Immediate Competition At Nickel Cornerback

April 27th, 2024

In trouble.

Bucs nickel cornerback Christian Izien is about to run into something called “investiture.”

Izien was undrafted out of Rutgers last season and quickly became the Bucs’ nickel corner to start on opening day. He splashed with two interceptions early but faded and then revived a bit late in the year.

Call him a “rookie wall” guy, which is understandable.

But when you’re not drafted and not dominating, team officials tend to have very limited patience for your services.

Tonight, the Bucs drafted defensive back Tykee Smith in Round 3. Assistant GM John Spytek emphatically explained that Smith was so well coached at Georgia, he should be competing immediately for the starting nickel job.

“Investiture” is the NFL phenomenon that lives in front offices when a player is drafted. It leads to some players being kept, coddled and put on the field because team executives and coaches literally want to will greatness out them when others on the roster may be more deserving.

Joe’s not saying the Bucs engage in this practice, but often it can be unrealized by a team, almost subconscious.

In the looming Izien-Smith performance battle, Izien best hope he’s not tied with the rookie.

28 Responses to “Immediate Competition At Nickel Cornerback”

  1. Scott Says:

    Not only them but T Thomas already graded out as a top 31 cb and he was a nickel CB

  2. SB~LV Says:

    Holding flag magnet, refs were picking on him, I am sure it was a self fulfilling prophecy from referee film study and not that he was actually holding. I thought he played very well otherwise for a rookie and will be better this year.

  3. JJ Says:

    Joe, what do you know about how Josh Hayes is doing? Wasn’t he supposed to be a nickel too?

  4. Win in the Trenches Says:

    For a undrafted rookie to even start is amazing

  5. Scott Says:

    Houston fans were upset to lose Tavierre Thomas. He was a really good nickel. However he is 28 and on a one year deal so probably not our long term bet.

  6. Booger Says:

    Maybe, if it is a “tie,” then there could be some trade value hopefully, down the road.

  7. Chris Says:

    Izien is a DAWG and won’t be afraid to compete.

  8. Casual Observer Says:

    Can versatile Smith play CB as well? Just wondering.

  9. Buddha Says:

    Kirk Cousins reportedly really angry about Atlanta’s draft, which most commentators are regarding as a disaster.

  10. D-Rok Says:

    ^^Agree, Buddha. Those silly Fowlcuns!

  11. Austing Says:

    DUMB PICK, Christian was great as an undrafted rookie and our obvious starter this year. Could of got a bigger need like outside corner or JEREMIAH TROTTER

  12. unbelievable Says:

    I dunno I see him more as a 3rd safety who can sometimes play nickel, but I think the better slot WRs will be way too fast and elusive for him. Not made for true man coverage. At least that’s what the draft profiles of him indicate:

    • Tendency to grab when he had to flip his hips to match in-breakers. A natural reaction that might not be fixable.

    • Significant limitations in man-to-man coverage versus good slot receivers. Was not asked to do that at Georgia.

    • Rarely played on the back end in Georgia’s defense even in 2-shell coverages. Lacks range and overall athleticism.

    • Coverage will be the main concern as you transition Smith to the next level. Limits his alignment and deployment.

  13. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Really liked the play by Christian Izien. Nothing wrong with Competition. Only keeps you on your toes and makes you a better player.

    I think we can now focus on the Best Player Available since most of the Bucs dire needs have been fulfilled

  14. Bucs Guy Says:

    Don’t hate Smith. Hate the Bucs picked a S for depth when there were premium players available at G, LB and RB.

  15. MoeB Says:

    No slot cornerback better than the tankman💯😀👍

  16. Hodad Says:

    Izien just became good young depth at a cheap price. He can play some safety too. Make no mistake, Smith starts day one at nick.

  17. Defense Rules Says:

    Both Christian Izien & Tykee Smith are Safeties playing Nickel, and I suspect that’s exactly what Todd Bowles wants. Neither one is especially big (5’8″ & 5’9″) or particularly fast, but they’re both quick and they’re both ball-hawks (like Edwards was). Got a hunch we’ll see both of them on the field quite a bit this year, and that we’ll also see both of them being used as blitzers quite a bit. Izien blitzed 56 times last season (2nd most on the team behind Devin White’s 75 blitzes).

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    Bucs Guy … ‘Hate the Bucs picked a S for depth when there were premium players available at G, LB and RB.’

    I’ll second that, and especially the LB & RB part. I’m not sold on KJ Britt as the starter at MLB, and Lord help us if Rachaad White misses any games with an injury. Not to mention that it’d be really nice to have a true Mike Alstott clone for short-yardage situations and to help close out games.

  19. Larrd Says:

    Picking a nickle back feels like picking a kicker.

  20. MoeB Says:

    Never can replace tankman 💯💯

  21. godlovesbucs Says:

    I think the mold of the d is to transition to a zone blitz scheme. Last year they had man press corners. All of the additions are more in the mold of older Tampa 2 style d. DBs that can take advantage of their short burst and special IQ.

  22. Oddball Says:

    It all makes sense now! “Investiture“ = JTS

  23. stpetebucfan Says:

    “Joe’s not saying the Bucs engage in this practice, but often it can be unrealized by a team, almost subconscious.”

    Go ahead and say it Joe. “investiture” is common as peewee sports.

    When I was in the 8th grade my community did not have enough wealth to field teams for all the kids who wanted to play. Consequently we had to try out for teams with 20 player limits. I felt I was 20th best and thought I’d at least make the team…but the coach took an inferior player who was…surprise…HIS son.

    My father shut me up when I whined. He said simply, “Well then you should have been 19th best and you wouldn’t have got cut. Play better!”

    That was a father protecting his son…if anybody here wishes to believe that ALL NFL GM”s at some times let their egos lead to “investiture”…Joe was kind enough to call it “subconscious”. OK.

  24. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Love what izen did as a undrafted rook. Competition will make him better and adds depth incase if injury. Bowels and crew can develop DBs better than anyone in the league and we have proof a SB to prove it. Dean Davis Winfield whitehead and Edwards all contributed to it and played some HOF QBs in Bree’s and Rogers and most likely the next goat on mahomie. Competition is needed at every position. I like the pic

  25. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Tavierre Thomas and Tykee will be the nickles. Izien will move back to his natural position at safety. And be a better fit there.

  26. Capt.Tim Says:

    Tykee is to slow, and lacks fluidity, to play in the secondary.
    Hes an undersized linebacker. Meybe play him in the box on running plays.
    Thats it. He will never hold up in coverage.

  27. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    If this guy is as slow you say he is then look forward to more of that good ol Buc db 10-20 yard cushion we’ve all grown to love and admire.

  28. BUCman Says:

    I like Tykee Smith but it seems the nickel corner position is overcrowded now and outside corner seems very thin. To me we needed an outside corner much more.