Which Buccaneers Rookies Will Have the Best Year in 2024?

FILE - Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton (62) blocks Virginia defensive end Chico Bennett Jr. (15) during the an NCAA college football game Nov. 18, 2023, in Charlottesville, Va. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Barton in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday, April 25. (AP Photo/Mike Caudill, File) © Provided by The Associated Press – Sports

By – Devin Sanguinett Bucs Report – Special to Sports Talk Florida

As we begin to see Buccaneers rookies sign their contracts and for the team to get closer to its final form, what better time than to have some speculation on these rookies?

The Bucs had a very solid draft, according to most experts inside and outside the Bucs community. With that comes the expectation that we will have several impact starters. Graham Barton is expected to be the starting center, Chris Braswell will likely start at the edge at some point in the season, Jalen McMillan will compete for WR3 and could even replace Chris Godwin a year later, and Bucky Irving will be RB2. This doesn’t even include UDFAs who could see the field, although that is tough to predict. But who will have the best year?

Now, logic says that the guy picked in the first round will have the best year. However, there is a small problem with that. It is incredibly difficult to grade offensive linemen. It is something that even PFF has a lot of trouble with. There are of course ways to tell when a lineman is playing well (mainly if they’re being blown the hell up on a play like Robert Hainsey).

Linemen just don’t have the same stats that an offensive skill position would get and so it is hard to measure them. With that said, Barton will be given the most playing time, thereby giving him the most time to prove he is the best of this class.

For my money, I think McMillan will actually be the most productive. He has a legitimate chance of being the WR3 instead of Palmer. And while WR3 doesn’t exactly produce the most amount of targets, it does lead to more playing time. Liam Coen will find ways to use McMillan’s speed for end arounds and other such gadget plays.

I also find it unlikely that Irving will get more reps than McMillan, barring injury to Rachaad White. I think Irivng will be good, but considering White is also a good pass catching back, that will cut Irivng’s playing time as well. And while Braswell doesn’t have that much competition ahead of him, rookie edge rushers usually don’t produce their first season. Also, considering it took Bowles a while to play Yaya Diaby even with the pass rushing woes, he may take that same approach here.

The other player I could see having a really productive season is Tykee Smith. He is a versatile safety that Bowles will love playing around with. I think he will end up being used in a lot of blitzing packages as he has been effective in that role at Georgia. But the fact that Antoine Winfield and Jordan Whitehead are on the roster could reduce his playing time as well.

It is of course difficult to predict who will do the best before the season and before the preseason even. There could be injuries or a guy just absolutely balls out. However, I think every guy on this list will have some amount of success. They at the very least should see the field for more than half the games, and that has me excited.

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