Tampa Bay Buccaneers Julio Jones player spotlight

Julio Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Julio Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

As we get closer and closer to the start of the regular season, I am starting a series where I will be looking at some of the key players for the Buccaneers this year. There will be a mix of new players, returning veterans, and players poised to step into new roles. I decided to start the series with a recent offseason addition that I am very excited for….. Julio Jones!

A former superstar for our division rival Atlanta Falcons, Julio spent last season as a member of the Tennessee Titans where he couldn’t find a real role in the offense that is so heavily predicated on the run game.

Of the 11 seasons Julio has spent  in the league, Jones has eclipsed over 1,000 receiving yards in seven of those seasons.

With another thousand yard season this year, Julio could climb from his current rank of 17th in all time receiving yards into the top 10….

Now, it is unlikely that he will see the kind of target share to hit a thousand yards this year, and he has quite a few people within only a hundred yards from him that he will certainly look to pass in the rankings.

Julio is also currently the career leader in receiving yards per game, and you know that’s a record he wants to keep!

Jones joins our team as an accomplished seven-time Pro Bowler…… But what does his role look like this year?

Well, honestly, that’s where things get murky… There are so many variables that it is very difficult to project what the target share is going to look like for the Bucs.

Let’s start with what we know:

-Mike Evans is the true number one who should see the lion’s share of targets, but there will still be more to go around.

-Once Chris Godwin returns, he will reclaim his number two role.

-The Bucs will likely dedicate an extra roster spot to the receiver position because they have  more roster quality receivers in camp, and they are earning their places…. So the usual cutoff point will likely get extended to seven roster spots.

-The tight end position probably won’t take as many targets as it has in year’s past. Cam Brate is solid and proven, same thing with Kyle Rudolph, and our rookies are looking to carve their role, but Rob Gronkowski is not walking through those doors…. At least as far as we know…. Tom Brady had a connection with Gronk that was y like any we have seen before, and Tom put trust in Gronk’s ability, and while our tight end room is solid, that same confidence won’t be there at this point.

-Coaches seem to be very high on Julio’s ability and his knack for picking up the playbook…. They will likely want to get him involved.

What is still up in the air:

-Chris Godwin’s full return timetable will have a big impact on target share, specifically early in the season. Godwin has returned to practice and it’s looking more and more likely that we will not be without him for long, but it is not set in stone that he will be ready to go week one.

-How will the Bucs look to utilize rookie RB Rachaad White?  White is being talked about as potentially working as our RB2 and could be a huge receiving threat out of the backfield leading to more check downs.

-Will Tom Brady put more trust in Russel Gage or Julio Jones as the third option in the mid to long passing attack?

The verdict:

While we should not expect a thousand yards from Julio this year, I think he can have a very productive year for Tampa Bay. I believe that the 700-yard mark should be realistic for Julio, even with all of the other quality options in this offense. Jones is still a top tier talent, with an elite quarterback, in an offense where he won’t have to worry about drawing double teams. I do think that he will likely not see a ton of Touchdowns, but I could see him in the 3-5 TD range this year.
Last year with Tennessee, Julio put up 434 yards and just 1 TD, and I see both of those totals being improved upon this year in a more explosive offense, and I think this could be a mini resurgence for one of the best WRs of the last decade.

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Let me know what you think in the comments below!