Heir apparent? Bucs draft Trask as Brady backup

The Buccaneers used their second-round pick in the NFL draft on quarterback Kyle Trask, who could be the eventual heir apparent…

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have found their heir to Tom Brady, selecting Florida quarterback Kyle Trask in the second round of the NFL draft Friday with the 64th overall pick.

Trask, the sixth quarterback drafted this year and the first taken after Thursday’s first round, will have to venture only 136 miles down I-75 from Gainesville to play for the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers.

“Staying in Florida is amazing,” said Trask, who grew up in Manvel, Texas. “I loved my time at the University of Florida. To have the opportunity to continue my career right down the road is amazing. I love the state of Florida. I’m glad I get to stay there for now.”

Trask completed 552 of 813 passes for 7,386 yards and 69 touchdowns in 28 career games with the Gators. He passed for 4,283 yards and had nine consecutive games with at least three touchdown passes last season, and also set a single-season SEC record with five 400-yard passing games — quite the feat considering Trask was a high school backup who didn’t start for the Gators until Feleipe Franks’ season-ending ankle injury in 2019.

“His competitive spirit,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said of Trask. “In today’s day, everybody transfers. Things don’t go right, you transfer. He hung in there [at Florida] and fought it out.”

Arians said the Bucs even discussed taking Trask in the first round Thursday night.

“I see a guy who’s fought his ass off to get where he’s at,” Arians said.

Trask is the first Gators quarterback drafted since Tim Tebow went 25th overall in 2010, and he’s also the first quarterback drafted by the Bucs since Jameis Winston was selected first overall in 2015.

“Everything about [Trask] — he’s accurate, he’s smart, he’s tough, he knows how to move inside the pocket,” Arians said, before addressing Trask’s lack of mobility. “We don’t draft guys to run, we draft them to throw. And he’s accurate as hell.”

Arians emphasized that he doesn’t view Trask’s mobility as a concern, nor does he see any issues with arm strength — something draft analysts also raised concerns about.

“If you watch that Georgia game and that comeback, throwing those balls — he throws dimes down the sideline,” Arians said. “I have no question [about his arm strength]. He can make every throw that we want. Clyde [Christensen] and Byron [Leftwich] were at his workout and were extremely pleased with everything they saw. He can make every throw in our offense, and we’re really excited about having him.

“Really excited about him. People always want to compare people. To me, [Trask] is like Brad Johnson — and he was pretty damn good.”

Florida coach Dan Mullen tweeted a congratulatory message to Trask, calling him the “true definition of perseverance and grit” and adding that Trask’s “patience and hard work has paid off. Looking forward to watching you on Sundays for a long time.”

Trask’s 43 passing touchdowns led the FBS in 2020, and he broke Danny Wuerffel’s 24-year-old school record of 39, tying him for third on the SEC single-season record list behind Joe Burrow and Drew Lock.

The Bucs can take their time with Trask, who will develop behind both Brady, who is under contract for two more seasons, and Ryan Griffin, the third-string quarterback last year behind Blaine Gabbert, whom Arians said the team is hopeful of re-signing soon.

Brady, who won his seventh Super Bowl in his first season with Tampa Bay, turns 44 in August and has repeatedly said he’d like to play at least until he’s 45.

General manager Jason Licht said he and Brady discussed the possibility of drafting a quarterback over the past few weeks.

“Tom’s the ultimate team guy, and I don’t think he’s worried about anybody taking his job,” Licht said. “He was totally fine. He understands. He wants what’s best for the team. So Tom’s gonna play as long as Tom wants to play. He’s earned that right.”

“They definitely have a great system going on there in Tampa Bay. The opportunity to learn [from] one of the greats I watched growing up, that’s been one of my favorites — to have that opportunity is truly remarkable,” Trask said of Brady. “But nevertheless, I’m gonna come in and work my tail off and do whatever I can to help this team.”

Trask said he kept an open mind throughout the pre-draft process but admitted Tampa Bay was one of his favorites. He had a strong familiarity with its explosive offense because Bucs games are televised in Gainesville.

“I definitely wasn’t 100 percent sure about anything just because I know how crazy the draft can be,” he said. “I was just super excited when I saw that Tampa, Florida, number call me. It was a feeling like no other. … I was just like, ‘Man, it was unbelievable.'”

“I just think the organization’s in a great spot right now,” Trask added. “I just got along so great with all the offensive coaches in all the Zooms, and being able to talk with them at pro day and things like that along the way. So I’m just really looking forward to getting started and putting in the work and doing whatever I can to help the team.”

Tampa Bay’s selection of Trask with the last pick in the second round started a run on quarterbacks. Two spots after he was selected, the Minnesota Vikings took Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond at No. 66 overall, followed by the Houston Texans‘ pick of Stanford’s Davis Mills at No. 67.

The eight quarterbacks selected in the top 70 overall picks were the most in a single draft in the common draft era, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

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