With the first formal offseason workout taking place Tuesday for the full team, the Buccaneers have plenty to prove as a collective this year.
A past darling of championship bets the past three years is now seeing just as much popularity as the No. 1 or 2 overall pick in way-too-early mock drafts. The Bucs have no shortage of skeptics, as they’ll face an uphill battle to dispel the notion they’re a bottom-5 team without Tom Brady at the helm.
So, naturally, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most look to that vacant signal caller seat, and those who look to claim it, as the team’s biggest question marks. The Athletic’s Mike Jones split no hairs, as he named Baker Mayfield as his Bucs player with the most to prove.
Not to say Jones is wrong. It’s a blunt truth that if you don’t have a quarterback, you’re not going anywhere in this league — it could be argued Tampa and its fans know that fact better than anyone.
However, if we’re talking strictly in the sense of OTAs and having questions to answer, I don’t think Mayfield, or Kyle Trask for that matter, is going to assuage any concerns or make any notable impacts in shorts. Quarterback is a position proven in full scrimmages and true game action, so we won’t get any true resolution until training camp kicks into gear in two months or so.
Instead, I posit some other names who can actually turn some heads at this point:
Luke Goedeke, Right Tackle
It’s officially confirmed that Tristan Wirfs will kick over to the blind side. While there shouldn’t be too much concern about the All-Pro’s ability to handle that transition, the magnifying glass will only focus harder on second-year Luke Goedeke. He will need to display some NFL muscle over the offseason, as well as the technical chops to make it as the opposite bookend. The team has put a lot of faith in him, as it passed on signing proven veterans and drafting any real competition. Goedeke needs to start off on the right foot.
Logan Hall, Defensive Lineman
Similar story for Hall as Goedeke. He looked massively under-prepared for NFL size and strength, but initial reports of his conditioning this offseason hopefully point toward a more promising sophomore season. He’ll need to demonstrate that improved bulk while maintaining the quickness that made him a pseudo-first rounder last year. A huge jump in snaps is in the cards, so hopefully he can handle it well.
Devin White, Linebacker
The Buccaneers invested a top 5 pick in Devin White during the 2019 NFL Draft, and they’ve hardly received the return on investment they likely hoped for. The supernova-like flashes have always existed, but there’s been little to no improvement when it comes to consistency for the 25-year-old.
On top of it all, he’s demanding a new contract in the ballpark of $100 million total, and he’s resorted to trade requests and cryptic social media posting as ill-conceived bargaining chips. He needs to show he’s truly worth the C on his chest — and the money in his bank account — for this year and beyond.
Appearing this offseason with renewed determination and concentration would help in reinforcing the team’s faith and convincing it to hand out the long-term security he desires. With Lavonte David potentially playing his final year, White’s long-awaited ascension would be a true relief.
Of course, that’s all operating under the assumption he actually shows up at some point before training camp, which is no guarantee. A holdout is very possible.