As camp looms, Bucs add WR Jonathan Krause to mix
By simple logic, any player picked up on waivers while NFL rosters are at 90 players will have long odds to stick around once rosters are cut to 53, and it's easy to dismiss a late-July NFL signing with "last in, first out" rationale. Having said that, there's reason to think Jonathan Krause -- claimed by the Bucs off waivers from the Eagles on Saturday -- could join what is already a deep and wide-open competition for the team's final receiver jobs.
The Bucs now have 12 receivers battling for what should be five or six spots -- Krause is 24, a good reminder that nine of those 12 receivers are 24 or younger, with Russell Shepard just 25. Krause is entering his third year out of Vanderbilt, having spent time with the Browns and Patriots before getting his first NFL action late last season with the Eagles. A few things, then:
-- He's only 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, among the smallest Bucs receivers, so if he is to make the team, he'll do so on speed and special-teams value. He had 63 punt returns while at Vanderbilt, including two touchdowns -- 40 yards against Massachusetts and 83 yards against Wake Forest. He was Vandy's first player to return two punts for touchdowns in the same season since 1968. The Bucs will have a new punt returner this fall, with WRs Adam Humphries, Donteea Dye and Bernard Reedy getting looks this spring, but it's reasonable to think he gets a look there as well.
-- And if there's a single endorsement that might carry significant weight with Bucs GM Jason Licht, you'd think his time with Bill Belichick might put the Patriots coach at the top of the list. Belichick had high praise for Krause last year as his Patriots prepared to face Krause with the Eagles.
"Pretty much everything,” Belichick said of Krause, according to the team's official site. "We went down and saw (Jordan) Matthews, we saw Krause, and they both were very productive at Vanderbilt. Jonathan has both inside and outside flexibility, can play in the slot, can play on the perimeter, runs well, smart kid, works hard, good hands, very dependable player. ... I think he's a good, young player with a good future. It was a good move by Philadelphia to get him in their system. He's got a lot of good qualities."
-- Krause caught 11 passes for 89 yards in three preseason games with the Patriots last year, with a 5-yard end-around as well. Watch this highlight reel from Vandy and you'll see two touchdowns on reverses, as well as a ton of deep balls. He only broke out as a receiver as a Vandy senior in 2013, getting 42 catches for 714 yards and three scores, this after totaling 56 catches for 483 yards and no scores in his first three seasons.
Krause was on the Eagles' 53-man roster for six weeks at the end of last season, dressing twice, with two catches for 11 yards in 18 offensive snaps. He also played 13 snaps on special teams, with a tackle on punt coverage.
-- Back to that youth at receiver for the Bucs: nine players 24 or younger out of 12. Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy are the only ones north of 25. Mike Evans has two NFL seasons, Dye and Humphries one each, and while none of the receivers are technically rookies (in college last year), five have never caught a pass in the NFL. So whoever sticks as the fifth or sixth receiver, there's a good chance it will be someone largely unproven who made a strong impression in the next six weeks.