“A Corner Short” Of Top-10

July 14th, 2020

Secondary evaluation offers mixed review

Raise your hand if you feel good about Ryan Smith representing the Buccaneers’ primary depth at cornerback.

Joe’s hands are resting comfortably, especially considering two key factors.

Factor 1: Joe has seen Ryan Smith play corner.

Factor 2: Carlton Davis missed two games last year and three in 2018, while Jamel Dean battled through injuries last season in part-time duty after a college career marred by injuries.

Bucco Bruce Arians will gift his trio of 23-year-old corners, Davis, Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting, the outside cornerback and nickel positions this season.

Joe looks at those guys and sees raw talent but not a No. 1 cornerback among them. And the depth, well, it doesn’t appear to be there.

The corners are complemented by young and question-mark-filled safeties, so Joe is hoping and praying the coaching staff can keep the secondary developing faster than offensive coordinators can exploit their weaknesses. That will be critical.

Former Bucs scout and Jets personnel chief and linebackers coach Pat Kirwan was bellowing about the Bucs secondary yesterday on SiriusXM NFL Radio, where he’s been diving deep into defensive backfields across the NFL recently.

Kirwan is upbeat on the Bucs defensive backs and believes they “may be 11th or 12th-best in the NFL.” He likes the “returning production” and the number of snaps taken by the youngsters.

What’s keeping the Bucs from being a top-10 secondary? “They’re a corner short,” he said multiple times.

Kirwan’s logic was sound, but there’s massive division on this topic at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters. One Joe thinks the secondary is in solid shape and not a weakness because it finished the season on an upswing and the young corners developed. The other Joe is trying to maintain a Super Bowl standard.

Every Super Bowl team of the last 10 years (20 teams) either had a Pro Bowl defensive back on the roster during that season (15 teams) or had a former Pro Bowler in the starting lineup (5 teams). Yes, the trend continued into the 2009 season, but Joe killed the research there.

So it’s safe to say that the Bucs will need a huge breakthrough season from someone in the secondary if they want to get to the promised land.

And they’ll probably have to stay especially healthy given that they’re “a corner short.”

No 2019 defense fielded more pass attempts than Tampa Bay’s did last season, and that trend should continue if the Bucs’ run defense stays dominant and Tom Brady orchestrates more fourth-quarter leads than fans are used to seeing.

19 Responses to ““A Corner Short” Of Top-10”

  1. Bucsfanman Says:

    The Bucsfanman family crest reads:

    “You can never have enough competent DBs or OL.”

    There will ALWAYS be injuries to starters. As Buc fans, we have seen firsthand what a good QB can do against incompetent back-up DBs. It ain’t pretty!!!

  2. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The $10 mil and 4th round pick for Gronk would have gone a long way to shore up some depth…..
    Don’t get me wrong,I’m hoping that Gronk pays off but is there anyone here that thought we needed another TE?
    No…vet S, RB, CB……..Dline depth…

  3. AwshBucs Says:

    I maintain to this day that MJ Stewart was a worse pick than Aguayo.

    With Aguayo, on paper, you were getting the most accurate place kicker in the history of College football. A prospect while absolutely not at all worth trading up in to the 2nd round for, but at least theoretically, you were getting what was supposed to be a legit player.

    With MJ Stewart, you were getting a short, slow corner with below average athleticism for the position who is probably better suited to play linebacker than Corner, and Licht drafted him over a multitude of superior prospects at the position and actually expected him to become a contributor. To this day the MJ Stewart pick is the most baffling decision I’ve seen Licht make.

  4. Pryda...sec147 Says:

    Yeah joe I’m against you on this on I’m with other joe tail end of last year they played great Carlton Davis held arguably the best WR in Deandre Hopkins in check I believe this 2nd year in BOwels defense will be just as effective for the returning players on defense as it is for the Returning offense of players in BA system

  5. PSL Bob Says:

    TBBF, totally agree! Love Gronk’s enthusiasm and athleticism, but we already had a lot of that on the roster. Money would have been better spent on the D-backfield.

  6. Joe Says:

    Yeah joe I’m against you on this on I’m with other joe tail end of last year they played great

    Joe isn’t sure they played “great.” Joe’s definition of “great” really means “great.” As in Deion Sanders/Darrell Green level.

    It is funny (ahem) how as soon as the Bucs dumped Vernon Hargreaves, all of a sudden the secondary got so much better. 🤔

  7. Leighroy Says:

    In addition to all these great reasons so far, another CB would be especially important, since (according to theathletic) the defense played nickel 65% of the time, compared to base only 30%.

  8. Allbuccedup Says:

    TBBF totally agree Gronk may still be good but no team in the NFL needs 3 starting tight ends. I thought they were going to unload one for a draft pick and cap space. It baffles me the way this team is managed.

  9. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I think the talent is there but yeah the depth part scares me. Hopefully we find a hidden gem UDFA or perhaps a competent vet…a DB version of what Haeg represents to the OL.

  10. ManzielMadness Says:

    I think Jamel Dean has the potential to be a #1 CB, however, it’s his durability I’m worried about too. How many surgeries has he had on his knees?? Probably should’ve signed a vet S or CB but I don’t see that happening outside of a contract restructure.

  11. Allbuccedup Says:

    MMAD tight ass Bucs are not going to sign a vet S or CB that would mean they would have to trade one of their dozen right ends. HAHAHA

  12. Allbuccedup Says:

    MMAD that is tight ends

  13. gp Says:

    A lot of “if’s” involved here.
    If they continue the growth they showed at the end of the year.
    If they can stay healthy.
    If they can employ ‘new’ looks and disguises
    If the line can continue to stifle the run.
    If the line can get to the QB.

  14. Buchead588 Says:

    Carlton Davis was 2nd in the NFL only Behind Gilmore with 19 PBUs an Dean was 4th in NFL with 17 I believe I know Dean was 4th but I’m not sure if it was 17 or 15 it was good enough for 4th in NFL in PBU an Dean only played in 13 games Davis is Very underrated an he will have a ProBowl season this year GoBucs

  15. Buczilla Says:

    Karma is a fickle b!tch, but as stated by the Joe’s several times, our secondary improved once Vernon got released. I’d be surprised if at least one of our corners wasn’t playing at a pro bowl level by the end of the year. I mean, at least one of these high picks should come through this year right?

  16. Allbuccedup Says:

    No depth except tight ends.

  17. lowercaseg Says:

    Mj Stewart is 💩💩💩

  18. teacherman777 Says:


    Totally agree. I called for an elite OG/C in the 2nd that year.

    I also called for Josh Jackson the 4.3 CB Carolina picked.

    MJ Stewart will never be a DB in the NFL.

    But I am ok with converting him to LB.

    A LB with a 4.55 speed I can live with.

    Please- never draft another a CB who cant run a 4.3-4.4.

    No more 4.6 corners! Banks, Leonard Johnson, MJ Stewart

  19. Nick2 Says:

    Joe I am right behind you, I would give away some of those punts inside the 2 yard line for a backup corner who can actually cover. Ryan Smith is not the answer and I think hes let us down enough to move on. Whether we now need a true number one and I do think this group (if it can stay healthy) is good enough but thats the key. In my opinion if Dean can stay on the field he definitely has the speed and I think he has the instincts to be a number one.