TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Mike Williams #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is unable to catch the pass as William Moore #25 and Thomas DeCoud #28 of the Atlanta Falcons defend at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
If we know one thing about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' receivers this year, it's that Vincent Jackson will become the true #1 receiver. No one pays a player $55,555,555 over 5 years to then not use him extensively. But that doesn't mean the Bucs don't have a position battle at their hands at wide receiver. In fact, that position may be the most competitive position on the team: Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Preston Parker, Sammie Stroughter, Dezmon Briscoe and even Ed Gant are fighting for not just playing time, but roster spots.
Throughout the offseason so far, Mike Williams has consistently been the team's #2 receiver, lining up across from Vincent Jackson with the first team offense. A report from Pro Football Weekly suggests that the team will have a completely open battle, but it's clear that Mike Williams is the leader in that battle. And that makes perfect sense: the third-year receiver looked like a future star in his first season with the Bucs, and although he clearly slumped in 2011, that talent has not suddenly disappeared. Bucs fans have been disappointed by one-year wonders at receiver before, but Mike Williams is more talented than Michael Clayton ever was - and his sophomore season was much better than Clayton's sophomore season, despite the massive slump.
Is there a real battle for the #3 receiver spot, then? Well, not really. Preston Parker has firmly taken hold of that role after a very successful 2011 season. Throughout the offseason, he's lined up with the second team. One thing that will help Arrelious Benn (who has moved to the second team in practices) and the other receivers vying for playing time, though, is that Parker is exclusively (and at his best as) a slot receiver. The team likely won't ask him to line up on the outside, which means other receivers better suited for that role could earn playing time in that role.
All in all, the receiver battle in training camp will be interesting to watch, but it won't be all that interesting at the top of the depth chart. The players vying for a few snaps and a roster spot are the ones who will really have to fight.