Buccaneers Rookie Wide Receiver Shines at Minicamp

Jalen McMillan

Getty University of Washington wide receiver Jalen McMillan.

It’s a small sample size, but that’s how it works in the NFL. Everything needs to get blown out of proportion or it’s just not worth doing.

In that vein, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers already had high hopes for rookie wide receiver Jalen McMillan, who shined at the first day of rookie minicamp on May 10 by catching five of five targets, according to a post on X from ESPN’s Jenna Laine.

“Just finished the Bucs’ first day of rookie camp and Jalen McMillan is gonna be super fun to watch,” Laine wrote. “The ball just kept finding him. Had one particularly impressive leaping catch but caught five of five targets, no drops. He said his sprained MCL from last year is 100% now.”

The Buccaneers drafted McMillan in the third round (No. 92 overall) out of Washington in the 2024 NFL draft and he’s at rookie minicamp from May 10-12 as part of the team’s offseason organized team practice activities (OTAs).

If McMillan could be the WR3 for the Buccaneers in 2024 behind veterans Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, it could be one of the keys to Tampa Bay winning a third consecutive NFC South Division title.

Buccaneers May Have WR Steal of 2024 Draft

It’s not hard to envision another scenario in which McMillan never lasts to the third round.

McMillan led the Huskies in receiving in 2021 then finished second on the team with 79 receptions for 1,098 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns in 2022 and made honorable mention All-Pac-12. He was second on the team only behind Rome Odunze, the No. 9 overall pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2024 NFL draft.

McMillan was on the preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list, preseason All-Pac-12 and preseason All-American in 2023. Perfectly lined up to play himself into the first round in 2023, he was injured in Week 3 and missed 4 games before returning to help the Huskies make a run to the Pac-12 title and a berth in the College Football Playoff national championship game.

McMillan finished the season with 39 receptions for 526 receiving yards and 5 total touchdowns while Odunze and second-round pick Ja’Lynn Polk (No. 37 overall, New England Patriots) both soared pass the 1,000-yard receiving mark.

Missing those additional games didn’t let McMillan answer key questions about his game and improve his draft stock.

“Slot target with good size and production over the last two seasons,” wrote NFL analyst Lance Zierlein. “McMillan is a long-striding field-stretcher who is at his best with momentum routes in a West Coast passing scheme. He lacks aggression and play strength and could labor against press or when faced with contested catches.

Buccaneers Return Duo of 1,000-Yard Receivers

McMillan may have landed in the absolute best place in the NFL for a young wide receiver to learn from two veterans.

The Buccaneers have one of the most respected — and highly-paid — wide receiver duos in the league in Evans and Godwin. Both players are former NFL All-Pros and Pro Bowlers who are both coming off 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

Evans signed a 2-year, $52 million contract in March 2024. Godwin is in the final year of a 3-year, $60 million contract. By comparison, McMillan’s rookie contract is set at 4 years, $5.6 million.

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