The former Florida Gator would be an intriguing apprentice for Tom Brady…
As of right now, the Buccaneers still have at least two years left of Tom Brady being their starting quarterback. He originally signed a two-year deal with the team in March of 2020, but just about a month ago he agreed to a one-year contract extension that would keep him in Tampa through 2022, his age-45 season.
So, it’s not absolutely essential that the Bucs find Brady’s eventual long-term replacement this offseason. But just because it isn’t absolutely essential doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it, and it certainly doesn’t mean folks both in the media and in the fan base itself aren’t already talking about it. Some are even clamoring for the team to use its first-round pick—No. 32 overall—in this month’s NFL Draft on a quarterback because there isn’t a glaring need on the roster to fill with the selection. The general feeling, though, is that the Tampa Bay will add a quarterback at some point in the draft. Head coach Bruce Arians has even hinted at it.
Which quarterback(s) might be on the team’s radar, though? One potential target could come from just up I-75 in Gainesville, and that’s former Florida Gator Kyle Trask. As our draft profile series rolls on, we’re shining the spotlight on the 2020 Heisman Trophy finalist.
KYLE TRASK’S COLLEGIATE CAREER
Interestingly enough, Trask earned an offer from the University of Florida despite being the backup during his final three years at Manvel High School, where he played behind former Houston standout and current Miami Hurricanes quarterback D’Eriq King. After an injury cost him his chance to compete for the Gators’ starting quarterback job—along with his freshman season—in 2017, Trask spent 2018 as a backup and saw limited action, completing 14 of his 22 passes on the year for 162 yards and a touchdown.
The 2019 season began with Trask still stuck behind Feleipe Franks on Florida’s depth chart. But after Franks suffered an injury early on in the year, Trask was thrown into action. In his first start since his freshman season at Manvel, he threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns—along with two interceptions—on 20-of-28 passing in a 34-3 win over Tennessee. He didn’t give up the starting spot from there and finished the year with 2,941 passing yards and 29 total touchdowns to just seven interceptions in 12 games (10 starts). The Gators were 8-2 in his starts, with their only losses coming against undefeated No. 5 LSU and one-loss No. 8 Georgia.
After Franks transferred to Arkansas after the 2019 season, Trask was the unquestionable starter for Florida heading into the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. And in what turned out to be his final collegiate season, he was on another level. He completed 68.9% of his passes and threw for 4,283 yards and put up 46 total touchdowns to eight interceptions in 12 games. The Gators finished just 8-4, but not for lack of production from their quarterback. He had a season that was compared by many to the one that Joe Burrow had with LSU in 2019 before he became the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft. Trask was a Heisman Trophy finalist and left Gainesville with a number of program and SEC records.
PRO DAY DATA AND ANALYSIS
After an ankle injury cost him his chance to participate in the Senior Bowl, Trask was a full go during his Pro Day on March 31. He measured in at 6-foot-5 1/4” and weighed in at 236 pounds, with a wingspan of 80 5/8”, arm length of 33” and hand size of 10 1/8”. Considering he’s a pure pocket passer with limited mobility, it’s not surprising that the numbers from his drills don’t jump off the page at you. He ran a 5.1-second 40-yard dash, while the rest of his numbers were fairly average for a quarterback. His three-cone and jumps were solid, but it’s safe to say that Trask wasn’t expected to wow anyone with his athleticism at Pro Day, nor did he do so. He did throw the ball well, though, and managed to display some ability to move around a pocket while maintaining his accuracy. Strangely enough, it feels like Pro Day didn’t really improve or hurt Trask’s stock. And in a way, that’s a win.
WHAT HE BRINGS IN 2021
Trask has been a hot name for many Buccaneer fans over the last few months and not just because there are a lot of them that also happen to be Gator fans. The fit just seems to be there between Trask and Tampa Bay, as the 23-year-old would be able to spend the next year or two learning from the greatest quarterback of all time before getting a chance to carry the team forward once the Brady era is over.
A lot of draft analysts, including The Draft Network’s Jordan Reid, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein and Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash, point to mobility as Trask’s biggest weakness. So, who better to mentor and develop the young quarterback than Brady? No one would mistake the seven-time Super Bowl champion for having elite athleticism, but he has obviously maximized what he does have over his 21-year career. Brady moves around the pocket well, and it’s easy to see him being able to help Trask further develop that aspect of his game while taking advantage of the impressive arm strength and accuracy that he possesses.
As of right now, Brady is the only quarterback on Tampa Bay’s roster for 2021. It’s not hard to imagine the team bringing either Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Griffin back to serve as the No. 2 signal-caller, and if that does happen, we could see Trask take something of a redshirt year to strictly learn.
The downside, so to speak, of drafting Trask with one of your first picks in this year’s draft is that you probably won’t see a payoff of any kind for at least a couple of years. But let’s lay out this scenario, shall we? The Bucs re-sign either Gabbert or Griffin to back up Brady in 2021 and then draft Trask. Trask takes that redshirt-like year to learn and develop in a veteran quarterback room. In 2022, the last year of Brady’s contract with the Bucs and perhaps the final year of his career, maybe Trask steps in as Tampa Bay’s No. 2. Then, by 2023, Brady hands the keys over to Trask. And if the team used the No. 32 overall pick on the former Gator, they would have a fifth-year option on his contract, allowing him to potentially sit for two years and then start for three before needing a new deal.
It’s what the Packers did as they transitioned from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. In fact, Rodgers sat behind Favre for three seasons after being a first-round pick in 2005. Then, he took over and forged a Hall of Fame career of his own.
You can’t say such a plan with Trask doesn’t sound intriguing, especially considering his upside. His arm strength would surely translate well in Bruce Arians’ vertical offense, plus he would be stepping into an offense that has a ridiculous amount of talent. In his draft profile on Trask, Lance Zierlein had this to say:
“Trask clearly has the arm strength, touch and placement to wear out one-on-one coverage if he has good protection and above-average players around him, but he’s not going to elevate an offense with his talent alone.”
While the back half of that statement is seemingly negative, Trask wouldn’t need to elevate the Tampa Bay offense all on his own talent. He would still have Mike Evans and presumably Chris Godwin as his top two receivers, with other young receivers such as Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson likely to still be around as well. Not to mention, the team’s offensive line looks well-positioned for the future. So, with two years of learning from Brady under his belt and the skill set he has, couldn’t you see Trask stepping in and keeping the Bucs competitive once Brady rides off into the sunset?
The consensus seems to be that Trask is QB6 in this year’s class, meaning he could very possibly be a first-round pick. It all depends on needs around the league and how quarterback-heavy the first round turns out to be. It’s not unrealistic to think that there’ll be a run on quarterbacks and five go in the first 31 picks, leaving Trask as the best signal-caller available at No. 32. If the Bucs want to spend their first-round selection on a quarterback, he feels like a strong possibility. That’s the tricky part, though—if the Bucs do really want him, they may have to use No. 32 on him. Otherwise, they’d probably have to trade up on day two to get him, as it seems unlikely that he’ll last very long on Friday. Of course, if he does drop into the second or even the third round by chance, it’s easy to see the value in selecting him.
ON THE CLOCK…
OK, Bucs Nation. There’s been a lot of talk about Tom Brady’s successor in Tampa Bay. How would you feel about that guy being Florida’s Kyle Trask? Let us know what you think by voting in our poll and discussing your opinions in the comments down below.