The Buccaneers had one of the best receiver rooms in the NFL during the 2020 NFL season, and that’s part of the reason that they won the Super Bowl. Teams had trouble containing the trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, and it looked like the Bucs were going to have that same group at their disposal as they hunt for a repeat.
Fast forward to January 2022, with NFL Wild Card weekend on the horizon, and things look a lot different. Of that trio, only Evans remains standing.
Godwin is out for the season with a torn ACL, while Brown was cut after an infamous, shirtless exit during the Bucs’ Week 18 match-up vs. the Jets. Even if Brown was still with the Bucs, he was dealing with a significant ankle injury anyway, so his reliablity in the playoffs couldn’t be trusted.
So, where do the Bucs go from here?
They’ll have to rely on their WR1 Mike Evans more heavily with those two players out. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate should also draw more work, especially in the red zone, as big-bodied middle of the field receivers.
But who will take over for Godwin as a top slot option? And who will help replace Brown on the outside? Here’s an in-depth look at the Buccaneers’ depth chart as they take on the Eagles during the wild-card round of the 2022 NFL playoffs.
Buccaneers WR depth chart
1. Mike Evans
Evans has been the clear-cut No. 1 receiver on the Buccaneers for quite some time. He has totaled at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first eight NFL seasons and was targeted 114 times by Tom Brady in the regular season. He should only see more targets as the team’s top outside weapon with Godwin and Brown out.
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2. Tyler Johnson
Johnson established himself as the clear-cut No. 4 receiver for the Buccaneers thanks to his play early in the season when Brown (ankle) was out of action. Now, Johnson is bumped up another spot with Godwin out, and the second-year player will serve as Brady’s No. 2 receiver.
The Buccaneers selected Johnson (6-1, 206 pounds) in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He played sparingly as a rookie — making 12 catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns — but he has played 612 snaps for the Bucs this year (51.7 percent of their offensive total). He caught 36 passes for 360 yards, representing a tripling in terms of his catches and more than doubling his yardage total from his rookie year.
3. Breshad Perriman
With former LSU track star Cyril Grayson doubtful for this game with a hamstring injury, Perriman will take on a bigger role with the Buccaneers. Perriman was a first-round pick of the Ravens in 2015 but never quite panned out. His best season came in 2019 when he caught 36 passes for 645 yards and six touchdowns with Tampa Bay. He bounced to the Jets and Lions before rejoining the Bucs once again.
Perriman is 6-1, 210 pounds and has good speed. He’s not as fast as Grayson but is well-rounded thanks to his size. He has caught 11 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown while playing sparingly this year
4. Scotty Miller
Miller is another guy that got some run as one of the Bucs’ top-three receivers. In 2020, he played third-fiddle to Evans and Godwin before Antonio Brown arrived. The former sixth-round pick from Bowling Green caught 33 passes for 501 yards and three TDs before ceding time to AB.
This year, things haven’t gone as well for Miller, as he spent half of the year on IR dealing with turf toe. As a result, he has just five catches for 38 yards. He’ll largely be a field stretcher, but he can make plays with the ball in his hands, as evidenced by his 33-yard rushing touchdown against the Jets in Week 18.
5. Jaelon Darden
Darden (5-8, 174 pounds) is similar to Grayson in stature and is also fast and elusive. The fourth-round rookie from North Texas has largely been used as a returner by the Bucs this year. He has averaged 7.5 yards per punt return and 19.9 yards per kick return.
The Bucs probably won’t use Darden too much as a receiver. He has just six catches for 43 yards this season. His last came in Week 11 against the Giants. He hasn’t caught any of his four targets over the last two games.
6. Justin Watson
Watson, a fifth-round pick in the 2018 draft out of Penn, was activated from the PUP list on Dec. 24. He hasn’t played an offensive snap yet this year but played 19 special teams snaps against the Panthers. He could dress pending with Grayson out and is on the team’s 53-man roster. He had seven catches for 94 yards last year.