Underperforming Players Who Could Thrive in 2019
Going into the 2019 season the Buccaneers had a few players who were named by experts to breakout this past season, but instead, clearly underperformed. These players will definitely be under the magnifying glass going into 2019.
For this article, I selected three players, who I think can be salvaged under HC Bruce Arians and his staff. The players I believe can turn it around, are CB Vernon Hargreaves III, LB Kwon Alexander, and RB Ronald Jones.
Vernon Hargreaves III was drafted by the Bucs in the 1st round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida. He was projected to be one of the top corners in the NFL. However, he has clearly failed to meet those expectations. Being moved from the right corner spot and mostly playing the nickel corner position, he seemed more than lost during the 2019 season opener against New Orleans. He ultimately tore his Labrum. I think with a new scheme under Arians and Todd Bowles, he can redeem himself and become a solid nickel corner with the ability to attack. Maybe at some point, he can become that outside press corner again.
My second choice is current Buc, an unrestricted free agent, linebacker Kwon Alexander. Alexander, who burst into the Bucs starting lineup during his rookie campaign in 2015, has been one of the main staples since winning the job. Along with fellow LB LaVonte David, they have become the 1-2 punch in the middle of the Bucs defensive core. Alexander, who was coming off his first pro bowl in 2017, was projected to have a huge breakout in the last year of his rookie contract, but was derailed when he was injured in week seven. The Buccaneers lost Alexander for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Now in 2019, I think the Buccaneers and Alexander are looking to give him a new deal. With a clean bill of health, and now in a new scheme, he and David could blossom even more as pass rushers. I can’t say that he ever underperformed, but he could re-gain that Pro Bowl form and become a force on the defensive side of the football.
Last, but not least, Bucs rookie running back Ronald Jones, who was selected in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL draft, has been a disappointment. Fans could tell that Jones had a tough time adapting to the speed of the NFL. While known for his ability to be a home run threat, he really struggled to catch the ball in former Bucs HC Dirk Koetter’s vertical attacking offense. He really did not get much playing time behind starter Peyton Barber, and his backup Jacquizz Rodgers. Some feel the jury is still out on Jones. The Buccaneers overhaul of its coaching staff this offseason can give Jones a clean slate, and a chance to be that explosive running back the Bucs clearly are missing and give Jameis Winston the running game to go hand-in-hand with the passing attack.
2019 could prove to be these player’s best chance to shine and show their worth in the league. It could be the year that gives the Buccaneers the best chance to land a playoff spot.