Most of us Buc fans were a little peeved when the front office let Antonio Bryant walk out the front door without so much as an offer. Some of us were upset when we neglected to trade a third and fourth round pick for Anquan Boldin. Everyone was upset when it was announced that Michael Clayton would most likely be a Buccaneer in 2010. I, like most everyone else, assumes our wide receiving corp is going to get a boost on April 22nd (or more accurately April 23rd because of the
stupid new policy of having the first round by itself as a prime time event). For the purposes of this article I thought we would take an in depth look at what we are adding to.
I'm sure most of you know that the situation is not pretty, but I don't think many of us realize just what dire straits we are in. The receiving corp currently in place at One Buc Place is undoubtedly the worst in the NFL. Many of the players we are writing paychecks for are cast offs from other teams and would most likely find themselves on their couches on Sundays if it weren't for the charitable nature of Mark Dominik and the Glazer boys. I don't mean to be negative, but the situation is simply astonishing. How did we become this bad at such a key position? It seems like just yesterday that Ike was catching third downs, Joey was taking a simple slant route to the house, and Clayton still had hands that worked for something other than shoving food into his mouth.
There may be a few diamonds in the rough though. I'm going to take an in depth look at each and every receiver currently on the Buccaneers' roster and let you guys decide for yourselves. Check out my analysis of each of our "receivers" after the jump.
Geez, what can I say about Michael Clayton that hasn't been discussed a million times before? Check out this fanpost by Buc Wild for a closer look at Clayton's horrific numbers from the past few years. The Clayton contract is one of the primary reasons people give when they say Dominik may not know what he is doing, and unfortunately for all of us, those people may have a point.
Reggie was recently traded to Tampa for a 6th round draft pick. He was cheap and could become a great reclamation project like Antonio Bryant. Brown's problems don't seem to stem from his attitude, but rather his ability (or lack thereof). You can check out all the details about Brown's career trajectory here (also by BW). I think most most of us sadly expect Brown to compete for the #2 spot with Clayton or ...
I've always felt that Maurice Stovall was going to develop into a good #2 WR, and thus I've felt a lot of disappointment in regards to him. He seems to have everything you would want as far as physical attributes go. He is big (6'5 220lbs), and fast enough (4.58 40 out of Notre Dame) but just has never seemed to get "it". I thought he would really contribute last year and he was given plenty of opportunity. He only caught a disappointing 24 balls for 366 yards and one score. How much of this can attributed to a rookie QB? That remains to be seen. Of all the players on this list, Stovall is the only player with a legitimate shot at playing the #2 WR position in the future. He is an RFA this year, so he will have to prove his worth on the field. Let's hope he can do it (finally).
A former 2nd round draft pick by Chicago, Bradley's career has been a disappointment to say the least. Perhaps he is best remembered by Bucs fan for throwing a TD pass to QB Tyler Thigpen in our way too close of a game vs. K.C. in 2008. The Chiefs are nearly as depleted at the wide receiver position as we are. The fact that they placed Bradley on waivers should speak volumes about what he has left in the tank and his potential. Bradley has never caught more than 30 balls in one season, but did show flashes here and there in his time in K.C. Let's hope he can figure it out once and for all here in Tampa.
Just as the Clayton contract is used as indicator by naysayers that say Dominik may not know what he is doing, drafting Sammie Stroughter is used by others as an indicator that he does. No doubt about it, Stroughter was an absolute steal in the 7th round. He seems to have left the problems that plagued him at Oregon State behind and will hopefully be a productive Buccaneer for years to come. Stroughter caught a surprising 31 balls for 334 yards and one score last year. He also had a dynamic 97 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Given his smaller stature, Stroughter is most likely to be limited to the slot receiver position. In order to fully live up to his potential he needs to dedicate himself to working on his route running in the offseason, but there is no doubt about it, Stroughter seems to have found some chemistry with fellow rookie Josh Freeman and will likely contribute in a big way in 2010.
Spurlock's claim to fame is, and always will be, returning the first kickoff return for a TD in the history of Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For this all of us owe him a huge debt of gratitude. It is such a relief not having to hear that nasty statistic repeated at the beginning of each and every single broadcast. Should that gratitude translate into a roster spot though? Many would argue that we are already perfectly set with return men with Pro Bowler Clifton Smith and the aforementioned Sammie Stroughter. Spurlock can still produce, as evidenced by his Week 17 punt return for a touchdown that essentially sealed the deal vs New Orleans last season. Unfortunately it is very unlikely that Spurlock will ever even see a down as a WR. He has only caught four passes in his career. All four of which came in his rookie year with Arizona in 2006.
Blatant homerism blinds me when it comes to Urrutia. As a Louisville Cardinal he set the world on fire in their national title run in 2006, but he disappeared after Petrino left and had a disappointing 2007. He came out early and was drafted by Cincinatti in the 7th round. He spent all of 2008 on their practice squad. Last year he spent time on both the Jets and Bucs practice squads and made the Tampa Bay active roster on December 21st, 2009. Much like Stovall, Urrutia has all the physical tools to become a solid NFL receiver. The guy is huge and far from slow: 6'6, 232 lbs, and he too ran a 4.58 coming out of college. Louisville fans have been waiting for this guy to catch on somewhere because we remember his remarkable big play ability in college. For instance: in his first four games at U of L Urrutia caught passes of 69, 66, 76, and 79 yards. Let's hope he finally live up to his potential and put that big frame to good use.
We poached Nunn off of New England's practice squad last season. A former standout at Nebraska with 4.4 speed, Nunn went undrafted in 2008 and was out of football until he was re-discovered by New England at Nebraska's pro day last year. You can read a somewhat interesting article about this here. While it seems unlikely that Nunn will make the roster this year, New England fans were high on him before we poached him. He apparently made some great catches in the preseason and many expected him to win the 5th receiver spot in a very deep N.E. receiver pool.
Well Bucs fans. There you have it. Now that you are in the know about each and every one of these guys, how do you feel going into 2010? Do you think one of these players will be a solid #2 for us, or heaven forbid, even a #1? Weigh in with your opinions in the comments section below.