1. RB Ronald Jones II
Running back Ronald Jones was the Buccaneers’ second pick of the 2018 draft. Tampa Bay was looking to create a one-two punch in the running game and nabbed the explosive back out of USC to help do it. He’s stronger than people think and as a result, can run between the tackles pretty easily. During training camp, Jones has gotten a couple great runs both up the middle and to the outside where he’s broken loose. He’s getting adjusted to an NFL offense, but it isn’t too distant from what he was used to back in Southern California with the Trojans running a pro-style offense themselves. The biggest difference will be that Jones will be asked to get involved in the receiving game a little bit more now and it’s something he’s been working on throughout camp. This will be Jones’ first opportunity to show what he’s learned against someone not in a red jersey.
2. Bucs’ corners M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis III
The Bucs drafted cornerback M.J. Stewart in the second round of the 2018 draft and through two weeks of training camp, it’s blatantly evident why. Stewart is an all-around corner and has been plugged in all over the secondary in a variety of situations during practice. Especially with cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves missing some practice time, Stewart has taken his opportunity to shine both inside at nickel and outside corner. He’s an extremely physical player that plays with confidence, too. He’s needed it going up against a veteran Buccaneers’ receiver corps that includes guys like Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. He’s done well in the slot too when taking on Adam Humphries. It’ll be interesting to watch where the Bucs use him against the Dolphins and how he responds to his first NFL game action.
Carlton Davis III is a completely different corner than Stewart, relying more on his length and size to take on receivers. Expect Davis to be part of the Bucs’ answer to the likes of the Dolphins’ DeVante Parker, who stands at 6’3” and 216 pounds. Davis is also getting adjusted to the NFL game and though labeled primarily as a press corner in college, has been working on playing off in practice so far during training camp. How he’s able to blend that into his game remains to be seen and he’ll get some valuable reps in Miami to test it out.
3. DT Beau Allen
The Bucs’ shored up their defensive line this offseason and one of the new faces comes from Philadelphia, fresh off a Super Bowl win with the Eagles. Defensive tackle Beau Allen is firmly being used next to Gerald McCoy on the interior of the line so he likely won’t play a ton of time in the Bucs’ first preseason game but it will be the first chance for Bucs fans to see what he can do against the run. It’s hard to get a good gauge on the running game in preseason because going up against your own guys, you go a little bit easier and you don’t finish your tackles. Guys in the trenches especially have grown a little tired of seeing the same guys every day in practice. This will be Allen’s first opportunity to react against an unfamiliar opponent while in a Bucs' jersey and for the short amount of time we’ll see it, expect it to be entertaining.
4. WR Chris Godwin
As presumably the team’s fourth receiver, Chris Godwin has been getting his fair share of reps with the starters throughout camp. That doesn’t, however, negate the fact that Godwin is in just his second year in the league and while he may look like a veteran, he’s still very much a young player continuing to develop. He should see a good amount of snaps with both the first and second teams, so expect to see his improvement going into this season on display. The fact that there’s a higher ceiling than what Godwin has already shown with his circus catches and quiet-but-confident demeanor is kind of unbelievable. He seems to have carried the momentum he had at the end of 2017 into training camp and now he’ll look to continue it against the Bucs’ first opponent of the preseason.
5. RB Shaun Wilson
With all the buzz about Ronald Jones, one guy that’s gotten a little lost in the shuffle is running back Shaun Wilson. He’s a good between-the-tackles runner and when he gets space, he’s fast. He’s been an absolute work horse with the second and third teams in practice and has been a contributor on special teams as well. That’s where he’ll make his bread if he wants to make the roster. A good showing in these preseason games where he’ll surely get his fair share of snaps will help, too. He’ll be a guy looking to prove himself going forward and show the Bucs he deserves a spot on the 53.