This year, teams are looking for wide receivers, especially big playmakers with explosive speed. The Bucs are no exception, and they’ll be carefully checking out the 60 wideouts invited to the Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Head coach Dirk Koetter will not only be scouting the Combine, but also free agent wide receivers that will be coming onto the market. He said he feels that Tampa Bay could have advanced into the playoffs with more options for Jameis Winston to throw to. “Not to say that we don’t like the players that we already have,” he said, “but you can always have more.”
Although the Bucs have Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Cameron Brate and Adam Hayward, Tampa Bay is not a bad place for a wideout to land. Jameis Winston has thrown 50 touchdowns and totaled 8,000 yards in two seasons, and he’s only 23 years old. He’ll be a career maker for some receivers. Besides, he needs more targets to take pressure off the receiving corps and slow and confuse defenses. Last year, Tampa Bay ranked 29th in the league in overall yards after catch and 31st in average yards after catch per reception.
Mike Williams from Clemson, John Ross from Washington and Corey Davis from Western Michigan are all players the Bucs might be interested in. All three are expected to be drafted in the first round. The Bucs might also reach out to some wide receivers that are listed among the NFL’s top 25 free agents this year. The Bears’ Alshon Jeffery, the Giants’ Victor Cruz, Washington’s DeSean Jackson and the Jets’ Brandon Marshall may all be testing the market spotrac.com.
What about Tampa Bay’s own free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson? Koetter said he has a right to look elsewhere like anyone else. But both he and Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht made it clear they would be happy if Vincent Jackson stayed. Licht said, “We’ll always want Vincent to be around the organization.”
There’s more reason for optimism because Tampa Bay’s receiving corps is young. “Guys improve, and we believe in player development,” Koetter said.