The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had quite the haul during the 2018 NFL Draft, selecting eight players after general manager Jason Licht traded down twice – once in the first round and again in the second round. Now it’s time for PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds to review the 2018 Bucs draft class and assign some initial grades based on the players’ attributes and value based on the round they were selected.
Cornerback Carlton Davis, the team’s third of three second-round picks, is up next, followed by offensive lineman Alex Cappa, who was Tampa Bay’s third-round pick.
Davis is a big, physical and it was great to see Tampa Bay go outside the box to have a bigger presence outside on the perimeter as the Bucs have a slew a sub-6-foot corners on the roster. Davis, who has been compared to Richard Sherman, is an extremely confident cornerback that can match up against the likes of Atlanta’s Julio Jones or New Orleans’ Michael Thomas from a size standpoint.
Auburn CB Carlton Davis – Photo courtesy of Auburn
Davis recorded 136 tackles for Auburn as a three-year starter, and had 28 pass breakups and four interceptions, including three as a freshman in 2015, and three forced fumbles. He has incredibly long arms and a unique sense of timing in terms of breaking passes, but does need to work on his ball skills when it comes to interceptions as Davis has only had one over the past two seasons.
Davis can play off coverage, but excels as a press cornerback, disrupting the timing between receivers and quarterbacks. Because he does not have elite speed, Davis must win at the line of scrimmage with physicality to prevent receivers from beating him deep. With 4.53 speed, Davis is fast for a bigger corner, but his lack of sub-4.5 speed was the only thing keeping him out of the first round. Davis is quite talented and battle-tested after playing in the SEC.
The Question Marks
Aside from whether he’ll learn to make more interceptions instead of being content with batting the ball away, the real question mark for Davis lands on Smith’s doorstep. Davis is best as a press cornerback, but will defensive coordinator Mike Smith allow him to do what he does best and press, or will he be forced to play within the scheme and play off coverage, which is not his game, too often? Davis has immense talent – it’s all in how it’s used by the coaching staff.
The Rookie Season Expectations
Don’t be surprised if Davis beats out M.J. Stewart, Vernon Hargreaves III and Ryan Smith for the starting cornerback job opposite Brent Grimes as a rookie. Davis has a great deal of swagger and plays with an infectious edge that propelled him to playing time as a freshman at Auburn. The big learning curve for Davis will be making plays on the ball and creating more takeaways rather than just being content with pass breakups.
The Grade: A-
Davis should have been the second of Tampa Bay’s three second-round picks instead of Stewart, in my opinion. Davis has Pro Bowl-caliber potential and could be a steal in the second round. The training camp battles between Evans and Davis should be epic and it will be fun to watch two physical, competitive players battle for the ball and trash talk each other.
Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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