterback of all time.
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