Buccaneers Rookie WR Singled Out as ‘Immediate Contributor’

Jalen McMillan

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Jalen McMillan.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have gotten one of the steals of the 2024 NFL draft when they selected Washington wide receiver Jalen McMillan in the third round, getting a first-round talent at a bargain price.

McMillan is already showing his worth in minicamp, where CBS Sports Senior NFL Columnist Pete Prisco singled out the rookie on June 12 in a post on X.

“Bucs rookie WR Jalen McMillan, a player I loved and was on my Better-Than team, will be an immediate contributor,” Prisco wrote. “He caught a TD pass Tuesday from Mayfield. Knows how to get open.”

The Buccaneers selected McMillan at No. 92 overall after he helped lead the Huskies to the College Football Playoff national championship game following the 2023 season.

Prisco Praised McMillan Ahead of 2024 NFL Draft

Prisco singled out McMillan on his “Better-Than Team” ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft — putting together the players at every position he thought were better than NFL scouts thought they were.

“McMillan reminds me of former NFL receiver Keenan McCardell … but McMillan is faster,” Prisco wrote. “(McMillan) is a good route runner, ran 4.45 at the combine and has a knack for getting open. He missed time last year with an injury, but returned to be a big part of Washington’s playoff run. He did play some outside for Washington, but his route-running was best suited inside where he was able to use that and his instincts for sitting down in the soft spots in zone as his strengths as a receiver.

“At Washington, he competed for passes with likely top-10 pick Rome Odunze and first-day pick Ja’Lynn Polk, and when McMillan was healthy in 2022 he caught more passes than both of them. I think he can be a big-time slot receiver.”

McMillan Impresses in Short Time With Bucs

McMillan also earned praise for his play at Bucs’ rookie minicamp on May 10 from ESPN reporter Jenna Laine.

“Just finished the Bucs’ first day of rookie camp and Jalen McMillan is gonna be super fun to watch,” Laine wrote on X. “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.”

One thing that probably needs to be resolved is McMillan’s inclination to play slot receiver, because that’s the position where veteran Chris Godwin has thrived in the past. Godwin struggled on the outside in 2023 and Tampa Bay has indicated that’s where he will primarily play at in 2024.

Godwin moved back to the slot receiver spot with four games left in the regular season in 2023 and had his best game of the year with 10 receptions for 155 yards in a 34-20 win over the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 17.

Godwin only had two games with over 75 receiving yards before moving back to the slot and in the final four games of the year he had three games with over 75 receiving yards.

Godwin is in the final season of a 3-year, $60 million contract signed in March 2022 and will be an unrestricted free agent if he and the Buccaneers can’t agree to a new deal. Godwin has four seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards in the last five seasons, including three consecutive headed into 2024.

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