The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will likely wait most of the NFL Draft’s opening night to make a pick, but the Bucs could make a big splash when on the clock.
The Draft Network’s Damian Parson projected the Bucs to take the top receiver in the NFL Draft, Garrett Wilson of Ohio State, with the 27th pick. Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Hanson recently tabbed Wilson as the top receiver in the draft. With Antonio Brown’s departure and Chris Godwin’s injury plus pending free agency, the Bucs need a receiver in the draft.
“Inserting Garrett Wilson into this offense alongside Mike Evans will cushion the [potential] loss of Godwin to free agency,” Parson wrote. “Wilson is a savvy route-runner with innate body control and tracking ability while the ball is in flight. He can play on the boundary or in the slot. Either way, the Buccaneers will need better talent at receiver in 2022.”
Wilson used his speed and route running ability to amass 70 receptions for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also ran the ball well with 76 yards and a touchdown on four attempts. He finished his three-year college career with 2,356 yards of total offense and 24 touchdowns.
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Wilson ‘a Complete Receiver’
Hanson called Wilson “a complete receiver” and noted his playmaking ability after the catch as reasons for calling him the top wideout available. Wilson believes he has a complete game, too.
“I think I can do it all,” Wilson told The Draft Network. “I think I can really go inside and outside. I can go up and catch a jump ball. I can catch a screen and make someone miss. I think there are a lot of things to work on, but I don’t think I have many strong weaknesses in my game. I definitely hope to show that over the next couple months and show that when I get into the NFL as well.”
Wilson credited his jump ball ability to playing basketball, a sport the honed the abilities of former NFL pass-catching greats Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.
“I think that’s what I do best is go up and get the jump ball,” Wilson told the Draft Network. “So if you can go and make that play in a congested area, that’s huge.”
Wilson had to earn touches amid a deep receiver group at Ohio State. That included fellow first round prospect Chris Olave and Buckeyes sophomore sensation Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who led the team in catches and yards.
Bucs Need a Second & Third Receiver
Even if Godwin re-signs, the Bucs may not get him back on the field until after the season starts — depending on recovery time. His ACL tear occurred on Dec. 19, 2021, and surgery happened on Jan. 3 according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
After Evans and Godwin, none of the remaining receivers on the Bucs roster succeeded at being a go-to third receiver or stay healthy enough to do it in 2021.
Second-year wideout Tyler Johnson finished fourth among receivers with 36 catches for 360 yards and no touchdowns. Fellow receiver Scotty Miller saw limited action due to injury and never regained his 2020 form where he caught deep shots from Tom Brady. Rookie Jaelon Darden didn’t touch the ball much on offense.
Breshad Perriman and Cyril Grayson made some big catches for the Bucs, but neither stayed healthy long enough to show how much they could do. Much of their yards came on three long touchdown passes.