Blue Chip Nickel Corner: Sean Murphy-Bunting

July 8th, 2022

Major props.

Now this surprised Joe, not because Joe disagrees with it, but because the player getting talked up had such an underwhelming season.

Former NFL general manager and coffee-fetcher for Bill Walsh, Al Davis and Bill Belicheat, Michael Lombardi, is offering up his list of red chip and blue chip players at each position on his weekly “GM Shuffle” podcast. It’s one position per week but there’s a separate list for nickel corners (or slot corners).

Lombardi did not detail why he thinks Sean Murphy-Bunting was one of his top six nickel corners other than to say he can play man defense.

And Lombardi didn’t detail what he thinks is a blue chip corner, but Lombardi did say his idea of a blue chip corner could play in any scheme. However, he explained defenses are so complex that it’s hard to grade out the best corners.

“It is really scheme-specific,” Lombardi said of corners’ fit with teams. “As fans, we have zero clue about coverages. What we think is man is zone. Mistakes are made in the secondary are really significant that people don’t really understand who made the mistake. Who has who?

“You cannot be a great corner without great balance. And you have to have great ball skills. … And you have to be able to play man-to-man.

“Great corners give up plays. Nobody is pitching a no-hitter.”

In last week’s “GM Shuffle,” Lombardi listed safeties and he had Antoine Winfield as a red chip on the rise. Lombardi said those players are three-down players and can tackle. Joe assumes the same criteria holds true for cornerbacks.

While discussing outside corners, Lombardi said some big-name players were left off because they were injured for much of the 2021 season. So the SMB selection throws Joe off a bit here. SMB’s season was pretty much a waste as he got hurt in the first game and missed seven games as a result. His tackling was not crisp when he returned and this was flushed out in the playoff loss to the Rams.

Joe can only assume Lombardi was grading SMB on his 2020 postseason in which SMB truly balled out with three picks in four games.

Here Joe thought Carlton Davis was the Bucs’ best corner. But Lombardi believes SMB, at least playing nickel, is the Bucs’ best corner.

The other blue chip nickel corners in Lombardi’s eyes along with SMB were Kendall Fuller of the Chiefs, Asante Samuel of the Chargers, Troy Hill of the Rams, Mike Hughes of the Lions, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson of the slimy Saints.

22 Responses to “Blue Chip Nickel Corner: Sean Murphy-Bunting”

  1. BradyBucs Says:


  2. Bird Says:

    Joes – do you know lombardi?

    If you have his number …just reach out and make sure he is ok? He is not in danger ? Is huffing gas or something?

    In all seriousness , i hope smb figures it out this year. He was integral in that super bowl season down the stretch. But other then those few games , he has given up a ton of booty

  3. DBS Says:

    Put down the pipe. This clown can’t even tackle and gets constantly burnt.

  4. Dooley Says:

    “It is really scheme-specific,” Lombardi said of corners’ fit with teams. “As fans, we have zero clue about coverages. What we think is man is zone. Mistakes are made in the secondary are really significant that people don’t really understand who made the mistake. Who has who?”

    100% agree with this statement some critiques are just over exaggerations for the sake of being critical and there’s alot of that in this fan base.

    Like @DBS sayin SMB can’t tackle, when he’s coming off a season where he missed half the year, recorded 43 tackles, and missed all of 1 tackle lol but listen to the hyperbolic statements some fans make & you’ll constantly be in a state of disbelief.

  5. Steven007 Says:

    Joe loves his euphemisms. Makes me wonder if Lombardi ever once actually fetched coffee for Walsh, Davis, or belichick.

  6. Irishmist Says:

    He was blue chip during our playoff/super bowl run, when it counted. I discount last year, as he was basically playing with one good arm.

  7. Hodad Says:

    Logan Ryan will beat out SMB as our slot corner. SMB had a nice SB run, I’ll give him that, last year his play sucked. Lombardi is an X GM for a reason.

  8. Its a Bucs Life Says:

    Lombardi is in the media for a reason

    The tape doesn’t lie SMB is not very good

  9. Biff Barker Says:

    “Lombardi did not go into detail why he thought SMB was one of his top six nickel corners other than to say he can play man defense.”

    Sounds like most every cable news channel.

    SMB had a few good games, but about as trustworthy as a chinese toaster.

  10. Dooley Says:


    That’s the piece of context that’s the most blatantly ignored it seems, but I’m guessing alot of SMBs critics never played a sport and had to bounce back midseason from a debilitating injury like snapping an arm in half. No way SMB came back 100% mentally or physically in 2021, but he still managed to return and contribute down the stretch.

  11. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Man you people are harsh!!

    Maybe I am not recalling correctly, but didn’t SMB hurt himself making a TD saving tackle versus the Cowboys? And getting your wrist/elbow (?) dislocated just might affect you as an athlete for several months? But SMB continued to play for the Bucs bc we needed him due to soooo many injuries.

    As soon as I read the caption, I thought, interesting – I have worries about our Dline. All these things I am reading about this CB and that safety are tops in the NFL, WHAT IF it is our secondary that are the hero’s this year? What if it is our secondary that makes our Dline look good? If the secondary stays injury free, that is possible AND we have better depth this year. This is NOT unreasonable, not IMO.

  12. Craig Says:

    I have to agree that SMB was hurting last season and didn’t play to his potential.

    I hope the injury bug had it fill of the Bucs last season and they have a healthy year, that would be fun.

  13. Eternalbuc32 Says:

    This just goes to show some of these analyst don’t know what they’re talking about.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Wooden nickel.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    SMB has exceptional measurables for a corner: reasonably tall (6’0″), fast (4.42 sec in the 40), and great leaping ability (41.5″). He had a great post-season in 2020, but in that regular season he wasn’t nearly as good IMO as he was in 2019. SMB’s 2021 stats (half season) weren’t all that bad in actuality, especially considering that ‘he was basically playing with one good arm’ like IrishMist said.

    He’ll see plenty of playing time this year, but I agree with Hodad; Logan Ryan will beat him out for most Nickel snaps. Although believe though that Bowles will use him at outside corner periodically, replacing Dean. Both of them are up for renewal, and I seriously doubt the Bucs will be able to afford to keep them both.

  16. Mike Says:

    SMB has shown flashes so maybe Lombardi is right and he really is a good nickel corner. But the jury is still out.

  17. Duane Says:

    I like SMB and his game. Definitely an improvement over what we had before he came. Not sure I would call him a blue chipper. I give him a lot of credit for having heart and being competitive, because he always seems to be the one getting torched in highlights. Expecting a bounceback year from this secondary. Hoping Logan Ryan gets their minds right back there.

  18. mark2001 Says:

    You want to hear from a real expert? Ask Ronde. He knows more about playing the position that about 95% of the GM’s and Coaches.

  19. Goatfarmer Says:

    Todd Bowles.

    Watch Jordan Whitehead be an all pro for the Jets.

  20. Pickgrin Says:

    SMB was basically gifted – and then lost his outside starting job to Dean.

    And if Murphy-Bunting does not play significantly better in his contract year, he will not be re-signed to a 2nd contract by the team that drafted him high in the 2nd rd.

    How the hell do you consider that player a blue chipper???

    SMB’s picks in 3 straight 2020 playoff games helped us greatly in winning a 2nd Super Bowl. But that playmaker apparently only existed for 3 games – because in 3 full years (41 games played) – we haven’t seen that player nor even many flashes of him….

    There’s a reasonable chance that SMB will lose snaps and perhaps even his starting nickle job to a safety (Edwards or Logan Ryan) this year – so its definitely sink or swim – put up or shut up for Sean Murphy-Bunting in 2022.

    Blue Chip?? Ummm – no

    I am rooting for SMB to play extremely well this year but certainly don’t expect to see it.

  21. Brandon Says:

    You’re both absolutely wrong. Jamel Dean is definitely our best corner. My eyes see it, the stats have more than proven it, and he’ll be recognized as such when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Oh my ….sign Jamel Dean ….like now!