After passing on the position in the past two drafts, the Bucs selected Trask out of the University of Florida in the bottom of the second round in the 2021 NFL draft, making him a possible heir to Tom Brady once Brady decides to call it a career, although both Arians and general manager Jason Licht made it clear to Brady they are in no way pushing him out.
For as much as can be gleaned in a rookie camp featuring 26 participants, Trask, whom the Bucs contemplated selecting with the No. 32 pick, looked the part of a potential successor. He was also the only quarterback in attendance, so he took every rep, which can sometimes magnify mistakes, and he had just two wide receivers to throw to. But the coaching staff has been impressed with the way he’s taken to the playbook, with about 70% of the offense thrown at him in a three-day span.
“He did great. I thought he was fantastic,” Arians said. “Just the way he processes information. To take it from the first time ever hearing it -- he was throwing it to the right guy. There were some really good, disguised coverages that he saw the first day of his career, so I was really impressed with how he processes information, and he was very accurate.”
Trask’s playing style is somewhat similar to Brady’s. He’s decisive with where he wants to go with the ball, and gets it out quickly and accurately. There had been outside questions about his arm strength, but the Bucs say they have no concerns. Arians gushed about his comeback against Georgia last season, when the Gators had been down 14-0 and Trask threw for 474 yards and four touchdowns. Trask was, as Arians put it, "throwing dimes down the sidelines."
Trask threw for a single-season school-record 43 touchdowns at Florida in 2020, which made him a Heisman Trophy finalist in his first full season as a starter.
But in Tampa, he'll be back in an understudy role, something Brady did under Drew Bledsoe in New England. Trask didn’t get an opportunity to start at Florida until his junior year, and he wasn’t even the starter at Manvel High School in Manvel, Texas, serving as a backup to now-University of Miami quarterback D’Eriq King.
“My journey to get to where I’m at now has definitely taught me lots of lessons that I still carry with me today,” Trask said. “When you’re a backup for however many years that was, you learn that you’ve gotta compete every single day. There’s no days off. If your goal at the end of the day is to step on that field one day, you’ve got to compete every single day.”
“It’s one thing to finally be the starter, but it’s another thing to stay there and get to where you can take that next level.”
For now, Trask gets to watch and learn, like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes and -- going even further back -- Brad Johnson, who won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers in 2002 and to whom Arians likened Trask's style. He will be the No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback, with Ryan Griffin and Blaine Gabbert battling it out for other QB position. (Even if Trask winds up as the No. 3 QB, they wouldn’t be able to sneak him onto the practice squad, as he wouldn’t clear waivers.)
While Arians said Trask’s experience as a backup didn’t play a role in the Bucs’ decision to draft him, knowing Brady wasn’t going to be retiring for two more years, Arians did praise Trask for “fighting his ass off.”
“I mean, you don’t really draft backups,” Arians said. “He set all those records at Florida -- that’s why we drafted him. The fact that he’s got some time to learn is just icing on the cake for him.”
"I love his story of perseverance. The guy’s a fighter. He’s a competitor ... and a great team player," general manager Jason Licht said. "Of course he’s competitive. He wants to play, but he also is very realistic and knows that he is not ready-made. At least from our conversations, this is a perfect opportunity for him to sit as long as he has to sit. We’ll see."
Bucs director of player personnel John Spytek praised Trask for sticking it out at Florida.
“We really appreciate guys who do that,” Spytek said in an interview with the Buccaneers’ team website. “It wasn't an easy road for him to get to where he's at. He's really had to fight and compete and stick with it. A lot of kids, they get buried on the depth chart and the first thing they do is enter the transfer portal. He didn't do that, obviously.”
In rookie camp, Trask delivered a tight-window completion on a 20-yard throw to Amara Darboh, slipping it past linebacker K.J. Britt and cornerback Cameron Kinley. On another, Trask threw it across his body to fourth-round wide receiver Jaelon Darden. But he had a couple of overthrows, too, and Kinley jumped a route on a pass intended for Darden and turned it into a pick-six, although it’s quite possible Darden ran the wrong depth on the route.
There were drops as well, which is to be expected with players working together for the first time. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles also mixed in different coverages and sent extra blitzers, but for the most part, Trask handled himself.
“There are some concepts that are pretty much the same, but there’s different verbiage for it,” Trask said of Arians’ offense compared to what he ran at Florida under Dan Mullen. “So that’s another thing that has helped me transition thus far to learning the playbook, and I’m just looking to build off that. … It hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been studying it like crazy. ... I’ve been picking up the plays at a good pace so far.”
As for the chance to learn from a seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and arguably the greatest of all time in Brady? Trask called it "surreal" and a “dream come true just to be in this situation.” Brady reached out to Trask via text message welcoming him to the team, and the two are working out a time to meet.
“I’m not, like, sitting here setting expectations of what I want to get out of somebody,” Trask said of Brady. “But it’s definitely just a privilege to be in the same room as someone who’s been that successful in the NFL and try to pick up on as many tips as you can. That could definitely help my game down the road.”