Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht receives a lot of criticism for his work in the draft, but he has found a number of solid undrafted free agents throughout his time in Tampa.
After this year’s draft, Licht tried his hand at finding some more gems. One potential find is quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who had a very good career at Mississippi State. He was a solid dual-threat for the Bulldogs from 2016 through 2018.
Over those three years, he totaled 5,972 passing yards, 52 passing touchdowns, 3,480 rushing yards and 43 rushing touchdowns. Two of those seasons were 1,000-yard rushing seasons for Fitzgerald, while he was 16 yards away from 1,000 in the other one. That was in 2017, when he was injured in the first quarter of the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss. Without that injury, he likely finishes his college career with three straight seasons of 1,000-plus rushing yards.
Those dual-threat abilities give Fitzgerald a pretty nice shot at making the Tampa Bay roster. He was officially signed Friday, and head coach Bruce Arians was asked about him after the first day of the team’s rookie mini camp. Arians had some intriguing things to say about the former MSU star:
“Yeah, Nick’s one of those intriguing guys, because as a quarterback he can do a lot of things for you. And I think back to Joe Webb, some of those guys who were running quarterbacks they found a niche playing special teams, being your third quarterback, maybe playing some other position as a guy to get you out of games. So, that would be his role - if he can win it - and groom him as a quarterback.”
Arians likens Fitzgerald’s potential role to that of Joe Webb’s. Another name that comes to mind? Taysom Hill of the division rival Saints. He returns kicks and plays a number of positions for New Orleans, lining up at different spots in different packages. If Fitzgerald can prove himself during rookie camp and then in training camp, might the Bucs have their own version of Webb/Hill? If that pans out, it would come at the expense of either Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Griffin.
I don’t know about you, but I’m very interested in the possibility of Fitzgerald turning into a utility man for the Bucs. We’ll get plenty of chances to see how he looks later this summer.