This Buccaneers Weapon Is Turning Heads In Minicamp

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFL Analysis Network

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers boast one of the NFL’s best receiving duos in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but it’s a rookie who is making the most noise at mandatory minicamp.

Third-round pick Jalen McMillan has looked very impressive in practice for the Buccaneers, and quarterback Baker Mayfield is loving what he is seeing.

“He’s really friendly at the top of his routes, attacks the ball, catches with his hands,” Mayfield said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN. “Just explosive, a smooth route runner. So just now, having him put it all together in the offense. … I think for him, really the next step is mastering the offense so he can use that physical talent that he has.”

Mayfield targeted McMillan three times, and the first-year wide out ended up catching all three of them.

The University of Washington product caught 45 passes for 559 yards and five touchdowns as the third option behind Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk—both of whom were taken ahead of him in the NFL Draft in April—this past season.

McMillan’s best collegiate campaign came in 2022, when he hauled in 79 receptions for 1,098 yards and nine scores.

The 22-year-old has decent size at 6-foot-1 and has solid speed, so he does have a nice physical profile for an NFL wide receiver.

However, he will be behind Evans, Godwin and Trey Palmer on the depth chart to begin the 2024 season, so it may be difficult for him to receive playing time early.

The Buccaneers Could Be a Sleeper Team In 2024

The Buccaneers went 9-8 last season, so on the surface, they don’t look too formidable. But, they captured the NFC South division crown and then routed the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. They even gave the Detroit Lions a great fight in the Divisional Round.

With a resurgent Mayfield under center and some impressive weapons, Tampa Bay could once again be a tough team in the NFC.

The Bucs also have an improving defense, particularly thanks to young pass rushers like Calijah Kancey and Yaya Diaby. They also re-signed all of their top players this offseason, including Mayfield and Evans. That has to be good for team morale, and it’s also big for continuity.

Plus, the Buccaneers play in arguably the worst division in football, so it may not take more than nine or 10 wins to guarantee themselves a playoff spot yet again.

We’ll see if McMillan can contribute this fall.

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