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At first glance, it seemed like a helpless scenario for Buccaneer fans.
Antonio Bryant left town and signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. Santonio Holmes headed to the Big Apple. Anquan Boldin donned Baltimore black. Brandon Marshall landed in South Florida.
With all these moves and a roster chock full of no-names, relative newbies, and underachievers like Mario Urrutia, Mark Bradley, Maurice Stovall, Michael Clayton, and Sammie Stroughter....the addition of Reggie Brown rang a little bit hollow. However, the Buccaneer front office preached patience and pointed towards the NFL Draft at good old Radio City Music Hall.
The debate began amongst the Buccaneer faithful. To some, the lack of a splash move seemed risky. Putting faith in unknown, green rookies rather than bring in a proven commodity bordered on foolhardy and reeked of cheapness. Conversely, those who supported patience and waiting for the draft pointed to the value of draft picks in this draft and the potential playmakers that could be available to the Buccaneers.
After the passage of the draft, one thing rings true deep in the heart of the vast majority of Buccaneer fans: optimism. That's what landing big, physical, and potential game-changers like Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams can do for you. After drafting a second interior defensive lineman in as many picks, the Bucs finally addressed the receiver position by jumping three spots up to the 39th overall and selecting Benn. Perhaps more surprisingly, the physically-gifted Williams was still on the board for the Buccaneers to snag with the 101st overall selection. Williams has reportedly been graded out as a first-round talent by some teams, but obviously he slipped due to concerns about his maturity and mental fortitude after his premature exodus from Syracuse.
Benn and Williams bring size, length, and muscle to the outside receiver spots. Both guys have the height, route-running ability, and ball skills to fight off a jam and go up high to grab a slant or in route against one-on-one man coverage on 3rd and 5.....which is something the Buccaneers were not able to do well last year. From what I've seen of Williams, he's flat-out excellent at getting up in the air and catching the football at its highest point over the defender. Conversely, if the defense tries to jam these guys and jump the short routes, either one can run by you beat you deep. Also, both are capable of becoming effective, bullish blockers if they want to be.
Can either of these guys step up and become a game-changer for the Buccaneers? Obviously too early to tell, but one has to like the tools and potential these guys bring to the table. If they can harness those talents and grind as hard as their quarterback has been this offseason, Josh Freeman could find the sledding more manageable this fall.