by Douglas O’Connor
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Draft week is the Super Bowl for NFL General Managers and their staff. The spot light is shining bright on Buccaneers GM Jason Licht and his 31 other counterparts during this 3 day prime time event. While some fans grade their GM’s performance on the draft alone the true measure of a scouting teams salt is their undrafted free agent (UFDA) work. When a starter gets injured or a Pro Bowler goes down, usually it’s up to these type of players to keep the train a mov’en and salvage a game or even the season.
With the Bucs decimated with injuries at the defensive line and running back positions a number of these players were called upon to play, some significantly. Here is a breakdown of some of said players and their contributions that helped pull out a victory against Carolina Panthers.
Jacquizz Rodgers No surprise he makes the list. Signed back on September 13th to be the 3rd string running back. Offered a contract mostly because of his familiarity with Dirk Koetter’s offense back in their Atlanta days. Thrust into the staring role after a Doug Martin hamstring injury and a surprise IR move with backup Charles “Chuck” Sims. Easily the biggest contributor with over 100 yards on the ground and 5 receptions.
Alan Cross A UDFA pick up right after the draft. Alan has been filling in for Luke Stocker as the Bucs blocking TE. He caught his 1st NFL pass on Monday and made a highlight reel block, picking up the blitzer, giving Winston time to throw his only touchdown pass of the game.
Peyton Barber Also found by Jason Licht’s staff immediately after the draft. The running back from Auburn received his 1st NFL playing time in the win. Spelling Rodgers for a few plays and picking up some tough yards.
DaVonte Lambert Yet another early UDFA signing that was forced into a big role. With 3 of the 4 starting DLmen out for Mondays game. Lambert played 96% of the defensive snaps and caused a fumble that the Bucs recovered.
John Hughes III Unemployed literally 1 week before seeing NFL action. Hughes didn’t play much, just 17 plays but he gave DT Akeem Spence much needed breathers. Spence made the tackle for loss on the Panthers last offensive play forcing them to punt. I like to think that Hughes made an assist on that play.
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