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Buccaneers NFL Draft target: Wide receiver Casey Washington, Illinois

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By: Will.Walsh

Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Will Tampa Bay turn to the draft for playmakers in the passing game?

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it has been several seasons since the team’s third receiver was a dependable option. Inconsistencies, injuries, and antics have plagued the position since the end of the group’s 2021 campaign.

Heading into the 2024 season, Tampa is slated to feature Trey Palmer, in his sophomore year, as their number three wide out. After a rookie season that hinted at potential but was also bogged down by inconsistencies, the Buccaneers may want to consider an upgrade or at least the concept of bringing in competition.

With the NFL Draft approaching, the Bucs’ main priority is likely not their third wide receiver but, it’s a hole they may look to fill.

With the flame of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin burning eternally bright in Tampa Bay, the Bucs have only drafted two receivers since 2020 (Trey Palmer and Tyler Johnson). Could Casey Washington bring that number to three and be the third piece in Tampa’s trio?

Who is Casey Washington?

NCAA Football: Penn State at Illinois
Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Casey Washington is a 6’1” 200-pound receiver out of the University of Illinois. He is a fifth-year senior who, throughout his collegiate career, continued to show steady improvement—Starting in 2020, both his receptions and yardage climbed higher each season. Washington’s crescendoing production culminated with a 49-catch, 670-yard senior season, where he also accounted for three receiving touchdowns.

Washington’s strengths are very clear. He is a receiver with high-end ball skills. The receiver position is oftentimes seen as a spot, where teams can just line up their best athletes and let them out athlete other players. There is an artform to the position that exists in how well a receiver is able to control his body— How well he is able to adjust, when the ball is in the air. Throughout the route and at the catch point, can a receiver maintain balance and play through contact? Despite Washington’s overall limited production at Illinois, his play highlights these abilities. Those traits, combined with the fact that he did show an increase in production each year (from 2020 onward) make Casey Washington a prospect with upside that may be worth gambling on.

Pro Day and NFL Scouting Combine.

Casey Washington’s performance at the NFL Combine was limited— During his Pro Day, Washington posted a good 40 time— sub‐4.5. He paired that with a 39.5 inch vertical, as well as a 10’ 7” broad jump.

Why does Casey Washington make sense for a team with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done an excellent job of re-signing their own talent during Jason Licht’s tenure, however, some upcoming contracts that are noteworthy— Chris Godwin will once again become a free agent after next season and Mike Evans (who did just agree to a new deal with the Bucs) will be up again in two years.

On paper, Godwin’s return is a logical one. He’s been a model citizen in Tampa Bay, he is very comfortable with his role on the team, and on the field he has produced. Chris Godwin has been a 1,000-yard receiver in four of his last five seasons and tallied over 100 catches two years ago. Still, Godwin is just 28 years old— He is likely to play well this season and even more likely to want a large long-term contract if he does. For the Buccaneers, at certain point, the question won’t be, “Is Chris Godwin good?” It won’t even be, “Is Chris Godwin worth the money?” It will become, “Does it make sense to have two lucrative deals in the same position group for athletes who aren’t necessarily old, but also aren’t young players?”

New York Giants v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The added element into this equation is the Buccaneers, no matter what they decide to do with Chris Godwin will have to make another decision, just a year later, on Mike Evans. Most people have settled in on the notion that Evans will retire a Buc and while that may be the ideal scenario for all parties involved, nothing is definitive.

Having so much current stability, but potential long-term fallout at the position further leans into drafting and attempting to develop a prospect like Washington.

In 2024, Washington represents immediate competition for Trey Palmer and a wide receiver three candidate. Further down the line, as different scenarios unfold, he has the ability to grow into a better player who fills a larger role— when/if the team’s requires it.

On the clock…

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Originally posted on Bucs Nation – All Posts