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April 6, 2013 @ 10:58 pm
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PR Analysis: Bucs Current Cornerbacks And Player Rankings

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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With the NFL Draft approaching PewterReport.com is breaking down the Bucs roster by position and taking a look at who Tampa Bay has and where each player ranks. This week we start with the cornerbacks, a position that struggled in 2012.
Now through the upcoming NFL Draft, PewterReport.com will take a weekly look at the roster and highlight a position, sharing our thoughts on what the Buccaneers currently have and ranking each player in order. This week we take a look at the cornerback position.

No one unit has ever played so poorly statistically in the history of the franchise. Even the woeful 76-77 and 85-91 Bucs never came closer to setting NFL records for futility than the 2012 secondary (4,758 yards through the air, 30 TD passes allowed).

When the draft concluded last April things on paper at least, looked pretty good. The Buccaneers had added Eric Wright in free agency, drafted Mark Barron at safety, hired former LSU secondary coach Ron Cooper and still had an unsuspended Aqib Talib on the field when the offseason workouts began. The wheels felll off quickly however, as Wright began missing time with an undisclosed illness, losing valuable on the field instructions in the new defensive scheme.

Minor injuries seemed to crop up daily and within the first few days of training camp nickel cornerback E.J. Biggers was in a walking boot after suffering a foot injury, and Anthony Gaitor missed several days with a hamstring injury that eventually landed him on the PUP (physically unable to perform list).

Once the season began things actually got worse as the secondary struggled to keep receivers in front of them, highlighted by surrendering 511 yards passing in Week 2 against the New York Giants. Later in the season Talib was suspended four games for testing positive for a banned substance (Adderall), subsequently was traded and then fellow starter Wright was found guilty of the same infraction, also resulting in a four-game suspension.

In the meantime the Buccaneers surrendered late leads to the Redskins, Saints, Falcons and Eagles, costing them a chance at a playoff berth. Rumblings of issues with Cooper soon followed and the entire secondary had pretty much imploded before having arguably their best game of the year in the season finale against Atlanta.

After the season ended, Cooper was fired and the plan to overhaul the secondary was thought to begin with free agency. General manager Mark Dominik obviously had other plans, as not only have the Buccaneers failed to sign a cornerback thus far, they lost E.J. Biggers to the Redskins last month. While Biggers was never a fan favorite he was one of the most consistent performers in the defensive backfield for Tampa Bay in 2012 and brought, at the least, starting experience to an otherwise young secondary.

The Buccaneers and Jets are still in talks about a trade for Darrelle Revis but at this point it appears the possible trade could drag on right up to the NFL Draft later this month. Revis would immediately make the Buccaneers secondary – and defense for that matter – much better, but there are no guarantees that a deal will get done, which will force Tampa Bay into plugging holes with rookies, never a highly successful proposition.

For now this is who the Buccaneers have. Things will most likely change as Wright could be jettisoned if the Revis deal ends up being completed and odds are Tampa Bay will select more than one cornerback in the upcoming draft.

The former Browns and Lions cornerback was signed last April to a five-year, $37.75 million contract, but as noted earlier, struggled to stay healthy. Wright was diagnosed with an undisclosed medical condition that left him fatigued and unable to participate in many of the team’s OTAs last spring. According to sources Wright is on medication that has corrected the problem, or at least has made it manageable. But Wright’s troubles weren’t just limited to that specific issue, as he suffered from chronic back injuries and an Achilles issue that hampered him for the majority of the season. Wright is Plan “B” if Revis isn’t signed according to sources, but at a much reduced salary than his current contract calls for. In 2012 Wright played in 10 games, recording 37 tackles, sevens passes defensed and one interception.

The Johnson story was a great feel good story for the Tampa Bay community in 2012. The Clearwater native grew up a Bucs fan in his youth and getting signed by the Buccaneers was a dream came true for the former Iowa State star. Not only was Johnson undrafted, he had to participate in a weekend tryout following the draft to even get signed making the fairy-tale story even more impressive. Johnson quickly prove himself as a solid cornerback, but struggled at times when playing man coverage. The general consensus on Johnson is he is better suited as a nickel corner, however he has already proven many wrong who though considered him a long shot to even earn a roster spot last year. In 2012 Johnson played in all 16 games, starting six, with 41 tackles, nine pass breakups, a forced fumble, three interceptions with one touchdown.

Gaitor was a 2011 seventh-round selection and has seen his playing time limited, partly due to injury. Gaitor suffered a hamstring injury in training camp that ended up costing him several games last season. The former Florida International standout played in four games last season, starting two and recorded seven tackles and five passes defensed. While not boasting eye-popping statistics, Gaitor is thought to be one of the better cover corners on the roster, although he is somewhat limited by his size which is generously listed as 5-foot-10, and 182-pounds in the Buccaneers media guide. Gaitor may be a better fit as a slot cornerback coming in nickel and dime coverage situations as the small in stature corner will have a hard time matching up with the NFC South’s roster of tall receivers.

Gorrer was claimed by the Buccaneers on October 31 last season and ended up playing in Tampa Bay’s final six games, starting one. Most Bucs fans best know Gorrer by the dropped Nick Foles interception that would have secured the Bucs a win against the Eagles on their final drive. Instead the Eagles scored on the final play of the game, one of most devastating losses the Bucs suffered in 2012. Gorrer played well at times, especially considering he was thrown into the fire almost immediately. His one interception came against Sam Bradford and the Rams at Raymond James Stadium undercutting Danny Amendola after initially getting beat on a double move.

Perhaps there is no cornerback in Buccaneers history that has been more frustrating or puzzling that Lewis. Watch Lewis on the practice field, the tall lanky cornerback, with the wingspan of a pterodactyl, glides easily showing excellent technique. But once the intensity heats up, Lewis melts down. Lewis appears to be content as a backup, coasting along in the NFL not willing to be put in the spotlight. Lewis also lacks toughness, sitting games out with injuries that most would consider minor. How Lewis has lasted this long is a mystery to most fans and certainly to PewterReport.com. This season will be most likely the last chance Lewis has to prove he belongs in the league. The Buccaneers are desperate for cornerback help and most would agree Lewis has the physical size (6-2, 203) to play in the NFL, but perhaps not the mental toughness it takes to be successful. In three seasons Lewis has just 19 tackles and three passes defensed, not nearly the return the Bucs expected when they made him a third-round selection in 2010.

Tandy is listed as a cornerback on the official Bucs roster but practiced at safety for the most part in 2012. As a rookie Tandy saw action in nine games, but never making much of an impact. Both Tandy and linebacker Najee Goode were drafted from West Virginia and played in an unorthodox style defense, and not coincidentally they both struggled to pick up the Buccaneers defense to a degree. Word is the Buccaneers are high on both players, and this offseason will be critical in their development.

Rogers was a late addition to the training camp roster and was cut during the final preseason cut downs. A former receiver and cornerback at Michigan, the Buccaneers saw enough potential to re-sign him to a futures contract after the 2012 season. The former Wolverine most likely face an uphill battle to make the roster in 2013, but will be given every opportunity to prove he can become an NFL player due to the need for secondary help in Tampa Bay.

McDonald was signed off the street during the 2012 season and was immediately thrust into action, playing primarily as a nickel cornerback. McDonald struggled like all the Bucs’ cornerbacks and was cut midseason but after Lewis was placed on injured reserve late in 2012, McDonald rejoined Tampa Bay. Depending on the Revis deal, and what happens in the upcoming draft, McDonald could be back in a Buccaneer uniform in time for training camp.

The decision Barber makes about his return could have a huge impact on the makeup of the secondary in 2013. Barber made the transition to safety last season and was the most consistent player in the defensive backfield for the 2012 Buccaneers, leading the team with four interceptions. But with the free agent signing of safety Dashon Goldson Barber most likely will be relegated to a backup role, unless he is willing to move back to cornerback. The veteran most likely won’t line up as a starting corner on the edge but his experience and ability would fit in perfectly as the team’s nickel corner. Just having Barber in the locker room for another season is a benefit to the entire organization.

Last modified on Sunday, 14 April 2013 23:22

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  • avatar

    I agree with tjbucsman aka "Walter White", we are knee capped on the salary cap to take Revis for 15 M a year. I would take DJ Fluker in round 1 and either Sylvester Williams or Kavon Short in round 2. Take a corner in round 3 & 4. Donnie Abraham was a 3rd round pick and hit the ground running as a rook. Maybe get Kelce TE from Cincy in the 4th.
  • avatar

    Be careful what you wish for this has A. Haynesworth written all over it. Obviously, our GM thinks we are a “Revis” away from making the playoffs. I think we wait a year - see how he plays - then just over pay him if he's the Revis of old. The Jets get a 3rd round pick in compensation for losing Revis if he walks next year, but that's based on the Jets not doing anything in FA next year. If they sign a couple of top level free agents the compensation pick is lowered to a 5th or 6th round pick. The Jet’s are staring at not really getting anything for losing Revis – Please don’t give a 1st round pick Dom! Personally I'm not so sure that our defensive scheme fits where the rules are heading in the NFL. Teams really don’t focus on running the ball, but our defense is set to stop the run. You can’t touch the receivers, but we are going to play bump and run. You can’t touch the QB, oh hey, we are good at that…Teams send 4 and 5 receivers out on pass plays…how does having one shut down corner help you cover the other 3/4 players. The Brady’s, Roger’s and Mannings of the world are going to find out who Danny Gorrer is covering and go there..
  • avatar

    Revis may very well be one of the best defensive players to come along in a long long time but I am not sure mortgaging the future of the team to get him is the smart thing to do. Three draft picks to the Jets and a salary of 15+ million a year is a lot to give up. Is any player, no matter how great they are, really worth sacrificing the future of your organization. I think it is time to realize that Dominik. the Glazers or whoever made this decision may be making a serious error pinning all the hopes of the team in trying to trade for Revis. It looks to me like that some of the higher powers in this organization are running scared for their job security right now.This trade has to be done for the right reasons and at the right price.There were some pretty good players available at the CB position in free agency, maybe not as great as Revis, that the Bucs did not even attempt to try and sign at far less money given the current value of CB's in the FA market. Most of these FA CB's signed for far less than they thought they would get.That is why 15+ million seems even more ridiculous.That would go along way in acquiring a lot of good football players. I would love to see Revis in a Bucs uniform but not at that price. The money would be better suited for resigning some current players that certainly deserve better consideration.
  • avatar

    Dom is a moron if he gives up our 13th pick this year and a dumb*** if other picks are added. BucWild has it right, WAIT. Jets GM John Idzik only play is to try and wait out Dom and it looks like Dom is to stupid to see it. We have the upper hand in this situation. Once the draft is over what the hell are the Jets going to do with Revis?? They can't afford him to sign a new contract with their cap situation so they will HAVE to shop him around and will be desperate to do so. I bet if we waited up to draft day we could pick him up for this year's 2nd round pick! The Bucs need more impact players than Revis and being that they did a great job in last year's draft do it again this year and we will have the fundamentals in place for a long-term run into the playoffs. I would like to get a DT at 13 this year... Go Bucs!!!!!! BE smart in the Negotiations DOM!!
  • avatar

    How about trading up in the draft and getting the best corner and telling the Jets to pound sand. I am sure Revis is OK, but he is not that great! What about is leg? He is not worth the cost. Revis is not going to make the Bucs into the Pats or pick someone. It seems to me that perhaps a change of the system and some great drafts will be a better way to go. Revis reminds me of the Tackle who went to the Redskins a few years ago and was a bust. Then we got him. That is how I see ir.
  • avatar

    The Bucs reportedly are willing to sign Revis to the tune of 16 million per year. After that, Mark Dominik should see if they can still get ALbert Haynesworth for 100 million over 6 years too!
  • avatar

    I know there are new reports every other hour but now I'm reading on NFL.com that the Bucs are now looking desperate and are willing to give the 13th pick this year along with others. It really looks like this is going to happen. I know everyone on here hates the idea, but I'm looking at the other side of it and thinking we are still talking about the best CB in the league if not the best player. IF IF IF he is healthy he will be 100x better than any rookie we put on the field. IF he's at 100%, the mans good enough to push us in the playoffs, just saying...
  • avatar

    Go ahead and give up this year's 1st round pick for Revis. He's worth it. Go ahead and throw in a 7th round pick on draft day so the Jets can feel like they won something. We take Revis and along with the rest of our 2013 picks we become the most talented team in our division and finally win a playoff game this year. Win dammit!
  • avatar

    Fire Tampa GM Mark Dominik and Jets GM John Idzik!!! Who trades a 1st, 3rd, and 6th round pick for a player who is still recovering from major injury, coming off two holdouts in 5 years, is in the last 1/3 of his career and only has one year remaining on his current deal before he is a GUARANTEED free agent in a soft market. The Jets CAN'T franchise him...it's in Revis' contract! Speaking of contracts, reports claim the new deal for Revis would be 15-16 mil per year?? The top CB free agent-Sean Smith, signed for 3yrs/18mil and he is healthy and entering his prime. Is Revis worth double/triple that??? AND then there is Jets GM...WHAT GENIUS doesn't take the deal?!!! They may need players now, but they are GUARANTEED to lose Revis after next season. That is the definition of looking a gift horse in the mouth!
  • avatar

    Yahoo reports Bucs to give Jets a First, Third and Sixth Round pick. I say no way, that is a bad move.
  • avatar

    I agree with Horse.....say no to Revis! Save those draft picks they will be needed. Find a way to retain Wright and pick up 2 decent CB's in the draft. It will turn out better than last year and that is all that is needed for the Bucs to make the playoffs. The team is not ready to fill that one last position hole to make a SB run. Politically Dom and Schiano may need to win now and thus it may happen, but my concern is that there is a strong potential that the Revis deal will hurt us for years to come and set us back in the long term.
  • avatar

    Horse- I like you but your assesment of our defense is way off, Seattle had about the same amount of sacks as our defense and has the best secondary in the league. Guys like Nick Foles threw for career passing yds against our secondary and Eli had 500+ yds, we can't even guard a 10 yd slant, just watch how L.Johnson plays some no name wr from SD on the slant when he gets burned then has a horrible missed tackle letting the guy run for a 60 yd td, yes a pass rush helps but when our secondary gets burned on a typical slant like our secondary does it spells disaster and by far the weakest link on our defense beyond question.
  • avatar

    jongruden, Seattle had a much better pass rush than us. They were not at the bottom of League like us. It's not all about sacks; it's about putting pressure on the QB quickly and we haven't done that. If we give up a 1st, 3rd, 6th round picks whether some of it is this year or next years draft, then it will go down as one of the dumbest trades we have ever done. Who gives up that much for a 28 year old CB that will not be a shutdown CB this season or maybe never because of his knee? The risk is that we really have no clue how Revis knee is and when he can go full throttle, You can probably call this easily that he will have ankle or hamstring problems because he hasn't been hitting the weights yet or all that agility exercising. I doubt he will be ready for any OTA's, preseason practices, or most if any of the preseason games. He hasn't done much tape study on the NFC either and will not have much time before the regular season starts to be involved with the defense. This would be a desperate act. Time is on our side. After the draft is over then lets see what we have and if we still need Revis.
  • avatar

    The article says 3 Int's with one touchdown.
  • avatar

    Hey Mark Cook, do you think there's any possibility the Bucs might pick up Rolando McClain now that he's a free agent. If so is it a good idea?
  • avatar

    bucdiezel90, I know your question is for Mark Cook, but I’d like to offer an opinion if you don’t mind. In a word, No! I think Schiano is so tied to this concept of a “Buccaneer Man” that players like McClain have no chance at the Bucs. Like all of you, I think character is important and to draft a team captain is admirable, but the last few years me and the team captains have spent January on the couch watching teams with thugs win the SB. McClain is probably headed to a team like the Bengals who seem to not mind talented wayward players. I don’t want players whose continued off-field antics are a detriment to the team. But I would not hesitate to give players like McClain and Chris Rainey a chance with a carefully worded contract. Remember, people change. Without going into detail our own Vincent Jackson, the epitome of a Buccaneer Man is a good example. Perhaps Schiano is changing as he seems very interested in Tyrann Mathieu, but I wouldn’t count on it!
  • avatar

    macabee, ya I agree with you about the Buccaneer Man concept and nobody wants a problem child on their team. BUT WE ARE TALKING about a former top 10 pick who was a monster at Alabama. He's still only 23 and he could fill a huge need at MLB and move Foster outside where he would be even better. And I would think we could get him really cheap. Like you said we could give him a specific contract where Schiano has all the leverage and he could whip him into shape. Sometimes these guys just need a fresh start.
  • avatar

    Even if we signed McClain where would we put him? I doubt he would come to Tampa to be a back up!
  • avatar

    I don't see the urgency of the sky is falling with our CB's until we have a legit pass rush. I thought Johnson played good based on not being a drafted player. He jumped right in there and showed no fear. You could see him learning and getting better in every game. If we don't blow it with a stupid high draft pick trade for Revis, Johnson can be another Barber. I believe with a good pass rush Johnson and other CB's will also look better. We have average CB's right now and below average pass rushing DL.
  • avatar

    I agree that we need more out of the pass rushers. I'm hoping that Clayborne comes back strong and Bowers plays up to his potential. It does worry me that both of them seem to be injury prone. We should draft DT,CB,DE,TE,OT..I think the Bucs did do good at building depth through FA (though I would have liked a starter at CB more) but Like you said, Johnson has potential but I wouldn't want to put all my chips down on him to develop into a starter, we still need to get a veteran at the position.
  • avatar

    Horse- I like you but your assesment of our defense is way off, Seattle had about the same amount of sacks as our defense and has the best secondary in the league. Guys like Nick Foles threw for career passing yds against our secondary and Eli had 500+ yds, we can't even guard a 10 yd slant, just watch how L.Johnson plays some no name wr from SD on the slant when he gets burned then has a horrible missed tackle letting the guy run for a 60 yd td, yes a pass rush helps but when our secondary gets burned on a typical slant like our secondary does it spell disaster and by far the weakest link on our defense beyond question.
  • avatar

    The corners on this team is awful. All the better corners in the FA market is gone, I don't want this Revis trade to happen, unless it's for next years pick (only 1 pick preferably) I don't know what they are planning on doing unless they have a lot of faith in these young corners to develop quickly into solid corners but you can't depend on that. It goes the same for drafting a Corner, it be nice if they drafted 1 or 2 but you still can't depend on rookies. I'm guessing Wright stays, but still need to get another corner somehow.
  • avatar

    Correct me if Im wrong but didnt LJ have 3 picks last year, with 1 going for a TD?
  • avatar

    I thought the same thing when I read this article germcanbuc. Since it's Sunday I was too lazy to look it up but since you thought the same thing I think it's safe to go out on a limb and say that Johnson did have 3 picks.
  • avatar

    Yeah he had 3, Don't know how they missed that.
  • avatar

    Pinkstob, Wright will take a pay cut because that’s where the market is. The top of the market is 5.5mil (Sean Smith) and Wright can go nowhere and get better. The market has hardened so much that the NFLPA suspects the owners of collusion. So the issue becomes, is Wright willing to play for 5.5mil at the Bucs or would he want to play for another team. If you read his Blog, he wants to stay and it seems the Bucs want him to. If there is animus between the two parties, it is better that they go their separate ways anyway! Wright's agent knows that a contract in hand is better than two in the bush. Wright may not get anywhere near the top this late in FA. The Bucs were smart not to publicly malign Wright as did Fandom. Both parties are saying the Wright words (pun), so I have every reason to believe they will reach an agreement!
  • avatar

    Good point macabee. I think given the scenarios you've put forth Wright will get his $5 million but on another team. He may want to play for the Bucs, but only for $7.5 million (or whatever he was originally due to earn this year).
  • avatar

    That's an amazing list of talent. Dom has done a great job this offseason.
  • avatar

    Not much talent, but all were put in a bad situation last year. Aside from Wright, none were given proper coaching, all were an after thought, or brought in late. When Schiano coached them against Atlanta they played better. Revis might be the answer, but I think the Bucs feel with Goldson on board, Barron in his second year, Ronde, and a couple of high picks in a corner deep draft, better coaching, they'll be fine. I might add in a couple of our loses a sack or two might have sealed a victory also. Lack of a pass rush was a big problem. No corner can cover an NFL receiver when a pro Q.B. has all the time in the world to throw.
  • avatar

    MC, can you confirm the outcome of the meeting E. Wright recently had with Dominik and Schiano? I read somewhere that the outcome was that Wright said he refused to play for the Bucs this year at a reduced salary.
  • avatar

    From the looks of it we have a bunch of good nickel and dime guys. Even if Ronde returns his best position would be slot. I think Eric Wright would honestly be our best slot corner though in coverage. Let Johnson and Gaitor battle it out for the dime 4th corner and draft a #2 corner (Rhodes fits best) then trade for Revis and all the sudden our secondary is pretty darn good. Maybe Dominik really does have a plan for this offseason. I am still worried about how many holes we have though, how many holes can we fill with one draft? DT, 3rd linebacker, CB, pass rushing DE, pass catching TE, RT, RB...that means you have to hit on every single draft pick every round. Lets see what your made of Dom because yours jobs on the line.
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