Wed. May 29th, 2024
NFL Combine
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The McCaffrey name has a fairly large NFL legacy. Who’s next?

During our Casey Washington draft profile we detailed how the Tampa Bay Bucs have been without an overly reliable third pass catching option since the exceptional departure of Antonio Brown. Russell Gage, Julio Jones, and Trey Palmer have all had their moments in a Tampa Bay Bucs’ uniform. None have been near the fear evoking presence of Tampa Bay’s offense when Antonio Brown was behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the depth chart.

This year, in the NFL Draft, Tampa Bay’s biggest need is certainly not pass catcher— It’s much more likely to be a pass rusher. Still, wide receiver does check in as a credible need for a team that has two starting receivers who are 28 and 30, respectively. With the 28-year-old slated to be a free agent next offseason, meaning the team may need to prepare a replacement.

Who is Luke McCaffrey?

NCAA Football: First Responder Bowl-Texas State at Rice
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Luke McCaffrey played his college football at Rice. As an Owl, McCaffrey caught 19 touchdowns over the past two seasons— McCaffrey tossed two and ran for another three scores during his Owls’ career as well.

The former quarterback turned receiver comes from good football‐stock. His father, Ed McCaffrey, was a Pro Bowl receiver who had a 13-year career in the NFL while his brother is Christian McCaffrey— arguably the league’s best running back.

His scouting report is littered with complimentary remarks about his ability to make difficult catches consistently—

“Fearless into the teeth of the defense… Excels at combat catches”

“Made jaw-dropping one-handed catches with coverage draped over him.”

“Focus drops do not exist in his dojo.”

Some of Lance Zierlein’s critiscms of McCaffrey can be attributed to overall lack of time spent at the position—

“Had trouble releasing cleanly against serious press attempts.”

“Still needs work getting in and out of breaks more quickly.”

“Can improve with adjustments coming back to deep throws.”

Both lineage and talent are present. Coaching and increased time spent on the job will be key in maximizing the talent that exists—

NFL Scouting Combine.

Luke McCaffrey had himself an impressive combine workout, highlighted by his 4.46 40-yard dash. With his 6’2” 198 lb. frame, McCaffrey posted a 36” vertical jump and a 10’1” broad jump. McCaffrey’s impressive outing at the Combine helped to earn him an 83 for his ‘Athleticism score’ via

How would McCaffrey fit with the Tampa Bay Bucs’ offense?

Tampa Bay Bucs v Green Bay Packers
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McCaffrey would slide into the slot naturally for any NFL offense that could use him. Before a clear determination can be made about the Tampa Bay Bucs’ usage of McCaffrey, the team needs to set a defined plan for Chris Godwin. Godwin has been the number two, behind Mike Evans since 2019. In his time in the role he has worn multiple hats for Tampa’s offense.

During Tom Brady’s run in Gulf Coast, Godwin’s primary assignment became that of a slot receiver. Brady used Chris Godwin the way NFL fans had become so accustomed to seeing him deploy Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. Brady identified Godwin’s skillset as one he could dissect defenses with, in traffic, over the middle of the field. Through three seasons, in that role, Godwin collected 267 receptions (including a 104-catch season). He found the end zone 15 times in those three seasons and amassed 2,966 yards receiving.

That production came with Tom Brady throwing the football and some combination of Brady, Byron Leftwich, and/or Bruce Arians calling plays. Last year, Baker Mayfield was at the helm and Dave Canales took over play calling duties. Tampa Bay’s 2023 offense took the approach of allowing Godwin to work more often as an outside receiver. He was still able to post a 1,000-yard season but his catches and touchdowns were down from the two seasons prior.

Tampa Bay has the potential to be an outstanding fit for Luke McCaffrey, the only question is what the team plans on doing with Chris Godwin— next year and in the years that follow.

On the clock…

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