A Favorite At Nickel Cornerback?

July 28th, 2023

Rookie safety/cornerback Christian Izien.

The Tampa Bay roster numbers — including the related salary cap situation — dictate that it could be a unique year when it comes to undrafted free agents making the team.

It’s also worth noting that general manager Jason Licht said this may be the best crop of undrafted free agents the team has ever assembled. Yeah, it’s July, but good signs are there.

One sign is in the form of the pride of Rutgers, safety/cornerback Christian Izien.

A well-schooled [Greg] Schiano man, the rookie stands 5-8, 197 pounds, and that stature likely kept him out of the NFL Draft. But with a sizzing 40 yard dash time and 46 college games under his belt, Izien looks on paper like a guy that should have been drafted, and Joe sees that showing up through three days of Bucs training camp.

The fluidity is there, and Izien looks like legit, albeit in shorts and t-shirts to date.

“I’m really getting acclimated well,” Izien told Joe today. “I’ve got a great coach. I’m definitely playing full speed. You gotta play full speed. Everybody out here is fast, you know, it’s a quick game and everybody’s smart. Being in the playbook like I’ve been allows you to play faster, knowing your stuff helps a lot. It feels instinctive for me.”

Izien said he still bitter about not being drafted but it’s far back in his mind. He’s dialed in on the opportunity in front of him.

One of those is nickel cornerback, his passion.

“I love nickel, honestly,” Izien said. “It gives you an opportunity to a bit of everything — blitz, cover, play some zone, get your eyes on the quarterback and make plays.”

Joe is intrigued by Izien as a nickel. The Bucs have a true vacancy there with Sean Murphy-Bunting now playing for the Titans.

Izien has a ton to prove, but Greg Schiano, the former Bucs head coach and Bears defensive backs coach, has produced a lot of good defensive backs as Rutgers head coach over the years. That can’t be a coincidence.

22 Responses to “A Favorite At Nickel Cornerback?”

  1. firethecannons Says:

    and this is why I read Joesbucsfan would never get this anywhere else, I will look for this kid to make the team, Can he play special teams? gunner? how fast is he? interceptions? ball hawk? Thanks Joe!

  2. Allen Lofton Says:

    Maybe good Karma from Greg Schiano will come to the Bucs with Christian Izien. Wouldn’t that be a turn around.

  3. Mike Says:

    Our biggest question mark is nickel corner, so let’s see what shakes out!

  4. ATLBuc Says:

    Between him and Zyon, we should get good production from the position

  5. Dooley Says:

    “Maybe good Karma from Greg Schiano will come to the Bucs with Christian Izien. Wouldn’t that be a turn around.”

    Yea cause he owes us for chasing off Bennett, Blount, and Talib

  6. BillyBucco Says:

    I didn’t see Zyon McCullom on the list of guys working at nickel so not sure what value he has there.
    I see him as a backup outside CB spelling Dean and Davis.
    Whoever plays there needs to be physical, and Izien fits that bill with his build.
    Dee Delaney and Josh Hayes are also in the mix.
    I actually think Zyon is a little too tall for quick bursts from the slot anyway.
    Time will tell hut at least we have a guy who likes it. Most guys dont!!

  7. A Bucs Fan Says:

    This kid played in the same conference as Winfield. He is only one inch shorter and five lbs lighter than him too. He graded above average in every drill during his pro day except broad jump where he was scored just below average at 9’11” (average is 10’0”) Otherwise he had a 4.41 40, 20 reps on bench, 40.5 inch vertical, 6.81 3 cone drill. Kid is explosive and produced with almost 300 combined tackles in 4 years as a DB. He held opposing QB’s to just a 65 rating when targeted. That’s crazy production. He might just be a gem!

  8. Marine Buc Says:

    I really hope Zyon can step up and earn the NCB spot.

    But it’s nice to have a serious competition for that NCB position.

    Delaney, Zyon, Hayes and Izien.

    Let the best man win.

  9. Brandon Says:

    Izien? You mean the same dude I’ve been hyping like I’ve been doing for Tucker on offense? Not surprised. Also All-Academic Big 10.

  10. Fred McNeil Says:

    We do have a good crop of UDFAs this year.

  11. Sly Pirate Says:


    He knows the Bucs need a nickel.

    “I LOVE Nickel!”
    (sure you do)

    I love smart players. Good job!

  12. Don’t make a scene 35 Says:

    Hopefully 27 steps up and becomes a fixture on this defense
    Speed kills
    But like Bruce Arians said “love me some Dee Delaney “

  13. Joshua porter Says:

    Lol @ sly

  14. Beej Says:

    UFA beat a second rounder? That would smart

  15. Larrd Says:

    Hope he’s great. Tiny guys seem to shine when there’s no tackling.

  16. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Speaking of UDFA’s…Why did Jeremy Banks get cut before camp? Any idea?

  17. BigMacAttack Says:

    This dude is a beast, lightning fast and bull strong. He’s like a better honey badger without the downside. Great snag by Licht and some of Schiano’s best work. His closing speed is as good as it gets and he can run down the 4.3 receivers on long pass plays. I had no idea we had him. His speed in pads is even more impressive. They need to sign him for more than a 1 year deal.

  18. BigMacAttack Says:

    The day we drafted Chris Godwin, I said he was the steal of the draft. Well here you go boys and girls. Here’s another one and we haven’t even talked about him as a special teams gunner. He can probably return punts too lol.

  19. Defense Rules Says:

    Still putting my money on Logan Ryan returning. He’s a natural nickel IMO, Bucs could use his veteran leadership, he knows Bowles defense & is damn good. Guys like Delaney, McCollum, Hayes could learn a lot from him about how to play the position.

  20. unbelievable Says:

    Exactly Dooley lol!

  21. teacherman777 Says:

    Perfect size for a nickle.

    Winfield is 5-9.

    Ronde was 5-9.

    Izien is 5-8 and stout at 196 pounds.

    Schiano is an amazing, old school coach.

    I love a 5-8 nickle with 4.4 speed.

    Nickles need to stick with slot recievers, who are usually shifty and short.

  22. garro Says:

    Hope he nails it. Wants to be a nickel? Wow!
    Short guys that can hit ya make me smile. BTW the hardest I’ve ever been hit was by a guy who stood about 8 inches shorter than me. LOL

    Go Bucs!