clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Three Buccaneers make B/R's All-Rookie team

New, comments
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a pretty good rookie class. I'd almost say a spectacular one: their first four picks are all starters, and not (solely) because the team has no other options at those positions. That's why Bleacher Report's All-Rookie team features three Bucs starters in Jameis Winston, Donovan Smith and Kwon Alexander -- with Ali Marpet coming in third at guard, too.

Winston's rookie season has been pretty good. Not dominant, but certainly more than good enough to be confident in Winston as the Bucs' franchise quarterback. He's completing 58% of his passes for 7.6 yards per attempt, has 22 touchdowns to 13 interceptions and has shown the ability to consistently make throws that only a few NFL quarterbacks attempt. He needs to work on consistent accuracy and mechanics in the offseason, but he's on track to becoming a very good NFL quarterback.

While left tackle Donovan Smith is far from perfect, he's gotten better throughout the season and shown enough to get a second year at left tackle -- and possibly a lot more than that. He certainly has the physical talent to become a top-tier tackle in the long term.

Ali Marpet has been even more impressive, having turned in some dominant performances in the running game. While he needs a little work in the passing game, he's been remarkably quick to pick up NFL-level play even there and should be a very good offensive guard going forward. You could make an argument that he was playing close to a Pro Bowl level toward the end of the season, and he was almost certainly the team's best lineman over the season as a whole.

But the most surprising rookie has been Kwon Alexander, who won the starting job at middle linebacker over free agent Bruce Carter in the preseason. Despite some inconsistencies in the passing game, he turned into a playmaker and key force at middle linebacker. He picked up three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, in addition to his 59 solo tackles in 13 games. Alexander has been a clear upgrade over Mason Foster, despite being just a fourth-round pick.

We haven't even touched on the undrafted rookies, like cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah who showed some promise for the future, wide receiver Adam Humphries who wants to be the next Wes Welker (but has a long way to go to get there), wide receiver Donteea Dye who showed off explosiveness and inconsistent hands. And then there's Kenny Bell, the fifth-round receiver who spent the season on injured reserve but has intriguing physical talent.

Not all of these rookies will turn into stars. The future is difficult to predict, and we've seen promising rookies like Mike Williams, Josh Freeman, Legarrette Blount, Mason Foster, Adrian Clayborn and others turn into eventual failed picks. But this is as promising a rookie class as the Bucs have had in quite some time, and something to build on for the future.