If the Bucs decide to draft a quarterback this month, they don’t need someone to dethrone Tom Brady.
They need someone who can learn from him for a season or two while developing into a starter. Someone with a history of maximizing limited reps. Someone patient enough to sit on the bench for years before rising to the moment when his opportunity finally arrives.
Someone like the Gators’ Kyle Trask.
There’s more to the idea than the obvious Florida connection. The Bucs don’t have a quarterback under the age of 30 on their roster, so adding youth to the position makes sense. Coach Bruce Arians said the team “wouldn’t be against” drafting a passer to develop.
Trask said the Bucs are among the teams he has met with over Zoom, and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen were both at his pro day last month. That means the team has at least explored the possibility of adding Trask.
If nothing else, Trask has the right make-up and background to be a potential fit in Tampa.
At Manvel (Texas) High, Trask was stuck behind D’Eriq King, now a star at the University of Miami. Trask shined in his rare opportunities, throwing 16 touchdowns and no interceptions over his final two seasons as a change-of-pace option.
At Florida, Trask saw four quarterbacks start in front of him before Feleipe Franks injured his ankle at Kentucky in 2019.
“You could just tell the offense took off when Kyle Trask came in,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said.
Trask sparked a second-half comeback in a 29-21 triumph and quickly became a star. He led UF to the Orange Bowl in 2019, then set single-season passing records for touchdowns (43) and yards (4,283) last season as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
“It’s pretty amazing, from where he was to where he is right now,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said.
Trask got here because he showed the kind of focus and resiliency he’ll need to succeed in the league.
He never got discouraged. Never wanted to transfer. Never acted like a backup.
“Even when I wasn’t the starter, I was probably asking the most questions in the room,” Trask said. “... That way when I get thrown out there, I know exactly what to do.”
What Trask had to do in Gainesville was deliver the ball with accuracy and touch to an elite group of pass catchers. Four of his receivers in 2019 made NFL rosters, and three more will likely get drafted this year (including potential top-five pick Kyle Pitts).
It’s fair to wonder how much of Trask’s production was because of him and how much was because of his supporting cast. But will it matter at the next level if he’s throwing to Pro Bowl receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin?
“Whatever team drafts him won’t regret it,” said former UF teammate Trevon Grimes, a Day 3 receiver prospect.
The knocks against Trask as a draft prospect are the same ones that kept him on the bench in his last two stops. He was a backup in high school because King’s dynamic running ability fit the offense better. He was a backup at UF because coach Dan Mullen preferred Franks’ ability to extend plays and stronger arm.
The two most common criticisms Trask heard before his pro day: “That I can’t move and have a weak arm.” Kiper calls him a pocket passer who is “limited.”
Those limitations didn’t stop Trask from having the most prolific season in Florida’s high-flying history. Neither did going six-plus years between starts.
Trask learned a long time ago how to ignore external doubts, so it’s no surprise that he doesn’t care that he’s listed in the draft’s second tier of quarterbacks. Though he won’t complain if a team drafts him as a long-term project, he knows better than to think of himself as a backup.
“If you have that mind-set, then you’re probably going to get left behind,” Trask said. “... It’s always, keep the foot on the gas, compete with whoever’s in the building.”
Even if that building also houses Tom Brady.
April 29: Round 1, 8 p.m
April 30: Rounds 2-3, 7 p.m.
May 1: Rounds 4-7, noon
TV/streaming: ESPN, ABC, NFL Network
Notable: Bucs pick 32nd (Day 1), 64th and 95th (Day 2), and 137th, 176th, 217th, 251st and 259th (Day 3).
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