All week on the Locked On Bucs Podcast we’ve been catching-up with some of our favorites from around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers landscape. Carmen Vitali (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Taylor Jenkins (Pewter Report), Greg Auman (The Athletic), Paige Dimakos (The Draft Network), and Scott Smith (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) joined us this week to cover everything from the off-season to 2020 expectations.
Along the way, they also each nominated one - well, mostly one - player to become the team’s “Hidden Hero” as we called it, in 2020.
The criteria was - mostly - simple. No ‘sure-fire’ Hall of Famers, so good-bye Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. No perennial or recent appearances on the NFL’s All-Pro (even second-team) and/or Pro Bowl teams, so see-ya Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Shaquil Barrett. Then, no recent appearances on the NFL Top-100 list, eliminating linebacker Lavonte David.
Left with the remainder of the Buccaneers’ roster, the guests then made their nominations. Each nominee was then eliminated from the list of options for the next guest, all the way down the line. And here are the nominees.
CARMEN VITALI - LINEBACKER, DEVIN WHITE
You might call Devin White low-hanging fruit at this point. The 2019 fifth-overall pick in the NFL Draft is certainly not a hidden talent by the direct definition, but he does lack the accolades to eliminate him from consideration in this vote.
When nominating White, Vitali said, “...you’re going to see some of these inside linebackers get more of a role in the pass rush. And I know that Lavonte (David) has talked about being excited about that, Devin White is obviously super excited about that. I think he’s built for going after quarterbacks in more ways than one.”
He may be one of the more well-known young Bucs on the roster, but the way Todd Bowles is going to use him in 2020 may be what’s hidden and soon to be revealed. If this is the case, then not only will his name in the game get bigger, but his impact on the team will as well.
If you’re going to vote for him, it might have to be now, as he likely won’t be on this list in 2021.
TAYLOR JENKINS - TIGHT END, CAM BRATE
Third on your tight-end depth chart - maybe second - we’ll see, but first in Taylor Jenkins’ heart. Cameron Brate may not win you many fantasy football contests this season, but according to Jenkins, he has the ability to come up clutch in some key moments for the 2020 Buccaneers squad.
“I think Cam Brate has dependable hands,” Jenkins said. “I think he’s a smart player, and I think he’s somebody that really gets overlooked, and he’s not going to get 75-catches, he’s not going to have 750-yards. But I think he’s a guy that could come out of the season with five (or) seven really important touchdowns, and he isn’t getting looked (at) like a guy that will do that right now.”
Easy to see Brate as a nominee here as the talk all off-season has been about the addition of Rob Gronkowski and the potential emergence of O.J. Howard. In fact, when Brate’s name is brought up it’s usually just to highlight the depth at the position, not his talents as an individual player.
As usual, Jenkins digs deeper than the average analyst, and comes up with an impressive candidate for consideration here.
GREG AUMAN - GUARD, ALI MARPET
If Lavonte David is going to fall off the list of the most underrated Buccaneers on the roster, then Ali Marpet might take his spot. Some would say - with little argument from me - that Marpet has been playing at a Pro Bowl and even All-Pro level for most of his career. Yet, he has no appearances on either teams.
This might change is Auman is correct, as the ‘Tom Brady Effect’ looks to take hold of the talented offensive lineman.
“I think he’s (Marpet) someone who’s been underappreciated here, and I think the prominence of him blocking in front of Tom Brady is going to help him a lot,” Auman said. The well-respected journalist also gave credit to Monday’s and Tuesday’s nominees (Devin White and Cam Brate) as well, but ultimately went with the quiet giant to gain the largest profit in national attention during the 2020 season.”
Hidden from the national spotlight, Marpet’s 2020 may just reveal how valuable he is to the NFL world.
PAIGE DIMAKOS - LINEBACKER, LAVONTE DAVID...AND RUNNING BACK, RONALD JONES
Confused? I don’t blame you. For a full breakdown of how this went down, click here.
After revealing my error in rules delivery Dimakos doubled-down on her knowledge of the Buccaneers’ roster, nominating running back, Ronald Jones.
“I do think he’s going to become the true running-back-one for a lot of reasons,” Dimakos said. Expanding on the conversation, she also said, “He is going to be given every opportunity to be the dude in Tampa Bay, and he’s the only one that can then slip it away. And I think he’s up for the challenge; he’s up for the opportunity.”
Now, these comments were said before the news of Leonard Fournette joining the team officially broke. Still, given Arians’ comments to media about the starting job being Jones’ until he loses it on his own, the young running back will have every opportunity to prove Dimakos right.
In fact, the growing expectation surrounding Fournette’s impact on Jones’ value may even help his case as a ‘Hidden Hero’ more than anything.
Lavonte David didn’t really fit the criteria to be on this list, but we couldn’t deny the entry because of organizer error, and if you haven’t already be sure to check out what Dimakos had to say about her fellow Nebraska Cornhusker.
SCOTT SMITH - WIDE RECEIVER, SCOTTY MILLER
Last, but certainly not least, Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com stepped up to the plate and hit a home-run by nominating wide receiver, Scotty Miller.
In fact, when read the rules to the selection, Smith said he immediately underlined three players he might nominate. None of them were players who had been previously nominated, leaving him his number one choice in Miller.
The fact Smith had so many to choose from speaks to the depth of talent on the team.
Miller and Brady have been making plays throughout training camp, and those who watch the Buccaneers closely are excited to see what the duo can do. Many on the outside looking in, and in the national landscape like to compare Miller to previous Brady teammates like Julian Edelman and Wes Welker, something debunked many times by coaches and team personnel themselves. Another topic Smith dove into as to why Miller is the perfect “Hidden Hero”.
“He might see some time in the slot, but Chris Godwin is our stud slot guy, and they’re not going to change that because he’s so good at it,” Smith said. “...Scotty Miller is a guy you can put on the outside with Godwin in the slot, and he can take the top off a defense, and sometimes that’s a decoy but sometimes he’s getting open deep.”
What makes Miller interesting as a candidate here is he’s not only hidden in the sense most outside of Bucs Nation don’t know who he is, but also hidden is the true impact he’ll make for the team. Both of these things cannot necessarily be said at the same levels for each of the other candidates.
The decision is on to you now! It’s Bucs Nation’s turn to chime in. Your experts have submitted their candidates for your approval. There are no rules to the vote. What does the term “Hidden Hero” mean to you, and who is the guy that fits the bill for the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers? It may be the most important vote you cast all year...
Who is Bucs Nation’s "Hidden Hero" for the 2020 Buccaneers season?
This poll is closed
Linebacker, Devin White
Tight End, Cameron Brate
Guard, Ali Marpet
Linebacker, Lavonte David
Running Back, Ronald Jones
Wide Receiver, Scotty Miller