Digging The Rookie Corners

January 7th, 2020

Geeks like him. (Photo courtesy of Buccaneers.com.)

It seems a football thinktank is high on Bucs rookie corners while overall down on the 2019 draft class of NFL corners.

The Football Outsiders crowd picked its all-rookie 2019 NFL team. And when it came to corners, they didn’t love the rookies, citing the crop lacked “star power.” But the show, or naming the all-rookie class, must go on.

Two rookie Bucs corners, Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting, were named two of the very best.

Andrew Potter noted how Dean led NFL rookie corners in “pass deflections” (no number given) but he reserved special praise for SMB.

Tampa Bay’s secondary has been a flammable punching bag for more years than we can count, but this year under Todd Bowles has been quite different. Murphy-Bunting is tied with Juan Thornhill for the rookie lead in interceptions, breaks up his share of passes, and has a case to be considered the best player in the secondary of a defense that quietly ranks as the best in its division. Six of the team’s top eight performances against the pass have come since Murphy-Bunting took over the starting role full-time in Week 9, and the best three have all come in the past four games.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute! The Bucs have the best defense in the division? Could this be possibly true? And the reason for this is the play of the secondary?

(Pardon Joe as he must check his Black Rifle Fit Fuel coffee to see if someone spiked it.)

The Bucs secondary for years has been nothing less than a sieve. Finally, fans can watch the Bucs and not watch the opposition play flag football against the secondary?

Joe suspects the Bucs will draft a safety high in the draft, perhaps with their first-round pick. The way it is shaping up, safety is the weakest link in the secondary.

43 Responses to “Digging The Rookie Corners”

  1. alaskabuc Says:

    Delpit please and thank you

  2. Mort Says:

    Let’s get through the first wave of free agency before we go projecting draft picks please.

  3. chris L Says:

    please no more high picks in the secondary. build the lines!

  4. Colin in Canada Says:

    Delpit from LSU

  5. ancientasbuc Says:

    Draft a safety and sign a safety and we should be good. I would not pursue anything but depth for the corner position. It seems Ryan Smith may walk so we will need adequate depth for special teams as well. Edwards will develop but I think the rest are kind of maxed out at who they are. Overall they lack speed at safety and regretfully, Evans can’t stay healthy.

  6. SC Bucs Fan Says:

    Prediction : the Bucs draft a safety in the first and everyone complains (including this blog)

    – or –

    The Bucs don’t draft a safety in the first and everyone complains we need one (including this blog)

  7. Joe Says:

    Delpit please and thank you

    That will be Joe’s guess.

    The Bucs don’t draft a safety in the first and everyone complains we need one (including this blog)

    (Ahem). This may come as a surprise, but there are other ways of obtaining a safety than solely relying on the draft.

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Have we just totally written off Justin Evans….I haven’t. And BA spoke very highly of D’Cota Dixon…..said he would have been a starter.

    I would prefer our top draft picks be spent on OT……DE/DT & RB….BPA in each round.

    I am very encouraged by Dean, SMB, Edwards, Whitehead & Davis…….there are 5 very young DBs…….MJ Stewart…..?

  9. SC Bucs Fan Says:

    (ahem) that won’t stop this board from complaining about our pick no matter who it is. I base my statement on oh, history.

  10. down in the dirt doug Says:

    It sounds offensive not to start with the offense this draft.

  11. mark2001 Says:

    Arians is a crotchety old fart, as am I. He should have added the caveat at the beginning of the year that these young guys will be fine…but it will take them some time to adjust to the NFL. And that seems to be the case. Let them play under Bowles tutelage another year…, and they should be fine..

    And PS…as an end of season present, give each one of them a “jugs football gun” to take home with them.

  12. Joe Says:

    Have we just totally written off Justin Evans


  13. JGhoti86 Says:

    Completely agree with your take and thoughts on the Safety position.

  14. Joe Says:

    that won’t stop this board from complaining about our pick no matter who it is. I base my statement on oh, history.

    Can’t please all the people all the time.

  15. Robert Says:

    so, no more “it’s the defenses fault”


  16. JGhoti86 Says:


    What are your thoughts on safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (if he declares)?

    He’s one of my favorite prospects out there. Note: I did not say one of the best, I said one of my personal favorites.

    Think he could be Bruce Arians’ Honey Badger on this team. Has many similarities, traits and qualities; Undersized, box safety, deep safety, single high roamer, physical, loves the game, return ability, nickel, etc.

  17. zzbuc Says:

    I don’t know what they are gonna draft, but if we can somehow keep the DL together we should build de OL to protect better whoever the QB might be and use our TE as target and not exclusively as blockers. We should load with two good OL and draft a RB on the third, an add veteran CB and a safety on the free agency and we will be VERY good, of course if we do not the ball over 133 times!!!!! IN case turn overs are still out there for next season there is nothing we can do….NOTHING!!!!

  18. TOM Says:

    Since the all knowing Joe says draft a safety in the first round it must be true, and everybody jumps on the band wagon. Well I for one says OT should be our 1st rd. pick. I don’t believe safety is a top priority. OL, OL, OL.

  19. Danny Says:

    Drafting a safety in the first round, even if he’s a great player (I expect Delpit to be a great player) is the most Jason Licht thing ever.

  20. PUGS&BUCS Says:

    NO MORE SAFETIES DRAFTED HIGH!!! I’m old enough to remember the disaster that was Mark Barron.

  21. chris L Says:

    joe – sometimes you reply to messages which is good but unless readers go on the specific article again, we never know. any way the individual can be notified? No.–Joe

  22. Colin in Canada Says:

    I think a lot of people criticized the DB draft picks last year because they didn’t know their names. Bunting was a surprise pick for most but he turned out well. Dean was also a relative unknown. It looks like the coaches and the scouts are on the same page with what type of players they are looking for (on defence).

    Delpit would be a great choice and I hope they get a chance to draft him but a free agent vet in the room could also be a good option. Not sure who will be available.

  23. Conte Piscateli Says:

    No offense to SMB but this guy is another national media type that looked at a stat sheet without seeing a single Bucs game. SMB has INTs, but was far from being better than Davis and Dean.

  24. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I think all of us can see room for improvement at safety but for me it’s not as critical as other areas.

    The safety debate is a two parter…first how badly do we believe we need one and how good does he have to be? IE how much draft capital are you willing to spend? Which round.

    Then comes…which player. I’m not a college geek so I let LUV do my work. LOL

  25. 813bucboi Says:

    we need to draft a FS but also sign a starter in FA….

    imo first 3 picks have to be for the trenches….

    in FA sign a FS and RB and we should be good….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  26. Craig Says:

    If Delpit is gone grab a good RB, DE or QB in the first. If Delpit is there grab him. If not wait until second for Xavier McKinney or Shaun Hill. Take O-line the rest of the day.

  27. 813bucboi Says:

    stpetebucsfan Says:
    January 7th, 2020 at 9:45 am
    I think all of us can see room for improvement at safety but for me it’s not as critical as other areas.

    i agree….especially with the CBs developing nicely….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  28. tnew Says:

    Everyone needs to check themselves on telling ourselves how good this group is. They were on pace to be historically bad and ended up rallying to rank 30th (yes, all this love for the group ranking this low) in passing yards allowed. So the question is “What happened?”

    Did the secondary start playing better as soon as VHIII was released?? If you have to cut a first round player just to get the attention of a position group, that isn’t saying a ton. I would’ve inactivated him first. I can’t see where M J Stewart is better than VHIII.

    Why was Dean kept off the field vs the Saints(2) despite coming off of a breakout game vs AZ and VHIII getting cut?

    Lets go back and look at when the secondary started “coming together” Coincides with the return of JPP (week 8,) Anyone believe this was a coincidence?? I sure don’t.

    I think this group is begging for a veteran Safety to come in and solidify the group. Haven’t looked at the FA class yet, might not be any good fits but it is a need. Mathieu would’ve been so good for this group, shame there was no money available.

  29. tnew Says:

    When you take off the pewter glasses you realize this group is looking better because they are no longer the very worst in the league. It has been there for a while. This is one of my reasons why I wouldn’t mind if Winston leaves. Tired of the fanbase being certain how great this team is and only Winston holds them back. This team is questionably assembled with huge strengths that overshadow huge weaknesses. When SMB went out versus the Falcons, it looked just like the old days with Ryan doing whatever he wanted vs the secondary even tho the defensive line harassing him.

    While on that subject, SMB was given the highest honor and NFL rookie DB can ever receive. As the the year progressed, QB’s looked away and didn’t target him. That to me is next level amazing. He saved the game vs the Jags and if he doesn’t have the pick 6 versus the Lions, its a different game as the rest of the secondary, (safety group in particular) kept getting beat over the top on deep passes. Moving past him, the group has shown flashes but the film doesn’t lie they must improve.

  30. WestChap Says:

    The draft-a-safety drumbeat confuses me given relative position value and the state of our OL. We had to endure a whole season of “should have drafted an EDGE” given the greater value versus LB… and thank goodness White came on at the end and Shaq went off for the whole season or we’d still be reading about Josh Allen 24/7. Don’t we all agree OT is more valuable than safety… overall and for Bucs?

  31. catcard202 Says:

    Delpit will not be there at #14…He’ll be taken by the Jag’s before the Bucs even have the chance to pass on him for someone we all disagree on.

    Knowing’s Licht’s propensity for small-school picks later in the draft…I’m expecting the FO to reach for a small-school Hybrid S/LB (Kyle Dugger) in the 4th.

  32. LordCornelius Says:

    Wish list for me right now is one of the top tier OTs / DTs / edge being the first 3 picks at BPA. RB in the 3rd or 4th and another RB late.

    Retain all the front 7 you can with the cap space we have + the vet S / CB

  33. El Buco Realisto Says:

    Only the Panthers were worst in points allowed in the division???????? Don’t know how these false narratives are passed off around here!!!!!!!!! Its shameful!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. BucEmUp Says:

    The secondary played pretty damn well.to finish the season.Dean, bunting and davus all.looked good AS ROOKIES!

    There is proof that one coaching staff makes a HUGE difference from another. Only noe if the Bucs could just get the man they PAID to run the offfemse would run the offense.Leftwich still.sucks.The only thing he stopped doing was running the ball.on every third down and passing it more The formations are still predictable when yhe DO run the ball and he doesnt take into acount what yhe defense is showing whem calling plays, he even admitted this himself 1/3rd through the season in a presser.

    Corners need depth need to sign or draft a guy.Saftey in FA would be good, retain the dline and draft all trenches

  35. BucEmUp Says:

    Tnew, if Matt gay hadnt missed three field goals Winston would have finished with a 7-2 record to end the season with that improved defense. Now would be the dumbest possible.time to get a new qb…

  36. Defense Rules Says:

    There are presently 53 UFA Safeties on Spotrac’s listing for 2020. 43 of them are 30 or younger. 51 of them made less than $5 mil in 2019 so they might be ‘hungry’ (and 40 of them made less than $2 mil in 2019 so they must be starving).

    Bucs NEED a starter-capable veteran Safety on our 2020 roster. And we NEED one who has experience operating in a defense similar to the one Todd Bowles runs. Gut feel is that TB already knows who has wants to target in free agency to meet that NEED.

    Players around the league KNOW that TB’s defense will provide them an awesome opportunity to, shall we say ‘Display their wares’ (evidence Suh & Barrett signing on for 1-year ‘try-before-buy’ deals in order to play for TB). There’s a quality Safety out there thinking the same thing, for a reasonable price.

  37. Defense Rules Says:

    BucEmUp … So you’re saying that Matt Gay’s missed FGs cost Jameis millions of dollars, but his 30 INTs, culminating in a Pick-6 in OT in the last game, had NOTHING to do with it? What an unthoughtful rookie kicker.

  38. TDTB Says:

    Defense Rules, that’s funny right there.

  39. 541BucsFan Says:

    “Flammable Punching Bag” #2: Licht’s ability to draft talent. Let’s give him props for getting a few right … White is beast, Vea is a force of nature, SMB & Bunting are solid.

    Let’s also give Bowles credit for coaching the DBs up (something Smith couldn’t do).

  40. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Respectfully disagree. Everyone remembers Dean getting roasted when he was inserted at the last minute against Seattle. Most failed to perceive that Dean was with his man several times in solid coverage of Lockett only to have Russell Wilson drop dimes on him to Lockett. I felt Dean continued to improve as did SMB with experience.

    Davis described his own epiphany when he was injured and missed a couple games and spent the time studying film. He is now a film junkie and learned to keep his hands more to himself avoiding as many penalties in the 2nd half of the season as the first and all of last year.

    But the proof is in the pudding. When it was on the line the final two games these guys shut down the TOP 2 WR’s in the league according NFL.com’s 2019 lineup…#1 Hopkins followed the next week by #2 Jones. I believe I remember ONE game where Grimes may have held Julio in check but mostly he has burnt us a new arsehole.

  41. Kord Says:

    Dean Davis and mb will be something special next season me thinks

  42. FireJasonLicht Says:

    We arent drafting a safety. We have a thousand young ones including Edward’s whom they just drafted last year. We are drafting a QB whether you crybabies like it or not.

  43. Buczilla Says:

    The two dudes that draft dorks are raving about at safety are Grant Delpit from LSU and Xavier McKinney from Alabama.