The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have played all of one game, so obviously that’s the best time to evaluate how their rookies have done. We have a complete picture of what these players look like right now, and we can completely predict whether they were worth their draft position.
I kid, but that’s more or less what Mel Kiper did in his first 2017 in-season rookie rankings. A list of 15 rookies that features all of no Buccaneers. Kiper did name two Bucs in his “next in line” list, though: O.J. Howard and Kendell Beckwith.
But Howard and Beckwith have both had a massive impact in the one game they played. Beckwith played nearly all the defensive snaps, first as a strongside linebacker, then as a middle linebacker, and he did an outstanding job—even in pass coverage, which was supposed to be his weak point.
Meanwhile, O.J. Howard had just one catch but played 65% of the offensive snaps (more than any other Bucs tight end) and did an outstanding job as a blocker. He was split away from the formation multiple times, and has all but completely replaced Luke Stocker while adding explosiveness and a receiving threat, even if that hasn’t shown up in the numbers yet.
Whether Beckwith and Howard should be on that top 15 list right now isn’t entirely clear, and who knows what the future will look like. But most indications are that they’re set to make a pretty big impact this year.