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Bucs Assistant Coaches Talk 2023 Draft Class, New-look Offense & More | Brianna's Blitz 

Takeaways from the Bucs assistant offensive coaches on Wednesday during Phase Two of the offseason workout program

Bri's Blits May 10 O

Following the 2023 NFL Draft and the ensuing undrafted free agency craze, Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive assistant coaches fielded questions on a variety of topics from the quarterback battle to the revamped system of Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales. Here are several noteworthy thoughts from the morning address at the AdventHealth Training Center: 

Offensive Coordinator: Dave Canales 

The 2023 NFL Draft has commenced and with it, the Buccaneers acquired eight selections: defensive tackle Calijah Kancey (round one, pick 19), offensive lineman Cody Mauch (round two, pick 48), edge YaYa Diaby (round three, pick 82), linebacker SirVocea Dennis (round five, pick 153), tight end Payne Durham (round five, pick 171), defensive back Josh Hayes (round six, pick 181), wide receiver Trey Palmer (round six, pick 191) and edge Jose Ramirez (round six, pick 196). Behind the podium, Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales provided his initial assessment of the three picks on the offensive side of the ball. 

 "Cody Mauch [was] one of my favorite players in the draft – his tenacity in the run game, his athleticism. He truly could play all five spots on the offensive line. He's got that kind of talent. He lacks a little bit of that huge size element that you really want for some of the positions, but he's so versatile. He's a fantastic player. Payne Durham – a guy we really loved through the process. [He has] a huge frame, a great catch radius. Most tight ends in the NFL are covered except for [Travis] Kelce, [George] Kittle, [Darren] Waller – a couple of those guys who really can run away and separate. Everybody else is going to be covered, it's the guys who've got those subtle things at the top [of the route tree] – he's got that. We're really excited about that. Then Trey Palmer – fantastic get for us and our system. We would target guys like Trey – big, strong, and fast. He'll contribute on special teams, he'll stretch the field, he'll play behind one of two studs and is going to learn from them. We just love getting our hands on that physical type of prospect." 

Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator: Harold Goodwin 

Much like the 2022 offseason, the Buccaneers' offensive line will undergo a shuffle this summer. Following the departure of longtime left tackle Donovan Smith and veteran guard Shaq Mason, change is imminent. Second-year player Luke Goedeke will revert back to his primary position in college at Central Michigan. Goedeke was a two-year starter in Central Michigan's zone-blocking scheme, manning the right tackle role. As a result, All-Pro Tristan Wirfs will shift to the left side of the formation as the blindside protector for whoever wins the starting signal-caller duties. During his rookie campaign in Tampa Bay, Goedeke predominately lined up at left guard, facing a gauntlet of elite three-techniques down the stretch of the season. Aaron Stinnie was one of the competitors in an offseason battle to replace retired Pro Bowler Ali Marpet at left guard, and the most experienced player in group. After Stinnie suffered ACL and MCL tears in his knee, the subsequent competition featured second-year player Nick Leverett and rookie Luke Goedeke. Initially, Goedeke won the starting gig next to Robert Hainsey at center. He suffered a foot injury in the club's 21-3 loss to the Panthers, thrusting Nick Leverett into the starting role. The coaching staff had begun using both interchangeably at the left guard position and given Leverett's production in the lineup during Goedeke's absence, he solidified a permanent starting role in the interior of the line. In 2023, Goedeke will go back to his natural and dominant side, cultivating confidence. Assistant Head Coach and Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin spoke on his position switch. 

"He felt more comfortable, that's what he played in college. He felt more comfortable, he's right hand dominant and so far, so good – knock on wood. He's been doing fine so far outside on the grass. So, I'm excited about him especially in the run game coming off the ball, he's just a physical player. Sometimes he gets overanxious, he just needs to relax and stay on his targets in pass-pro but other than that, he's fine."

 In the second round, the Buccaneers' selected North Dakota State's Cody Mauch. As a three-year starter in Tyler Roehl's run-oriented and gap-power scheme, Mauch served as the left tackle. With a tenacious competitive demeanor, superb movement skills on second-level blocks/pulls and body control to work effectively in space, Mauch will provide an infusion of energy to the Bucs' offensive line. With more of an emphasis on the run game and a wide-zone scheme under Dave Canales, Mauch is expected to bring an athletic boost to the unit. 

 "Well, you turn on Cody's tape in college and he's sitting there he's pancaking, throwing people, it's real violent and it's real nasty," Goodwin laughed. "But you think about the level of competition, no knock on those guys in the league he played in, but you go watch the Senior Bowl practices, you watch the Senior Bowl game and he's bouncing around offense line against the SEC, the ACC type players and he's kicking 'A', you get impressed. He's a guy that can legit play five spots and I'm excited about the guy. He's bugging me, he's bugging [offensive line coach] Joe [Gilbert], he wants the playbook. I'm like, 'Hey big fella just slow down, we've got plenty of time. Just slow down." But him and [center] Ryan [Jensen] next to each other, along with [offensive lineman] Matt [Feiler], next to [guard] Luke [Goedeke], whoo I'm excited. A lot of guys are going to get mashed into the ground.

Quarterbacks Coach: Thad Lewis 

The Bucs will be deliberate in their approach to evaluating both vested veteran Baker Mayfield and third-year man Kyle Trask for the starting quarterback role. In order to cultivate a starting mentality in both players, Canales confirmed there is "no rush" to determine a victor. Mayfield has thrown for over 16,000 yards and 100 touchdowns in his five years in the league, and Trask has conversely thrown a total of nine regular-season passes, all in the fourth quarter of a low-stakes game in Atlanta at the end of the 2022 slate. Trask, the 2021 second-round pick out of Florida spent the last two years in a veteran-heavy quarterback room absorbing information from Tom Brady. That has helped him build a successful routine and although both players have a vastly different background, the pair will start fresh with the Bucs' new offensive playbook. Quarterbacks Coach Thad Lewis spoke on the potential structure of the looming battle. 

 "I think the structure will be similar to whatever Dave [Canales] wants to do and how he structures it. I'm pretty sure guys will get even reps and then you go by seeing what you do every day. You're charting their completions, you're charting their incompletions, you're charting their mental errors, guys who are performing and things like that. Competition makes everybody great because that won't be the only group competing, every group will be competing. It's new for everybody – that right there in itself makes the team better."

Running Backs Coach: Skip Peete 

The Bucs finished the 2022 season with the worst-ranked rushing offense (76.9 yards per game on the ground) in the NFL. In 2023, the reworked unit will become priority No. 1 to complement the passing game. In 2022, Rachaad White emerged as a rookie despite the team's lackluster stat line, concluding the year with 481 yards on 129 rushes and a touchdown. In the passing game, White contributed 290 yards on 50 receptions and two touchdowns. White served as a slash-back with burst getting north and balance through jump-cuts. He improved in pass protection during the duration of the season, which enabled him to stay on the field for all three downs. Ke'Shawn Vaughn, the club's third year back, rushed for 109 yards on 26 carries in 2022, averaging 4.2 yards per tote. He saw minor bits of action, as did his counterpart Giovani Bernard. On Wednesday from the podium, Running Backs Coach Skip Peete elaborated on his assessment of the running back room in Tampa Bay. 

 "I think it's an interesting room. I know I evaluated Rachaad [White] coming out and I really liked him a lot. I think he's a very talented inside runner – a guy who has good vision and balance, has the ability to create on his own. I think he's really an underrated pass receiver coming out of the backfield. I really liked K. Vaughn coming out. I think he's a natural runner with good balance. He hasn't really been utilized a great deal in the passing game, but I think he's capable of doing that and I think we're going to give him that opportunity going forward. Patrick Laird is a guy that I know came out of the University of California that possessed a lot of different things as far as run skills, balance, pass protection, special teams' qualities. I mean all those guys I think fit the room real well. It's going to be something that's a collective group that's going to work hard together and do good things together. Also, with Chase Edmonds, a guy who's played several years in this league that really can be a runner, receiver. I think the one thing that's going to help all of them is that they have a different unique style that's a little bit different from each other."

Wide Receivers Coach: Brad Idzik 

One of the Bucs' stalwarts, Chris Godwin, reached the 100-reception milestone this past season, setting a career-high with 104 catches - the second-most in a single-season in franchise history. He became an inspirational figure for the Bucs in 2022, as he worked his way back from a torn ACL/MCL suffered last December and ensuing January surgery to suit up Week One. Though a hamstring injury then caused him to miss two contests, Godwin returned in Week Four and gradually returned to peak form. Down the stretch, defenses had no answers for Godwin, the club's most consistent weapon. He continuously exploited cushion in coverages when defensive backs did not challenge at the line of scrimmage. Overall, he caught 104 passes (eighth in the NFL) for 1,023 yards and three touchdowns. He gained 52.6% of his total yards after the snap, generating yards after the catch off quick passes. Godwin has established himself as one of the most lethal slot receivers in the NFL with physicality over the middle of the field and in 2023, his versatility will be maximized. Bucs' Wide Receivers Coach Brad Idzik shed light on Godwin's increased role on the outside in 2023. 

 "You'll see a little bit of everything. And I know that sounds like coach speak, right? 'Oh, I don't want to give away our trade secrets.' Chris [has shown] early on that he can stretch the field and that's what I want to remind him of. He can stretch the field. I know he is coming off of the knee injury from last year, but he has already shown it out there. When you put him outside, this guy is a problem one-on-one. The thing that he brings in the slot, for me, that is a benefit to Chris and those are things that he naturally does. That just opens his window up. We talked about coming from a room in Seattle where with D.K. [Metcalf], we continued to develop his slot work from being an outside receiver. Chris has already shown that, and he already has experience with that, so we can use him in a lot of different ways right off the bat. But yeah, I don't think we're going to lose some of that outside stuff too when you just say, 'Hey Chris, go win one-on-one, or hey Mike, go win one-on-one outside.'"

Second-year player Deven Thompkins originally joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Utah State in May of 2022. Thompkins took over Tampa Bay's punt and kickoff return jobs after the release of Jaelon Darden. He was elevated from the practice squad late in the season and possesses tantalizing traits that awed during training camp one year ago. He impressed during one-on-one drills and will vie to cement a role in 2023. 

"He is a special athlete," Idzik remarked on Thompkins. "He is a lot of fun to work with and he soaks things up like a sponge. So, when it comes to having a special athlete like that a lot of times, they rely on the things they have, the speed and the twitch that he obviously brings. But, when you start to break him down and work with him fundamentally as a receiver, that is what excites me. Because a lot of times it is, 'Hey, go out there and catch this bubble and make the guy miss. Go run a deep fade. Work the release and beat the guy off the line.' But, when we are working the fundamentals of route running for him, that is where he is beginning to take strides…I am really just excited to develop his route tree outside." 

Tight Ends Coach: John Van Dam 

The NFL is a game of mismatches and finding effective ways to exploit them with multiple personnel groupings. For the Buccaneers in 2023, there will potentially be an emphasis on two- and three-tight end sets. Multiple tight end looks are quickly becoming incorporated into every pro playbook, whether it is to nullify pass rush or to create in-breaking routes over the middle of the field that exploit deep coverages over the top. Tight ends run expansive patterns, making it difficult for smaller defensive backs to cover. Additionally, the hybrids help reduce the risk of a blitz and Bucs' Tight End Coach John Van Dam described his excitement to see an uptick in 13 personnel, but also explained the Canales creed. 

"More 13 personnel – I'm always down with that [laughs]. It's exciting, it's exciting to see the different ways he used his personnel groups in the past. The one message he always says is, 'It's players over plays.' We're going to put the best guys on the field like we always will do to have success, whether that is three tight ends, whether that is one tight end or whether that is zero tight ends. That is our mentality in even our room – we are going to do whatever we need to do to win football games. Dave will put us in the best position to do that."

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