Training camp is only a few days old, but it’s never too early to talk about position battles that will continue to unfold throughout August. The Bucs have their fair share of battles all over the roster, but one that might be overlooked is at wide receiver. The group is so deep that someone is bound to find themselves looking for a new team in September, perhaps by no fault of their own. Who might that be?
Tampa Bay is very clearly set with its top four receivers. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries are all locked into their spots. Beyond that, who knows? Will the Bucs choose to carry five receivers? Six? The answer to that question might have a big impact on rookie Justin Watson. The team selected the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder out of Penn in the fifth round of this year’s draft. He missed OTAs, but has been catching on as of late. After Sunday’s practice, head coach Dirk Koetter was complimentary of Watson:
“Today was his best day. He got some chances. When you’re a wide receiver, you’ve got to get chances. Sometimes you could be out here all day and not get any balls thrown to you. He showed up today. He’s got a fight on his hands because it’s a deep position.”
It’s good to see that the rookie is getting his looks early in camp. The better he performs in practice, the more game action he should see during the preseason. But once the final roster decisions have to be made, will there be a spot for him?
In his camp observations from Sunday, Bucs Nation’s Evan Winter said that he sees Watson making the team out of camp. It could happen, but as Koetter said, he has a fight ahead of him. Watson will be competing with Bobo Wilson, Freddie Martino, Bernard Reedy and a few undrafted free agents.
Wilson and Martino have the advantage of being familiar with both the NFL and Koetter’s system. Both ended the 2017 season on the active roster and will undoubtedly get some good looks during preseason. Wilson’s lone catch of last year went for an 18-yard touchdown, while Martino hauled in five passes for 96 yards. Neither guy is a sure bet to make the roster, but it’s safe to assume they have a leg up at this point in the competition.
As noted earlier, Watson’s chances of making the roster could be dependent on how many receivers the Bucs want to carry. If they want six, he just has to earn one of two remaining spots. That could mean beating out Wilson or Martino. If the team carries just five, then he obviously has to beat out Wilson and Martino. Of course, he could quickly prove to be the best option and beat both of them out. But it doesn’t take a calculator to prove that his odds increase when the number of open spots is higher.
Watson has the right build and skillset to be an NFL receiver. His production at Penn was impressive. The Bucs would love to see all of it come together in the next few weeks. Whether you’re heading out to One Buc for training camp or just following along with preseason action, Watson will definitely be someone worth watching.
Will Justin Watson make the 53-man roster out of camp?
This poll is closed