With Tom Brady retiring and the futures of many players like wide receiver Chris Godwin, tight end O.J. Howard, running back Leonard Fournette, and others in the balance, the likelihood Tampa Bay brings all their free agents back is low.
This makes the draft evaluation period all the more critical, and this week’s Reese’s Senior Bowl was one critical step towards what will happen in April.
That being said, let's look at three offensive players in Mobile who definitely made some money this year.
3. RUNNING BACK, DAMEON PIERCE (FLORIDA)
Every team covets a three-down back, and the group at this year’s Senior Bowl may have had more than one.
Dameon Pierce showed his talents with burst when he needed it, strength when required, and the ability to pass protect on full display.
Regardless of whether or not Fournette is back, adding Pierce to the mix in Tampa looks like an idea worth investigating further, after what he did for the Jets coaching staff this week.
2. WIDE RECEIVER, CHRISTIAN WATSON (NORTH DAKOTA STATE)
Considering the success Joe Burrow is having in Cincinnati with his former college teammate Ja’Maar Chase by his side, I can’t imagine the San Francisco 49ers don’t have eyes on Christian Watson to potentially reunite him with Trey Lance.
As Jimmy Garoppolo rumors continue to build with one eye on the Buccaneers, perhaps Jason Licht would be interested in bringing the talented receiver to his team instead.
It would pain Niners fans to see Lance’s former No. 1 receiver balling out with their old quarterback’s new team, and it’s just enough petty for me to sign off on, wholeheartedly.
Plus, Watson was easily the most consistent receiver in Mobile, so the talent supports the cause.
Oh, and Watson is from Tampa, having played for Plant High School.
1. QUARTERBACK, MALIK WILLIS (LIBERTY)
I was skeptical of Willis entering the week, and after the first day of practices, I was even more intrigued to see what he would do to bounce back from an inconsistent day.
What I saw was more of the good from Day 1 with far much less of the bad.
Making this even more impressive is the fact he achieved this in worse conditions the second time around.
I left Mobile a believer of Willis’ upside, and even though I have to believe Bruce Arians has no interest in starting a rookie quarterback, he may have some in making a package or two for the super versatile rookie while a veteran leads the charge in 2022.
Given the fact it’ll likely take a trade up, especially if Willis shows up at the NFL Scouting Combine, it’s a little less likely than I’d like, but I wouldn’t hate the move if Tampa chose to make it happen.
A solid group of future NFL players participated in the 2022 Senior Bowl, and given the current draft stock of each of these, they could all be Tampa Bay Buccaneers by early May.