Five Breakout Candidates for the Buccaneers in 2024

Following a 9-8 2023 season that, although disappointing, proved to be enough for them to win the division title and advance to the Divisional Round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to improve upon that record and potentially extend their NFC South championship streak to four years in a row. The Bucs haven’t had much movement on the free agent market yet, but they have some intriguing players on their roster who could have a huge impact on the field next season.

Here are five players who could potentially have a breakout campaign in 2024.

Five Breakout Candidates for the Buccaneers in 2024

Cade Otton, TE

What we saw last season from tight end Cade Otton was nothing but a glimpse of what might be a very productive career for the 25-year-old. In 17 games in 2023, all starts, the Washington product hauled in 47 out of 67 targets for 455 yards and caught four touchdowns. He performed even better during the playoffs, as he caught 13 out of 19 targets for 154 yards and a touchdown in just two games. Not only is he a skilled receiver, he’s also an outstanding blocker and has made steady improvements from his rookie season in 2022. Plus, the front office hasn’t scoped the market for a tight end that could take his place, which means they believe he can further improve his game coming into next season. Expect him to be an integral part of the Buccaneer offense in 2024 and the clearest candidate for a breakout next season.

Graham Barton, C

The Buccaneers spent their first overall pick in the 2024 draft to acquire the services of Duke center Graham Barton. Standing at 6’5″ and weighing 315 lbs, his presence in the Buccaneer offensive line will be felt immediately and will provide quarterback Baker Mayfield with a greater sense of security in the pocket that he didn’t have in 2023. Additionally, the Bucs didn’t take him that high in the draft just to sit him on the bench all season. He’s expected to perform from day one, and he should deliver the results that are expected from him.

Calijah Kancey, DT

Another player recently drafted by the Bucs in the first round of the draft, defensive tackle Calijah Kancey was, unlike Barton, selected in the 2023 draft. He saw plenty of action, playing in 14 games last season and collecting four sacks and ten tackles for loss, cementing his presence as a starter in a sluggish Bucs defensive line. If he manages to keep himself healthy and play in as many games as he can next season, it could be time to start talking about him as the number one defensive lineman on the Buccaneers secondary. It’ll take some time for him to fully develop his skillset and gain NFL experience, but there’s no doubt the talent is there.

Trey Palmer, WR

The number three wideout option for the Buccaneers as a rookie in 2023, wide receiver Trey Palmer is eager to prove his value as a top receiver in the league. He didn’t see much action with the likes of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin ahead of him in the depth chart, but he made sure to make the most out of the time he was given; in eight starts, he caught 39 out of 68 targets for 385 yards, just under 10 yards per reception, and three touchdowns. He was more of a deep threat in the playoffs, being targeted only four times but catching three for 88 yards, an average of 29.3 per reception. His path to being the number three receiving option is clear now that Russell Gage is not on the team to take snaps away from him, and Mayfield will likely find more ways to involve him in the passing game.

Zyon McCollum, CB

Cornerback Zyon McCollum is a strange case of a player that most people don’t know he’s there, but he’s making his presence felt internally and making a huge impression on the coaches. He’s been with the team since 2022 and has only started 12 games, racking up a total of 92 tackles, one tackle for loss and two forced fumbles. He’s had two seasons to study his opposition and learn from the most experienced players on the roster, and he has talent. This might finally become the season he becomes a regular starter in Todd Bowles‘ secondary, and if he can demonstrate he has developed his talent, he can become a problem for opposing offenses.

Main Image: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

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