When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Florida's Kyle Trask 64th overall in this year's draft, it marked the first time since 1999 that the team had used a second-round pick on a quarterback. Then again, the previous spring had marked the first team the Buccaneers had ever signed a six-time Super Bowl champion to lead their offense.
That move, and Tom Brady then successfully leading the Bucs to their second Super Bowl title (and his seventh) before agreeing to a contract extension through 2022, created a unique set of circumstances. Tampa Bay is as set as it has ever been at quarterback, and yet it can't know how long that will remain true when said quarterback is about to turn 44.
First-round quarterbacks are usually expected to be in the starting lineup sooner than later. Late-round quarterback picks are often attempts to find depth and maybe uncover a diamond in the rough. Taking a quarterback in the second suggests there's a real hope that player could be a starter in the long run, if not necessarily right away.
And that's where Trask finds himself, behind Brady and probably Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Griffin on the depth chart, not likely expected to see much playing time in 2021, and maybe 2022. Learning under a head coach who has talked about a 'deliberate' approach to his development. Taking most of his reps with third and fourth-string teammates. Feeling no weight of immediate expectations.
And yet Trask isn't about to relax. He may end up having a year or two to prepare for any potential opportunity, but he's not going to approach it that way.
"It's definitely a good thing in terms of soaking in all that experience, but you definitely don't want to fall in a trap of being complacent," he said. "Obviously [it's] a loaded quarterback room but I'm just coming in with a mindset of controlling what I can control and maximizing my reps.
"You can't create the situation that you're coming into. You can just go in there with belief in yourself and maximizing your reps. That's been my main focus as of right now."
Trask spent the first three days of camp working on Field Two with mostly reserves and young players as Head Coach Bruce Arians split the roster into two during team drills to create more reps. Since then, the whole team has practiced together and Trask has often been the fourth man in the rotation. He got a little more action on Friday when Brady was given a 'vet day' by Arians to rest, but still won't be seeing time with the first team anytime soon.
But what is rapidly approaching is probably his best chance to see some quality playing time. The Buccaneers have three preseason games approaching and not a huge need to find out more about Brady, Gabbert or Griffin. Arians recently said that the coaches haven't discussed player rotations for those games yet, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Trask get a good amount of action. After all, it's probaby the coaches' only chance to get a long look at the rookie this year, barring a rash of injuries.
"Yeah, it's definitely something I'm looking forward to – I always was a huge NFL fan as a kid watching all of the games, all of the preseason games," said Trask. "So a chance to play in a preseason NFL game is also a dream come true. I'm just going to try to maximize my reps."
Trask believes he's doing a good job of adjusting to the faster speed of the NFL, which is always a big challenge for rookie quarterbacks. He also believes he has ably handled everything the coaches have thrown at him so far. As he would put it, those are the things he can control right now.
"The big thing for me throughout my football career has just been to [have] that mindset that you can only control what you can control and you can't worry about what's going on around you," he said. "So I'm just trying to continue to have that mindset and challenge myself every single day to get better."
None of which is to see Trask is unhappy with his situation. He called being in his first training camp a "dream come true" and he's making a daily effort to get out on the practice field early to get in some extra technique work with Quarterbacks Coach Clyde Christensen. And that soon-to-be 44-year-old that is blocking his path to the starting lineup for the foreseeable future? Well, he happens to be an incredible asset for a rookie quarterback.
"I mean, we've got I guess about 40 years total experience in that quarterback room, and that's just the players," said Trask. "Any question I have they always have a great answer for me. Everything that comes with being a pro, day-in, day-out, what it takes to win – I learn so many great things every single day."