Does Jalen McMillan Have Enough Returner Skills?

April 26th, 2024

“Special needs to get more special.”

Joe has not been overlooking how the wacky new NFL kick return rules means teams will want/need two competent if not strong returners.

One could argue the Bucs are lacking.

Returner Devin Thompkins, Joe suspects, will not make the 2024 roster. He’s an undersized overachiever and can’t do much more than be a very average returner, which he was for the Bucs last season.

So can tonight’s third-round pick, receiver Jalen McMillen, be a returner? He did return some punts the past two seasons at the University of Washington, and he had multiple impressive returns in 2022. That season’s total was 4 punt returns for 70 yards.

Per scouting reports, McMillen’s initial acceleration as a route runner isn’t great, but he does have good speed once he gets going. That’s exactly what will be required for returners under the new kickoff rules.

Regardless, McMillen certainly will get a look as a returner. And if he’s a Jason Licht kind of guy, then he’s probably craving that opportunity as Joe types this.

19 Responses to “Does Jalen McMillan Have Enough Returner Skills?”

  1. OR Buc Says:

    McMillan and Trey back there would be awesome.

  2. geno711 Says:

    Tykee Smith might be the kick returner.

  3. Rod Munch Says:

    A number of scouting reports about McMillan say he’s not a YAC guy, doesn’t really have very good moves – is just a very solid professional WR with excellent route running, and good straight line speed, but is not a playmaker.

    Give it a shot – but I’d rather having him focus solely on WR and see what you have there since, I assume, he was drafted in hopes he can replace Godwin next year – in which case he wouldn’t be doing returns anyways.

  4. Toad Bowels Says:

    I was just wondering the same thing Joe. If not, who else on Bucs has return experience to replace the undersized Thompkins?

  5. adam from ny Says:

    did they forget troy franklin was still on the board ?

  6. unbelievable Says:

    Seems like we got 1 stud and 3 projects so far…

  7. SlyPirate Says:

    Adam … Agreed. I’m a P12 guy. Would have taken Franklin. Licht does well on WR, so I’ll assume he knows what he’s doing.

  8. Rod Munch Says:

    unbelievable Says:
    April 27th, 2024 at 12:52 am
    Seems like we got 1 stud and 3 projects so far…


    Not at all.

    This kid sounds like he should step in as the #3 WR – from what I read he has the one thing a young guy needs to play early, and that is extremely good route running. The only real negative about him, from a bunch of things I read, was that he’s not a playmaker after he gets the ball – and just relies on being able to win in a foot race. No issues there – I’ll take a guy who can get open and catch the ball over the once every few games broken tackle.

    As for the Bama kid, again, reports I saw said that despite a lack of snaps, he should play early – maybe not start game 1, but should be able to start this season.

    As for Tykee Smith, the Bucs want him playing nickel – and on paper I’d say that’s the biggest leap, but he’s a bit older of a rookie (not old, just older) and is supposed to be really smart, so he too has a chance to play early.

    So far this draft sounds like a win-now type draft where you want guys stepping in on day 1 with at least a chance to start. Doesn’t mean they will, obviously – I highly doubt you’re getting 4 early starters in the first 3 rounds, but the profiles I’m reading make it sound like they got a good shot.

  9. Dadgumit Says:

    He is a punt returner not a kickoff returner.

  10. adam from ny Says:

    was not too sure on mcmillan, with troy franklin still there…but just watched his highlights and looked into him a bit…he does look pretty polished – which is a good thing…hopefully he’s a nice fit…

    also would have liked to see us grab an ilb or rb…over the safety, but coach must really like what he sees in the kid to go 3rd round safety…we’ve got a whole lot of guys on the back end now…i kept mentioning bringing back delaney, but it looks like we’ve made adjustments to the group and restocked…might izien move to safety…?…man we are stacked at safety …

    i’m good with our 1st and 2nd rounders……

    all in all seems like a solid first 2 days…

    but i will reiterate…i’da swapped out troy franklin for the receiver we grabbed…hopefully mcmillan becomes a stud and i eat my words

  11. adam from ny Says:

    he was the 2nd option for penix…

    brass must think they’ve really got something here with him

  12. NYbucsfan Says:

    I really am not impressed with this draft so far.

  13. Tony Marks Says:

    Rod Munch Says:
    Not at all.

    This kid sounds like he should step in as the #3 WR – from what I read he has the one thing a young guy needs to play early, and that is extremely good route running.


    That Rod is something we definitely agree on. Nothing builds confidence betweeen a QB and a WR than being right where you expect him to be on a play (of course presuming you catch the balls thrown to you). That seemed to be Trey’s problem last year and hopefully he will be better too.

    I don’t know much about this receiver but if thats his super power then he should work out. I did want a WR while others said no. why? Simple. If Mike is hurt and out for an extended period without at least one more WR you pretty much can call the season. THats no rap on Godwin. Its saying if he is all a DC has to worry about then you are toast in the passing game.

  14. teacherman1983 Says:

    We could have drafted a McCaffrey.

    And we missed it.

    McCaffrey was a QB turned WR. Fastest triple cone time at the combine.

    When you have the chance to draft a McCaffrey at WR, you take it.

    This pick will haunt us like the time we didn’t draft TJ Watt.

    I was screaming for TJ Watt that draft.

    McCaffrey will go on to be a Super Version of Edelman.

    McCaffrey will be a stud slot receiver.

    A a WR with QB vision who can break tackles like a RB and the heart of the Scottish highlands.

    We had the chance to draft an immortal McCaffrey.

    And we blew it.

  15. PbnJ Says:

    Take Beanie Bishop in the 7th and let him fly.

  16. darengibo Says:

    I was hoping bucs would draft Ainias Smith out of Texas A&M for slot and returns.

  17. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    I’m sure Bryan McClendon, Bucs’ new WR coach who coached Troy Franklin at Oregon, had the skinny on him and preferred Jalen.

  18. Admiral Redbeard Says:

    simple answer is, no, he doesn’t. Why? His measurables show that he is very average. The only thing that is above average is his broad jump.

    HEIGHT: 6-1 (52%*) WEIGHT: 197 (38%*)
    HANDS: 10 (77%*) ARM: 32 1/8 (54%*) SPAN: 77 3/8 (62%*)
    FORTY: 4.47 (C) (62%*) SHUTTLE: 4.18 (C) (64%*) TEN YARD: 1.53 (C) (74%*)
    VERTICAL: 37 (C) (70%*) BROAD: 127 (C) (85%*)
    THREE CONE: 6.94 (C) (54%*)
    0% 100%

  19. Stanglassman Says:

    OR WR Franklin had a good 40 time and a ton of production last season but he came in shorter and lighter than (6 1” 170 lbs)expected. Had some drops, limited route tree and not a good gauntlet time. Just for people like me who wondered why he was the one to fall.