On the roster: Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Jheranie Boyd, Chris Denton, David Douglas, Jerry Johnson, Kevin Ogletree, Chris Owusu, Eric Page, Steve Smith, Tiquan Underwood, Tim Wright
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two outstanding starters in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, but as with seemingly every position on offense they lack quality depth. That's not because of a lack of wide receivers, though. They have more than a few of those. It's just that most of them lack the quality to make an impact.
Who will be number three?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren't necessarily looking for a slot receiver, but they do need someone to be the third wide receiver on passing downs. The Bucs like to move Vincent Jackson inside to the slot to take advantage of matchups and attack the middle of the field, so the receivers will have to show that they can play on the outside as well as the inside.
Last year, Tiquan Underwood won that job, but that was mostly due to a lack of competition. After all, he was initially cut before being re-signed two weeks into the season. In the end he managed to grab 28 passes for 425 yards but seemed to struggle with the complicated Tampa Bay offense. More than once the receiver ran one route, while Josh Freeman anticipated a different route. He'll have to sort that out to hang on to his spot.
Kevin Ogletree was brought in to earn that third receiver spot, but he hasn't exactly been productive. He managed 32 catches for 436 yards and four touchdown last season with the Dallas Cowboys, but was far from a consistent producer for Tony Romo. To be fair, he was the fourth target in an offense that featured Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Miles Austin, so there weren't many balls to go around.
The third player who may find himself with this job is former New York Giant Steve Smith. He will be most familiar with the Buccaneers' offense, owing to his previous work with offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Unfortunately the former Pro Bowler suffered a knee injury in 2010 and hasn't been productive since then. He has managed just 18 games over the past two seasons due to injury and poor play, catching a dismal 25 passes for 255 yards. Getting back to his former form looks like a very long shot, but if he can do it, he could be a very valuable contributor.
The Big Guys
Wide receivers with good size are always intriguing, even more so if they have some speed to go with it. The Bucs have a few of those players on the roster aside from Vincent Jackson. Rutgers rookie Tim Wright has great size at 6'4", 220 lbs but ran just a 4.65 40-yard dash at his pro day, per nfldraftscout.com.
Jerry Johnson out of UCLA may be more intriguing at 6'3", 207 lbs and a 4.5 4--yard dash at his pro day, again according to nfldraftscout.com. Finally, 6'1", 187 lbs. Jheranie Boyd offers some decent size with a 4.43 40-yard dash. Speed and size is always a good combination, and he also put up stellar vertical jump and broad jump numbers. Boyd hasn't produced much in college, in part due to an injury as a senior, but he appears to have the athletic traits to become a possible surprise producer for the Buccaneers.
The Small Guys
Those small receivers often end up playing in the slot, using their short-area quickness to elude linebackers and produce after the catch. The Bucs have a number of guys who could play that role: Eric Page, Chris Denton, Chris Owusu and the aforementioned Steve Smith could all function in such a role. All of them measure 6'0" or less. There's also 6'1" David Douglas who I can't really fit in with either group, so I'll just talk about him here, too.
Eric Page was tremendously productive in college, but played at lowly Toledo. He produced three consecutive seasons with over 1,100 yards receiving, although his per-catch average dropped from 14.1 in 2009 to 11.2 in 2010 and just 9.5 in 2011. Still, add in good production as a kick returner with four career kick return touchdowns and he may have a shot to make the roster.
Chris Denton was reasonably productive as a receiver at Mount Union, racking up 960 yards on 73 passes during his final season, but he really stood out as a punt returner with five returns for touchdowns in 2012. That alone may get him a roster spot, because the Bucs could really use any and all returners.
Chris Owusu may be the most intriguing guy, though. The Bucs picked him up off The Chargers' practice squad last season and stashed him on their inactive list week after week, until they finally gave him a shot to produce late in the season. He got just one reception for 24 yards, but he's still a player who could break out suddenly this season. He was a very productive kick returned and a wide receiver on the rise during his college career at Stanford, but three concussions put an end to his career there. Despite running a 4.36 40-yard dash at the combine he went undrafted. If he's developed he could be an intriguing weapon -- or he may just do nothing. Who knows at this point?
Finally, David Douglas was an undrafted rookie last year who has stuck around on the practice squad and may have developed into something this season. He'll have to do it as a receiver, though: he did nothing as a returner in college. His production wasn't stellar, either, although he did end his final season with 65 catches for a very metal 666 yards. At 6'1", 205 lbs he has perfectly adequate size as an outside receiver and may be able to make his mark there.
Projected roster: Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Kevin Ogletree, Chris Owusu, Tiquan Underwood, Eric Page
You can find the other training camp previews here.