The Bucs had just six picks in May's NFL draft, but this fall they could have several more rookies than those selections. That's especially true on defense, since Tampa Bay used all six draft picks on offense but worked hard after the draft to find talent passed over by the rest of the league.
Of the 19 rookies entering camp, which begins Thursday, perhaps 10 could make a case to stick with the team for the final 53-man roster. Here are five undrafted rookies with openings that give them a shot to make the cut this fall:
Nate Askew, LB, Texas A&M: If the Bucs keep six linebackers, the last two will have little or no experience but will be counted on for special teams. Askew is a converted receiver who just switched to defense last year. At 6 feet 3, 241 pounds, he has great size and speed and can learn the defense while making plays on coverage teams. He's competing with Ka'Lial Glaud and Danny Lansanah, who played some at end of last season, as well as the CFL's Damaso Munoz.
Euclid Cummings, DT, Georgia Tech: The fourth defensive tackle spot is wide open, and Cummings is smaller (6-4, 275) with the speed the Bucs like, complementing Akeem Spence (307 pounds) for depth. He didn't take up football until he was 16 and didn't start in college until the last month of his junior year, so his potential could help him stick with limited competition entering camp.
Andrew Miller, G, Virginia Tech: His best shot is if Carl Nicks can't play, opening up a spot as a backup interior lineman. Miller started at guard and center for the Hokies, and that versatility helps him as the Bucs will likely carry eight linemen and dress seven each week. Other undrafted rookies with a shot on the line are tackle Matt Patchan, who played at Armwood High and Florida, and center Josh Allen.
Chaz Sutton, DE, South Carolina: The Bucs have three ends locked in for the roster: Michael Johnson, Adrian Clayborn and Will Gholston. Sutton played in Jadeveon Clowney's shadow with the Gamecocks, with eight sacks in the past two years playing mostly opposite him. The Bucs also have former second-rounder Da'Quan Bowers and Steven Means, so Sutton will need a strong preseason to outlast established players.
Keith Lewis, CB, Virginia-Lynchburg: The small-school standout is listed at 6-1, 190 pounds, with impressive speed. He was credited with seven interceptions last year, three returned for touchdowns. Defensive back might be the Bucs' deepest position. Lewis would have to beat out a veteran like Danny Gorrer and young players like Rashaan Melvin and Deveron Carr to make the final 53-man cut.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and at (813) 226-3346. Follow @gregauman.