The Buccaneers have already seen a lot of change at the wide receiver position this offseason. The team traded DeSean Jackson to Philadelphia and saw Adam Humphries sign with Tennessee in free agency.
With Jackson and Humphries gone, Tampa Bay went out and signed Breshad Perriman. That move could prove to be a steal if Perriman stays healthy, but the Bucs will likely add more to their receiving group regardless.
Without much cap room to work with — plus the fact that free agency is slowing down — might Jason Licht and the front office look to the NFL Draft for more receiving options? The team does have bigger needs, but a late-round pick could certainly be spent in worse ways.
One potential target could be Syracuse product Jamal Custis.
Jamal Custis’ Career
For most of his college football career, Custis was nothing more than a backup/special teams guy. He caught his first touchdown as a sophomore in 2015, but spent most of the year on special teams. He redshirted in 2016, then played sparingly as a junior in 2017. It was his senior season in 2018 that made him an intriguing NFL prospect. In 13 games (12 starts), Custis caught 51 passes for 906 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 17.8 yards per catch, playing a huge role in the comeback story of the Orange. Syracuse went from 4-8 in 2017 to 10-3 in 2018. Custis was the team’s leading receiver in his final year, putting together a strong enough season to earn an invite to the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. On top of that, he earned Second Team All-ACC honors and an invite to the 2019 East-West Shrine Game. In the Shrine Game, he caught four passes for 55 yards.
Being about 6-foot-5, Custis can count height as an advantage of his. That’s not to say he’s just a tall receiver. He also has plenty of speed, having posted a 4.5 40-yard dash time at the combine. His vertical isn’t too impressive, especially compared to the receivers in this year’s draft class. Even that 4.5 time doesn’t stack up that well, despite the fact that it’s a solid time. But in comparing other categories, Custis has some pretty impressive marks.
In his profile of Custis, Brad Kelly of The Draft Network mentions the receiver’s athleticism and speed, but says his best trait is his body control. Here is Kelly’s analysis of that aspect of Custis’ game:
Beautiful adjustments to the football, able to seamlessly flip his hips and position himself at the catchpoint. Late adjustments to the football to not tip off the defensive back. Aware of the boundary and can effortlessly turn his body and get upfield after corralling the ball. While effective, there isn’t much attacking of the football in contested spots. His size is a massive advantage, and if he can harness his body control in order to get the most out of his ball skills, we’d be talking about a dominant possession receiver.
That’s some glowing praise, but Kelly doesn’t stop there. He lauds the hands/ball skills of Custis. As seen above, the tall receiver is in the 99th percentile for hand size and 96th percentile for wingspan among receivers. That combination of impressive physical traits and skills with the ball can lead to plays like this:
Yeah, there’s a lot to like about Custis.
As far as cons for Custis, there are concerns about his elusiveness as a ball-carrier. That might limit his yards after catch (YAC) ability in the NFL. But what’s more than that is the work that needs to be done to fill out his frame. He weighs in at 214 pounds, so he might need to add some weight to gain some durability and strength to fight off press coverages. NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein said Custis “lacks vertical push to overtake and stack defender[s]” and “gets forced against the sideline on fades.”
The knocks on Custis that are listed above seem to be pretty fixable. After some time in an NFL workout program, he’ll bulk up and add some strength to his game. The biggest knock on him at this point is the lack of knowing whether or not he can be a consistent producer. He only really had one year in college with a lot of playing time. He took advantage of it, which is why he has a shot at the NFL now. But with that lack of experience and a short amount of time producing, he could still be seen as somewhat of an unknown. Perhaps that’s part of the reason he projects for some as a seventh-rounder or potentially an undrafted free agent.
Why The Buccaneers Need Him
Even with Jackson and Humphries gone, the Bucs still have a number of reliable pass-catching options. Mike Evans is a star, Chris Godwin is emerging as a solid No. 2, Perriman has the potential to be a comeback candidate and the tight end duo of O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate is as good as they come. But as far as the receiver group is concerned, it’s pretty top-heavy. Evans and Godwin are a very good No. 1 and No. 2. However, with the uncertainty around Perriman and the relative unknowns that are Justin Watson, Bobo Wilson and Sergio Bailey, the Bucs could stand to add some more talent at receiver.
The need isn’t necessarily pressing. That’s why the front office can afford to address the defense and potentially the offensive line in the first four or five rounds. Taking a chance on a guy like Custis late (or even in free agency) would be a smart move for the Bucs. There’s little risk involved, and Custis has the size and all-around tools to be a good NFL receiver — especially in the red zone.
Will It Happen?
It’s certainly a possibility. With Custis projecting as a later day three guy or an undrafted free agent, the Bucs could take an interest in him and not have to spend top draft capital on him. Free agency for Tampa Bay was all about value. April’s NFL Draft might work out that way too. Selecting a guy with Custis’ tools late on day three or even signing him after the draft could prove to be an extremely high-value move for the Bucs.