NextGen Stats Data Lands Two Bucs Defensive Backs Among Top-10 In Coverage

June 9th, 2023

Major recognition.

Joe will start this encouraging and happy post by noting that big-money Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean is not on this top-10 list, nor was he among the six NFL players that just missed the cut, per official NFL tracking data.

The league’s NextGen Stats are derived via tracking technology in uniforms, footballs and more. They’re objective and refreshing, though humans combine the data metrics to craft misleading measurements at times.

Regardless, it’s valuable info and the latest compilation from the league was released today via Nick Shook of

He’s shared the 10 best NFL players in coverage.

All kinds of acronyms were in play and the core measurements are as follows: “Passer rating allowed, catch rate allowed below expectation, tight-window percentage, target rate, average separation, targeted expected points added:”

All that babble gives Joe a headache (you can read more about it via the link above) but the technology says Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis is the No. 10-ranked cover man in the NFL based on his 2022 performance.

More intriguing to Joe, however, is new Bucs safety Ryan Neal grabbing the No. 5 ranking for what he put in film with Seattle.

Our first and only safety of the top 10 officially lands at No. 5. It’s traditionally more difficult for safeties to grace this list because of a lack of total targets as the nearest defender, given the nature of the position, and their numbers usually reflect this disparity. Neal, however, made the cut in part because he spent a good amount of the 2022 season in Seattle playing closer to the line of scrimmage than a typical safety.

Neal was remarkably effective when challenged by opposing quarterbacks, posting the best coverage success rate of all safeties in 2022 at 74.5 percent — a massive jump from his 42.3 mark in 2021. The Week 1 loss of Jamal Adams undoubtedly contributed to Neal’s increased usage, but instead of wilting, the former undrafted free agent out of Southern Illinois rose to the occasion, leading to a new contract with the Buccaneers in April.

… The Bucs got him at a bargain price, and will hope he produces similarly in his first season in Tampa.

Man, Joe sure hopes this is a mic drop for general manager Jason Licht. Neal came on a cheap one-year deal.

24 Responses to “NextGen Stats Data Lands Two Bucs Defensive Backs Among Top-10 In Coverage”

  1. geno711 Says:

    Interesting. In a completely pass happy league, supposed the Bucs have two guys in the defensive backfield according to Next Generation stats in the top 10.

    1. Let’s hope Next Generation stats ranking system has real merit when compared to actual on field effectiveness.

    2. Let’s hope that Neal and Davis have comparable seasons this year.

  2. Stanglassman Says:

    This reminds me of getting Shaq from Denver. He had Diggs and Adams in front of him. Julian Love (FS) is a solid player too. Seattle may regret not keeping Ryan. Everyone seems to think he was the Bucs biggest steal of the offseason.

  3. Fred McNeil Says:

    I’m happy to hear that Neal is such a plus in coverage and I have read nothing but good things about him. I’ve heard he is a positive and very nice guy and great teammate. Which begs the question: Why did the Seahawks let him walk? Does he not tackle well?

  4. BillyBucco Says:

    Was just reading this.
    Makes me excited for Neal.
    Only safety to make the list and played a lot of nickel or close to the line apparently.
    If Kancey is the real deal and we get pressure up the middle this year, I think the pics go way up and I’m excited about McCollums direction and not hurt this year. Getting valuable reps and this could be a top 5 back end this year.
    Obviously Dean got a fat new contract and seeing Carlton at 10 made me happy.
    I thought I would see Dean in the list honestly so pleasant surprise.

  5. Fred McNeil Says:

    Yeah, I thought Dean should be on the list too.

  6. Redeemer Says:

    I would like to see both dean and Davis play closer to the los. IMO they give up way too much space. Elite NFL QBs can pick apart zone defense. Please Todd, more bump and run. Lots of these offenses use timing routes. Redirection and throwing that timing off is key. They are both very good cover corners. I don’t know why you would want them in a bunch of space

  7. AtlBuc Says:

    I guess Davis is the other one.

  8. AtlBuc Says:

    If we are able to stop the run, forcing 2nd and third and long situations we will have a pretty darn good defense.

  9. Marine Buc Says:

    If it’s too good to be true… You know the rest.

    Why did Seattle let this guy go if he could of been signed so cheap and he a top 5 coverage DB?

    Something smells fishy.

    Pete Carroll is a defensive safety expert… And he didn’t want this guy.


  10. AtlBuc Says:

    Let’s hope Bowles keeps Davis in Man, even when they are playing zone.

  11. Redeemer Says:

    P I would like to see both Dean and Davis play closer to the line los. In my opinion they give up way too much space. They are both very good cover corners. I would love to see more bump and run. A lot of the league runs timing routes. Redirecting those routes are key

  12. D-Rok Says:

    Agree, Marine. Not sure why, but something smells fishy. Let’s hope Neal is truly a stud for us and not a dud.

  13. Redeemer Says:

    Don’t understand

  14. Jack Clark Says:

    Kudos to Jason Licht for being able to adapt and change. When we have offensive minded head coaches he gets us the best offensive players and when we have a defensive minded head coach he gets us the best defensive players

  15. Jack Clark Says:

    Never hire a defensive head coach when your team literally won a Super Bowl from it’s offense

  16. Fred McNeil Says:

    I’m having an insight just now from listening to you all.
    The only reason the cheese eating pundits don’t like the BUCS is because they don’t like Kyler Traskfield. Yeah I’m a little slow sometimes. I’ve been stealing Joes’ Bromossas…don’t rat on me. Shhhh…
    Well I’ve got news for the squawking heads: One of the Traskfields will pee on your tofu this year.

  17. Fred McNeil Says:

    Upon further thoughts on what the Seahawks didn’t respect Neal…maybe they were just really loaded at safety or maybe a certain coach just didn’t like him. Or maybe they just wanted something different.
    I mean we let Micheal Bennet walk for no observable reason.

  18. Larrd Says:

    Safeties are not hard to come by, and they don’t seem to last long even when they anre difference makers. Adams was a prime example of a team over valuing the position. Maybe that has something to do with Carroll letting Ryan go so easy. They are probably still paying Adams a good bit, too.

    Lucky for Bucs but if he is that good again I doubt the Bucs can sign him after next year.

  19. SlyPirate Says:

    Where are all the Licht HATERS at?

    You’re out there. You love to comment. Come on. Here’s what I got …

    FA: Jensen, Suh, JPP, Shaq, TB12, Ryan Neal
    Draft: More Pro Bowlers drafted in Round 1 than the entire NFCS combined
    Wins: Tied for most Wins in the NFCS since 2019
    Super Bowl: Only Super Bowl in NFCS since he took the job

    What ya got? Based upon your lack comments, I’m guessing a whole bag of shut the hell up.

  20. All_da_way Says:

    I am not worried about the defensive backfield. They could be better overall but if the front seven do their jobs the rest will be easy.

  21. kgh4life Says:

    @Jack Clark

    Did you watch that Super Bowl? The defense only gave up 9 points and they had Mahomes running for his life.

  22. Dooley Says:

    “Why did Seattle let this guy go if he could of been signed so cheap and he a top 5 coverage DB?”

    Neal was an exclusive rights FA for Seattle who tendered him, but Seattle is expecting Jamal Adams back in ’23. The Seahawks also have Quandre “got thrown out the club” Diggs on the roster at safety and $40M total in cap space dedicated to the safety position. So even with a solid season filling in for Adams, it made Ryan Neal expendable and saved Seattle $2.7M in cap space letting him walk. So the fishy smell might be caviar as the Seahawks were projected to have an overabundance of talent at safety had they kept Neal, Love, Adams & Diggs. No conspiracy, just business.

  23. HC Grover Says:

    If Neal pans out it will make Dean better.

  24. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Jack clark Bucs defense is the reason we go to the Super Bowl and then win it. Yes Brady n the offense helped get us to the playoffs but it’s the defense and the gravediggers that take us the rest of the way.