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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Top Bucs Players to Watch at Training Camp 

From Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask battling for the starting signal-caller duties to the competition at nickel corner and receiver, here are six players to keep an eye on as the Buccaneers begin training camp

Top Bucs to Watch TC

Training camp has officially commenced for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a variety of topics will command headlines over the next few weeks as battles ensue on the practice fields at the AdventHealth Training Center. In a post-Tom Brady era, the question on the mind of every football fanatic is, 'Who will start at quarterback?' The competition between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask for the starting signal-caller duties will spark incessant chatter during the six-week training period, as well as how the retooled offensive line is performing. 

When the pads come on, here is a breakdown of the top six Buccaneers to keep your eye on at camp: 

Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask 

With a true quarterback competition occurring for the Buccaneers, both Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask will not only monopolize Tampa Bay headlines but will draw eyes, as well. Either journeyman Mayfield or third-year Trask will take the reins of Dave Canales' revamped offensive system in 2023 and training camp performances will carry weight. 

Mayfield,28, has an edge in experience, having passed for 16,288 yards and 102 touchdowns in six NFL seasons with the Browns, Panthers and Rams. Conversely, Trask, 25, has only been active for two games over a two-season span, appearing in the low-stakes regular-season finale at Atlanta last year in which he completed 3 of 9 passes for 23 yards. Both are starting with a fresh slate in 2023, learning and acclimating to the system installed by new offensive coordinator Dave Canales. Similar to the quarterback battle in Seattle at the outset of the 2022 season between Geno Smith and Drew Lock, Canales has clarified there is no rush in naming a starter. He wants both to develop a starting mindset that will breed confidence and cultivate production on the field. The coaching staff will consider a variety of factors in making the final decision, but one thing is certain, taking advantage of first-team reps during training camp is pivotal for both candidates. 

Zyon McCollum

The starting nickel corner job is open for the taking and the Buccaneers have several contestants in line for the vacancy. There are multiple players who will be competing for the undefined role, including sixth-round pick Josh Hayes, second-year player Zyon McCollum and third-year reserve Dee Delaney. 

Last season for the Bucs, both Zyon McCollum and Dee Delaney received an increase in playing time due to a plethora of injuries in the secondary. McCollum had three starts, accumulating 24 combined tackles (17 solo) in 13 games played. Delaney had one game start, registering one forced fumble, 29 combined tackles (25 solo) and two tackles for loss in 17 games played. At Sam Houston State, McCollum showcased elite ball skills at the catch point with a combination of desired size/athletic traits. During training camp, McCollum will have the opportunity to showcase ball-hawk potential at the next level. 

Josh Hayes saw plenty of reps in the slot for the Wildcats, ranking third on the team in 2022 with 71 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. He had seven passes defensed, collecting a pass breakup in six-consecutive games during the middle of the year, earning a place on The Athletic's Midseason All-Portal Team.

Anthony Chesley, who was signed to the Bucs practice squad in September and was later elevated to the active roster, will get work at the nickel corner spot. Chesley logged two tackles (one solo) in seven games last season while primarily playing on special teams. The Bucs also brought in undrafted free agent Christian Izien to boost competition at the hybrid position. At Rutgers, Izien set the tone in the secondary during his collegiate career, totaling more than 300 tackles. 

Luke Goedeke 

Entering Year Two with the Buccaneers, Luke Goedeke is undergoing a transition from left guard to right tackle.  Before his arrival in Tampa Bay, Goedeke was a two-year starter in Central Michigan's zone-blocking scheme at right tackle, filling their vacancy. He made the switch to left guard in the pros, starting the first seven games of the 2022 slate on the left before suffering a foot injury in the club's 21-3 loss to the Panthers, thrusting Nick Leverett into the lineup. The coaching staff had begun using both Goedeke and Leverett interchangeably at the left guard position and given Leverett's production during Goedeke's absence, he solidified a permanent role in the interior of the line. Goedeke eventually served as the right tackle during the Bucs' regular-season finale at Atlanta and solidified the unit. After facing a daunting gauntlet of the league's best three-techniques last season, Goedeke endured unfair evaluations during his first-year campaign.

After building muscle memory on the left side of the line last year, Goedeke will revert back to the right side. Training camp will provide a unique lens at Goedeke's growth on the right side and how he fares in one-on-one pass rush drills. The Wisconsin native will be a fun one to keep an eye on. As the Bucs' offensive line undergoes another shuffle in 2023 with the departure of Donovan Smith and Shaq Mason, Goedeke has the opportunity to entrench a starting role at right tackle opposite Tristan Wirfs. 

Kade Warner 

Several players are battling for a spot on the Bucs' 53-man roster, including undrafted free agent receiver Kade Warner. Warner, the son of Pro Football hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, is looking to carve his own path in the league with the Buccaneers. He spent the first four years of his collegiate career as a Cornhusker, including a 2017 redshirt year in Nebraska. After transferring to Kansas State, Warner tallied 60 receptions for 622 yards and five touchdowns in his final two collegiate campaigns. His most productive college season came in 2022 when he posted 46 catches for 456 yards and five touchdowns for the Wildcats. He was adept at both reading coverages and finding the soft spot in zone. 

He is expected to contribute in the slot, and on special teams. Warner will stive to add to his family's legacy, by becoming another undrafted success story in the NFL. 

"We've had a lot of discussions about that with both my staff and then myself and Todd [Bowles] – about how impressed we are with the rookie class, not just the drafted players but the undrafted players," Jason Licht described. "I think there could be quite a few undrafted players that make it as well and that's just a testament of our scouting department doing a fantastic job digging those guys out. We've got some players in the secondary – I know we've talked about [Christian] Izien and [Kaevon] Merriweather and [Keenan] Isaac. Then players along the receiver [group] – we've got [Taye] Barber and [Rakim] Jarrett, [Kade] Warner – I don't think since I've been here that we've had this many undrafted free agents coming out of the spring that we're as excited as we are watching them and going into training camp."

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka 

Entering Year Three, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka will aim for dominance on the edge. Last season, Tryon-Shoyinka served in a full-time role as a 3-4 defensive end/OLB. His pursuit skills in space flashed and his quick get-off took offensive tackles by surprise, however, Tryon-Shoyinka was not able to fully unleash his first-round, star potential. 

In 2022, Tryon-Shoyinka posted 41 tackles (23 solo), six tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, 14 quarterback hits and two passes defensed. Even though Tryon-Shoyinka may not have flashed on the stat sheet in 2022 given his high-rep count, he consistently affected the pocket and moved the quarterback off his spot, drawing extra protection. Although, in a modern stat-driven industry, numbers reign supreme. 

With rare bend and twitch for his size, Tryon-Shoyinka has a rare ceiling. As he continues to build his repertoire by refining his arsenal of counters and developing rush angles, Tryon-Shoyinka will ascend. As JTS encounters various block combinations and works to improve fundamentals, he will build muscle memory on the decision-making process including the aiming point, protections, and a calculated rush plan. The 24-year-old has tantalizing physical traits and lethal closing speed to become a high-level defender. Tryon-Shoyinka has the coveted explosion/power elements that warranted a high-draft selection, and he will strive to leave a mark in the trenches come fall. As Tryon-Shoyinka enhances his leverage/positioning when setting the edge and elevates his pass-rush arsenal, he can reach the next level. When JTS breaks free, he eats up space quickly, but getting off blocks and finishing at the top of the rush is a point of emphasis in 2023.

"For me, Joe has to finish at the top of the rush," Todd Bowles said. "He beats linemen, and he either slips down or falls off the quarterback because he's launching too early and not running through the quarterback. He has to take those extra two steps. He left a lot of sacks out there last year; not that he didn't get back there, but he didn't finish the play. Finishing at the top of the rush is just as important as beating the guy initially off the line of scrimmage. Me and Joe talked about this, and he understands that, he's working towards that and that's what we need to see from him."

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