TAMPA, Fla. — You may have heard already, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted a quarterback this past weekend in the 2021 NFL Draft.
His name is Kyle Trask. He played collegiately for the Florida Gators. And he may have become one of the most down talked people on Twitter the moment he became the 64th overall selection in this year’s selection meeting.
Ok, maybe not the most hated, but the angst about the Bucs adding Trask to their 2021 roster was real and it was immediate. The question now is going to be, “Are the detractors right?”
And in a sense, they are.
Many knock the arm strength of the 23-year-old amateur-turned-pro. And, on what should have been one of the best nights of his life, he was left answering questions from the media wanting to know how he feels about all the doubt surrounding his future. It was doubt coming from those outside of the organization, but doubt, nonetheless.
Of course, Trask is no stranger to this. So, he probably wasn’t all that surprised. Hopefully, after the video interviews were done, he went back to the people who believe in him and celebrated. He deserved it.
Me? I immediately - well, almost immediately - set up an interview with someone who is literally paid to know about the Florida Gators, and therefore, Kyle Trask. That was Locked On Gators host, Brandon Olsen. The fact Olsen just so happens to run his own draft analysis site is a bright, beautiful cherry on top.
“I like the pick, I like the fit,” Olsen told me. “I think that they’re even building for the future and for him to step in. And honestly, it’s an ideal situation. He’s learning behind Tom Brady [and] his flaws could be fixed with Tom Brady, Byron Leftwich, Bruce Arians...I’m actually very excited that he ended up in Tampa.”
A lot of the disgruntled moans coming from those who don’t like the pick are coming from those who think the Buccaneers see Trask as the heir apparent to Brady’s throne in Tampa, rather than a potential heir who may just serve his time in the NFL as a solid to above-average backup with the ability to manage in spot-starts as needed.
Not every quarterback drafted is expected to be the next great thing since the forward pass. Sometimes, they’re expected to be safety blankets. Just good enough to not tank an entire season if the starter goes out. Sometimes, they turn into career journeymen known as game managers.
Those guys usually go in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft. Rounds three to five, specifically. Not two. And Trask is a second-round pick. By one spot.
The common comparison for Trask heading into the NFL Draft was Brad Johnson. A quarterback who let his weapons do the heavy lifting and could lean on a strong defense (putting it mildly) to win the day.
Would it have been wise to trade the 64th pick back in the 2002 offseason for Brad Johnson? Given the defense living in Tampa back then, I think anyone would be hard-pressed not to say Johnson was the perfect man for the job on that team.
Tampa Bay currently has the makings of another dominant defensive unit. Having added Joe Tryon out of Washington in the first round of this year’s draft, they’re wide open to select Ndamukong Suh’s replacement next season, if he doesn’t return for the 2022 season.
The unit is young enough, hungry enough, and certainly has proven they can stop the best the league has to offer (hello, Patrick Mahomes). So, do the Bucs need Kyle Trask to be a hero? Maybe not. Which is good. Because he may not be one.
“I think in about three years we could be talking about him as an average starting quarterback or a high-level backup if [the Buccaneers] have someone that’s just better at that point,” said Olsen of Trask.
If the Buccaneers get two more years out of Brady, and keep the defense intact (with some added youth to bolster the players like Jason Pierre-Paul not likely to be around three seasons from now), then the team would have a solid to above-average quarterback waiting in the wings, and a dominant defense to be the star of the show.
Meanwhile, Trask is going to be learning from the greatest to ever do it, learning it’s OK to not be the hero every week. Just like Tom Brady, from time to time, isn’t always the hero. Just like Brad Johnson in 2002. And if it was good enough to win a Super Bowl, then it’s good enough to spend the 64th overall pick in the NFL Draft on trying to find another guy like him.
In the meantime, I’ll reserve judgment on Trask’s career until he at least takes one snap in a training camp. Maybe he’ll blossom into the next great quarterback. Or maybe he’ll flounder and be out of the league in five years. We don’t really know now, do we?
But we know the Tampa Bay Buccaneers see promise in him and are being prudent by drafting a young guy they can groom for a couple of years before throwing him to the wolves. Which is good.
Just make sure that defense is nice and healthy so he has some support when his time does come.
For more on this story and all things Tampa Bay Buccaneers, check out the Locked On Bucs Podcast.