Prospects have legit chance to make Buccaneers roster
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hold a weekend rookie minicamp beginning Friday at One Buc Place, an event that will feature the team's first-round pick, Josh Freeman, and the rest of the draft class.
But there also will be a slew of undrafted free agents and players on so-called "tryout contracts" who hope to make it to training camp with the club. Those players will arrive in Tampa later today knowing that is a distinct possibility.
For a number of reasons, the Buccaneers have available space, with just 68 players under contract at the moment. That number is actually higher than it appears, because the six draft picks aren't signed yet but inevitably will be. Still, that leaves the Bucs six open spots under the 80-man roster maximum during the offseason.
That means several players from this weekend's camp could earn a spot on the team, at least for the time being. A couple of those spots will be taken by players who apparently have been promised rookie free agent deals, such as University of Tennessee cornerback DeAngelo Willingham and Richmond running back Josh Vaughan.
The roster flexibility will enable the Bucs to consider signing players in whom they see potential, something that has paid dividends in the past. It was at this time last year the Bucs latched onto running back Clifton Smith, who excelled in the rookie camp and was given a contract. The rest, as you probably know, is history -- literally. Smith went on to make the Pro Bowl as the NFC's return man.
Will there be another Clifton Smith this year? The Bucs sure hope so and they begin their quest to find out this weekend.