Tampa Bay Buccaneer Rookies Come Rolling In
It all starts today. The Tampa Bay Buccaneer rookies report for training camp and eight days from now, the veteran players will show up.
With Redskin quarterback Robert Griffin III signing a contract, it’s a cinch that safety Mark Barron, the seventh overall pick, will have a deal done sometime today or tomorrow at the latest.
The team has 23 rookies including Eric LeGrand, who will not be in camp. LeGrand continues his daily rehabilitation process, determined that one day he will leave his wheelchair behind.
That leaves 22 rookies looking for a job. Here’s how they shape up:
Mark Barron: He’s already etched in stone at the starting strong safety position.
Lavonte David: Worked the preseason at the weakside (WILL) linebacker but don’t be shocked if the coaching staff interchanges David with Mason Foster in the middle to give Foster a look at the weakside.
Doug Martin: The prize running back out of Boise will be involved in the highest-profile training camp battle with LeGarrette Blount for carries in the preseason.
Keith Tandy: Tandy already has the “DB” moniker and can be interchangeable at corner and safety. He will be a valuable roster member.
Najee Goode: Goode will see playing time in the middle at linebacker and maybe on the strong side. If Quincy Black does not respond, he could be moved around as well.
Michael Smith: He should fit in nicely with the corps of running backs. His blinding speed makes him a great candidate for third-down situations.
Drake Dunsmore: Dunsmore will have a tougher time finding a roster spot. He’s at the Tight end/Fullback position. Puts him in direct competition with Eric Lorig. Dunsmore could end up on the practice squad.
Those were the draft picks, when it comes to the undrafted free agents, it gets a little more foggy.
Leonard Johnson: Undrafted free agent out of Iowa State. He really attracted the coaching staff’s attention in preseason and if he’s as good with pads on, he has a good chance to make the 53-man roster as a corner who may also be able to play the safety position.
De’Anthony Curtis: The running back out of Arkansas has a shot at a roster spot but it will depend on his ability to stay healthy, learn the playbook and perform when given the opportunity.
The guys who make get a good chance to make the team are the free agent offensive linemen:
Michael VanDerMeulen and Desmond Wynn can both play guard and tackle, which gives them an edge. Both have good size, VanDerMeulen is 6-7, 304 out of Toledo, Wynn is a Rutgers guys, 6-6, 303.
Good size is a theme with the undrafted free agent offensive linemen. Tackle Jermarcus Hardrick out of Nebraska is 6-7, 320, Brad Sowell, who played at Ole Miss is 6-7, 320.
Moe Petrus out of Connecticut is the only center in camp behind starter Jeremey Zuttah. Petrus is 6-2, 302 and could end up on the practice squad if he has a good camp.
Defensive linemen have a tough task. It’s a position with a lot of bodies, including starters Gerald McCoy and Brian Price but Price’s overall health remains a question mark going into camp.
Quintin Anderson out of Wagner (6-5, 280) is a longshot at best, same for defensive tackle Jordan Nix (6-3, 295) out of UNC.
Wide receiver candidate Armahd Lewis is a real longshot. He’s 5-9, 170 out of Central Washington and is competing at a position that is crowded with proven talent.
True fullback Cody Johnson out of Texas has an uphill road with the roster presence of Eric Lorig and others who play both tight end and fullback. Same dilemma for tight end Danny Noble – there’s simply too much proven talent in front of him.
Safeties Tramain Thomas and Sean Baker are both longshots at the safety position. They’re simply caught in a numbers game.
The man least likely to win a roster spot is punter Eric Guthrie. Micheal Koenin is the veteran who was one of the bright spots in the dark season of 2011 and Koenin also handles the kickoff duties.
That’s it – 22 rookies ready to take the field, seven draft picks, 15 undrafted free agents and not enough roster spots to go around. For some, the dream ends come September.