After being selected in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, wide receiver David Gettis caught 37 passes during his rookie campaign. In the three years since that promising start, Gettis hasn’t hauled in one pass.
Injuries have hobbled Gettis, who has only played 17 snaps since 2010, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). But according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Gettis was impressive during minicamp, and he was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on June 17.
When the Bucs used their first-round pick (No. 7 overall) on wide receiver Mike Evans from Texas A&M, the selection created an instant must-see duo of pass-catching, 6’5” behemoth route-runners. When Austin Seferian-Jenkins was taken with the next pick to play tight end, the beginnings of a potent aerial assault were coming to light.
Even with Vincent Jackson on one side of the field, Evans on another and Seferian-Jenkins in the middle, there are still plenty of receiving opportunities left for a third wide receiver. Gettis finds himself in a wide-open battle to win those targets.
After a torn ACL in 2011, and hamstring issues in 2012, Gettis looked primed to fight for the third receiver spot with the Carolina Panthers heading into 2013. Training camp went well, and Gettis’ first three preseason games looked promising. But another hamstring injury forced the receiver to injured reserve.
The Panthers cut bait on Gettis in September, and he signed a futures contract with the Washington Redskins in January. But he didn’t show enough upside and was waived on May 12.
Tampa Bay has liked what it’s seen.
Take away Gettis’ propensity for injury, and what’s not to like about him? He’s a 6’3” target that weighs in at 220 pounds and runs like a track star. According to NFL Draft Scout, Gettis posted a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at his combine. That was a fraction of a second faster than Jackson or Evans, or sixth-round pick Robert Herron out of Wyoming.
There are 10 receivers on Tampa Bay’s roster outside of Jackson and Evans for Gettis to compete with. Herron seems like one of the front-runners, and with a 4.47 time in the 40-yard dash, has similar speed to Gettis. But Herron is half a foot shorter.
Chris Owusu and Louis Murphy both have better speed than Gettis, and they can compete with Gettis’ height advantage. But Owusu is largely unproven with 14 career receptions, and Murphy’s reading from a similar injury-prone playbook as Gettis.
Training camp is going to be the separator for this battle at wide receiver behind Jackson and Evans. In a perfect world, the Buccaneers will get to see everything these receivers have to offer without injuries playing a role in the decision-making process.
Gettis is going to try and build off one June 10 minicamp play, as described by Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com.
In Tuesday’s minicamp practice, the wide receiver showed a burst of speed, blew past cornerback Danny Gorrer and caught a touchdown pass. For just a second, it was like a flashback to 2010, when Gettis seemed to have so much potential as a rookie with the Carolina Panthers.
Think for a moment about an 11 formation (one running back, one tight end and three receivers) with Doug Martin in the backfield, Seferian-Jenkins at tight end and Jackson, Evans and Gettis as receivers.
Martin will offer a serious threat to run, while whoever is playing quarterback for the Bucs will have four targets, all 6’3” or taller to aim a football toward. And the three wide receivers will all have wheels of serious speed.
Where is there a defensive backfield in the league that can match up to that kind of threat Tampa Bay could pose? There aren’t many, and that’s one of the reasons the Bucs may be drooling over the possibilities.
Before Tampa Bay gets too far into this Gettis project, the hurdle of training camp and preseason football will have to be overcome, and that’s been a serious problem for Gettis.
The prospects are nearly endless, however, if Gettis can put himself in a position to catch his first pass since 2010.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.
Knox Bardeen is the NFC South lead writer for Bleacher Report and the author of “100 Things Falcons Fans Should Know & Do Before they Die.” Be sure to follow Knox on Twitter.