1. Drafted from the University Of Florida in 2016 Vernon Hargreaves III was the third Corner taken in the First Round. Going to the Bucs at #11 overall, he was very highly rated by most analysts. The Bucs though didn’t take into consideration the scheme that VHIII played (Press, hands-on, physical coverage) and excelled in at UF. The Bucs were not playing that type of coverage in their defensive backfield. So between the mismatch of styles and his almost yearly stay on the IR, Hargreaves has had quite the time trying to live up to expectations.
At the beginning of last season, he was playing better, and had a mini coming out party in the New Orleans game with 7 total tackles, 6 solos, 1 pass defended, and he forced a fumble that was returned for 6. Enter Todd Bowles in 2019, and his corner press, hands-on at the line, coverage. It’s just what the doctor ordered, and right down Hargreaves alley. If he can only stay healthy and off the IR, he stands in line for a big year in the new defensive scheme. Contractually he was originally set to become a free agent in 2020, but the Bucs exercised their option for that year at a whopping $9,954,000 all of it guaranteed.
Here’s hoping he plays into earning that money, and finally proves his worth because another bad year will bring about a collective groan from Dale Mabry, and beyond.
2. Out of Penn State, Chris Godwin has been steadily proving himself. Gifted with a tremendous ability to come down with the catch, we all have seen flashes of just how good this kid could become in a starter’s role. Exit Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson in the off-season enter starting role for Godwin.
We know Mike Evans is like a very tall, very quick glue stick running down the field. We have seen what O.J. Howard can do from his starting position. Breshad Perriman has been a starter elsewhere, and can flat move out, and is expected to be a great fit here. If Godwin can settle in as a starter, a huge year from him would almost guarantee success across the board at receiver, which in turn would translate into Winston having a great year?
If we don’t miss Humphries this coming season, Godwin will be the reason. Although they don’t play the same spot at receiver, making big catches and touchdowns can replace the stats that Adam will be giving to the Titans next year.
So Godwin coming into his own, and having a big year is more important than many may have considered.
Intense and Beastly
3. Vita Vea was coming along nicely the later it got in 2018. As the one who surely will clog the middle at nose tackle in the 3-4, or possibly next to Ndamukong Suh in the 4-3. It is of absolute importance that Vea becomes a Beast this year. Judging from highlight film and quotes I’ve read from his college coaches, and his Bucs Coaches every single thing you have heard about him is true. He has massive untapped potential and gets better the more he plays. Vea arriving in his second year is vital. In my opinion, he’s more than up to the task and will go beyond expectations.
4. In order for Jameis Winston to have a huge year, and reach his potential and in order for Peyton Barber, RoJo, and the rest of the backs to assert themselves and start going off on defenses, making them pay if you will, all rely on a big year from the Offensive line as a whole.
No-one on the line, though, is more important individually than Donovan Smith. He’s the Big Dawg Left Tackle that guards the back door to the Kingdom of bad decisions. Better known as Winston’s Blind Side. It takes the whole line and more to effectively protect a quarterback, and open holes for runners. As the backdoor gatekeeper, Smith must be where it starts and ends.
Having inked a 3-year deal recently, it would impress, and inspire me to see Smith raise his level of play significantly. Last year at times he was overwhelmed, and that can’t become a habit in 2019 if the Bucs are going to improve upon last season.
5. I’m sure all of you are going to slip into shock when I reveal the last player that must step it up, and big time this year. Jameis Winston is entering the biggest season he has ever played in.
Go ahead, take it all the way back to the sandlot, summertime football, Pop Warner, Flag, High School, College, his previous Bucs years. Nothing compares or even comes close to how much is riding on this last roll of the dice. It’s like Jameis Winston, the pirate is going to board the Riverboat and set down between 50 to 200 million worth of chips at the roulette table, call red, and let it fly. The ramifications of his play during this coming season will directly and without argument impact his earning potential for maybe the rest of his career. Without a doubt, it will dictate the worth of his very next contract in 2020, as well as where he signs that contract.
A Winston that is able to significantly reduce his turnovers, throw a better deep ball, and continue to do the things he has always done well, would allow him to shine with brilliance. If he could put up a 28-35 passing TDs, a few rushing scores and only turn it over say 10-15 times (int’s+fmbls).
Within reason, some team would probably write a check for a huge payday, namely Tampa. Have another 17-20 TD, 15-17 turnover season, get snatched from games, and he will be rewarded for that as well. With a chance Winston could end up cleaning the starters cleats on a Canadian Football League team somewhere so far north, he has a view of the Aurora Borealis !!! As Winston goes in 2019, so goes the Bucs, and all the fans along with them. Going to be a hell of a ride folks, click them belts.
There are plenty of players that could have been chosen to fill the slots above. The play of Devin White, of course, will be huge, but I don’t believe he is going to disappoint. Some of the other Defensive Backs, as well as Lavonte David’s play, will be critical. Then again, I expect we will be just fine at LB and DB in 2019. Suh’s play, Beau Allen’s play, two more names as I could only pick so many because somebody had to get left out. I hope the ones that I chose strike a chord with you the fan that is reading this.
P.S. Thank you for your support in taking the time to read this piece. It is very much appreciated. Please return more often as the season approaches. We promise to do our best, to not disappoint. Go Bucs!!!!