Jameis Winston certainly performed better in his sophomore season, connecting for 28 touchdown passes, 12 of them to Mike Evans. That helped Tampa Bay to a 9-7 record, its first season above .500 since 2010. However, they still missed out on the playoffs, as they have every year since 2007.
Despite the success of Winston and Evans, the Buccaneers offense overall was lackluster. Their 354 points scored was the fewest in the NFC South Division. Only five other teams in the entire conference put up fewer points in 2016.
But Tampa Bay coaches and staff believe this year’s draft helped them bring in the players needed to give their offense a much needed boost. It all starts with the team’s first selection (19th pick overall) in O.J. Howard. While Alabama came up short in the national title game against Clemson, Howard did all he could for the Tide cause with 106 receiving yards and a touchdown. Considered the top tight end in this year’s draft, he is not only an excellent receiver, but a top notch blocker.
Another target Tampa Bay got for Winston is Penn State receiver Chris Goodwin in the Third Round (84th overall). Some might wonder how other teams passed over him as he garnered over 2,400 receiving yards in three seasons with the Nittany Lions along with 18 touchdowns, 11 of them last season. Bucs coaches like Goodwin’s maturity and the way he can adjust on the fly. He also shined in every bowl game he played in for Penn State, with more than 130 yards in the 2014 Pinstriple Bowl, the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl, and last season’s Rose Bowl, where he recorded 187 receiving yards and two touchdowns against USC.
With their Fifth Round pick, the Bucs got a running back, they hope, can compliment Doug Martin. Jeremy McNichols of Boise State scored 43 rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons. Along with a great ground game, McNichols also has great hands, reeling in ten touchdown catches and recording 934 receiving yards in two seasons for Boise State.
Should all these picks pan out, coupled with quality returners in the backfield, the Bucs could have one of the top offenses in the league.