Training camp preview: Can young talent propel Bucs?

Training camp is quickly approaching, which means it's time to preview the most exciting part of the summer. Over the next month, Around The NFL's Conor Orr will break down all 32 teams and give us something to look for in late July.

Today, we take a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Click on the tabs above to see previews for the rest of the NFC South. For the rest of the NFL, click here.

Training camp report date: Rookies: July 25; Veterans: July 27

Training camp location: One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, Fla.

Offseason in a nutshell: The Buccaneers are not the first team to ditch their head coach in favor of the coordinator, but it was a fascinating maneuver for a club that had a promising season with a No. 1 overall pick at quarterback. The perception around the league is that this was a long time coming for Dirk Koetter, who was the hot candidate several times over the past six years, but never got the opportunity. Koetter was the perfect hire for Lovie Smith, and he may end up being the perfect head coach for Jameis Winston as well. Above all else, his ability to understand and manage quarterbacks stands out. As with any new coach, it will be important to watch what major changes he plans on making. The Bucs didn't have an iron-clad culture in place after only two seasons under Smith, but new coaches can rarely succeed by pretending to be just like the old ones.

Player to watch: Austin Seferian-Jenkins. A promising start in 2015 bled into one of the worst seasons catching the football among regular starting tight ends. Football Outsiders has an interesting breakdown of receiving plus/minus numbers and essentially, Seferian-Jenkins ended up underneath the demarcation line for an average replacement-level tight end. He joined Detroit's Eric Ebron, New England's Scott Chandler and Jacksonville's Julius Thomas in the bottom 10. Seferian-Jenkins is now on a self-imposed Twitter ban following an overblown moment on the Tampa Bay practice field when he was sent to the sidelines for a mental mistake. These are the kinds of fork-in-the-road moments that make training camp interesting for the dangerous pass-catcher. Seferian-Jenkins has all the tools and the Buccaneers' offense could take the next step under Jameis Winston with some help.


1. Will the addition of Todd Monken mean valuable changes for the Bucs' wide receivers?

Austin Seferian-Jenkins wasn't the only player toward the bottom of Football Outsiders' catch list. Mike Evans, the team's 2014 first-round pick, also struggled last year despite putting up 1,206 yards on 75 catches. Evans was targeted a staggering 148 times, meaning that Winston could only expect a catch one out of every two times he threw Evans the ball. His talent level is out of this world and his production should be in line with the rest of that stellar wide receiver class. Monken, who is also serving as the team's offensive coordinator, will be sure to put his stamp on the team's biggest weapon.

2. Who emerges from the offensive line battle royale?

Tampa Bay is oddly deep at random spots on their roster, even if the starters aren't exceptional. For example, Brandon Myers could end up being a third tight end on this roster. Across the offensive line, Gosder Cherilus and Evan Smith won't crack the starting lineup unless something happens to Joe Hawley and Demar Dotson. This team will be fascinating to watch come cut day and could provide some other clubs with emergency starters while giving their very young core some solid competition during camp (Cherilus would only cost the Bucs $500,000 in dead money and Smith could be let go without penalty).

3. Will Roberto Aguayo wow in camp?

Charting field goals is a lonely pastime during training camp, but for writers and analysts, it's part of the job. Roberto Aguayo was a second-round pick out of Florida State in 2016 and while many bemoaned general manager Jason Licht's decision, it made sense to us -- if you have a glaring weakness at the highest-scoring position on your team and the best player is still available, take him. Still, Aguayo's draft position will demand perfection in some eyes. Many teams end their training camp practices with high-pressure, long-distance situations for kickers, and outside of clubs with a legitimate battle at the position, we will be talking the most about Aguayo.

Way-too-early season prediction: NFC South predictions are all over the place this preseason already. Conventional wisdom suggests that the Falcons and Saints will eventually bounce back and the Panthers will come back to earth a bit. Tampa is the interesting middle man. At the least, we'd expect them to improve upon a 6-10 record from last year. The talent on this roster is good enough to finish at least .500.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content