Last season, the Buccaneers carried six wide receivers on the roster on opening day: Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Micheal Spurlock, Maurice Stovall, Sammie Stroughter and Preston Parker. The year before, the Bucs had just five receivers on the opening day roster. So with some five or six spots for receivers, the Bucs will have to make some tough choices on who to keep.
Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn and Dezmon Briscoe are all assured of a roster spot at this point. Mike Williams is a star in the making, while Arrelious Benn looked very good before going on IR late last season. Dezmon Briscoe showed a few last season and has supposedly looked great in training camp, cementing his spot on the roster. But behind those three players, things become more murky.
We can probably pencil in Sammie Stroughter and Preston Parker as well. While these are two similar players, the Bucs kept both on the roster for the entire season last year. The fact that they can function well as slot receivers and punt returners means they're more likely to stick on the roster, while both have some kick returners as well. Versatile players who can contribute on special teams will make the roster over players who can only do a limited number of things.
Many may expect Micheal Spurlock to be a sure thing to make the roster as well, but I'm not so sure about that. Spurlock has been in the league since 2006 and had his best season last year - with a whopping 250 yards receiving. While he is a good kick returner, he's not elite, and he's not going to get much better as a receiver. Because of his limited upside I don't think he makes the roster as anything but a kick return specialist, and it will be tough for the Bucs to find a roster spot for just a return specialist this season. If they do keep Spurlock on the roster, that will likely keep Stroughter or Parker off the roster.
With Williams, Benn, Briscoe, and then two of Stroughter, Parker and Spurlock the Bucs have just one more roster spot left. Two players have been making a name for themselves in camp: Ed Gant and Raymond Webber. I've talked about Webber before, and I think he has the talent to make the roster - but he'll have to beat out Ed Gant to do so. Gant is a third-year player who spent the past two years on both the Cardinals' and Buccaneers' practice squads. Gant and Webber have similar frames, although Webber is a little bigger, and Gant may have the edge because of his previous experience. But the real battle will be fought in the preseason, so keep an eye on the second- and third-team receivers.
Besides Gant and Webber, the Buccaneers also have Detron Lewis and Jock Sanders on the rosters. Sanders is very small and can only play in the slot because of that. He will have to beat out either Preston Parker or Sammie Stroughter (or even both) for a roster spot, and his size may prevent him from making any impact on special teams. He has a real uphill battle to climb. Lewis has a better shot, but likewise will have to battle Parker and Stroughter for a roster spot. Running a 4.64 40-yard dash and being just 6'0" tall, he doesn't have the physical tools to thrive on the outside. But he could work well as a slot receiver going against linebackers and trying to find a hole in zone coverage.
Looking at these names it's clear the Bucs lack some depth on the receiving corps. While Williams is a legitimate number one receiver, everyone behind him is a question mark. Arrelious Benn has the talent to be very good, but is coming off an ACL injury and didn't make an impact last season until late in the year. Dezmon Briscoe flashed a little bit in games last year, but really hasn't produced much yet. Stroughter and Parker are both similar players, limited to playing the slot receiver position. Spurlock is a useful fill-in at times, but nothing more than that. Behind them, no one on the roster has any NFL experience. The Bucs are in the middle of a youth movement, and once we look at the names behind the starters we can see this really hurts their depth.