3 underrated Buccaneers who will make a massive impact next season

The future is now for the Buccaneers, which means a few guys could find themselves stepping up in big ways in 2024.
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As the offseason comes to a close and the NFL Draft continues to near, the future is on the minds of a lot of Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans. With a 9-8 record and their third straight NFC South division title, Tampa Bay entered the offseason with a solid top-to-bottom roster and few key question marks.

As with any team, the Bucs lost some starters from last season's team in free agency, but largely managed to return the bulk of last season's team with some solid under-the-radar signings. From a coaching standpoint, Todd Bowles will return for his third season as the Buccaneers' head coach, but did lose offensive coordinator Dave Canales to Carolina as their next head coach.

Even so, the Buccaneers were able to land former Rams' coordinator Liam Coen as the team's next offensive coordinator, while hiring several talented assistant coaches under third-year head coach Todd Bowles. That brings most of the focus to any players poised to take a step up and play a bigger role in 2024, as with these three players.

Zyon McCollum, CB

For the past four seasons, Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean formed a formidable 1-2 punch at cornerback and was a key anchor on the Buccaneers' solid defense. Just weeks into the offseason, Tampa Bay traded Davis III to Detroit for a 2024 third-round pick, creating a glaring hole in one of their two starting spots.

While the Buccaneers did sign free-agent cornerbacks Bryce Hall and Tavierre Thomas from New York and Houston, neither has shown the ability to succeed as a starter alongside Dean. With that, Zyon McCollum, a fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft from Sam Houston State, is poised to play a pivotal role in the Buccaneers' secondary.

After playing in 13 games and starting three times as a rookie, McCollum saw the field more with Davis III and Dean missing nine combined games. In all 17 games, nine of which were starts, McCollum recorded 68 tackles, nine pass breakups, and two forced fumbles, all career-highs.

As the nearest defender, McCollum only allowed 59.8 percent of those passes to be completed, the best mark by any Buccaneer defensive back. Per Pro Football Reference, Davis and Dean finished the season at clips of 61.4 percent and 66.1 percent, respectively.

At 24 years old, McCollum has yet to reach his full potential in the NFL and is fully capable of developing into a quality-level cornerback. Even with the presence of All-Pro free safety Antoine Winfield Jr., free agent signing Jordan Whitehead, and Dean, McCollum's success will play a key role in the Buccaneers' defense in 2024.