Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Breaking down the 2016 NFL draft: Wide receivers (w/video)

Whom the Bucs have

Receivers

Mike Evans (6-5, 231): Piled up yards in second NFL season, but only three touchdowns after 12 as rookie. Should get back in end zone plenty in 2016.

Vincent Jackson (6-5, 230): At 33, in last year of contract, could this be his final season? Should bounce back healthy after combined five touchdowns in 2014-15.

Louis Murphy (6-2, 200): Coming off ACL surgery, how quickly can he get healthy? With talented depth at position, isn't guaranteed to make final cut.

Adam Humphries (5-11, 195): Undrafted rookie stepped up with 27 catches last year. As with Donteea Dye, can help his chances to make team by getting a return job.

Kenny Bell (6-1, 197): Spent last year on injured reserve with hamstring problem. Is wild card here: Can he step in as new No. 3 and speed threat?

Depth: Russell Shepard is more a special-teams standout, but he should make the team as a receiver. Can Dye or Evan Spencer keep a roster spot with everyone healthy? Locals Andre Davis and Bernard Reedy are on the outside looking in.

TIGHT ENDs

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6-5, 260): How good could he be healthy? Has been limited to 16 games in two years, but has six touchdowns in them.

Cameron Brate (6-5, 235): Stepped up in Seferian-Jenkins' injury absence last year (and after) with 23 catches and three touchdowns. Can Harvard grad match those numbers this year? Improve?

Luke Stocker (6-6, 253): Bucs don't have a fullback, and Stocker has filled in well at times in past two seasons as versatile blocker.

Depth: Brandon Myers was inactive for the last five games last year, and due to make $1.75 million, he could be cut. Watch for ex-Gator Tevin Westbrook, who impressed on the practice squad last year.

Top draft prospects

Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame (6-0, 186): Prolific with touchdowns — 29 in past two years — and ran 4.32-second 40-yard dash at combine.

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (6-2, 221): Ran disappointing 4.63 at combine. Caught 11 TD passes last year as SEC's best receiver.

Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor (5-11, 194): In one stretch of 2015, had seven straight multiple-touchdown games; had 20 touchdowns in all. Ran 4.37 40 at combine. Will go in first round.

Josh Doctson, WR, TCU (6-2, 202): Has 41-inch vertical leap, which helped him get 14 touchdown passes in 2015. Not a ton of wide-receiver size, so another first-rounder.

Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State (6-3, 212): Keyshawn Johnson's nephew is probably a second-rounder. Watch for him and Ohio State teammate Braxton Miller as playmakers.

Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas (6-5, 250): Likely won't go in first round. How does best tight end in the draft class get only three touchdown catches last year?

Under the radar

Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan (5-10, 177): Drawing Julian Edelman/Danny Amendola comparisons as tiny but prolific slot receiver; 109 catches in 2015 with 13 touchdowns.

Free agency

The Bucs had strong depth coming back so they didn't sign any receivers. Someone they cut could easily latch on with another team. They have tough roster decisions ahead, especially if they invest a draft pick in a speed receiver. They must start planning for life after Vincent Jackson, though.

Best guess

Again, if the Bucs are all about optimizing QB Jameis Winston, he could use a speed threat to complement his big targets. Can Kenny Bell do that, or do they need to draft someone? Watch out late, even maybe after the draft, for Southern Mississippi's Michael Thomas, who played for new Bucs receivers coach Todd Monken in college. It's the same for the Bucs at tight end: If they keep four, that last spot is wide open for an undrafted rookie to make a strong impression.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

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