5 Players the Buccaneers Should Target After Trading Mike Williams
Mike Williams probably should have hired moving trucks back in January.
The Buccaneers traded Williams to the Buffalo Bills for a sixth-round pick in this year's draft, according to ESPN's James Walker. It became clear early this year that Williams' personal life was pushing him out of Tampa.
Williams' dedication to football came into question early this year with reports of his offseason antics. The hiring of Lovie Smith and Jason Licht practically ensured Williams' departure.
Despite his activities off the field, Williams was often productive on it. In each his first three seasons, Williams caught more than 60 passes, approaching 1000 receiving yards in 2010 and 2012. Williams provided the Bucs with 25 touchdowns over his four-year career.
A hamstring tear ended Williams' 2013 campaign on injured reserve. Little did he know that he would never play another snap for the Bucs.
With Williams gone, the Bucs need a wide receiver to start opposite Vincent Jackson.
While the Bucs are almost certain to take a wide receiver in this year's draft, they have options in free agency as well.
Here are five players the Buccaneers should consider to replace Mike Williams as their second starting wide receiver.
The Buccaneers still have a stud wide receiver in Vincent Jackson. Why not add a player cut from the same cloth?
Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins is this year's top wide receiver prospect. As such, it is highly likely that he will be off the board by the time the Buccaneers make their selection with the seventh overall pick.
With Watkins gone, Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans becomes the best available wide receiver. Like Jackson, Evans is a big-bodied, sure-handed receiver who will beat defensive backs with his size and ball location skills.
Evans was essential to Johnny Manziel's success at Texas A&M. Paired with Vincent Jackson, Evans would give Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford's offense a 1-2 punch that would be a nightmare to defend.
Former Seahawk Sidney Rice was a disappointment in Seattle, but he may be due for a career revival.
Rice's career has been marred by injury and inconsistency. In seven seasons, Rice has only one with over 1000 receiving yards and over 80 receptions.
When he's on his game, Rice uses his long arms and height to confound smaller defensive backs. His size also makes him an ideal red-zone target while he has the speed to challenge defenses deep.
At 27, Rice is still relatively young. Though he failed to pan out for the Seahawks, a new team could revitalize Rice's career.
Given his lack of long-term success, Rice would also come at a discount. He could serve as a decent stop-gap should the Bucs decide to spend their higher picks on a quarterback and defensive players to fit Lovie Smith's defense.
If the Bucs want to find a player to replace Mike Williams' skill set, look no further than Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews.
Though not fast, Williams was an exceptional athlete who made his mark making spectacular leaping catches by out-muscling defensive backs with his size and ability to locate the ball.
Matthews shares many of the same qualities. More athletic than fast, Matthews runs clean routes and makes some unbelievable catches. He arguably has better burst than Williams.
The Bucs lost a prime red-zone target when they shipped out Williams. Matthews' size and catching ability could fill that void without skipping a beat.
What truly separates the two receivers are their behavior. Where Williams' dedication and work ethic have been questioned in recent months, Matthews was a captain during his senior year at Vanderbilt and was praised by his high school quarterback for his work ethic.
Though it's unlikely the Bucs are looking to specifically replace Williams' skill set, there's no denying that Williams was a productive offensive force. Nonetheless, Jordan Matthews could give the Bucs a similar weapon without the same off-field headaches.
This year's wide receiver draft class is so deep that the Bucs could potentially find a starter beyond the first or even the second round. WR Donte Moncrief is one player that fits the mold.
The Mississippi State propsect possesses fantastic size and speed. His strength and burst make him extremely difficult to defend in the secondary.
The best aspect to Moncrief is his upside. He's only 21 years old and has the capability to develop into one of the best receivers in the NFL.
It's curious that Moncrief is projected as a low-second/early-third-round prospect by Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal. He may be coming from a mediocre Ole Miss team, but Moncrief's ceiling is as high as any of the other first-round wide receiver prospects this year.
Sometimes all it takes for a washed-up receiver to revitalize his career is a change of scenery. Miles Austin finds himself in need of a little career revival.
Austin looked bad in 2013. Missing five games and clearly not 100 percent throughout the season, Austin is on the downside of his career.
Like Vincent Jackson, Austin is a big target who isn't going burn any defensive backs with his speed. He's lost much of his burst, but he is sure-handed.
As a post-June 1 cut, Austin won't hit the market until after the draft. Facing rookie competition, Austin might have to settle for a veteran minimum salary.
Austin's price tag should make him appealing to teams in need of wide receiver depth like the Bucs. It is unlikely Austin will be able to break into a starting spot, but he could be valuable backing up Jackson and the rookie receivers the Bucs are bound to sign.