3 Buccaneers rookies who turned heads at minicamp

Through Tampa Bay's OTA's and mandatory minicamp, these three players have quickly impressed their teammates and coaches.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Minicamp
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Minicamp / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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With the conclusion of most player movement in free agency and the draft, teams like the Buccaneers have begun their offseason programs in preparation for the 2024-2025 season. Beginning on April 15, Tampa Bay's voluntary offseason program were underway, which can last a maximum of nine weeks and is broken up into three phases.

That said, the amount and variety of work allowed and the involvement of coaches ramping up from one phase to the next. The first two weeks of the program are known as Phase One, in which activities are limited to meetings, strength and conditioning, and rehab work only.

Phase Two is three weeks long and includes more on-field work and instruction but no drills with live contact or offensive and defensive units going against each other.

Phase Three is the part of the program that most resembles in-season workouts, with teams permitted to hold up to 10 "organized team activity days," or OTAs. While there is still no live contact allowed during OTAs, teams can conduct such offense-vs.-defense drills as 11-on-11, 9-on-7 and 7-on-7. This phase also concludes with a three-day minicamp, which is the only part of the program that is mandatory for veteran players.

All nine of the Bucs' scheduled OTA's were from May 21 to June 6, and Tampa Bay just finished their mandatory minicamp on Wednesday. So far, three different Bucs have emerged as notable players throughout the offseason preparations that have caught the eye of head coach Todd Bowles and the coaching staff.

WR Jalen McMillan

In the weeks leading up to the 2024 draft, the Bucs traded starting corner Carlton Davis III to Detroit for their third-round pick, at No. 92 overall. With that pick, Tampa Bay added Washington's Jalen McMillan, who was one of Michael Penix's top targets at Washington.

During the 2022 season, McMillan's second year at UW, the 6'1", 180-pound receiver impressed with 79 catches for 1,098 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games. This past year, McMillan was often overlooked for 2023 first-round pick Rome Odunze, but still finished with 45 receptions for 559 yards, five touchdowns, and 12.4 yards per catch in 11 starts, and was selected to the All-Pac-12 Second Team.

Although McMillan comes to Tampa Bay as the projected No. 3 receiver behind the star duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, McMillan has still impressed several players and coaches, including head coach Todd Bowles.

“Anytime you can get another ball catcher, route runner, and intelligent receiver," Bowles said. "He fits in well, no matter where we put him at. We’ve got a couple of guys behind him – obviously Trey [Palmer], ‘Rock’ (Rakim Jarrett) and the rest of the guys can play, as well. But, he fits in well with Chris [Godwin] and Mike [Evans].”

With Godwin set to mostly operate out of the slot this season, McMillan figures to be the Bucs' best option to pair with alongside Evans on the outside. Coupled with the release of Devin Thompkins last week, and McMillan figures to play a notable role on special teams as well.

“He had a lot of versatility in college. He played in the slot, he played ‘Z,’ he played ‘X.’ He’s a very intelligent player," Bowles added. "That gives us some advantages.”

During OTA's, McMillan was seen as one of four skill position players getting reps in place of Thompkins, as well as running backs Rachaad White and Bucky Irving, and second-year receiver Trey Palmer.