Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Rookie Report: OTA Edition

How are this year's draft picks performing so far?

Pictures of the Buccaneers' rookies signing their first contracts.

Over the course of the past two seasons, the Buccaneers have had success finding starters through the draft. In 2015, all four of the team's top picks - Jameis Winston, Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith and Kwon Alexander - became starters by the opening game of their rookie seasons. Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs' first-round pick in 2016, was on the field for more than 95 percent of the team's defensive snaps last year, and second-round pick Noah Spence is primed to build off of his 5.5-sack rookie season.

Expectations are high, but this year's rookie class has been living up to its billing thus far. Here are a few quick notes about each of this year's rookies as OTAs are set to wrap up.

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O.J. Howard:** The Bucs' first-round pick was revered for his ability to both run routes and block, and although players are just in shorts and t-shirts, Howard's blocking ability has been on display. Head Coach Dirk Koetter singled Howard's blocking out as one area he's been impressed with thus far.

> Justin Evans: The competition at safety will be closely-followed through training camp, and Evans is right in the mix to compete for a starting spot. He's missed time during OTAs as he recovers from an injury, but has still left a strong impression on the Bucs' coaching staff. "I've been very pleased with him," Defensive Backs Coach Brett Maxie said. "He basically is showing us some of the same things that showed up on tape. He's very talented, picks things up extremely quick, very conscientious. He asks a lot of questions, which is good for a new player, a rookie coming in and being in this environment."

> Chris Godwin: Forget the fact that he's a rookie – Godwin has been one of the most impressive Buccaneers on either side of the ball during OTAs. The team's third-round pick is mentioned on what seems like a daily basis by Koetter, who referred to him as one of the team's "most consistent players" along with fellow receiver Adam Humphries.

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Kendell Beckwith:** When the Buccaneers selected Beckwith, they knew he wouldn't be available for some time. Beckwith suffered a knee injury during the end of his final college season and has been unable to practice as he recovers. Linebackers Coach Mark Duffner and Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith believe Beckwith will compete with Devante Bond for a starting job as the Bucs' SAM linebacker, but there is no timetable set for his return as of now.

> Jeremy McNichols: Like Beckwith, McNichols arrived at One Buc Place recovering from an injury suffered during his collegiate career. McNichols has targeted training camp as a potential return date.

> Stevie Tu'ikolovatu: It's difficult to completely analyze a defensive lineman's performance during non-contact practices, but Tu'ikolovatu has proven to be more than just a big body. He's flashed athleticism and is versatile, something that the Bucs' coaches believe could help him earn a jersey for opening day. Coach Smith believes Tu'ikolovatu could play as both a nose tackle and a five technique.

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